On January 19, 2020 I got up and got dressed and came down stairs to have breakfast before going to church. As my wife came into the dinning room she found me sitting on a chair breathing heavily. She asked me if I wanted to go to the emergency room. I said, “No”. I then collapsed off my chair and she dialed 911. Thirty-six hours later I became aware that I was lying in a hospital bed. My wife and most of my children were standing around the bed with tears in their eyes and I found my own emotions overwhelm me as I looked up at them.
I found out then that the reason I had collapsed was that I had a blood clot in my leg. Part of that clot broke loose and went to my heart and then to my lungs. While the rescue squad got me to Froedtert Hospital the doctors in the emergency department diagnosed the clot, administered TPA and a heparin drip and began to dissolve the clot. This allowed my heart and lungs to regain the ability to breathe and beat on its own. Three times my heart stopped during this time and the doctors worked tirelessly to revive me and keep me going. Later that day they were able to transfer me to SICU and after a day there I was moved to a regular floor where I woke up.
Once the doctors had me stabilized and determined that my heart and lungs had sustained minimal damage they wanted to do more testing to determine what had caused the blood clot. The usual suspects of air travel allowing blood to pool in the legs, recent surgery, cancerous tumors throwing off clots, someone hitting me in the leg and causing a bruise, all were eliminated . The doctors don’t like this but had to conclude that the cause of this clot was no explanation could be determined. I must admit for myself that I also like explanations. I can’t help but wonder was it something in my diet? Was it too much exercise? Too little? A person can go on and on wondering and never knowing so I am gradually coming to realize that this happened and I survived and I must try to go on with a renewed appreciation for life so I can make the most of the days that remain.
As the doctors and my family told me what had happened I realized that it was a miracle that I survived all of this. I found myself feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to be able to spend more time with my family. And as I have continued to feel this gratefulness I have also begun to ponder what does all of this mean. If I had slipped away on January 19th I would have been able to say that I had been richly blessed. I had a career that spanned over fifty years of ministry. I had a wonderful wife and four beautiful children and two wonderful sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law and four fantastic grandchildren. Who could have asked for more. And yet I have now been given more time.
So I am pondering is there something else that i still need to do? Is there some new thing that I am being led to or should I just keep doing what I have been doing for all these years and that is talking and listening to people as they try to find their way through difficult things. Those of you who read this blog who know me have some of your own thoughts about the meaning of this. If so I would appreciate your comments and feedback. Humor and honesty are always welcome.