Miracle Moments Miracle Moments with Family

N JUNE 22, my dad was watching a Texas Rangers game with my mother, who was playing on the computer just a few feet away. He stood up and fell forward unconscious, hitting his lip on a lamp table. My mom immediately tried to turn him over and noted that his color was not good. She could not move him at all and immediately dialed 911.

Paramedics were in the house within three minutes. They shocked my dad seven times, then began CPR and placed him on a stretcher, bagging him all the way to the hospital. Within 20 minutes, he arrived at the Emergency Room and was placed on a respirator, still unconscious but in stable condition.

The physicians told my mom to call our family in to discuss “quality of life” issues. I lived a 10-hour drive from the hospital and arrived the next day. My dad was still in a coma in ICU, hooked to a respirator, with a very gloomy-looking EEG. I remember spending most of the afternoon watching friends and family wait for updates from the unit. That evening following church, many of Dad’s friends came by, and the waiting room at the hospital began to fill up. At some point one of his friends asked that we all stand and hold hands to pray. There must have been 40 or 50 of us there. It felt very intense, and our emotions were running high. We prayed for my dad and for God to be with us.

That is when the miracles started to happen. In fact, I cannot count the number of miracles that occurred over the next seven weeks!

Not two hours after the prayer, we went in to visit Dad, and the nurse reported that he was “overriding” the respirator and seemed to be breathing on his own! We did not know exactly what this meant but learned that if his progress continued, they would take him off the respirator the next morning. We were exhausted and decided to go home for the evening since Dad was under 24-hour nursing care.

The next morning, we arrived to find the physicians encouraging us to remove Dad from the respirator. We left the nursing unit and waited. After a couple of hours, they allowed us back in and reported Dad’s eyes were open. We could tell he couldn’t focus but followed images around the room. When we were allowed to visit again, a huge smile came over him when he saw and appeared to recognize us. With each visit to the unit, we experienced a new and exciting improvement. By Tuesday morning, Dad was slurring our names, and we were ecstatic. The doctors and nurses repeated the EEG and detected minimal brain damage. By that afternoon, Dad was admitted to a private hospital room.

He was quite restless and required a sedative that night to relax. However, the next morning he was cheerful and so grateful to see all of us. He could not imagine the feelings we were experiencing. Each day, Dad’s health improved until, finally, he was admitted to a Home Health program. Although his speech was still a little slurred, we understood everything he said. He didn’t have a problem swallowing and progressed to pureed food. Dad’s memory was not completely restored, but we simply reminded him of things he seemed to have forgotten.

By the end of the week, the doctors asked us to consider placement of a Defib/Pacemaker in his chest, which was successfully implanted the following week. Just 13 days after the “sudden death event,” Dad was able to go home. In about another seven weeks, Dad was moving about without the help of a walker and resumed working with an editor on an autobiography he had been writing before he became ill.

God is good and answers prayers. There are strong Christians everywhere, but I never ask God why He chose to answer our particular prayers and not someone else’s. I have close friends who did not get a second chance with their loved one. My entire family is very grateful and none of us take a single minute for granted. I thank God every day (and sometimes many times a day) for blessing us with the miracle of Dad’s recovery. Overall, this experience has made me a stronger Christian and strengthened our family bonds in ways we never thought possible.

Joan Pace
team leader
CHRISTUS Jasper Memorial Hospital
Jasper, Texas