A story of love, devotion and abiding faith (I was asked to write the following particularly for those who were praying for Helen during this sad time.) We need to go back to Petey, our canary, who brought so much happiness into our lives. Helen purchased him and then trained him by tapes and by playing the organ. He soon learned to sing with much enthusiasm and melody. He followed both the organ and the piano. His favorite hymn was "How Great Thou Art." Whenever he seemed reluctant to sing, Helen would Play, "How Great Thou Art", and he would soon be singing along with the organ. He liked the organ better than the piano, but I remember one morning, I played several hymns on the piano and he showed no interest. So I switched to "How Great Thou Art", and after a few measures he broke out in beautiful praise. We couldn't understand it, but it seemed that he was near to God in his singing. He seemed to soar into the heavens as he sang. On the morning of April 12, after we had had him about 4 years, he was found lying on the floor of his cage. We were devastated, especially Helen, who had worked with him so much. The old question "why?" was asked. Later that morning, Helen began having chest pains which went away in part and then came back. Our doctor insisted that we come in to his office for an EKG. Helen had never had chest pains before, but the results of the test sent her to the emergency room of a hospital. For two days, they tested her, and then decided on a heart catheterization. The results of that showed one artery of her heart almost completely blocked. They asked for and received permission to perform an angioplasty. which they did the Friday afternoon of April 14. Everything looked fine for a return home for her in two or three days, with improved health. All the friends and relatives had gone home. I stayed because I wanted to see her safely in bed for the night. She had been returned to her room, but two young nurses were to wait until four hours after the procedure had been completed and then, in order to induce scabbing over the hole into the groin, they were to forcibly hold back the blood going into that area. But this caused so much pain to Helen that they wondered what was wrong. While they sat there talking about it, Helen said to me, "I don't know why I have so much pain." That was all, and the expression left her face and what little color there was. This happened within three or four seconds. I shouted to the nurses, "What about her heartbeat?" They were sitting with their backs to the monitor trying to figure out their problem, but at my shout, they swung around to their monitor which by this time showed only zeroes. Then everything changed! It was now "'code blue"! They suggested I sit in the hall and they assigned one nurse to sit with me to console me. The girls sprinted down the halls to obtain what was needed, A top cardiologist came up from the floor below, and took over. Others came, and I was told that when the surgeon went into the top of the artery to make a hole for the catheterization and the angioplasty, a small hole was pricked into the other side of the artery. Six pints of blood had leaked out into her abdominal cavity. The heart stopped beating as there was nothing there to pump, although the electrical charge was still there I was told. It was amazing how quickly they could get blood from an emergency supply of the right type and get it into her system. A top surgeon at 8 P.M. was still in the building, and they asked him to sew up the hole in the artery, which he did after explaining to me what he was about to do. Isn't it interesting that a top cardiologist "happened" to be doing paper work on the floor below, and isn't it interesting that a top surgeon "happened" to be in the building at 8 o'clock.in the evening? Coincidence? We don't think so! The seriousness with which the hospital staff took this emergency, was shown when they telephoned one of their women chaplains at home and asked her to come and be with me. We talked about spritual things and about the seriousness of what was going on. But I got the message of what those in the hospital thought of Helen's chances of making it were. The surgeon came back with a good report of what he had done, but on top of everything else that Helen had gone through, I could tell that they hadn't much hope. It was hard admidst all the pessimism to keep up hope, but I believed that God had brought Helen and me together, and I believed He had opened up an opportunity through Scripture Plus of teachng His Word. I needed her help. The Scripture tells us that "God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Helen was my greatest earthly need, and I believed I could count on Him answering my prayer with that assurance. Since all the friends and relatives had gone home with hopes which had turned false. I needed to get word to them as quickly as possible. I called Helen's long time friend and asked her to get word to our doctor, and have him contact our daughter in California. This he did, and, as I understand it, told her if she wanted to see her mother alive, she should make all haste. She got an emergncy spot on a plane, and then called the hospital. She talked to Helen's nurse who told her that there was no way Helen could make it. So she came thinking it was all over. The cardiologist told me he did not want me to go home that night. He felt it was too dangerous after all I had gone through and the time being so late. So I stayed. At about 2:30, I was awakened by our doctor who had come to look over the situation and talk to me and Helen. I asked him what he thought about Helen's chances. He said she will soon be singing Jehovah's praises. Then he went to see Helen. All she can remember now of what he said was, "Helen, hang in there. The machine is breathing for you, so hang in there." One of the big problems was to contact the Padgetts. You know how they suggested we start a site with various pages, but a weekly Bible study. You know Bev handles the background, music, etc. The current message had gone to her, but I needed to keep in touch with her as a friend, and she needed to know what had happened. We needed her and others' prayers. I kept thinking that I would get home in the next hour or so. I should have called from the hospital. When our daughter got there she took my car and went out and checked everything and on her return I went home, showered and shaved and contacted the Padgetts. Then one of the great things happened. They contacted our friends and their friends and others to pray. This was a wonderful work and Helen & I are so grateful. Helen continued lying there day after day, immobile with the ventilator down her throat and other tubes in vaious places. Helen couldn't talk, of course, but she did invent sign language. For example one evening as I was planning on leaving, she beckoned me over to the side of the bed. Than she took her hand and reached my head and slowly brought it down to about the mattress level. Then she took her two hands and shaped them like the praying hands and held them up. Our daughter exclaimed, she wants you to pray on your knees. As the first week ended there was some consternation that Helen's abdomen was getting larger and they didn't know why. They made several x-rays and sound scans. There was talk that three of the top doctors were coming to the hospital on Sunday and see if they could determine the problem. After all that Helen had been through, this report seemed very unsettling. The first of the week dawned and still no decision. On Tuesday I was scheduled, on the spur of the moment, to get our poodle, Sami, groomed, which was way past due. It turned out to be the same morning that they decided to make an exploratory operation in Helen's abdomen. Helen would not give her permission until I came (I wasn't notified or I wouldn't have gone to get Sami clipped.) Our doctor called me at home, just after I brought Sami home, and told me about the problem. He told me that Helen would not give permission until I was there and approved. He told me that if the surgery occurred, Helen might make it, and Helen might not make it. But he went on to say, if the surgery does not occur, Helen will not make it. I got to the hospital about 12:30. I was asked by those in charge if I would agree to an exploratory operation to find her problem. In my mind I was thinking, "Hasn't she had enough? Must she also have this dangerous and difficult surgery?" But there was only one answer. I looked at Helen lying there looking into my eyes with love and trust. With a little nod of the head, I let her know that this would be the right decision, while my heart was crying out , "Not this, too." But looking into her eyes as I nodded to her that I was approving the surgery, and I saw the love and trust in her eyes, I felt, "I cannot let her down, she trusts me, and she knows I trust God, as she does. I thought of all of you praying, not knowing what the circumstances were but praying that God's will be done. I've always heard behind every cloud is a silver lining...but where was Helen's silver lining? The surgeon told us that if they found the blockage on the left side, it would mean a colostomy, but on the right side there would be no colostomy. In about an hour and a half, he came into the room we were in and said that it was on the right side. There was blood mixed with feces which caused the blockage. He cut the blockage out and sewed the intestines together. This was encouraging. And then he said, "The intestine was dry and fragile. It could break and the surgery would have to be repeated. What was so encouraging at first seemed of little importance if the intestines gave way. I knew of a man that had that happen in his appendix surgery. I asked him, could another blockage develop? He answered, "Oh, yes, there could easily be another blockage develop because of what has happened." It has seemed so encouraging such a few minutes ago, and now it has changed. But all of you praying didn't change, and the intestine did not give way, and another blockage did not develop. Praise to the Lord, and praise to those who were with us on the front lines, or giving us support from behind.
But there were other rough moments for Helen. One day after the surgeon had left Helen's room, a relative stopped the surgeon and asked him some questions. Helen told me recently, you can't imagine what one feels lying there and hearing two people talking about your possible death. Finally the nineteen days the ventilator was in place were over and Helen was learning to talk and to breathe on her own. One afternoon while I was there, she suddenly couldn't breathe. The gasping and frightened look in her eyes were real. I had experienced them myself when I had asthma problems. There was no nurse in sight, and I ran out into the nurses station trying to find a nurse. Finally our nurse came down the hall and I told her the problem. She went over to the monitor and told me the monitor says she has plenty of oxygen. All she needs to do is to breathe slowly and deeply. Fine, if everything is normal, which it proved not to be. I told the nurse she doesn't have enough oxygen if she is gasping for breath. So they gave her some oxygen which helped a great deal. Then, after a while, it happened again, and again the oxygen was used. In fact this happened three times before I went home, and you can believe I went home with a heavy heart. Sometime during the night, it must have happened again, and someone else was concerned. In doing so, they found a ball of mucous the size of a golf ball blocking the opening into one lung altogether, and Helen was trying to get along wth one lung. What happened when they were removing the obstacle I do not know. I was told that there was a cardiac arrest at that time, making two cardiac arrests, besides all of the other problems. After all this, and thanks to all prayers and God's healing hand upon Helen, I was able to bring her home on June 1, 50 days after she was admitted to the hospital for what we thought would be a two-day stay. Helen is gradually gaining strength. When you start from zero it takes a little longer than when one starts at 50% We both thank you prayer warriors very much. We have been in a battle, and it isn't over, and we will appreciate your continuance with us. Our Father we thank you for what you have done for Helen, and we do pray that she may continue to improve in every way. And for those with us in prayer, bless each one in the name of Your Son. Amen.
My dearest friends, I shall always be grateful that you cared enough to Pray for me! Was it your Prayers that started my heart to beat again, or gave me life when the Doctor said I could not live? Or maybe you just sat quietly on my bed & held my hand. I love you & thank you very much. Helen
At the beginning of this story, it says "A story of love, devotion and abiding faith." I don't believe anyone could doubt that after reading Helen's story. What you didn't hear about were some facts about Robert. Robert is a very humble man. Throughout this entire situation, neither he nor Helen lost an ounce of their faith. Remember, Robert is 84 years old. Where do you suppose his strength came from during these 50 days? Every day, he made the almost 100-mile round trip to the hospital; spent the day with his beloved Helen; drove home, and, as late as it may have been, never failed to send an e-mail message to me so I could update our prayer partners. That's love, devotion and abiding faith personified. I, too, kept the faith, but I must admit...there were times when I wondered if Helen would get home to play her organ again? She did! Or, would she see her beautiful courtyard again? She did! As we read Helen's Story, we see the Hand of God in every word. I, also, want to thank all the prayer partners for their faithfulness, and I want to tell Robert and Helen how very much we love them.