I don’t really know where to start. I’ve literally been staring at the screen for five minutes trying to decide where to begin this part of the story. And, for the last week, I’ve debated if I should share it with you, or not. It is, certainly, the most traumatic part of this entire experience for me. Clay doesn’t remember it, and for that I praise God. But, I will never forget it, no matter how hard I try.
The Lord impressed on my heart yesterday that I should write about it. Sharing our struggles can be an encouragement to each other, and we’ve known from the beginning that God has a plan to use this story for His glory.
II Corinthians 2:4
“Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Isn’t it amazing how God gives purpose to everything?! Even the most difficult troubles have at least one simple purpose in our lives – as God comforts us in our trouble, we are then able to comfort others who face a similar struggle. It helps us relate to each other.
And, I’m sure that many of you who read this will relate. Seizures are actually pretty common, so I know I’m not alone in this.
But, I felt very alone on Friday afternoon at 2:45.
Clay and I had a business meeting Friday morning. A dear friend had been at the house for the meeting. Clay seemed mostly fine. He was a little out of sorts, but he handled the meeting with no trouble. When it was over, we went to get lunch. When we walked into the restaurant, it was freezing, and we both just felt like we didn’t want to be there. So, we ordered and asked the waitress to prepare the food in to-go boxes.
We came home, went to our bedroom, turned the heat on (although it was warm outside) and sat down to eat and watch a movie. After he ate, Clay got up and told me he needed to go to the bathroom. I had dozed off to sleep, so he woke me when he got up. He walked into our bathroom, then into the toilet closet, closed the door, and collapsed.
I heard a terribly loud sound, like the toilet seat had been slammed down as hard as possible, but I knew that wasn’t all it was. I sat straight up and yelled Clay’s name. He didn’t answer so I ran to the door.
When he collapsed, he was facing the door, so his body fell down between the toilet and the wall, and his legs were straight out toward the door. Unfortunately, Clay picked the very smallest space in our entire house to have this episode. The area is probably 3×5, and the toilet takes up the majority of that space. His legs were blocking the door. But, worse, he was having convulsions, so his legs were constantly banging against the door. This is how I was absolutely sure he was having a seizure and not just unconscious.
I am on the outside of the door, screaming his name, while pushing with every bit of my body weight against the door. The floor is wood and I had socks on so I started slipping. I would push against the door, slip and fall. My mind was going 100 miles an hour and I couldn’t even complete a thought. All I could say was, “OH, GOD. HELP ME!” That’s all that would come out.
After probably a minute (which feels like an hour when you can’t get to your husband) I was able to push the door enough that my arm would fit through. I worked to move his left leg out of the way so I could open the door. I was literally afraid I was going to break his legs, but I had to. I had to get in there to him.
I quickly assessed the room and his position. I knew I needed a phone to call 911. I made sure his head was in a secure position and that nothing was bleeding. Then I looked down and the phone was right there on the floor. I called 911. The operator dispatched EMS as soon as I gave her my address. I was breathing so hard into the phone that she was worried I was hyperventilating. She reminded me repeatedly to breath.
I don’t know if I had ever felt like this before. I was crying and talking and praying and freaking out. My head was fuzzy, my thoughts were not clear, but I was in total control at the same time. I realized that we were upstairs and the door downstairs was locked. They wouldn’t be able to get to us.
I asked the operator, “Can you call my in-laws? They are right down the street.”
In a very calm and sweet voice, she came back on the line and said, “Your father-in-law is not home, but your mother-in-law is on her way. Is there anyone else I should call?”
Oh no. All I could think was that I didn’t want Clay’s mom to see him like this. It was terrible. I was holding his head and (gently) slapping his face, crying his name….begging him to talk to me or open his eyes or respond somehow. His eyes were rolled back in his head, he was drooling and he just wasn’t there. It felt like he was leaving me. I couldn’t move him because he was stuck between the toilet and the wall. I was so worried that it was hurting him to be smashed in there.
Dr. Gummadi and Dr. Weinberg had already prepared me for this. They had both told me several times that seizures are common after brain surgery. They even told me what to do if it happened. So, one side of my brain was completely calm and Dr. Gummadi’s voice was running through my head saying, “Seizures look worse than they are. They are not very harmful. Most of the time patients are totally fine when the seizure ends.”
But, the other side of my brain was in complete and total panic. I was looking at him, and I was sure this was it. I was crying out to God saying, “Please, God. Please don’t let it happen like this. Please.” I couldn’t breath.
I didn’t want to leave him, but the doors were locked, so I ran as fast as I could down the stairs and opened the front door. I just left it standing all the way open so they would know they could just walk in. I ran back up the stairs and just knelt in front of Clay. I just held his face and kept talking to him and praying. I heard Flo’s voice. I yelled to her to stay downstairs and tell the EMS how to get to my bathroom. I think I said, “Flo, just pray. I don’t want you to see him like this.”
Then, I hear the operator. “Ma’am. Is there anyone else I can call?” I asked her to call my dad. He lives about 8 minutes away, but I’m certain he walked into the bathroom within 3.
The fireman had arrived and were very calm. They got Clay out of the bathroom. He moaned really loud when they pulled him out. When dad arrived, he was laying flat on his back on the floor and was totally unresponsive. But, they kept reminding me that he was breathing and his heart rate looked good. The EMS team got there and really helped me calm down. They tried to sit him up and he had another seizure, so they decided to sedate him.
One of them said, “Geez! It is really hot in here!” I remembered we had actually turned on the heat because Clay was so cold. I told one of them to go turn the air on. We were all sweating bullets.
I called Dr. Gummadi to tell him. He was very calm and encouraging on the phone and he told me he would call ahead to the ER to let them know we were coming. And, I knew that he would start praying. I asked Dad to text our pastor’s so they could put it on our prayer chain at church so people could be praying. We have such wonderful people in our lives. People who truly pray. I knew they would.
Dad helped me contact the kids and make arrangements for Ben. I threw clothes in a bag and jumped in the ambulance with Clay. Several of our sweet neighbors had walked over to check on us and offer their help. Sam drove up as I was sitting in the ambulance with Clay. It did my heart so much good to see him. Sam is our oldest and he is a huge help to me. He really loves me and checks on me. He always knows when I just need a hug. I was so glad to see him. Then Grace arrived, but we were already pulling out.
Dad drove Flo, Sam and Grace and followed us to the hospital. The Baton Rouge General has been so good to us. They were waiting on us, and immediately started taking care of Clay. Almost as soon as we got in the room, Caleb walked in. It shocked me a little. I couldn’t think fast enough to even know how he knew we were there. (The prayer chain.) He hugged me and I knew he had been constantly praying. I asked him to send Sam and Grace in because Grace hadn’t even seen Clay.
I have really awesome kids, y’all. They are strong. Of course we cried together when they first came in, but I reminded them that, at this point, he was sedated. So, he wasn’t only sleeping because of the seizure, but the meds were keeping him asleep. It is really hard for them to see him like that. They wanted to know what happened, so I told them the story.
As I was telling them, I started to realize how God was there, in every detail.
- I was alone when it happened. I wanted to be mad about that, but then I realized how glad I was that the kids didn’t see that. Any of it.
- I was so frustrated that it had to happen in the toilet closet. I mean, why couldn’t he have been in the bedroom with me? But I realized that the way he fell, caused him to be stuck in an upright position. He didn’t hit his head, and when he was having convulsions, he couldn’t hurt himself. He couldn’t aspirate.
- I couldn’t get to him. I was so upset about that. But, maybe God was protecting me from seeing the worst part of the seizure. I could hear him, but I couldn’t see it.
- His phone was right beside him so I could easily call 911.
I just started thanking God, in my heart, that He never leaves us….even in the valley.
They did an MRI almost immediately. This was the 5th MRI Clay has had at the BR General. Do y’all remember in an early blog, I talked about how the people at the MRI office remembered us and some of them had even read the blog? Well, we feel like we’ve gotten to know them because we’ve seen them so many times, now. So, when the nurse, Grace and I were coming around the corner with Clay on the hospital bed, Brian and Chris were waiting at the door for us. It might sound silly, but it just made me relax when I saw them. I just felt a comfort.
His sedation wore off right in the middle of the MRI, and he started kind of freaking out. So, we had to stop it and let him out for a minute. He was so drugged that he really didn’t know what was going on. But, they sedated him, again, so we could finish. I stood by him and held his hand and just prayed while he was in there. Of course, I was scared that they would tell me the tumor had doubled in size and that’s why he had the seizure.
Within an hour, the ER doctor came and told us that the MRI showed that the tumor is actually smaller than it was at the last MRI, just about 5 weeks ago. Praise God! It continues to shrink. Clay’s parents and Sam and Grace were in the room with us and they told me how many people were in the waiting room.
I walked out to tell them the report from the MRI, and this is what I saw…
I couldn’t stop crying as I was hugging all of them and thanking them for coming. And, this is not everyone. At least 10 other people came and went throughout the night.
Y’all, I just can’t really tell you how much this means to us. God has taught me so much about how we, the church, are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This means that we are a physical representation to each other of what Jesus is to us spiritually. The love that I felt when I opened the door and saw all these faces can’t really be described. And, that’s how it feels to know that Jesus loves us the way He does. Thank you. Thank you for being a continual reminder to us that Jesus loves us and He is here.
Jeff Lee came in to pray for Clay and told us that they were having a prayer service out in the waiting room. So many people had gathered to pray for Clay, that the people in the waiting room couldn’t help but notice. There was a couple there who asked them to pray for them. Then, they just started praying for everyone in the waiting room. The Lord really moved and it was so cool for me and Clay to think that God might have sent us there just for the people who He knew would be in the waiting room that night. Caleb said, “This could have been the birth of a hospital ministry!”
They did a CT Scan of Clay’s ribs, which was totally fine, and by 9:30 pm, we were in a hospital room. Caleb brought Clay Krispie Kreme donuts. It was pretty funny. He said, “I figured that all the problems started when he gave up the Krispie Kreme, so I think he needs to start eating them again!” Ha. We got a good laugh.
Clay slept all night. The nurse would come in to check and see if he was able to talk to her for a minute, but he just wouldn’t wake up. They took blood twice and he hardly moved. I laid beside him in the bed and my mind just raced for a long time. I was pretty exhausted, too, but I couldn’t sleep.
Moments of crisis have a way of revealing the deepest parts of a person’s heart. Your greatest fears rise up to the top and you are able to see things about yourself that you didn’t see before. I realized that I have already imagined, in my mind, how things will look if the Lord takes Clay. And, I think I had decided that I will accept the Lord’s will, as long as it happens the way I think I can best deal with it.
Well, I didn’t deal with this situation very well, at all. I saw a great deal of weakness in me. I saw my dependance on Clay. I saw my fears. I saw my sin. I felt what it would feel like to lose him. I felt fear. I felt panic.
But, I also saw my God. And, I felt my God.
He showed Himself to me in a new way. For 10 minutes, He was literally my only companion. He was my only source of strength. He was my only help. There was no one but Him. And, He was there. Comforting. Speaking. Helping. Loving. Gently reminding me that He was at work in every detail.
If you are reading our blog, and enjoying the story, but you read the words and you can honestly say that you don’t know God like this….
I beg you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him to be your Savior. Ask Him to show you who He is. Because when you are in your greatest moment of need, you don’t want to be praying to a God you don’t know. You want to be praying to a God that you already love. You want to know Him. You want to have that confident assurance that He hears you and that He is with you. And, if you ask Him, He will. He wants to walk closely with you. He wants to help you.
We were in the hospital all day Saturday.
Dad drove us home on Saturday afternoon. The Neurologist gave us a prescription for Keppra, a seizure prevention medicine, and sent us home. You will probably be surprised to know that Clay is only on 2 daily meds. He takes a steroid and, now, Keppra.
I asked my Dad to go check on the toilet upstairs. I knew it had broken, so he went to check on it. He temporarily patched it so the seat would stay on, but he asked if I wanted him to take the bathroom door off. I said no, and told myself that I could totally handle this and I didn’t need to do anything that extreme.
Clay and I went upstairs to shower and he walked straight into the toilet closet and closed the door. Now, keep in mind, he didn’t remember anything about the seizure, so he had no idea why I would be bothered. But I immediately started asking him to open the door. He barely knocked the toilet seat with his leg and it fell off and crashed to the floor making a loud sound. I lost it. I was crying and begging him to open the door. He finally did and when he saw my face, I think he must have thought I was crazy.
I finally got him in the bed, and immediately called my father-in-law. I said, “I need a favor.” And I just started crying. Now, you have to know how much my father-in-law loves me. He is so wonderful to me and he would do anything in the world I ever asked him to do. He was at the house within 30 minutes with the tools needed to take that door down. He and Sam just took it off the hinges for me.
It could, quite possibly, be a very long time before we put it back on.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I noticed a huge bruise on my knee and my body ached from my head to my toes. I was sore everywhere. The bruise was from falling when I was trying to get in the bathroom door. The aches were from trying so hard to move him, and then I guess just the stress that occurred. I was weepy and sad. I felt like I had PTSD. When Clay woke up, he couldn’t remember anything from Friday or Saturday. So, I sat with my coffee cup, staring out the window, and told him the whole story. It was like therapy, but it was hard.
When I was finished, he looked at me with the sweetest eyes, and said, “I’m so sorry I put you through that.” Isn’t that sweet? That’s how he is.
Then we watched our church service from home, and it was exactly what we needed. Our pastor spoke directly to my heart and I was so encouraged.
Today marks a week since it all happened, and we are both much better. Clay is getting stronger each day. God continues to speak to us and help us. He really had to reach down and pull me out of a pit, but He did.
I hope that, as you read this, you are encouraged to know that God is always present. We live in a hard world and life is very difficult. But, that difficulty gives God such an opportunity to prove Himself to us. He is real. He is present. He is loving. He will be your strength when you need it. He will be your comfort when you are lonely. He will be your joy when you are in the pit of despair. He will be your protector when you are afraid. He will be your friend when you need to feel loved.
I pray that you will let Him be all that He can be in your life today.
I love you more than you could ever know. I don’t even know some of you, but the Lord encourages me so much every time I see how many of you are reading our story. It gives us a feeling of great purpose. Thank you.