No one wants to hear the words “brain dead” in relation to anyone they know. No one wants to think about the implications. Not wanting something doesn’t keep it from happening.
On Sunday evening, April 30th, my husband inhaled his dinner and nothing I tried helped. The EMTs got there quickly, and shortly after they got him into the ambulance the food obstructed his airway completely and he went into cardiac arrest.
I learned this after I arrived at the hospital, where I was told that the EMT’s had been doing CPR on him when he arrived, and they had his heart beating again within two to three minutes after getting him into the ER. They’d also removed the obstruction and intubated him. I’m ignorant – was ignorant – enough about such matters that I didn’t realize what wasn’t being said until two hours later.
Mind you, I got people praying right away!
Roughly two hours later, the Intinsivist called me aside and explained the situation. For a young man in good health, you have about 2 minutes of oxygen loss to the brain before you have to worry about brain damage. For a man Jack’s age, and with his medical history, you have 11-12 seconds. They’d been working on him for somewhere between two and six minutes. Also, Jack had yet to regain consciousness, his pupils were dilated, and they were only sluggishly responding to light.
In other words, the doctor wasn’t telling me Jack might have brain damage. He was telling he would have brain damage; it was only a matter of how much. This was when he told me, “I can tell you he’s not brain dead. We have seen signs of brain activity.”
I can’t even begin to explain what I felt at that point. I went to see him as they prepared to chill his body to alleviate the damage as much as possible. They were prepping for other things as well, so I got ready for a move to the ICU waiting room.
Again, prayer warriors were lifting him up. Also, I had some strong support in the room with me, which was good since it was 12:30 AM before we heard anything else.
At that point, another doctor came and got my sister and me. He asked if I knew what all they’d planned to do and I gave him the list, ending with, “and…put him on ice.” (I still can’t remember what they called it.)
“Yes,” he responded, nodding. “On that, there’s been a change of plan. We’ve had him sedated, of course, because of the intubation, but a little while ago he awoke on his own. He’s groggy, but responding to our commands. We won’t be instituting ________ protocols.”
I HAD to clarify. “You’re saying you see no reason to think there’s brain damage.”
“Right,” he agreed as he opened the door.
His ICU nurse told me repeatedly, “You have no idea how lucky he is!” Jack was one of three of the five choking patients they’d had recently who had lived. The two they lost died because of the very lack of oxygen Jack experienced. But…
By 4:00 the next afternoon, he had been moved to a regular room. Two days later, he was transported to rehab. Seven days after that, I took him home. Yesterday, on May 17, the man they expected to either die or come out of this a vegetable walked into church.
May 20 EDIT/ADDITION
We saw his primary care today. I’d texted him immediately after my first meeting with the nurse.
He looked at Jack and said, “What I did not tell your wife is that, when I got that first text, I knew you were gone.”
And again I say…
Only a short distance from this bridge, over which I’ve passed numerous times through the years, lies the entrance to New Hope Cemetery. This is an old cemetery with a fascinating collection of aged headstones. This is a rustic cemetery and it holds the earthly remains of some of my nearest and dearest.
Too many times, we’ve followed a hearse over this bridge, taking a loved one to their final resting place. Several times, we’ve crossed the bridge to visit the graves of those we’ve not seen in so very long. The last time I was there–the day I took this picture–we were “visiting” Mother.
You’d think this bridge would represent loss to me, would inspire pain, but it doesn’t. Why?
The answer lies in the cemetery’s name–New Hope. Yes, we’ve laid our loved ones to rest here, but I know that in each and every case they were born again and destined for Heaven. For them, and those of us who expectantly wait to see them again, this place offers hope indeed–hope of that new life, true LIFE that will never end–eternal life in the very presence of God, surrounded by those we love so much…HOME.
So this picture shows a path of hope, a man-made construct that bridges the past and that glorious future as we follow the road home.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
This last line is the key. “For he who has died has been freed from sin.” I was born a slave to sin and grew up letting it rule over me; it was the way of life I knew. Then I accepted Jesus – accepted His death as having paid the price required to buy, from sin, the slave that I was. In Him I too died; I died to the sin that had enslaved me. Even so, though freed by death and resurrected into new life, my flesh naturally wanted to go back to being a slave because the life of slavery was familiar, an easy life where sin ordered me around and all I had to do was follow its commands.
But I am free, called to walk in newness of life. I have free will, to follow the mandates of righteousness or to return to the habit patterns of the life I lived before. With every step I must choose and yes, choosing can be challenging. The body is dead to sin, but the memories were not purged. Flesh still ponders, on occasion, that sin brought a form of pleasure – forgetting that the pleasure it brought was to the old man, the man that no longer exists.
The new man is not pleased, but rather is pained by sin. There is no joy to be found in sin; there is only sorrow. The new man is alive to and pleased by righteousness and the freedom that comes from willfully choosing to serve God. I have been freed from sin. Why, then, would I ever choose to return to its chains?