My Son, Lazarus
My thirty year old son Tim, the oldest of four grown kids, has for years had some mysterious problem with his heart. He would feel faint, his chest would ache, but by the time we got him to the emergency room, nothing was found. His heart rhythms and enzyme tests were always normal. The doctors, as they usually do, just treated him for stress and sometimes depression. But the problem still existed. As time went on, it became more frequent, but still, it was like taking your car into the shop. As soon as the mechanic walks up to it, it runs fine.
But this past Friday, Tim had an appointment with his physician at the university he attends. While in the doctor’s presence, he began experiencing the same symptoms, and the doctor recognized a particular problem and immediately gave him an EKG.
Tim had gone into an atrial fibrillation, and he wasn’t coming out of it. An ambulance was called, and he was rushed to the hospital. Treatment was administered, but he wasn’t responding. The treatment was designed to make his heart go into “conversion”, where it would begin beating normally again. It wasn’t working, so they admitted him, and he was taken to a private room. He was hooked up to several monitors and observed constantly. The cardiac enzyme tests still showed no cardiac issues.
At about 3:30am the next morning, Tim sat up in his bed and told his mother that he felt horribly sick. By her account, he looked terrible. He then fell back onto the bed in a hard, limp fashion. My wife got up and tried to revive him, but he was cold, clammy and stared off into space. No response. He was not breathing. His body began to quiver uncontrollably like a bowl of Jell-O. Sammie ran out to the hallway and called for help. Just as the nurse came running in, another nurse ran down from the monitoring station because he had flat lined. He was, for that moment, dead.
The nurses began doing what they had to do, injecting medications into his IV and checking his vitals. Less than a minute later, his heartbeat returned, this time it was normal. He began to breathe, but was not completely out of the woods. Sammie was holding his hand and calling his name, but he would not answer. After a few short minutes, he was stabilized and he was responding to her voice and touch.
“I couldn’t feel your hand.” He told his mother. “I feel sick.”
“I’m right here.” She told him. She continued the prayer she started when the episode began. The nurses continued to look after him, constantly checking his vital signs.
“His heart is beating normally” the nurse told her. “He has gone into conversion, he should be okay now. We’ll wait and see.”
I got the text message at work an hour or so later and I called the room number. Tim actually answered the phone, and he sounded wiped out, but okay. He put his mother on. She was a nervous wreck. I could hear the stress in her quivering voice. If she had not have been there, who knows if the nurses would have got to him on time?
By the end of the day, Tim had flat lined two more times, each for about 10 seconds. The doctor said that was not unusual for a conversion patient, but he still needed to be monitored at least another 24 hours.
That was two days ago. So far it seems like he will be okay, and the doctor has yet to determine if he will be coming home today. Tim is feeling good, posting his comments on Facebook, along with pictures of his IV’s and a few anecdotes.
A scary moment for us all. In the natural scheme of things, children aren’t supposed to go before their parents, but as we know, it doesn’t always happen that way. I have had family members and a best friend that have passed long before their parents have, and it is so sad to see the grief in a mother’s eyes as she deals with the death of her child, regardless of age. Sammie and I have come out of this with an even deeper respect for the parents that have lost a child. It is a pain that cannot be vanquished. Even to try to comprehend the death of a child is painful. To have Tim survive this ordeal is truly a blessing, the work of God.
Tim and his sweet young wife Ashley are expecting their first child in February. It is another blessing for our family. With God’s will, Tim will continue to improve his health and defeat this heart problem. He graduates next year with an advanced degree in History. He wants to work as a curator on the museum level. But for now, he needs to take it easy, lay off of the beer, caffeine and even chocolate. This is truly a life-changing event for all of us.
But after this episode, Tim did some research on the medication he was on before the even happened (from his iPhone). Of the two meds he was taking, both of them had a good chance of causing atrial fibrillation, a condition that he seemed to already have. His maternal grandmother also has this condition, and according to the doctor, it is hereditary, and sometimes skips a generation. Beer consumption is another aggravating factor in this. Tim loves beer. His heart was a time bomb waiting to go off.
Now he has sworn off of the beer, coffee and some of his medication. When he goes home, he is planning to reorganize his lifestyle so that he has a healthy long life to spend with his future child and the ones that follow.
The day after his “demise”, I asked him what it was like when he flat lined. He said it was dark. It was like being in a dark room, pitch black. No sound, no feeling. It was as if he was waiting for something to happen. Perhaps he was in God’s “waiting room”?
Sammie and I continue to talk of the “what if’s” and how indeed there was a stronger, more Divine force controlling this cataclysmic event in our lives. My father in law, who is a preacher in a small country church in the next county, told us that he was in church the night before Tim flat lined. In the middle of singing, he felt an overwhelmingly powerful urge to pray for someone that desperately needed God’s hand. He stopped the music and led the congregation in prayer, not knowing who he was praying for. The next day, he found out about what had happened and fell to his knees in grateful prayer of thanks. He never dreamed that it was for his grandson.
There is a lesson in this. To Tim and Ashley it may be evident right away. To others it may take it’s time hitting home, but for those of us that were there and were close to it, we know what that lesson is, as it may be a different one for each of us, and we will learn from it all in God’s good time.
Thank you Lord for all of Your blessings.
Thank all of you good people for taking the time to read this.
©2012 By Del Banks