And the story continues....
As we sat in the waiting room in Montgomery, Alabama, so many thoughts began to race through my mind. “Was my husband alive? How would I tell my girls that their Daddy died? How would I handle being a single mom?” I prayed so many times for the Lord to protect my thoughts. I prayed, “Lord, please spare my husband’s life.”
I really don’t remember how Hannah and I made it through those hours of waiting. It was hard; really hard not knowing if my husband was going to live. After about six hours of waiting, two surgeons came to the door and asked for the family of Doug Teachey. I got up, with my heart racing so fast, and they took me to a private room. It was in this room where they delivered the news that it did not look good for my husband. At this point, the room began to spin, and I couldn’t focus. I was sooo scared. One of the surgeons called Hannah into the room to support me. He told us that my husband had lost a tremendous amount of blood, had severe nerve damage, and would lose his leg. It just didn’t look good. I looked at those two doctors and frantically asked, “Is he going to live?” The “nerve doctor” (neurologist) just put his head down while Dr. Heck, the orthopaedic doctor, said, “We just don’t know, but he is alive now.” And they left. That was all I got from them.
Hannah and I left that room and began walking around the quiet, dark hospital. We found a chapel, walked to the front, got down on our knees, and started praying aloud to our Heavenly Father. I didn’t know what to pray, but I knew the He alone would be the strength that I needed to carry me through this tragedy. We both prayed, crying and begging the Lord to spare Doug’s life. And yet, I also felt compelled to pray, “But if you don’t save his life Lord, I will praise you anyway.” I know that prayer came from Him, our Maker and Sustainer. We then started singing my oldest curly girlie’s favorite song, “Our God.” We would sing that song in the mornings on the way to preschool, and she would always ask me to sing it with her. The Lord laid that song on my heart to sing out for Doug in that hospital chapel. The words are powerful:
“Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God You are higher than any other.
Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God, our God…
And if our God is for us, then who can ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?”
We stood up from that chapel room floor, and I remember seeing a stained glass picture of the Great Shepherd holding a sheep in His arms. I’ll never forget that picture, nor will I ever forgot the time Hannah and I spent in the chapel with our Lord. It was in that chapel that I finally received a comforting peace from my Father, the great Shepherd, knowing that He was holding His sheep, both Doug and I, in His arms, and that He would be the one to heal and care for us during this time.
This is the link again to Hannah’s blog post, and here is a pic of us at Halloween – We could pass as sisters!
After talking with one of the ICU nurses, she encouraged Hannah and I to go to the hotel to get some rest because Doug was sedated and would not be waking up through the night. I reluctantly agreed, gave her my cell phone number to call if anything changed, and we headed for the hotel. Six hours later, after watching my phone all night waiting for a phone call that never occurred, we headed back to the hospital. I was so very scared and nervous on the drive to the hospital and yet excited to finally see my husband. I had not seen him since he left the house that Monday morning around 6:30 am. I didn’t know how he would look, nor did I know what “state” his body or mind would be in. So, when we walked back to the ICU I tried to just pray for that same peace that I had felt in the chapel the day before.
After 28 hours I finally got to see my husband! He didn’t look good, and I immediately started crying when I saw him. He had tubes running out of his nose and arms, and he was breathing through a machine. His leg was covered up, but I could see metal brackets and hardware poking through the sheets. “Lord, please spare my husband’s life,” again I prayed. “Lord, please give me strength.”
My time with him was very limited, as I was only allowed to see him for 30 minutes every 4 hours. I prayed over Doug, talked with him, cried over him and just sat holding his hand those first 30 minutes. Before leaving his room, I leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, and his eyes fluttered. I was so thrilled! This was yet another way the Great Shepherd showed me He cared for me by granting me a sweet little response from my heavily sedated husband.
By Tuesday night, my Dad, our family friend Mr. George, our dear friend Jim Irwin, and the third member of the red-headed brigade, Beverly, all joined us in Montgomery. It was great to have them with us, and I am forever grateful to all of them for making the long drive to be with Hannah and me. I felt the Lord’s presence through them by the encouragement and love they brought to us. Doug was also starting to breathe on his own. He was able to talk with us, and he began telling us more of his story of survival and perseverance.
We had several visits from the surgeons, and they were not very promising. The “nerve doctor” kept telling us that Doug would lose all of this left leg. At this point, we began the conversation of moving Doug to another hospital in Atlanta so he could be closer to home. This made me very scared. Should he be moved? Was it safe? If he was in critical condition, was it wise to move him? What hospital will be best? “Please Lord let it be Emory,” I started praying. “Lord give us Your wisdom and reveal Your best plan of treatment for Doug.” My dad and I talked it over, and we prayed for the Lord to make His plan so obvious to us.
Later that evening, we learned that Emory Hospital would not take trauma transfers, but that Grady Hospital would. I immediately sank to the floor and began crying and crying. “Why Lord? Why would you send us to this crazy hospital? Is it safe? Will he get the best treatment there?” I had heard only negative things about Grady Hospital. But again, the Lord intervened, and in that moment of fright, He brought peace to my heart through the body of Christ, Atlanta Westside Church. Our church family had rallied together in the Irwin’s home and prayed for our family. I got to hear over the phone all the prayers of our sweet brothers and sisters in Christ pleading for mercy, healing, and grace.
Wednesday morning arrived, after a decent night of sleep for us. I was beginning to understand the beauty of truly abiding in Christ by praying, reading His scripture, and trusting in Him alone. When my thoughts were focused on Him and His goodness, I was peaceful and without fear. But as soon as my mind began to wander, my body began shaking, and fear would overtake my thoughts. Zephaniah 3:17 spoke strongly to my heart – “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Once at the hospital, I knew we were going to be faced with making the decision about the move. “Lord, please show us your way,” I prayed. I clinged to the verse Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” I was pleading with the Lord to reveal His best plan.
Later that day, we finally got to see Doug, and we had a visit from Dr. Heck. We began talking about proceeding with the amputation in Alabama or moving Doug to Atlanta. He said, “I have done amputations before and can do this. We have plastic surgeons, but they all specialize in boob jobs and face lifts….But we really can do it here.” And with that, my dad and I looked at each other and smiled very big smiles because the Lord did reveal His best plan to us through the lack of confidence in Dr. Heck. I knew we would be heading to Atlanta, not just to be closer to home, but because we would receive the best care from doctors and surgeons that specialize in amputations and orthopaedics. Little did we know, the Lord had already hand-picked the best surgical team at Grady Hospital for Doug. On a funny note, Doug’s response to Dr. Heck was, “I’ll come back for my boob job later.” Hilarious! I knew my husband was recovering because he had his silly sense of humor. I remember praying minutes later, “Thank you Lord for that dose of humor. Thank you Lord for a sign of normalcy from Doug.”
Many, many hours later, and after several confusing conversations between the doctors, nurses, and our case manager, Doug was loaded into the ambulance and began the transport from Montgomery, Alabama, to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Two of my closest and dearest friends, Lis and Amber, had spent the day with me in Alabama, and I was so grateful for their encouragement, support, and steadfast love that entire day.
By this point, I was definitely a “mess”. It was very late at night. My body would not stop shaking, as I was very apprehensive about Doug being in the ambulance, and was still nervous about going to Grady Hospital. As I lay in the back of Lis’s car, I could feel Satan attacking my thoughts, causing me to be fearful and believe lies. I couldn’t rest as my body was shaking, and my mind was believing that Doug was going to die during the transport. My amazing, sweet friends started praying over me, reading scripture aloud, and pleading for the Lord to quiet me with His great love. Minutes later, they tell me, I fell fast asleep and didn’t wake until we arrived in Atlanta.
Thank You, Great Shepherd, for Your Truth and Your presence in those moments. Thank You, for never leaving Your sheep. Thank You for keeping Your promises. Isaiah 40:11 “He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart”.