By: Tonya Stevenson
One cold December morning I was talking on the phone. Alerted to an incoming call, I saw it was my husband. Answering, I heard.
“Don’t know what is going on. Don’t think I can get back to the house. It’s my head, neck … “
I ran out of the house, around the haystacks into the barn yard. Crying out to God, “Please God, don’t take Otie.” He was still upright shuffling unsteadily, holding his head. I threw one of his arms over my shoulder. Wrapping my arm around him to support him, as I rushed for the pickup, wishing I’d driven it out. He pushed by.
“I’m not going to the hospital. I won’t make it. Take me in the house.” Otie insisted. My protests were worthless. He barely made the living room carpet before he sagged to the floor.
“Get me some DMSO.” He ordered.
DMSO is used by vets for swelling on the brain, but it is an anti-coagulant.
“What if it is a brain bleed?” I questioned.
“I don’t care just get it, now!” He demanded.
The DMSO relieved him enough he closed his eyes. I covered him in blankets and started making phone calls to those I knew in the medical field.
”This is serious. Get him to the hospital.” Everyone advised.
One nurse told me, “He’ll pass out soon then you can bring him in.”
With what I was researching on the internet that was no consolation. A niece who was an EMT came to convince him to go to the hospital, to no avail.
I had to run in and out, day after day, to do all the chores. Wondering if Otie would be dead each time I returned to the house. He resented me bothering or even touching him (it hurt).
“Leave me alone. Let me sleep.” He’d bark in agony.
I did get him to our bed the first night. When the kids called I would hand him the phone despite his protests. He did his best to sound normal to others. In that way, I could tell he was cognitive. I insisted he eat and drink a little all day, feeding him primarily organic berries and homemade broths.
I pleaded with him to let me take him to the hospital.
“No. You take care of me,” was his constant reply.
No one took care of this at home. I was overloaded far beyond my abilities. I brought in every supplement I fathomed might help. Kept his fever down with garlic, onions and oil of oregano, but I was not winning.
The third day he seemed better, got out of bed, but couldn’t sit or stand. His nerves were screaming in one leg. The fourth morning he sneezed, we lost all we gained. When the pain was overbearing he’d demand DMSO and find enough relief to stay home. I had the church pray as James 5:14-16 instructs.
For eight days I watched him slip away, dying before my eyes. Christmas night he vomited, so I quit giving him the garlic and onions. During the night he weakened noticeably, his breathing was shallower, skin grey, disposition softer.
I begged, “Otie please, let me take you in?” Wrapping me in those arms God had chosen to hold me with for more than thirty years, he whispered, “Shhh…I’m so tired. We’ll go in in the morning.”
Though exhausted, yet I feared I would awaken to find him gone. I wanted to feel his arms forever, but the burden was too overwhelming to bear alone. It drove me to slip from our bed to get my Bible. All night I sat on the floor beside Otie’s bed with a dim light reading, watching and praying.
As the day dawned, I lifted Otie’s head to give him a drink. He screamed as fire shot to both heels.
“Go do chores and then we’ll go.” He persisted, not really coherent.
“No, Otie. Not this morning. I don’t care if they all die. I am taking you in.”
It took me two hours, and a cocktail of supplements including DMSO to loosen his rigidity enough to get him out of bed and into the van. At the hospital laying on the gurney he joked with the Dr. that he was healthy as a horse. The Doctor was never around to see how weak and rigid he moved. Against my objections Otie refused an IV, so all day as he went through a barrage of tests, he neither ate, nor drank. The last test was a spinal tap which came back full of old and new blood.
Otie said, “Hey Doc, that felt good, relieved the pressure.”
The Dr. was concerned but confused, Otie had faked him out. He decided to send him home. I begged him, “Please, don’t send him home! I have been watching him die for eight days.”
Otie overruled me. As I drove him home he stated, “See that’s why I don’t go to Doctors, it doesn’t do any good.” The relief of pressure from the spinal tap helped, he slept that night, exhausted I did too.
The next evening as I came in from chores, I found Otie in tears. As he put it, “I had hit the wall.” He was having vassal spasms, intense pain.
“Please Otie,” I begged. “I don’t care if we lose the farm, if I lose you I have lost everything anyway. Let me take you in.”
At the hospital another Doctor had already examined his tests and knew Otie had a major brain aneurysm. He immediately transferred Otie to Denver Neuro ICU. Telling him, “God must have a plan for you, you shouldn’t be alive.”
The brain surgeon echoed his sentiments. By God’s grace I still have Him.
Having been hurt, disillusioned and spurned by his people I had turned from God. He allowed me to be crushed to restore me, yet mercifully answered my desperate cry. Emmanuel- God is with us, even in judgement. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:18