Several weeks ago, I told you about a man who went into open-heart surgery certain the procedure would be a normal, successful operation. However, problems arose and the man who we call JOHN, almost died and had to be put into a drug induced coma. His vital signs were not good and at that time, his prognosis was pretty low for recovery.
If you remember, the real problem for all of us who know about his situation is, John is a devout atheist! If you need to refresh your memory or have not known about his situation, go back several posts and read about him. I'm about to get into some really amazing stuff here!
Well, John has had many prayers said for him...by his family, the doctors, nurses and the hundreds of students he has taught at Vanderbilt University. You see, this is a real man. Not just "some person" fictitiously invented to make a Christian point.
Here's the latest...John woke up!
Now, he's not perfect and things are not quite right yet, but he is on his way to becoming normal . He has memory loss and the years of his life are confused. Sometimes he thinks he is back in 1960 and at other times, his mind seems to be working in the present. But he is "coming along", as his team of doctors say.
It happened this way...
...John remained in his comatose state for 12 days, long after the drugs to relax him had been discontinued. Doctors had induced his coma to allow John's body to revive itself little by little, after the great shock it had experienced by having two open-heart surgeries in a 12 hour period. (One in the OR, and the other about 9 hours later, as a startling emergency procedure in his ICU bed)!
But John did not respond after the discontinuation of the drugs; he just lay in his bed, very still. Whether or not he was paralyzed, it was not known. His eyes had a glazed appearance when his lids were lifted, he didn't squeeze the hands of family when asked, he didn't blink his eyes when his wife called to him, and there were no signs that he was going to live. He could not breath on his own and nothing, from his kidneys to this toes were working. Only his heart was strong and pumping normally. Everything else had basically shut down in John's body.
Then on the 12th day, John just simply opened his eyes when one of his son's was standing by his bed! The son excitedly began yelling for the nurses screaming,"Someone! Come here fast! Dad, it's me! Can you hear me! Dad, Dad!" John looked straight at his son and smiled. Yes! He had heard! The respirator was still in his lungs and the IVs were still hanging and John was still naked as a jaybird, laying in his ICU bed, but this brilliant scientist, loving father and wonderful husband was awake! Yeah, God and praise the Lord! Wow! Prayers had been answered!
On the second day of his awakened state, John started nodding his head, blinking, squeezing hands, trying to wiggle his toes and generally displaying signs that he was understanding some of the things around him. However, every time he was asked,"John, do you know where you are?" he shook his head "no".
On the third day, John started fidgeting in his bed so much that his team of doctors decided he would be taken off the respirator, to see if he could breath on his own. That was a big step. John passed that test, but it was scary for his family. Either he could breath on his own or probably be on the respirator for his life, a near vegetable..John's worst fear! ( His mother had lingered in a vegetative state for years and he had a horror of that type of existence).
As of now, John is actually kind of being "born again". When he started verbalizing on the first day off the respirator, his words were "dahhh,gajj, nuuu", saying absolutely NOTHING! The next day he was talking better. Within a day or so John had advanced up to talking much better, thinking he was living in the 1960's and in his first teaching job! ( The nurses were his students and one of his daughters-in-law was his old girlfriend)! The adventure has been in someways delightful and in some ways frustrating as he yells, cries, has temper tantrums and actually "grows up" again emotionally. He has also tried to "escape", which is very much like a teenager's actions, but he could hurt himself doing that because he fell. Standing up is a bigger challenge than he is ready for and he is very frightened to get into a wheelchair. He is just now, about 10 days into his newly awakened state, realizing he is in Vanderbilt, and not a VA hospital! By the way, John was never in the service!
So, it is about another three months in the hospital and then to a rehabilitation center before the Vandy Doctors believe John will be back to normal. John's complete recovery will take a year or more and the process is actually progressing (at this posting) at a normal clip, in association with what happened to him. He was actually dead at one point. John's heart stopped. John actually died but he is now alive!
One thing I have not mentioned yet ...John's atheism! Right now, as of this posting, John does not REMEMBER THAT HE HAS ALWAYS PROFESSED TO BE AN ATHEIST!
PRAY JOHN NEVER REMEMBERS THAT PART OF HIS LIFE! He goes in and out of knowing who all the members of his family are, because if he is back in the 1960's his children are not born yet, so at that moment he doesn't recognize them. When he gets back to the present, he knows everyone.
Like I said earlier, his recovery is both a delight and a frustration, especially for his wife who feels as if she is raising a child...a very ill child, who is now alive and not dead. Who is now perhaps...just perhaps, a believer in God. The jury is still out on that one. I pray I can write the column..."The Man Who Forgot He was an Atheist."
God has answered prayers for which John never asked. In fact, John told one of the hospital chaplain's the day of his surgery that he would probably go to Hell if there was one, but he knew there was not anything after life...just nothingness. I wonder what John thinks now? Did God pay him a visit during his comatose state? Hummmm.
I'm going to do all I can to see that he is never again faced with dying and going to Hell. I will be talking with John, as soon as God tells me the time is right.
Pray for John. God has given him the second chance few receive.