Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
I’ve been away for a while. This last week has been unexpected and my life as I know it has been at a standstill while my family was going through an emergency. There hasn’t been enough quinoa recipes as I had hoped and I’ve done no cooking in over a week. Prayers have been simple, repetitive, and not written down. Thankfully, all is becoming well with the world again and God has blessed my family with a testimony that has to be shared.
On Thursday night, January the fifteenth, my sister Lori called me to tell me she was on her way to a hospital in Phoenix. She had found her husband Nando in bed, barely breathing. He was unresponsive and had a slightly bluish tint. He had been home alone while she was at work so Lori had no idea how long he had been lying there. She called 911 and he was taken to the local hospital where they read that his oxygen levels were at 50%. They tried to intubate him but he was too swollen and had to have an emergency tracheotomy done instead. She told me she would let me know any more information when she arrived at the hospital.
My husband and I had been listening to Lori over speakerphone. It was one in the morning in Michigan and we were still awake having decided to test our abilities to enjoy some television while our children were in bed and still be able to function the next morning. When I heard the news I was worried, but I figured that the local hospital was just being cautious. Nando has severe asthma and this isn’t the first time he’s been in the hospital. I was confident that Nando would be okay, Lori would lose some sleep, but they would return home the next day. I hung up concerned, but not thinking that this was a life-threatening situation.
My husband on the other hand, with his medical knowledge was thinking differently. Like usual, I turned to him for guidance and support as I tried to understand the situation. “So what’s this mean, Michael? I mean it’s not too serious, right? He’ll be fine in the morning?”
“Lis, it all depends on how long he was without oxygen. If what she’s saying is true, this is serious. I would be concerned if his oxygen levels were in the 70’s and she’s telling us he’s in the 50’s which isn’t good.”
“Well, what’s normal oxygen levels?”
“Between 90 and 100. But those machines aren’t always accurate, so let’s just hope that what they saw at the house isn’t right.”
We sat in silence for a while and then I jumped in a hot shower. I prayed that God would be with Nando and comfort Lori, but all the while I still didn’t worry too much. God’s always been with us. We got this. He’s got this.
I felt rejuvenated after my shower, but came out to see my husband on the couch staring at his computer. When I asked what was up he said he was just looking at things. He shut his computer quickly and got up from the couch without looking at me and headed into our bedroom. This was completely out of character for Mike. Usually when family members called and asked about situations that seemed to us non-medically-trained people as emergent Mike would put everyone at ease. I was waiting for my husband to tell me everything was going to be okay and that these are standard procedures that doctors are used to doing. Where were his words of comfort? Instead of looking at me he was avoiding eye contact, and when I could catch a glimpse his eyes were red and wet. When he came to bed I turned to him,
“Babe, tell me the truth. What can we expect? What’s happening?”
“Right now we can’t know everything, but it’s serious. We don’t know how long he was without oxygen, but with what Lori told us he could have permanent damage.”
“Like, brain damage?”
“Yes. But Lis, that’s if he wakes up.”
“What do you mean? He’ll wake up. He has to. You’re saying he’s not going to get to go home?”
“If he wakes up it’s likely that he’ll have other problems, but don’t say anything to Lori yet.”
“How could I?” I burst into tears and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t want to. “I have to get to Lori. She can’t be there alone.” I told Mike repeatedly through sobs.
“Don’t worry we’ll get you there.”
I spent the night awake. I prayed over and over that God would restore Nando’s health. I was specific that I wanted God to allow him not only to live, but to return to us as his normal self, without brain damage. I cried whenever I contemplated the idea that God’s will might not be in line with my demands. (And I’m afraid that my prayers were at times pleading and at others demanding.) I kept my phone beside me in bed and waited for Lori to call and give me updates. About every hour and fifteen minutes my phone would startle me out of prayer and doubts about the future and Lori would tell me new bits of information. While Nando was being flown to Phoenix his oxygen levels dropped to 30%. The first hospital he was at had put in a pediatric trach instead of an adult one so he had to have an emergency surgery as soon as he arrived in Phoenix to fix the tracheostomy. What we didn’t know and found out later was that the first few family members there (thankfully before my sister arrived) were told that they needed to prepare themselves to say goodbye because he wasn’t going to make it.
At six in the morning my time Lori called to tell me what Michael had already had; the doctors were telling her that if he woke up she needed to be prepared that he would likely have brain damage because he had gone so long without enough oxygen. At this point I called my mom, who had stayed home to watch Lori & Nando’s children, and told her to drive to Phoenix because Lori would need support far sooner than I could get a plane flight. My tears returned, my prayers continued, and my husband held me while I cried. The fact that Mike never told me not to worry or that everything was going to be okay only reinforced the gravity of the situation.
About three hours later my crying had subsided but my mind was racing. Lori is eight months pregnant. How can she have four kids without a husband? How can God allow her to have to go through this? Could she move in with us? Michael cannot replace Nando as a father! I can give Lori all that I have and it would never mend her broken heart. This is not happening. It can’t. I refuse to live my own life with my perfectly healthy husband while Lori loses hers. This is not happening. When the phone rang and I saw it was my mom I answered in hysterics. She said sharply, “Lisa stop crying! Lisa stop it! He’s awake! And he’s trying to talk!”
“What?” I sat up in bed tears stopping midstream and shouted at Michael. “She says he’s awake! And talking?” Michael, now wide awake as well, looked at me in astonishment and disbelief.
“Well, he’s not talking,” my mom corrected. “But he’s trying to whisper and write notes to Lori. He’s going to be okay. Now, you have to stop crying before I let you talk to Lori.”
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Two days later I was on a plane to Arizona. That week I was able to see Nando make amazing progress and never even have to overcome obstacles that he should have faced in his particular situation. I know that not every prayer is answered the way we want it to be. I know that not every hospital experience ends as fortunate as ours did. But I do know that every doctor and nurse that saw Nando come in Thursday night didn’t think he was going to make it. I’m sure they looked at Lori, his eight-month pregnant wife, with heartbroken sympathy. I also know that Nando defied all medical odds by improving as quickly as he did. Four days later those same doctors and nurses couldn’t believe that Nando was taking his first walk and demanding a regular diet. 🙂 One attending came in and told us simply, “There’s really no way to explain it. Some things are just God.” My father-in-law said, “Saying ‘just God’ is an understatement.” I couldn’t agree more. When I left Michigan Mike tried to warn me that even though everything was looking promising I needed to realize that things could change quickly because he now had pneumonia in both lungs. The thing is though, I’m pretty sure that God did everything He needed to do that very first night. After my mom’s phone call I knew that regardless of how long it might take for him to fully recover, Nando was going to be okay. The truth is, Nando was being prayed for not just by me, but by his friends and loved ones continuously throughout the night. It didn’t matter that we weren’t “together” in the same church, or town, or even state. Our hearts were in unison in bringing our requests for healing to God. I’m thankful for the doctors that were able to help Nando and the flight nurse who no doubt helped save his life, but I don’t credit them with a medical miracle. Instead, we’ve witnessed the miracle of prayer.
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Night of darkness
Tears of sorrow
to the Father
Drowning in despair &
Overcome with grief
Thoughts imprisoned by desperation.
Morning of light
Tears of joy
Heart filling cries
to the Savior
Flooded by grace &
Overwhelmed with awe
Thoughts freed by admiration