Two Days in July

I knew almost immediately what was happening. That the thing I had been dreading for so many years was happening to me now. My right hand was suddenly limp by my side, and I felt as though I were in a fog. I learned later that one side of my face was drooping, too. I was having a stroke.

Audrey and I were spending the weekend at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Springfield. We are selling our home to take advantage of the boom in the real estate market and had lots of showings scheduled. An "open house" on Sunday, as a matter of fact.  I had a wedding at the church on Saturday night which she directed. We returned from the ceremony and enjoyed dinner at the hotel. I stayed to pay the check while Audrey went on up to the room. I followed moments later. As soon as I got in the room and took off my tuxedo jacket, it hit me. It was approximately 8:25 PM.

My speech slowed as I sat helpless on the edge of the bed. Audrey first asked if I was kidding with her, but she knew instantly what was going on.  She acted quickly, over my initial protest, and called 911. The ambulance arrived within ten minutes and the emergency crew burst into the room. They took me on a stretcher down the hall to the elevator and to the lobby. There was a wedding reception spilling out into that space and outside, and several of the guests there wished me well as I rolled by.

The ride to INOVA Fairfax was quick. I don't remember much of it, except that I tried to make jokes here and there with the EMT's. It was all serious business in the ER, though, as the staff there quickly assessed my situation, and I began receiving the TPA drug. There is a brief window from the time a stroke happens when medication is effective in minimizing consequences—and I had gotten there in time. Roger came and met us in the ER and helped make decisions about the church services just hours away.

I spent the next 48 hours in the ICU, receiving excellent care from my nurses: Sarah, Christina, and Alphonso. They woke me every thirty minutes to take my vitals and to ask the same questions: Did I know my name, and what year was it? My birthday, where I was, and why I was there? I felt pretty good and always had the right answers. As the night wore on, I started answering them before I was asked. I had to stay in bed the entire time. I passed the cognitive test one doctor administered—all but the math portion, which I would have had trouble with prior to the stroke.

Nurses have unglamorous jobs, for sure. Unpleasant tasks are routine. But I had the best. I heard the President say once, at a ceremony honoring the healthcare profession, that if there are angels in heaven, "all of them are nurses." I esteem them just as highly.

I think I encouraged them with positive words, blessing them as they blessed me. Late Saturday night, in the wee hours, I had a long talk with Sarah about life and death, and her experiences with both. She is a believer, too, and I shared the sermon I was to have preached the next morning at church. Interestingly, about how we are all going to die one day regardless of who we are (Psalm 49).
John-Mark and Daniela came up from Texas to be with us on Monday. That was the best medicine of all. And they are staying until Sunday.

I was released directly from the ICU on Monday night and am recovering nicely at home now. So thankful for the care I received at the hospital and for a quick-witted wife who got me there in time. For God's grace in bringing me through this experience and for God's people sharing love, concern and prayers on my behalf.

I'm going to rest up these next few days. Reed Bernick will preach for me this coming Sunday, and I hope to be in the pulpit the following week.

And oh, from my bedside in the ICU, Audrey negotiated the sale of our home. It sold in two days!


Janet Kay Morris Belvin - July 29th, 2021 at 10:27am

Continued prayers from us as you recuperate. Take it easy and don't come back too soon, but do come back. You are a blessing to so many.

Janet Belvin

John P. Chandler - July 29th, 2021 at 10:40am

Dear Don and Audrey, all of us in your bgav family will be praying for your rapid and complete healing. I will also reach out to (Uptick alum) Reed to support him. We love you.

Joe McKeever - July 29th, 2021 at 10:43am

Hey friend! Wow. This sure got my attention. So glad—so thankful—for the way you were cared for, seen to, and treated. Glad you’re recovering. I am concerned about your selling that glorious home however. Where will you live and will you have room to accommodate visitors from Mississippi who are still determined to get up that way. Btw, knowing of your health crisis would not have made me pray for you more. I pray for you regularly now. Love to you and A.

Susan Propst - July 29th, 2021 at 10:49am

I’m so glad you received the help you needed so quickly. Praying for a full recovery!

Vicki Davidson - July 29th, 2021 at 10:54am

Contact us for any thing.We love both of you.. And hug our kids .....we shall continue in 🙏 during this time....Selah

Deedee Jamison - July 29th, 2021 at 10:56am

Don!!!!! Audrey!!! I love you both! Praise Jesus you are okay!!!! Praying for a continued complete recovery!!! Hugs!!!! Love and heart felt friendship forever!

Wanda Hollie - July 29th, 2021 at 11:11am

So sorry to hear of this scary event in your life. Praise God for quick actions and skilled care. I pray for your quick recovery. God Bless you and Audrey. We still miss you greatly here in Danville, VA and speak of you often and what a blessing you were at MHBC.

Lynn East - July 29th, 2021 at 12:12pm

oh my, so sorry to hear this,. But glad u at home and doing better. Love yall. God answers prayers!!!!!!!

rachel - July 29th, 2021 at 12:19pm

So happy that you are ok. God is so good! Praise the Lord!

Sue Oakes - July 29th, 2021 at 2:30pm

Don I'm so glad you're ok!! So glad Audrey was on top of it!! Prayers for you to recover quickly and back to the pulpit. Love you and Audrey!!

Allan & Susie easley - July 29th, 2021 at 2:04pm

So glad to hear you are doing well. We are keeping you and Audrey in our prayers.

Terry Veazey - July 29th, 2021 at 2:49pm

Glad to hear that you are doing better. My elder brother, Gary, had a stroke a few weeks ago in his home in Texas. He lives alone. Completely incapacitated, he was not found for a week. He is slowly recovering in a rehab hospital. Please pray for him.

Brenda Yeaman - July 29th, 2021 at 2:58pm

Carroll & I are so thankful that you are recovering and that you got such prompt medical attention thanks to Audrey’s quick thinking. We are praying for you.

Delaram (Della) Cavey - July 29th, 2021 at 3:18pm

We send you our prayers for a speedy recovery. Della, Catherine, and Claire Cavey

Faith Proctor - July 29th, 2021 at 4:49pm

So glad that God is watching over you both, then,now, and always! Prayers for a quick and complete recovery. Life is precious! Look forward to seeing you back soon!

Randel Everett - July 29th, 2021 at 5:13pm

Don I pray that God will restore you completely and give you the wisdom to recover at His pace.

Donna Tischler - July 29th, 2021 at 7:31pm

Keith and I are sorry to hear this and pray for your complete recovery!

June Elwell - July 29th, 2021 at 7:36pm

So glad to hear of your recovery and pray for you and your wife. So many memories of where we have been!

Bob Perry - July 29th, 2021 at 8:30pm

Don, thanks for sharing your experience. You are an inspiration. I’m praying for you and your family.

Betty & Archie Boswell - July 29th, 2021 at 9:32pm

Prayers for complete recovery.

Tommy McDearis - July 29th, 2021 at 9:45pm

Don, I am so sorry this happened to you, and I am so glad the results were favorable for your recovery. Blessings to you and yours, and know you will be in our prayers.

David Vernon - July 30th, 2021 at 4:31am

Thank you Jesus for the quick wittedness of Audrey and for you allowing yourself to seek medical attention. May God continue to bless you and your family as you heal!

Bob and Clare Medlin - July 30th, 2021 at 7:35am

PTL You are special in His sight.

Linda and Doug May - August 2nd, 2021 at 10:59pm

Pastor Don, We are both so thankful that you were able to get treatment in time and are recovering nicely. Sending our love and sending up prayers for a speedy and complete recovery. So thankful to God for His wonderful care!

Harold Crockett - August 3rd, 2021 at 7:07pm

Had mine 7 years ago; one week in ICU;came home 5 weeks after the stroke. I did not know what year it was. My therapists were the cheerleaders. I can walk, drive, go to the store, but at a slower pace. I have the spiritual gift of annoying people, so as long as He gives me breath, I will exercise my gifts. Best Regards on your recovery!




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