I really debated as to whether or not I would blog about this.
However, after much prayer, and an insightful talk with my 13 year-old, the story does give God so much glory. That is my goal in life...
...to Give God Glory.
I know that some of you received bits and pieces of reports from us when we were on our way to Georgia on Thursday....reports from a terrified woman who was frantically trying to figure out what was happening with her husband and take care of her four children, all while a little over 300 miles from our Michigan home and a little over 400 miles from our Georgia home. (We do not own two homes....we were just going to Georgia to visit friends and family.)
Our day started out perfectly. We were able to pull out of the driveway only one hour from our "hoped for" departure time..nothing short of a miracle for us. We made great time, as the kids were too tired to want to stop and we had a whole new line-up of movies for them to watch that they had not seen in quite some time. About three hours down the road, we stopped for breakfast and potty breaks and hit the road again. Once more, we made it another three hours before everyone decided they would sort of like a lunch/stretch break. We stopped at a rest area and ate our chicken salad sandwiches from home. The kids ran around and played while Jeff and I marveled at how smoothly our trip was going. Jeff even "showed off" for his girls by doing some pull-ups on the iron arbor we were picnicking under. There was joy and laughter and lots of excitement about getting to Georgia.
It's amazing how everything can change in the blink of an eye.
After finishing lunch, cleaning up, and pottying just "one more time wheter we needed to or not", we hopped into the van and settled in for another long stretch. It looked like we would reach Georgia while it was still daylight. Woo-hoo!! However, within fifteen minutes of leaving the rest area, I looked over at Jeff and he had his shirt held up letting the A/C hit his skin. I asked him if he was hot, and he said, "No, my stomach is cramping." This is not entirely unusual for him. Within about a minute, he said, "Jeannie, I need you to pray."
Normally it would be nothing for me to pray out loud, but I opted for silent prayer so as not to alarm the girls. I put my hand on his shoulder and started praying. A minute later, he said a little more emphatically, "Jeannie, I really need you to pray." I assured him I was praying, and began to pray more intensely. It was at this time he pulled off the highway and as we traveled up the exit ramp, I realized he was pale and sweating.
I should have prayed out loud. At least the girls would have had some warning.
He stopped at the top of the ramp at a traffic light, and in a split second, I realized that he had gone limp and was jerking all over. I immediately grabbed him and started crying out to God.
"Dear God, HELP US!! No!! Please, God, help us!"....
I am not one to freak out in crisis, but this scared me to death. My initial reaction was to hold him and make sure he was okay. However, our safety moved up my priority list. I realized that his foot had come off the brake and we were gliding into the intersection. There were cars everywhere, including one red car that really should have hit us. It is only by God's hand that the red car missed us. There was a semi-truck coming from the other direction....there was nowhere to go. I grabbed the wheel (I couldn't reach the brake) and tried to pull us over to the side of the road. I switched gears to "park" and prayed that would be enough to stop the van before something terrible happened.
We did stop, right into a huge dirt bank, and I immediately jumped out of the car...again trying not to alarm the girls any further....and called 911.
At this point, Jeff was still passed out and jerking all over and I was terrified. At one point, the 911 operator asked if he was breathing. I looked back and he was slumped over in his seat.
"Oh, dear Lord, please let him be breathing".
About that time, he looked up, very confused, and pointed to the gas station right in front of us.
"Thank you, God He is still breathing."
He moved to the passenger seat and I drove us to the gas station.
To make a long story short, we pulled up to the gas station and the ambulance came within 5 minutes. They took him to the hospital, and as we followed, the questions began. You know, the one million questions from four, very frightened little girls.
"What's going to happen to Daddy?"
"Why is this happening?"
"How are we going to pay for this? Will insurance cover it?"
"What will happen to us if Daddy has to stay in the hospital?"
"Are we still going to Georgia?"
"Did we pray for the wrong things when we left the house?"
At that point, if I could have stopped the car I would have, but as I drove I said, "Girls, I want you to listen to me. You don't ever have to wonder if you have seen the hand of God, because today, you saw His hand in a mighty way. It was only by God's hand that we were not hit by a car in the intersection when Daddy passed out. I don't know why all of this is happening, but here is what I do know. God is still sovereign. None of this took God by surprise. Before this even happened, He already knew how He was going to take care of us and He has us and your Daddy in the palm of His hand."
All of those things are true, and I felt a peace like I never have at that very moment. I was still very concerned and shaken up, and of course, all I wanted to do was get to Jeff's side, but still...that peace that passes all understanding.
It took us almost thirty minutes to get to the hospital because of a missed turn and lots of construction. When we finally arrived, I felt the loneliness of being all by my self with my four girls. I couldn't help but think, "What if I leave here a single mother?" My logic knew that he was probably going to be okay, but those were the thoughts that popped into my head. The triage nurses would not let the girls go back with me (of course), so after I consoled them (they had all new break downs at this point) I went back to check on Jeff. He was laying in the bed, still pale, but awake and talking. He was asking the nurse if there was someone who could help me and his girls.
That's him. Always thinking of us first.
After much testing, the doctor confirmed that he believed it was the same problem Jeff had dealt with in high school and college, even though it has been almost 20 years since he has had any sign of it. It is called a vasovagal reaction. When he was in high school and college, there were a few times he passed out in the bathroom, but he was always home alone so no one has ever seen it happen to know exactly what his body does when it happens. Basically, after he eats, the blood vessels to his stomach open to allow blood to go his stomach to aid digestion. The problem is that all of his vessels dilate to allow blood in and blood rushes to all of his lowere xtremeties, robbing his brain of blood and oxygen. The doctor said it is very common for a person to appear as if they are having a seizure, but if it had been a seizure, he would have been disoriented much longer. He also said that it would be very unlikely that he would develop a seizure disorder at htis age, having no previous history of seizures. So after hours of testing and hours of me running back and forth from Jeff's room to the waiting room to check on the girls, it was time to leave.
There was a part of me that thought, "I feel pretty good still. Maybe we can make it a few hours more in the car so we don't have to get a hotel room." Thankfully, God put other people in my life to think for me when I am having insane thoughts like those. My Mom (Bev) called ahead to a hotel near the hospital and got us a room for the night. She convinced me that I was too emotionally exhausted to keep traveling. Even though I still felt pretty good, I didn't argue.
I am glad I didn't argue.
Once we got into the hotel room and I knew that Jeff was resting and all of my little chickies were safe, all of the adrenaline left my body and I crashed. I mean C-R-A-S-H-E-D. I laid down on the bed and that is the last thing I remember until I woke up about an hour and a half later.
In the midst of this whole situation, we have so much to be thankful for.
We did NOT get in a crash. I get chills when I ask myself questions like:
"What if we had been driving down the highway at 75 miles per hour on cruise control?"
"What if a car or semi truck had hit us when we drifted into the intersection?"
I am so thankful the Jeff has not developed some sort of seizure disorder or did not have something awful like a brain tumor.
I am thankful that in the midst of all the juggling, the girls were safe and taken care of.
I am thankful for the godly administrator who took me under her wings.
I am thankful for a place to stay that night.
Most of all, I am thankful for all of YOU, our Michigan and Georgia friends, who prayed us through the whole ordeal.
I am thankful to be safely in Georgia visiting friends and family.
Never doubt if God is there for you. He is and He loves you.