This past Monday, Aug. 29, as I drove up to Laurel Hill at 5:00 pm for my daily visit with Stu, I could hear sirens, and an ambulance pulled up at the same time I did. One of the nursing home aides was coming out the front door and crooked her finger at me. "Is it Stu?" I asked, already knowing. He had had a seizure of some kind while in the shower and they couldn't find a pulse. By the time I got into his room, there was already a swarm of very tall-seeming techs working to stabilize him. I lost count at ten----there were EMT's, firemen, AND police. Kinda overwhelming. The questions were coming at me fast and thick----especially "should they do CPR or not?" Stu and I had agreed after the stroke that, should there be an emergency, we wanted the least intervention-----but Stu was alert enough right now to ask him directly. "Do you think I could have two or three minutes alone with him?" I requested. The head tech didn't skip a beat "Everybody out!" he commanded, and they cleared the room in seconds. I was very aware that this could be the last few minutes I would spend with him-----I had been told that if they didn't act quickly, his heart rate was so slow that he would die within minutes. "Stu" I said to him, my hands gently on his chest, "do you want to let go now? Are you ready" "No" he said, "I don't think so" That seemed like a pretty clear directive. I said a brief prayer for both of us, asking for strength and wisdom, and then I called the posse back in. Later, at the hospital, the head EMT approached me as I waited in the hallway and smiled in a head-scratching kind of way. "You know", he said "I've been doing this for about twenty years, and I've never had someone request that. I wouldn't have thought I'd do it, but it was fine." I told him I wanted to be confident about the direction we took, and knew that prayer doesn't have to take a long time. He said "Hey, can I use that in the classes I teach?" Yup, you sure can:-)
Ultimately we were sent to RVMC to have a pacemaker placed. The hospital stay turned out to be a blessing in diguise----when I walked into Stu's ICU room, the first thing he said is how much happier he was there! I think the change of pace (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) was refreshing for him, and during the next two days we got visits from several of our friends from church. We had been praying during the past week for fellowship for him----it gets a little bleak at the nursing home. What a funny way for God to answer that prayer.
Pacemaker surgery is a pretty routine procedure, and after watching the videos at the hospital, it made me wonder if Stu hasn't suffered from undetected heart trouble for quite a while. There is some hope that he will now experience an upsurge in energy. That would be welcome!
The whole episode was over by Wed. afternoon. Stu is back at Laurel Hill, the surgery site covered with a telfa pad. I come away with a deep sense of comfort and connection from my friends in Medford. They really took care of me and shared the crisis with me. It was another stitch in our knitting together as a church family. It all happened so fast, there was no time for me to send out an update, but I am ever grateful for the prayers of those that got Rachel's message on facebook.
Tomorrow I will write about the exciting remodeling that is happening here! Stay tuned!