Sunday, March 30, 2014
“God will reward you,' he said. 'You must be an angel since you cared for me.’” ― Victor Hugo
On February 16, 1996, at approximately 2:30 in the morning, I woke my wife, Karen, and told her I didn’t feel well. Uncharacteristically, she jumped up, hustled me into the car, and drove me to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rogers, Arkansas. When we arrived, the nurse took one look at me and rushed me into the cardiac emergency area where they began hooking wires up to me. I remember smiling, and saying, “I’m going” and leaning back and dying. The doctors and nurses tried everything, paddles, you name it, but Karen heard the ER doctor say, “Let’s call it, death occurred at 2:45 A.M., February 16, 1996.” An off-duty nurse from the ICU on the fourth floor happened by and said, “Let me try” as she jumped onto the table and began beating me with both hands. She brought me back. Over the next two weeks, there at that hospital, and later at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the doctors tried to figure out why I had died. They pumped dyes into my arteries, ran wires up into my heart from my groin area, slowed my heart down and speeded it up, but could find no culprit for my death. I did not have a heart attack, there was no damage to the heart, my arteries were in perfect shape, there was no damage to any veins, and no reason for my heart to have stopped, but there was also irrefutable proof that it had stopped. In the end, they implanted a defibrillator in my chest with a wire attached to the inside of my heart that would shock my heart back into action whenever it might stop, and it did about a week later when I was back home, but because of the defibrillator, my heart restarted and I didn’t even go back to the hospital (I am on my third implanted defibrillator that will cease operating in 2016). About three weeks after I had returned home, I was able to get out and about (with someone else driving—for the next three years), and I went back to St. Mary’s to find the ICU nurse who had saved my life. She wasn’t there. She had been a temp and no one even remembered her name. I tracked her through Human Resources but the woman who had hired her had relocated to a hospital in Minnesota. I was able to get the name of the agency that sent her. The agency told me that they had lost her file, but she had moved back to California someplace. All they could tell me was that her first name was Sky. Apparently, my life had been saved by a hippie-named, wandering nurse from somewhere in California, and no one knew where she was or who she was. All this happened before my very first mission trip and almost ten years before we moved to Africa. A few days ago, one of my Tanzanian friends asked me if I believed in angels. How do you think I answered that question?