Page 1 Magazine Cover
Page 2 First National Bank
Page 3 Table of Contents
Page 4 Miracles Still Happen
Page 5 Miracles Still Happen cont.
Page 6 Cheating Death
Page 7 Cheating Death cont., B&C; Landscaping
Page 8 Putting God First
Page 9 Money Saving Vacations, Window World, Oakdale Christian Academy
Page 10 Power Pack Ministries
Page 11 Power Pack Ministries cont., Kemper
Page 12 Book & Movie Review
Page 13 Top 20 Music List, Knox Funeral Home, Fabric World
Page 14 Supermom
Page 15 Supermom cont., The Heritage, East Kentucky Metal
Page 16 The Potluck
Page 17 Finleys Fun Center, Clayton Homes, O'Neil Funeral Home, Overhead Door of Corbin
Page 18 Ask the Pastor, Corbin Physical Therapy, Parkway Ministries
Page 19 Clear Creek Bible College, Sonshine Christian Store, Cumberland Baptist Institute
Page 20 Tri-State Institute of Hair
May 30, 2009 began as many other springtime Saturdays for me and my husband, Tom. We spent the late morning hours doing our yard work for the week. At around 11:30 a.m. as Tom was putting the weed-eater back in the garage, he stated he did not feel well and was going to go in the house and cool off.
Something did not feel quite right to me after he went inside, so I followed him after a few minutes and found him sitting on the couch, sweating profusely and feeling sick. Tom had no known health problems, so my first thought was he simply got too hot before he stopped working. I brought him a cool rag, a cool drink and some saltine crackers. He suddenly jumped up and ran to the bathroom and things went from bad to worse in a very short order.
When I followed him into the bathroom, he was sitting in the floor and could not get up. He was having difficulty breathing, his skin was a terrible yellowish-gray color, his chest was hurting and he had lost the use of his left arm. I called 911 immediately and this is when a chain of miracles began to occur. Obviously, the following details came together over the course of days or weeks, but when linked in chronological order, they make quite an impact.
When I began the 911 call, there was no ambulance physically in Knox County. However, by the time I ended the call, one had just reported back in (Miracle #1) and it was sent directly to us. Upon arrival at the Knox County General Hospital there were two highly skilled physicians — and a well trained nursing staff present (Miracle #2). Dr. Walters was the ER Physician on duty but Dr. Ashburn was also there on rounds. They recognized the severity of the heart attack and called for a helicopter, which was only 15 minutes out (Miracle #3). The plan was to airlift Tom to Saint Joseph in Lexington.
The hardest part until now had been being relegated to the waiting area while they stabilized Tom for transport. Finally, they said I could sit with him until he was flown out. We were able to exchange “I love you’s,” and then Tom looked at me and whispered, “Baby, I don’t think I am going to be able to hang on.”
Trying to lighten the mood I said, “I’m sorry, but you don’t have a choice.”
He then said, “Something is wrong with my head.” His eyes rolled back and he lost consciousness. The next thing I knew I was back in the hallway and medical personnel were coming from every direction. This is where everything became surreal.
I have been a Christian since I was 13 years old, but I have always been reserved in demonstrating my faith. I sit quietly in church and very seldom say anything publicly. However, at this point in time, I hit my knees — unashamed in the middle of the hallway - and I very loudly begged God to save Tom’s life. I didn’t care who saw me, I didn’t care who heard me, and I didn’t care what they thought of me. I knew at that specific point in time, only God could bring Tom back to me.
My family finally managed to drag me to a less crowded part of the hallway but I was still on my knees praying. My daughters, Stacey and Samantha, were down there with me. By this time, most of my family had made it to the hospital as well. I could hear other members of my family praying and our pastor, Dennis Chestnut, was now also in the mix. Then I began to hear something else bleeding through the fog.
“Charging,” then “Clear,” then a horrible “Zapping” sound.
It finally dawned on me they were shocking Tom’s heart. This went on, and on, and on, and on. I started to read the expressions on my family’s faces (two of them are RN’s). There were too many shocks. Each time I heard the sequence, I knew it was going to be the last time they tried, but I kept saying over and over again, “God, in you all things are possible.”
Finally, Dr. Walters called me out and stood before me. My logical mind had already tried to prepare me for what he was going to say, but my heart refused to go there until I heard him say the words. He said, “We got him back, but he is not very stable. We are going to try for London instead of Lexington.”
I think I hugged and kissed the doctor but again, at this point, I wasn’t too concerned about my public actions. God had answered my prayer (Miracle #4). Tom was still alive and as long as there was life, there was a chance.
The helicopter team headed out with Tom toward the landing pad. I followed closely behind until I reached the end of the “safety zone” where I could only watch from a distance. I couldn’t understand what was taking so long. Why didn’t they start the engine? Tom didn’t have much more time. Then it became horribly clear. They were pulling him off the helicopter and heading back toward the ER. He had coded again! They were actively doing CPR as he was rushed back into the hospital. As they went past me, I begged Tom not to give up. He probably couldn’t hear me but — just in case — I wanted him to know I was there and I wanted him to fight.
We went back to our spot in the hallway and back to the sequence (charging, clear, zap). I sat down on the floor this time and just waited. I had reached a point of numbness. I didn’t know what else to do or say so I just waited. A stranger approached me and asked if she could pray for us. I told her she could and she prayed the sweetest prayer for me and my husband. I knew in my heart she was baring her soul to God on our behalf and I was so grateful for her. I had seemed to run out of words so she was helping me pray. She helped me find a level of peace.
Dr. Ashburn came out this time. He said, “All I can tell you is we got him back (Miracle #5). They are going to try to airlift again. All we can do now is pray.”
We all came together as a group — hugging all around. Dr. Ashburn prayed as the ER personnel and air team got Tom ready to go one more time.
I again followed Tom to the helicopter pad, telling him I loved him every step of the way. Again, I watched as they loaded his stretcher in the back praying that big, yellow bird would fly. This time the pilot put on his helmet, the doors closed, and the blades started to turn. I lifted my hands in the air saying, “Fly Baby Fly!”
After what seemed like another eternity, they lifted off — headed for London.
Family members jumped into cars and raced toward London. Phone calls were made to all those who were not in attendance so they could meet us there. God performed other miracles that day in making sure we all got to the hospital without hurting ourselves or others along the way, but that is a separate story.
The flurry of activity at the Knox County General Hospital turned into the flurry of activity at Saint Joseph London. The Heart Team was already assembled and waiting when the helicopter landed (Miracle #6). Dr. Patil placed a stint in the artery and then had to shock Tom’s heart back into a life-sustaining rhythm one more time (Miracle #7).
While all this was going on, I was mindlessly answering questions for the wonderfully kind admitting nurse. She was so patient as I said, “I don’t know” over and over. Tom and I have only been married four years, and we have never talked much about childhood or otherwise prior illnesses. I was pretty clueless on his medical history and terrified an omission on my part might prove to be fatal for him. Somehow, I got through it — apparently well enough.
Finally, Tom was brought into the Cardio Thoracic Unit (CTU) to be monitored 24/7 until he was deemed less critical. Seeing him with the addition of a ventilator, a balloon pump and two IV stands full of fluids/medications was almost more than I could bear. Based on my brother’s earlier by-pass surgery, I knew those devices were all there to help Tom’s body rest and try to repair its damage, but logic doesn’t trump emotion. Two doctors (Patil and Talib) were giving additional medication orders trying to get his vital signs to stabilize at an acceptable level. I didn’t know you could live with a blood pressure of 58/29 but apparently Tom can. At some point, Dr. Kavarana mentioned a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device) to buy time for a transplant. Dr. Patil told me I should call the family. Tom’s chances of survival were no better than 50/50. Reality checks don’t get much worse than this.
I spent the next 14 days watching his vital signs monitor. Tom’s heart rate needed to be below 100. It wasn’t. His blood pressure needed to be 90 something over 60 something. Far too many times it wasn’t anywhere close. However, I did learn that the MAP (Mean Arterial Pressure) was almost as important as the diastolic and systolic numbers. If the MAP was 60 or better, Tom’s organs were getting enough blood profusion to function. After the first 48 hours, that number was acceptable — most of the time.
When a family member watched him for me, I had to go through all the danger signs, so they would know when to call a nurse — if one wasn’t sitting at the foot of his bed. CTU offers a one-on-one nurse-to-patient relationship for the most critical patients. Tom had that for 2 1/2 days until his unexplained fever forced them to move him to ICU. ICU nurses have to share their skills between two patients. There were times I didn’t understand what was happening. There were times I was impatient, but they seemed to understand and not hold it against me. God bless them!
During his stay at Saint Joseph London, Tom had yet another episode of v-fib (calling for two more shocks), developed pneumonia and fought a raging sinus infection, which finally explained the 103 degree temperature once detected. Tom also underwent another surgical procedure to implant a defibrillator device that is designed to detect future dangerous heart rhythms and apply a shock to the heart in hopes of correcting the problem. He was initially discharged on June 12, had a second heart attack on June 13, and spent another week in the hospital.
Tom has been home now since Saturday, June 20, 2009 (Miracle #8). He seems to be improving every day. We have become regulars at the Barbourville Water Park, moving slowly but purposefully, around the walking track. Just how much strength will Tom be able to regain? Right now, we are uncertain but after surviving two major heart attacks, 34 electrical shocks, pneumonia, a raging infection and all this without the neurological damage that was expected by his doctors, a complete recovery doesn’t seem too far out of the question. God has brought him this far, I have faith he will continue to bless Tom in his recovery.
No matter what God’s plan holds for Tom or me in the near or distant future, we will always be grateful for his many miracles and the many angels he sent to protect us during those 22 days of fear and uncertainty. EMTs, paramedics, doctors, nurses, hospital volunteers, area churches, co-workers, family members and friends were all angels who touched our lives in so many wonderful ways. We will never forget their kindness and their willingness to do everything in their power to help in whatever manner they could. God bless each and every one of them.