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Back From the Brink

By Cherise Wyneken

“Leave his bag in your car,” the registrar told us. “Until you know which room he’ll be assigned to.”

My husband was entering the hospital for a standard surgical procedure. It was expected to take a couple of hours and require no more than two nights stay.

I kissed him good-bye at the entrance to surgery at 5:30, Thursday morning. The attendant directed me to wait in the family room of the outpatient division where I ran into a woman from our neighborhood. We exchanged our reasons for being there surgeries for her son and for my husband.

The day wore on and on and still no word. I was glad for my neighbor’s presence and her help in passing the time, but my concern was growing. What happened? What went wrong? At last I approached the volunteer. She called surgery and was told I should expect a several hour delay. By that time my neighbor’s son was released. “I’ll pray for your husband,” she said as she waved good-bye.

Pray. Yes. That’s what I need to do, I thought. But maybe he wouldn’t want me to. I was thinking of all those heated discussions we had had concerning prayer. I was a long time believer that God often gives us what we ask for. Perhaps just because we acknowledge him and ask. My husband disagreed. “What about those other people who pray and don’t get what they ask for?” he would counter. I was well aware that it wasn’t something magic. It had been my experience that sometimes God says yes. Sometimes he says no, but gives us grace to cope. And sometimes he says wait. His words had set me wondering, but I began to pray.

Late that afternoon the doctors finally appeared with their report, wearing weary, worried looks. Once they’d gotten inside his body, they found a nest of complications. My husband was critically ill. His lungs were damaged and he needed to be on a respirator. “He’ll have to stay in recovery for a while,” they said. “Then they’ll send him to CCU and let you know when you can see him.”

So I waited and prayed some more. It was time now, too, for the volunteer at the desk to go home. She instructed me to stay there and answer her phone when they called. Time went on and on until I became frantic. I found my way to CCU and entered, without the regulation tag. When a young male nurse approached and asked how he could help, I burst into tears. “I said goodbye to my husband early this morning and I don’t know where he is or how he is.” He sat me down and after some phone calls, informed me that my husband would be there soon.

As I waited in the nearby family room, I finally saw that beloved face being wheeled through the corridor. After getting him settled, they called me in, warning me to prepare for a shock. Tubes were in his nose and mouth, a respirator pulsed nearby, drainage tubes were connected to plastic containers lining the wall behind him, a screen beeped, flashing signs of his vitals. I was overwhelmed and asked if I could stay the night. They were very kind, but said, “No.”

That was bad enough, but by the next weekend I watched the nurse struggle to bring his vital signs up. The doctor was called in and told me, “He has multi-system organ failure. His only hope is another operation, but I doubt he can make it through alive.” His words struck like a lightning bolt, leaving a big black hole in my heart. No! No! I don’t want to lose him yet, I screamed inside. After fifty-three years of marriage one begins to take a relationship for granted, but that night I knew without a doubt, how much I cared for him.

I called our children 3,000 miles away and prayed. Our friend, Jon, came and stood by me as they prepared for the operation. “With all these machines and tubes, I can’t even reach to kiss him good-bye,” I said. “Don’t worry,” the nurse said. “We’ll fix it so you can.” When everything had been unplugged from the wall and realigned into a battery at the foot of the bed, we were able to reach him. Jon took my husband’s hand and told him he’d never had such a wonderful friend. I kissed him once for each of our four children, naming them as I did. Then I kissed him from myself thanking him for being such a good husband. There was no sign that he had heard. I went to the Family Room sobbing uncontrollably. When the doctor came with his report, the smile on his face, told us there was hope.

I notified my husband’s siblings and friends, who all began to pray for him. Our children came, and even the scoffers among them, prayed. The ensuing week added the dialysis machine to his plastic life. At least he was still living and we had hope. Until the weekend rolled around again, bringing news that the sack around his heart was filling with fluid. Another surgery, another life threatening situation, from which they didn’t expect him to survive.

Everyone who heard about it prayed for him. The maid who cleaned his room. The nurses and the doctors. Our family and friends. People who waited in the Family Room for news of their own loved ones. The pastor who came to call. The nuns as they made their rounds. As they rolled the gurney down the hall toward surgery, I ran up, asking if I could kiss him. “We don’t have time,” they called as they rushed on.

But once again I saw the gurney return with my husband’s living body. While they had him out on the operating table, they performed a tracheotomy so the tubes could be removed from his mouth and oxygen could be transmitted through the opening in his throat. At least he was more comfortable.

“How is your husband?” people asked. “We’re praying for him.”

I assumed they were praying that he’d get well. But it seemed that every time we thought he was recovering, some major set back appeared. At last, instead of asking God to heal him, I put it in his hands. “Dear God,” I said. “I don’t know which way to pray, what to ask for. You know all things, so you know he wouldn’t want to be kept alive on machines. Please do what you think best and help me cope.”

Slowly his condition improved. The dialysis machine was put aside, the oxygen supply was weaned, tubes were taken out, needles removed. After six weeks he was moved to Intermediate Care and then to Rehab. Two months from the day I took him there, I brought him home. A man alive.

STIR-FRIED MEMORIES, WhisperingAngel Books 2012

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Cherise Wyneken is a freelance writer of adult & juvenile poetry and prose. Her work has appeared in over 200 publications, 2 poetry books, 2 poetry chapbooks, 2 fiction (1 adult & 1 children’s, 2 memoirs, and a child’s audio tape.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERMAKE A WEBSITE

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