October 10, 2014

How Great Is Our God

If you follow me on social media (especially on my personal account), then you already know this week has been caulked full of emotion and stress.

Monday night, we almost lost my step-father-in-law. He has been battling congestive heart failure close to four years now. To make a long story short, he had surgery Monday morning to replace his LVAD heart pump for the third time in the last three years.

To fully grasp the awesomeness of this story, the doctors had only given him a ~20 percent chance of making it off the operating table when they had put in the two previous pumps. By the pure grace of God, he made it through both times relatively unscathed. By God's power, he had overcome the odds twice.

We knew he would be facing the same risks with this replacement surgery, but the doctor was confident. The doctor was more worried about complication during his recovery. After six or seven hours, the doctor emerged from the operating room to let us know that he had done wonderfully through the surgery and there were no complications. However, the doctor did mention he was still bleeding some, but once that was under control we could see him.

A couple hours later, one of the nurses told us he was still bleeding and they were having a hard time getting it under control. We began to get a little nervous, but kept praying.

Around 7:30 p.m., three nurses came running out of the ICU and basically told my mother-in-law he was bleeding so profusely they didn't know if he was going to make it and we needed to come say our goodbyes in case he didn't. They had used every ounce of blood in the hospital and had called in more from the American Red Cross. They had pumped him full of medicine to help the blood clot in hopes it would stop the bleeding, but nothing was working.

A team of nurses continued to work on him all night long doing everything in their power to recycle the blood and stabilize him. All we could do was wait and pray. We watched as the worker from the Red Cross ran through the waiting room with a cooler of blood in his hand. A couple hours after that, we saw another worker with another cooler run by.

At one point, his hemoglobin dropped dangerously low. The next day the nurse told us that your hemoglobin shouldn't drop below 15 - his dropped to 4 which isn't even life sustaining. At that point, if he did make it, our next concern would be brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain.

Having spent the last four years in and out of the cardiac unit, our family knows what a Code Blue is. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the intercom called a Code Blue to his ICU room. He was in cardiac arrest.

By the grace of God, they got him back and continued their work trying to stop the bleeding. No sooner had we all settled back into the waiting room, that terrible intercom called another Code Blue to his room. He had coded twice in an hour and half. He was bleeding so much that the gauze used to soak up the blood was compressing against his heart causing it to stop.

After bringing him back once more, the nurses placed a brace between his heart and the gauze to stop the compressing. He was fighting. God was fighting too. By God's miracle, he made it until the doctor arrived to do an exploratory surgery in a last ditch effort to stop the bleeding.

After about three hours, the doctor found it. One of the arteries in his chest, fragile from the rigor of the disease, had burst. He was able to close it and the bleeding stopped.

We would find out the next morning that we wiped out the hospital and the Georgia Blood Bank of palates and his blood type. The hospital had to cancel surgeries the next day because there were no palates left. The nurses had used it all trying to keep him alive.

The last count we heard was 86 pints of blood. Eighty six. 

He still wasn't out of the woods yet. He was still under heavy sedation so we didn't know if there was brain damage. As they stopped sedation and took him off of life support, we prayed and hoped he would give a response - a tiny move of his hand or a grimace of pain. Something.

Seven grueling hours later, he wrinkled his brow when the nurses moved him. I don't think our family has ever rejoiced so much over a wrinkled brow. He kept slowly progressing in his responses throughout the day by moving his head and arms. When my sister-in-law was at his bedside and told him she loved him, he moved his mouth as if trying to tell her he loved her too. Of course, she promptly broken down in tears and proceeded to fuss at him for scaring the living crap out of all of us.

He still has a long road to go, but he's continuing to head in the right direction every day. Our hope is that this heart pump will make him strong enough to live a long life and possibly even to a heart transplant. He has been through so much and beaten so many odds.

After witnessing first hand what has taken place over the last week, there is a God. He is my God and He is powerful beyond measure. My faith in the true, living God is affirmed more and more every day. He is worthy to be praised.

Lastly, I wanted to personally thank each one of you who prayed and sent your love to us. I believe in the power of prayer and know you helped keep my step-father-in-law here with us for a little more time. My heart is so humbled and so appreciative of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

The thought to write this post has been on my heart for much of the week. When requesting prayers, I didn't divulge into too much detail about why the prayer was needed or what all was going on. Now, I believe our story can serve as a testimony as to how powerful and great our God is. Even though it pales in comparison to how your prayers have blessed us this week, I hope this testimony blesses you in some small way.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

With love always,

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