On Monday night, November 16, 2020, while watching the Steelers football game, I suddenly and unexpectedly began to shiver with chills. I have never been so cold in all my life. In a desperate effort to become warm, I went to bed where I bundled up under the covers, many of them, and tried to get warm. But there was no comfort or warmth for my defibrillator then exploded in my chest, not once, or twice, but four times. The voltage can range from 200 to 1,700 volts. An ambulance was called. I was rushed to Rockledge Regional Medical Center in Rockledge, Florida where I was eventually diagnosed with sepsis, complicated by heart failure, diabetes, and high blood pressure. For the next 12 days, including Thanksgiving, I was in the intensive care unit being watched over by a team of medical experts, alongside gifted and compassionate nurses and technicians. Much attention was needed because on the third day in the hospital my defibrillator exploded again in my chest ten times in a row. By the mercy and grace of God, I survived the ordeal. Finally, on the thirteenth day, I was moved to a step-down unit. I was able to recover enough strength to leave the hospital on Monday, November 29th to rehab at home.
There is abiding danger to my health. I still have a pacemaker, though I have had the defibrillator portion of the devise turned off. I still have diabetes, which must be monitored. I still have high blood pressure, and heart failure. But, I am alive, to make every day a day of thanksgiving.
I have shared with several people that this experience has changed me in a deep way, more so than any other major surgical procedure I have undergone, including triple by-pass heart surgery in 2013.
First, tears come very quickly to my eyes, rooted in an intense love for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. When I think of Christ, I know something of what Paul spoke about concerning entering into His sufferings, for while my pain was prolonged and intense, it pales in comparison to the cross Jesus endured to give me, and so many others, eternal life.
Second, there is an extra abundance of tender compassion in my heart, filled with deeper gratitude for a loving family that immediately came together, some at great expense and time, to love, support, and encourage me every moment in the hospital. I was never alone, even when some rules had to be bent to make sure someone was with me at all times. I am blessed to be loved so intensely by all my family, and by many friends. To know that I could reach out and touch a hand of love at any moment brought unimaginable comfort.
Third, there is appreciation beyond expression for all who prayed for me when they received word that I was in the ICU day after day. Many who have written to say they are praying for me, I have not met, and do not know personally, and yet they prayed for me. Words cannot begin to convey how precious to me are the prayers of the saints.
Fourth, there is a renewed desire for all others to be blessed as I have been. I do not want to say or speak an unkind word against anyone, but desperately long for all I speak with, to know how much grace, mercy, and peace I want for each of them. Time is short. Death is certain. Eternity is real. I want to spent each moment encouraging, loving, and speaking kindly to all who come near me. Those who need a hug, I want to cling to. Those who need hope, I want to encourage. Those who want someone to weep with them, will find my tears mingling with theirs. It is good to be alive. Every day will be a day of thanksgiving. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever” (Psalm 136:1).