|Debbie and Robby Aylor|
How many times have you jumped when the phone rang or even dreaded a phone call? Like you, it’s probably those middle of the night calls that are the most frightening, but then there are those that thanks to Caller ID, we dread because we know what’s on the other end of the line. A solicitor, a politician (click!), our child’s teacher, one of our friends that is known as chatty-Cathy (of course she doesn’t know it) and you are on your way out the door, or, it could be your spouse, your parents, your children.
On this particular day, I had sort of “a disagreement” with my husband, Robby. He had been spending a lot of time in Somerville, helping his newly widowed Mom. On this particular day, Friday, May 27, 2011, he had called me around 2pm to tell me he would have to stay again that night, but would come home on Saturday. Me, being the gracious and soft spoken person that I am, explained in the nicest of ways that I really, really wasn’t happy with that choice. Funny thing, he seemed to take it pretty well. Wow! I’ve made such head-way with my persuasive communication.
That afternoon, one of our daughters, Amanda, and her two girls, came to our house to eat supper and spend the night (since helpful Dad would still be out of town). She had gone to get them something to eat, I was standing in the kitchen putting dishes away, cleaning off stainless steel appliances, and just really “enjoying” my Friday night at home.
At 7:30pm, our son Greg called. He was working a second job at a mall in Sugar Land and didn’t usually hear from him while he was there. So I was glad for the phone call. He said, MOM, WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? I started to tell him about the wonderful evening I was having, when he said, Dad’s called (?) and he’s having a heart attack. Paramedics are on their way. Grandma (who has dementia) is there with him, Debbie’s flight has just landed and she’s on her way to your house, who’s there with you, get your bag packed and I’ll be there in a minute. We have to hurry and get to the hospital in Bryan. At that very moment, Debbie (Greg’s wife) walked in the door, with a totally frightened expression on her face. I called Susan and Tom and explained to them what I knew. She and Tom were at dinner on the other side of town. She said she would see me in a little while. It was then, that I am certain, God’s sweet Holy Spirit took over every fiber of my being, and my Heavenly Father’s plan began unfolding.
I packed (Greg said to pack for the night and I told him it probably needed to be for a week or so), Greg came home, Debbie went and packed them a bag, Amanda had someone come and pick up her girls, Angela and her fiancé (now husband!) and their five kids were out to dinner and had to be contacted and then Angela and Amanda hooked up and came to our house. We were trying to reach our other daughter, Allison, who lives in Marble Falls. They were at a High School graduation for one of her husband’s nieces. They finally answered the phone, left the graduation, went home and packed as quickly as they could. So we were all headed to Bryan.
I was riding with Greg and Debbie and as we got to the overpass at Dixie Farm Road I received a call from Robby’s phone. I said, “It’s dad, it’s dad!” But it wasn’t. It was a nurse at the hospital. She then told me to please get there as soon as we could because Robby was in critical condition. Not wanting to believe her, I handed the phone to Greg. He listened, asked a couple of questions, and when she told him to be careful and not get hurt on the way there but to get there as soon as possible, Greg momentarily lost it. Debbie called the others and the “forever trip” began. We were headed to Bryan not knowing if Robby was still alive (and Mr. Policeman, please forgive us, but we were going faster than a speeding bullet and not being especially spiritual to those who got in our way).
We arrived at the hospital around 10:45pm. Robby’s Mom, two of her close friends, Robby’s sister and Tom and Susan were waiting for us. Then I saw the nurse with a clipboard. She was waiting for me. She asked if I would please follow her into a side room. I told her no, because I knew what going into a side room meant. But as a family, we all went.
“Your husband has had a massive heart attack, we lost him two times, we do not know how long he was down before the paramedics got to him, he was not responsive, we put a stent in, have called a neurosurgeon in because we do not know what has happened with his brain, and that he is in very critical condition. Do you understand? Please sign these forms.”
They then took us to the ICU area and allowed me, Greg, Debbie, Angela, Amanda, and Allison to go in and see him. As much as they tried to prepare us for what we would see and what to expect in the coming hours, we were all in disbelief. There was a man lying there with tubes, drains, arm cuffs, and IV’s everywhere. He was so swollen, blood in several spots, bruises had already begun from where they shocked him and man-handled him and, he was in a coma. The nurse began to explain what he was doing and what we could expect through the night. Bottom line for that night, keep him alive. They allowed the others that were there to stop in quickly and see him. We prayed for him and then went to wait.
Because we were not going to be allowed to be in his room for quite awhile, they gave us numbers for the area motels. Greg called several and found one close to the hospital. We all left around 3am. When we arrived at the motel, Greg talked to the clerk and arranged a deal for us because we were there for a medical emergency. We slept a couple of hours and then went back to the hospital.
The doctor came that day and filled us in, and then told me the attack was in his ascending aorta, or commonly known as the widow maker. Because of the severity of the attack, he should not have survived. Overnight they had attached Rob to a hypothermic machine that took his core body temp way down. This was to preserve all organs and energy. It was to keep him from doing anything on his own. After 24 hours + on this machine, on Sunday, they began waking him up. This was a wonderful process, mixed with much humor! Rob couldn’t open his eyes and was still not realizing what happened. This is when our wonderfully humorous (?) family began asking questions only they would ask. At one point they asked him to squeeze their hand if they knew who they were; then squeeze their hand if it was ok to put pink flamingo tile in our pool (oh, did I forget to mention the day Rob had gone back to Somerville (Wednesday) they began digging a pool in our backyard!!!). Then they asked him to squeeze my hand if he loved me and he squeezed it over and over and over … I told them then, “He adores me!”.
Monday we were moved to a room on the heart floor in order for him to be monitored and rehabbed. So began the week of many procedures, many walks (short), and much talk about “we don’t know how to eat like this pamphlet is saying we will have to”. And then on Friday, one week after this traumatic event, we were headed home. As I write this, I am still in awe of this.
No doubt you are asking, so where’s the spiritual aspect of this story, the hundreds of scriptures I should be reciting throughout, where are the big prayer meetings … they are in mine and my families hearts and private moments. They were in the waiting room and hospital room during those long days, when the people in our lives came to visit us, visit Rob, called us, facebooked us, sent goodie baskets, cards, flowers, and gifts to me. They were in that hotel room at night when it was me, the bed and Rob’s shirt. Never have I felt closer and, yet at times farther, from my Jesus. He was not an intruder, He was a comforter; He was not making me feel guilty for being mad at Rob on the day this happened, He was a forgiver; He was not a big-booming-voice that shouted to all of us that Rob would be OK, He was a still small voice that told us moment by moment to rely on Him, no matter what the outcome.
Today, He is STILL the voice that reminds me, moment by moment, to not be afraid. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) Sometimes I am listening, many times I am arguing that point, and then when I remember that week, I realize that because of Him, I could hold on to that scripture and see how God orchestrated every moment.
If I could go on and on, I would! I would tell you: God put just the right front desk clerk at the motel, provided motels rooms for us that I could afford, provided free breakfast for us, food was brought by those that visited us, had people send busy items and food for the little ones that were with us, had Robby in Somerville and taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bryan where he was met by the leading heart doctor in the area and a hospital that does the hypothermic procedure, that Rob was aware enough at the beginning to call Greg AND the EMT’s in Somerville and give them directions to the house before he collapsed, that I was never left alone while in Bryan, that family was able to leave their vacation and come back to be with us, that there was a pool company across the street from the hospital where Greg, Deb, and I went and found the tile for our pool that was being built, that on Memorial Day weekend we had such amazing hospital staff, that on Memorial Day weekend we had people from Crosspoint who drove two hours to pray and visit with us, that when we arrived home we had meals brought to us for a couple of weeks in order that I could get my head together and concentrate on Rob, that some of the “other” things they were worried about in the hospital and we were to check up on when we go home turned out to be nothing, that Rob’s recovery has been more than amazing, and that I have a husband that whom the Houston heart doctor told him the first time he met him that he was a lucky man, my Rob said, “No, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.”