. . . I watched helplessly as paralysis ambushed Greg's body, immobilizing him from the neck down.
We were in a hotel room in Hood River (not far from the place we are staying tonight). As we waited for the paramedics to come, we both wondered if he was going to die.
He'd come successfully through neurosurgery--a cervical laminectomy--just 10 days before. He felt so much better after the procedure, that I'd arranged a get-away to the historic Hood River Hotel, about an hour from Portland. It was such a beautiful spring day, that we'd stopped to hike around the Columbia Gorge for a bit. Then Greg gamely lugged our heavy suitcase up the three flights of stairs to our quaint room.
After we climbed into bed that night, Greg's neck muscles started spasming and he became increasingly uncomfortable. At one point he asked me to inspect the incision on the back of his neck, saying it felt like he'd ripped out his stitches.
I assured him the incision looked fine, but by this time he was in so much pain that he got up and sat in the lone chair in our room, an over-stuffed wingback chair.
He'd probably been sitting up for about 5 minutes when Greg said, "I can't move my right arm!" Convinced he was having a stroke, I grabbed the room phone and dialed 9-1-1. By the time I'd hung up the phone, he'd lost feeling--and movement--in his lower body. The paralysis moved, he told me, from his right arm to his right leg to his left leg and finally deadening his left arm.
"It's getting hard to breathe," Greg told me, calmly. "Can you come and help me hold up my head?"
When the paramedics arrived, I answered their questions then left the room as the maneuvered his uncooperative body onto a stretcher. Because his vitals signs weren't good, they decided to take him by ambulance to the Hood River ER, then Life Flight him to Portland.
They ended up having to transport Greg down three flights of rickety stairs because the stretcher wouldn't fit in the ancient elevator!
When we got to the ER, the paramedics parked the stretcher in the waiting room and whisked me off to sign papers. While I filled out forms, an amazing event transpired on the other side of the room--God healed my husband!
The way Greg tells it, he simply decided to ask for help. He'd initially thought he was dying and was actually OK with that. He told me later that while we waited for the ambulance to arrive, he'd been singing "I Love You, Lord" silently, wanting worship to be the last thoughts he offered up on this planet.
After the paramedics got there and put him on oxygen, Greg decided he was probably going to live, but be paralyzed for life. This was definitely as less attractive option to him.
So, left to his own devices for a few moments, Greg cried out to God. "Help me, Lord!" is all he can remember praying. But within seconds of uttering that simple prayer, feeling--and mobility--returned to Greg's body. In the opposite order of how it left.
He first noticed a slight tingling in his left hand, and then tried to bend his fingers--and they moved! Then he wiggled his left toes, then his right foot, then he raised his right arm and waved!
"Look dear, I can move!" he announced. The ER staff burst into action, poking and prodding and rechecking his vitals. Greg's condition was so improved that they cancelled the helicopter ride and decided to take him by ambulance back to Portland.
An hour later, we reached Adventist Hospital--about the same time Greg's neurosurgeon got there (just back from his vacation in Hawaii--which we paid for, I'm sure). He ordered an MRI, which showed a 3 1/2" blod clot pressed up against Greg's spinal cord (the surgeon had nicked an artery during the first surgery and stitched it up. Those sutures ripped during Greg's muscle spasm, causing the internal bleeding which formed the clot). Greg was rushed into surgery, the blood clot evacuated . . . and he went home the next day--almost as good as new.
Before he was released from the hospital, however, the doctor came to see him.
"You should either be dead or paralyzed," Dr. Kellogg told us. "You should have either bled to death or be a quadraplegic from the damage the blood clot did to the spinal cord. The man upstairs must not be done with you yet!"
Indeed. And as I sit here typing--on our first get-away to Hood River since that traumatic evening--I am filled with gratitude for my husband, who is snoring softly beside me.
Remembering the simple prayer for help Greg offered up that night, I'm prompted to pray a simple prayer of my own . . .