Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)
I have mixed emotions about Valentine’s Day. I enjoy celebrating my affections with my loved ones, but always remember that it was on Valentine’s Day that my Father passed away 18 years ago.
February 13th, 2020 was a busy day. Linda finished teaching preschoolers and then met me at a Valentine’s Day social at an Independent living facility where her mother lives. We arrived home around 6:30 PM, watched some TV and then got ready for bed. Linda complained of a bad headache, something she has seldom had, and asked me what a migraine felt like. She took an Advil and went to bed.
I woke up at midnight and heard Linda struggling with her breathing. I asked her if she was alright, and when she didn’t respond after reaching over and shaking her, got up, turned on the light and found she was strangling on her vomit. I rolled her over on her side, found her in a cold sweat and not responding coherently to my questions. I knew this was serious, prayed while repeatedly saying “stay with me Linda,” and called 911..
The ten minutes it took EMS to get to us seemed like an hour. I can’t remember how many workers arrived but it seemed like eight. She was doing a little better and started responding to their questions. They asked if I wanted them to take her to go to the hospital and of course I said yes.
At St. Joseph’s Hospital in south Tampa Linda started to respond better. At first it seemed that they were considering releasing her, but when I told the doctor about Linda’s headache it was decided they’d do a cat-scan. The doctor came to me said that she had a brain bleed and they needed to send her immediately to St. Joseph’s main hospital in Tampa. I tried to follow the EMS driver, but a 3:00 AM there was very few people on the road and I couldn’t keep up with the driver at nearly 90 mile/hour. Even at that speed it seemed like it took for ever to get there. I prayed the entire time.
It was 9:00 AM in the morning when the doctors told me they had to perform surgery. They used a procedure called Endovascular coiling which “is a less invasive procedure than surgical clipping. The surgeon inserts a hollow plastic tube (catheter) into an artery, usually in your groin, and threads it through your body to the aneurysm.” Later I was told they put 13 coils into Linda’s ruptured aneurysm.
The next two weeks Linda spent in ICU. I came down with a sinus infection after the first week and couldn’t visit her the remainder of her stay. I was thankful for friends and family that came to see her and cheer her up. She was moved out of ICU after two weeks and was soon released from the hospital. It was the very beginning of the Corona Virus outbreak and the hospital staff thought she’d be safer at home. I was taking antibiotics for my sinus infection but slept in a separate room or about a week so as not to let my coughing disturb Linda’s sleep.
Linda is doing great now. Even the doctors said that she is a walking miracle. I understand that nearly 50% of people that suffer from a ruptured brain aneurysm don’t survive the first night. The majority of the those that survive have permanent damage of one form or another. Linda shows no side effects, Probably because she lost about 15 pounds from this experience she did come home with an increased appetite. I told her she was eating like a pregnant lady.
We are so thankful to the doctors, nurses and the rest of the staff at St. Joseph’s hospital. Their knowledge, quick response and great care saved Linda’s life. We’re also thankful for family and friends that stepped in to help, especially when I couldn’t visit. Most of all we are thankful to our Lord for giving Linda more time to spend on this earth. I’d be one lonely man without her.
I rejoice every day that I have Linda. I don’t need Valentine’s Day to show my affections. Every day is a special day with her. I rejoice in the Lord that he has given us more time together to talk, to laugh, to hug, to share our memories, to rejoice in out children and grandchildren, and to share time with family and friends. God is Good.
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1 ESV)