This is not Sarah posting – this is her husband, Jason. I’m sure most of you have heard by now, but Sarah suffered a stroke yesterday and had to be airlifted to Sacred Heart. I’m going to try and write a semi-coherent post about everything that happened, which should be fun because I’m running on nothing but the after effects of adrenaline, several cups of coffee, and about 1.5 hours of sleep I grabbed this morning. Buckle up, and don’t freak out.
Tuesday afternoon I came home from work to help my wife get ready for my parents coming to visit. I volunteered to watch Lucy while she ran some quick errands with my brother Scott. A while later, my brother Scott opened the door and asked me to come quick, because something was wrong with Sarah. I handed him Lucy, and went outside. Sarah was on the ground next to the car, conscious, but really *really* out of it. She kept asking to go inside and lie down, and kept saying that her right side felt weak. I realized quickly that this was going to need an ER trip, because her right side was fine – but her left side was completely limp. She had no control over her left leg, or foot, and the left side of her face looked less responsive as well. I kept talking to her, asking her questions about how her day went and what she bought at Target to keep her awake and responsive, and pulled her up to a semi standing position, and from there was able to get her in the back passenger seat. I buckled her in, left Scott with quick instructions for Lucy, and drove to the ER at Kadlec as fast as I could.
When we got there, I ran in and got the ER team. They brought her back to the ER and quickly ran tests. Several members of our family showed up, along with our Pastor. Things did not look good. Sarah wasn’t able to feel anything on her left side, and had little to zero movement for her left arm and leg. The doctors asked for permission to start her on tPA, which is a drug that can be effective for strokes, but only if it is administered in the first three hours. It was now that they started mentioning the chances of death, along with other scary side effects. We agreed, and they began the treatment. It appeared that she was getting a bit better, but then her symptoms changed for the worse. It was around this time that they told me she’d be airlifted to Spokane. (Though, I’m now told that this was the plan all along, they just didn’t tell me because they didn’t want to freak me out.)
There wasn’t room for me in the helicopter. I would have to drive. Meanwhile, this whole time Sarah has been reaching up to stroke the side of my face with her hand, and saying she loves me, and that moment happened – you know, the moment that happens to anyone who takes someone they love to the ER. It’s the moment where you realize that this might really be it. And that there’s nothing more you can do about it except wait and pray. I had told myself I wouldn’t lose it in front of Sarah, and I didn’t. As soon as they took her to be airlifted though, I lost it. It wasn’t from a lack of hope – I knew God was in control, I knew Sarah was in good hands, and I knew that we had prayer support. I just felt weak, and completely unable to handle this.
My Dad took me home, and I quickly threw together some clothes, cell phone chargers, and meds and toiletries. Lucy had woken up crying, so I was able to hold her and comfort her (this actually helped immensely.) I said goodbye, and we then began the drive up to Spokane. None of us knew how Sarah was doing, or even if she was still alive.
We finally got there, and I asked at the ER check-in what her status was. They said that she was in the middle of a procedure, and that when they were done she’d be moved to a room in the ICU. We sat and waited. Finally I was brought back to see her – she looked like she was asleep, but she soon opened her eyes, saw me, and smiled. She was able to move her left arm a bit, and lift her left leg as well. We were told that they had gone in through an artery in her thigh, and ran the scope all the way up to the blocked artery in her brain. They then broke it into pieces and removed it. It was successful, and she showed immediate improvement. This is a newer procedure, and Sacred Heart is (supposedly?) one of the flagship hospitals performing it. Don’t quote me on that, though, since it might just be the (admittedly awesome) nurses from up here bragging.
I stayed with Sarah through the night. She joked with the nurses, held my hand, and slept when she could. So far, she’s doing great. She’s not out of the woods yet, but there was a definite miracle done.
Most of you know me. And most of you know that Sarah and I are Christians. Most of you also know that I’m very critically and scientifically minded, and this has caused confusion for both our believer friends and non-believer friends. For the nonbelievers, they often wonder how someone who’s otherwise very scientifically minded can believe in a “pie-in-the-sky fairy tale” like Jesus. And for our believer friends, this has often caused frustration when my scientific, political, or social views don’t line up with theirs. I completely understand both sides – but I hope events like this can help show both of these two sides how awesome our God can be. I was terrified, but I had complete faith that our God had Sarah in His hands. I knew this because He has not only promised it, but He has shown this, time after time. The set of circumstances that have kept Sarah and I alive for our lives has long surpassed the “unlikely coincidence” threshold. In every one of our fights for our health one thing out of thousands could have resulted in our death. In every circumstance, God has provided. Some will still call this good luck, or medical skill – and yeah, I can see that. But what I see is a loving God using science, knowledge, and the love and care of others to work miracles. Sarah could be dead. In fact, judging from some of the reactions of the doctors up here she SHOULD be dead. And not only is she not dead, she’s regaining movement and body functions every hour. Not only did Sarah have some of the best medical care available in the Northwest, she had hundreds – yes, literally hundreds – of people praying for her throughout the night. I had to stop checking facebook because the support, love, and prayer kept making me tear up and cry. This is what defines true Christian love – not the messages of hate, bigotry, and power that is becoming all too associated with the Christian church, but this overwhelming outpouring of love, support, and prayer. We had people willing to drop everything and drive to Spokane if needed. We had people who, even though they had jobs they needed to get up for, stay up through the entire night just to pray and support us. We have people we’ve never actually met in person (aka, internet and message board friends) praying for us. And that prayer and support, and our faith in God, and the doctors and technology up here all melded together and formed a miracle.
True, she’s not out of the woods yet. But you know what? She’s still alive. She’s laughing. And this was not the likely outcome. This could have turned out very differently. But it didn’t. And I’m not going to turn this into a soapbox moment, or even a come to Jesus moment. You guys know Sarah and I. I’d like to think you know what we stand for. And I just wanted to let you know a little bit of just how our faith was tested – and reaffirmed a thousand times over – in the past 24 hours.
I’m going to list a few praises and prayer requests, but first a few notes.
- I apologize for my many grammar and spelling mistakes. This is, frankly, not me at my best. If you catch any mistakes, let me know and I’ll correct them. (This is especially for you, Tami )
- Our Pastor preached a sermon on Sunday on the topic of what to do when you’re faced with impossible situations. It was highly relevant for our situation, and God kept bringing bits and pieces to my mind throughout this whole experience. If you’re struggling, I’d highly recommend giving it a listen. It was called “When You Don’t Know What To Do”, and it’s available on iTunes and from our church website here: http://thefirstfamily.net/sermons
- The music of David Crowder Band, Gungor, and Rend Collective Experiment has encouraged me beyond words. They’re all bands that avoid the shiny happy Christian music genre, and instead make music that is creative, challenging, and refreshingly real. In normal days, they’re awesome bands making great music. In times like this, their music becomes something much, much more vital. I realize I sound like I’m geeking out here, but go to Spotify, make a playlist, and start listening.
Ok. Praises and prayer requests time.
- My brother Scott was home to watch Lucy while I took Sarah to the ER.
- My Mother and Father were here to help watch Lucy / drive me to Spokane.
- We got Sarah to the hospital within a half hour of the stroke. This, I am told, was vitally important. If you suspect someone of ever having a stroke DO NOT WAIT. Get them there as soon as you can.
- We were able to administer the TNA within three hours of the stroke.
- The helicopter ride up for Sarah (and car ride for me) was safe and noneventful.
- Sacred Heart is one of the hospitals doing a new procedure for stroke treatment. They were able to perform it within 6 hours of the stroke. This procedure likely saved Sarah’s life.
- Sarah has shown remarkable improvement in her left side mobility. She can lift her lift leg, move her foot, hold her phone well enough to text, and is able to grab and squeeze my hand with her left hand.
- She’s also talking clearly and alertly, and is pretty much completely coherent. Except when she’s asleep.
- There are hundreds of people supporting us in prayer and encouragement across the world. (Yes, world. We have people in other countries praying.)
- Sarah wants to leave the hospital. This is good, because it shows that she’s back to her usual attitude regarding hospital stays.
- Sarah’s still at risk of brain bleeding. This would be very, very bad. She’ll be out of the biggest danger zone tonight.
- She’s also still at risk of the artery that the blockage occurred in collapsing. This would also be very bad.
- Ongoing symptoms – There is brain damage. So far, Sarah looks great. But there could be areas of damage that we haven’t seen yet. Physical ability, memory, personality… all of these could be affected. Please pray that we can deal with whatever comes up in a hopeful and positive way.
- Physical Therapy – Sarah’s going to need it. Please pray that this goes well. Also pray that it will strengthen her and help get her back on her feet.
- Our daughter, Lu. We have family watching her now back at home, but she needs her Mom and Dad there. Pray that we can be with her soon. And pray for our family as they watch her.
- Insurance – in theory, this is all covered. However… insurance companies like to argue. And with the airlift involved, this could get complicated. Please pray that the claims will go through without a fight.
- Sarah’s wedding rings are missing. They were there when she got in the helicopter, but no one knows where they went after that. Pray that they find them!
- Finances – We are ok. But if I have to take time off from work to help with Sarah, or if the insurance refuses to cover something, things could get real bad real quick. God has *always* provided for us in this area, but please pray that we can trust Him in it so we can focus on getting Sarah healthy and well, instead of worrying about money.
- My work situation – pray that I can balance caring for Sarah and Lu with my job so I can continue providing for them.
- My own health –I have multiple sclerosis. Things that can trigger attacks or flare ups include lack of rest, stress, and overexerting yourself physically. Pray that I stay healthy so I can take care of Lu and Sarah!
- And finally, pray that Sarah will still be able to knit, use the computer, and play xbox. I know it seems small, but these three things all require dexterous use of her left hand, and she’ll be crushed if she can’t do them anymore.
I’ll update this post with praises and prayer requests as time goes on. Let me know if you have any specific questions.