This article was written for our church’s Advent devotional November 18, 2017. I elected to include it here. Howard’s stroke occurred September 17, 2017–the fourteenth anniversary of my mother’s passing. She passed away September 17, 2003. I didn’t realize that until after I completed the article.
September 17, 2017 began as any normal Sunday: breakfast followed by church and a quick stop at the super market on our way home. It also meant dragging the trash cans down to the street for pick-up the following day. That afternoon, we settled in for the Bronco game: Denver vs. Dallas. (Denver won, by the way). Then came an early evening dinner and an all-evening movie—Giant, as I recall. The unexpected occurred at 9:00 just as the movie was ending and just as Howard headed toward the kitchen to take his evening pills.
“What are you doing?” I called out.
When a strange voice sounded, I knew I needed to get out to the kitchen to investigate.
“What are you—”
There stood Howard: arms flailing about—feet kicking the cupboard—his voice garbled!
He tried to grab the edge of the sink and missed. I seized his hands to steady him, completely clueless as to what was happening. Presently, I steadied him and maneuvered him to a chair in the living room. Then his voice cleared.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I don’t know! I felt really faint!”
“How do you feel now?”
“Better. Let me sit here a while.”
He went to bed and fell asleep quickly. And I believed that he was fine when I heard his snoring.
We need to go to Kaiser in the morning! I resolved.
Howard seemed fine the next morning, although he felt a little woozy. When he called his doctor’s office, he told them he didn’t think it was anything serious. We both believed that one of his ears was impacted. After making an appointment, we headed up the road to Kaiser and were taken in soon after our arrival. After putting him through several tests, the PA told him, “You’re going to the emergency room. It appears you’ve had a stroke!”
The ER attendants plied him with a series of questions as they put him through their tests: “Why didn’t you call an ambulance?” “Why didn’t you come in last night?” “And why are you not on blood thinners since you have a pacemaker!” (His pacemaker was implanted a year ago May! He should have been on blood thinners and apparently, the doctor forgot to prescribe them!)
By the end of the evening, the attendants expressed surprise.
“We don’t understand this!” they said. “You’ve had a full-blown stroke! Your vitals look good. Your speech is clear. Your memory doesn’t seem clouded.”
“I get to go home then?” Howard asked.
“No!” they told him. “We’re going to admit you. You need to be placed on Warfarin, and there are still a lot of things we need to check out.”
Howard was in ICU at Good Sam’s for a few days. He was then moved up to the fourth floor. They told him his Warfarin level needed to be between 2-3. Several therapists checked him out over the following days. He was given a memory test on Thursday that he flubbed. But the next day, he passed the test with flying colors. He also had several visitors during his stay: Pastor John came in twice; Renee—our receptionist friend from the cancer center; our daughter Debbie, who came on Friday. Pastor John stopped in when Howard was still in ICU. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but Howard and I were both laughing when he entered the room. John’s comment: “What is this!” He thought Howard would be in dismal shape as many people are after a stroke. We even had a real estate closing in Howard’s room on Thursday. The realtor’s comment? “This is the first time I’ve ever conducted a closing in a hospital room!” It was a first experience for the title person as well. The hospital staff had him on his feet and walking by Thursday into Friday and by Saturday afternoon, I was able to bring him home. He was in church on Sunday!
People find it difficult believing that Howard had a stroke a few months ago. Some of them say, “Are you kidding me?” Others react as a dental technician did yesterday: “You had the Man Upstairs watching over you!”
“It’s a miracle!” Howard told her.
“Yes, I believe that!” she responded. “It’s definitely a miracle!”
The stroke occurred two months ago yesterday. Two months later, Howard is walking without use of his cane. He leaves it at home on most occasions unless planning to walk any distance. His blood pressure and pulse have stabilized. His memory is strong. His gait is strong. We’ve had a busy week with relatives from out of state—a mountain jaunt to Georgetown and Gilpin County—shopping—all the exciting things to do just prior to Thanksgiving.
Our hearts are full of joy as we enter the Advent season. Indeed, Howard’s healing was and is a miracle—and one we will long remember and share with others!