FLINT, MI – Thursday, March 16, 2017, is a day in which our household was dramatically changed for the rest of our lives. It was a day the journey of repeated trips to and from the hospital began.
My two children, Ana (15) and Steven (13) were busy finishing up on homework and playing games on the computer. Karen, my wife of 19 years, was finally coming home late from work. She had been working a lot lately, and after dinner fell asleep in her recliner. I did not want to wake her since she was comfortable and sleeping so soundly. Sometime later, I was awakened by a sound and rolled over to go back to sleep, but there was this nagging sensation for me to investigate.n It was 5:04 in the morning.
Opening the bedroom door, I found Karen beneath the dining room table. I went over to her and tried to wake her, but to little avail. All Karen would say is, “I can’t breathe.” My eyes quickly caught the sight of Ana and Steven's faces, both white as sheets, staring in silence at the sight before them. Immediately, I called 911. The paramedics were there in minutes and took her to Hurley Medical Center in Flint. I called our family Pastor, Ted Stephens, who came immediately. We sat alone in the waiting room, numb and silent, trying hard to make sense of what had happened.
The ER physician said they believed Karen had suffered a pulmonary embolism that had gone to either her heart or her lungs, but they were unsure, since they were unable to perform the correct testing. Karen’s heart kept stopping. She had been given powerful medications to break up the clot, but it had failed to work. The doctor calmly said that there was nothing more they could do, but to clean Karen up to make her presentable, and for the three of us to go back, hold her hand, speak with her, and be there when she takes her last breath.
My two children immediately broke down. I just sat there, numb to it all. I thanked the doctor as she went out the door, then I shut off my emotions. I could not concentrate on Karen. I had to think about my children. I stood up, pulling them up with me, and stated that we were not going to do this; we needed to stay strong. We prayed selfishly. We prayed that if it is God’s will then take her home, but we also asked God to keep her here with us. We hugged and cried.
The doctor returned, and escorted us to Karen’s room. The three of us walked slowly, our heads held high, with me trying hard to be strong for my teens. Pastor Ted appeared behind us as we went. The vitals screen in Karen’s room showed her heart rate to be 232 (double normal rate) and having an oxygen level of 46 (normal is 90 to 100). Her chest was heaving up and down, almost lifting her entire torso off of the bed. Her hands were tied down with tubes going down her throat and numerous tubes to her arms and legs. It was so much to take in, too much yet we found the strength for her.
We began to speak to Karen, telling her how much we loved her, and that it was okay to go home. ‘Go home, Mom. Go home,” I can still hear my children utter those words in my ears. We prayed for her and tried to speak about the good times that we had. As we spoke, time slowly crept by- 3 minutes, 5, 10, then 15 minutes. As we spoke I noticed that Karen’s skin began to appear pink. At this point the ER physician rushed us out of the room, stating that they needed to do more work on her.
Around noon, a new physician for that shift said she read Karen’s charts and spoken with the staff and several other physicians concerning Karen. They all had come to the conclusion, due to the number of times Karen’s heart had stopped (seven times), and how long she had gone with low oxygen to expect Karen to have neurological brain damage, and possibly other neurological damages, as well. The doctor told me this to ask, if knowing this, would I want Karen resuscitated if her heart should stop again. I turned to Pastor Ted, Joe and Lisa Hanson, our close friends from church who had come to the hospital, and asked what they thought. I found myself unable to make any more decisions,I was too worn out. Lisa counseled to resuscitate to find out what the damage was and I agreed.
They moved Karen to the Critical Care Unit (CCU) where her new physician ordered that all medications be stopped, so he could, ‘see what I have to work with’. To everyone’s amazement, Karen responded better than expected. When questioned, she knew where she was and what was going on. Over the next two weeks, cardiologists, hematologists, nephrologists, and other specialists, would run tests on Karen, with each doctor being completely stumped on what happened to Karen. The staff was so amazed that the ER physician and crew would keep coming up to see Karen over the next three or four days. No one could believe she was alive, and no one could believe that she didn’t suffer neurological damage.
But for my family and our church, we know there was only one possibility - a miracle. The Great Physician was on duty that day, reminding all of the power of prayer and how He is in control, not us.
Karen was released from the hospital after 14 days, thought it took several months for her body to completely heal. She has since returned to work full time, caring for her family, and working in our church. Life will never be the same. The memories of that life-changing event have impacted all of us. Somewhat surprisingly, it has been the hardest on our two teenage children. By God's love, mercy, and grace, along with the love and support from a great church body, family, and friends, we are all slowly getting back to a new version of normal. For me, I now cherish each day God gives me with my wife. God is good!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Davis of Flint, Michigan, where he and the Davis family reside. Michael is as an Adjunct Professor for a local university, while Karen is a Territorial Assistant for Hallmark Greeting Cards. They have two teenagers, Anastashya and Steven. The entire family are members of North End Baptist church. This past August 23rd, Michael and Karen celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.