The rest of the story... as Paul Harvey would say. A lot of people would say, so you and your husband built a greenhouse, a lot of people have done that what’s so special about yours?? So, here is the rest of the story. What you don’t know is the miracle that happened before we built the greenhouse.
In September of 2017 my husband, Tim, was diagnosed with end stage liver disease. Not only was this a dismal diagnosis but over the course of eight weeks he was admitted to three different hospitals on five occasions. Once in our hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and three times in Roanoke, approximately an hour away. Johns Hopkins, our third hospital in Baltimore, Maryland was where we found ourselves in late November.
Here are the details. Late one evening while we were still in Roanoke, Virginia, we had a discussion with Tim’s physician and it was decided because he was not responding to treatment for pneumonia, he need to be transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were immediately loaded into a medical transport vehicle and were on the road for six to seven hours. We arrived in Baltimore around 3am and within a few hours of Tim’s admission he was rushed to the Medical Intensive Care and put on life support. Life Support!!! His body had shut down due to septic shock. Survival rates are not usually good for someone in shock; one second can make the difference between life or death.
I was quickly ushered to a family quiet room. A wonderful nurse came in immediately and assured me she would stay with me only to leave to get updates. During this time, she attended to my needs, getting me something to eat and connecting me with the hospital Chaplin. It wasn’t long before I was allowed to go into Tim’s unit. There were probably ten people around his bed; doctors, nurses, lab, EKG, respiratory techs all working together to keep him alive. The attending doctor told me that she could not say if any of this would save his life but for every hour he lived that was an hour in his favor.
There was one nurse who monitored all of Tim’s medications, eight individual pumps routing eight continuous meds with additional medications “piggybacked” at different times during the day if labs changed. Those labs were done every two hours. She sat at her computer constantly adjusting medications and levels on the machines. She was not only a brilliant nurse in her field but also very compassionate and aware of the intensity of the situation and my need to be kept in the know. She constantly updated me on the changes in medication occurring every fifteen to thirty minutes.
During the first hour after being put on life support all of the alarms went off and the attending medical personnel rushed in and made changes to all the machines and IV’s. They stood by with the crash cart anticipating the need for CPR which happened three times within the first hour and a half after being admitted to the MICU.
For the next two and a half weeks Tim lay quietly in bed attached to numerous machines and multiple IV’s for medication in a medically induced coma. Slowly, they removed some of the medications until one morning the attending doctor told me “it’s time for Tim to wake up”. She told me that they were going to discontinue the medication that kept him in the medically induced coma and that everyone would begin to talk to him and make requests of him. Each morning his medical team would meet outside his unit and discuss his current condition and lay out a treatment plan for the day. I was fortunate to be included in these discussions. We were to include Tim in all of the conversations that took place in the room even though he did not participate. One morning we noticed while we were talking his eyes slowly began to open and he focused on the ones standing around. Words cannot tell how I felt. He was back! Everyone was ecstatic. Everyone rushed in. What an answer to prayer.
The next few days were still critical because Tim needed to maintain stable labs, blood pressure and no additional infections and as the days went by, Tim made great progress. Then came the day that they took intubation tubes out. He would be disconnected from the machine that helped him breath and keep him alive, but he was successful with this procedure. Each day brought new challenges but also new accomplishments. The morning came when the team met and commented, “Today we are discharging Tim from MICU to a regular floor.” We were so excited and apprehensive at the same time. No more one on one, we would be down the hall away from being close to the nurse’s station.
Tim was admitted later that morning to a wonderful floor with the same caring compassionate medical personnel. We quickly settled in and became “residents” on the floor for the next two months. We quickly realized that we had an extended family. We not only had a lot of medical discussions, but we laughed and talked about everything. We got to know the nurses and doctors personally sharing stories of family and friends. When the Christmas season came one of the nurses took me with her to her church for their Christmas cantata. Over the next two months Tim worked hard with physical therapy to learn how to walk again and also occupational therapy to be able to function and be able to do the activities of daily living. Being on life support requires tubes to be placed down the throat and when they were removed the doctors realized that the pressure of these tubes had paralyzed his vocal chords. Speech therapy was required for him to regain the ability to talk and to sing.
All of these therapies filled the day and they were challenging. During this time, he still remained on dialysis. But the day came when he was able to discontinue that also. We returned home in January of 2018. Tim continued to go to physical therapy and work on his speech. Slow and steadily progress was made. Each day brought new abilities and a return to the old self. In spite of this, Tim remained weak and sick as he still had the diagnosis of end stage liver disease. He was still in need of a liver transplant. Many patients wait on this list sometimes up to if not more than two years.
On April 26, 2018, eight months after being place on the waiting list, we received the phone call to come to Johns Hopkins for his transplant. WOW...eight months wait!! Another answer to prayer. We quickly gathered our things, called our friend who had volunteered to take us to Baltimore, and hit the road. One month later we returned home again, but this time Tim was much stronger and more determined to get back to living life because of the gift he had been given.
In December of 2018 he set out to build a greenhouse and the rest is history. So, what is so special about the greenhouse? God showed me that when we are at our lowest, He is there. When we don’t understand what is going on, He is there. In the midst of it all, He provided a medical team to attend to the crisis that Tim was experiencing and He provided people to take care of me and my needs. God provided everything every time. And there were lessons every day to teach me that he was there.
Sitting all those days in the hospital room I would have never imagined the outcome of the situation. As weak as we might have been, God was strong. Tim is now healthy, strong and on the move daily. God restored his body and refined his voice. Recently after singing in church one Sunday our Associate pastor said, “I always thought Tim sang good...but now he sings even better!” God gave us a miracle. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?”
Look around, God is trying to show you something....do you see it?
Father, Again, I thank you for showing me a miracle. Thank you for allowing me to watch as the days unfolded, and your presence and power were revealed. Thank you for prayers that were answered and thank you for my wonderful greenhouse that I can dig in the dirt and be close to you. But most of all, thank you for being my Heavenly Father.