Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.
“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”
My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same. At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.
~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM. She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.
Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.
Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.
One electrical shock to the heart. Two.
After the fifth shock, a faint but steady heartbeat returned. ~~
A few minutes after my phone call, I was at the ER. Dee’s mom, Mrs. Pennywell, hugged me as tears flowed down her cheeks. Alanda was at Dee’s bedside.
Dee was breathing, but unresponsive. He flailed as the doctor and nurses intubated his lungs with the hollow tubes.
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Pennywell!”
I’ve been acquainted with Mrs. Pennywell for years. She is a very kind, gracious lady, simply an outflow of who she truly is. Her quiet answer explains much:
“My God has this!”
When Mrs. Pennywell says God, it’s possessive. “My God!” A relationship. Trust. Faith. Familiar.
She says God as a praise going up, and responds with confident peace that flows back down.
God is not a three-letter word to her. Not when she says it. When she says, it’s a seven-syllable declaration…
Doctors put Dee in a drug induced coma to let his brain rest and heal. At the same time, they feverishly ran every test, scan and image they could.
No stroke. The CT scan was normal. No heart attack. Dee’s heart was clear and strong. They weren’t sure what happened, but he almost, or maybe did, die in his sleep.
Janet and I stopped by the hospital several times over the weekend. Each time Mrs. Pennywell was so kind, quietly confident that her Lord would forge a way through the unknown, light a path through the darkness, move the mountain in the way.
During lunch on Monday, I stopped by the ICU to check on Dee. As soon as I stepped in the waiting room, Alanda’s face spoke volumes.
She was beaming, giddy really, with an ear to ear grin. Joyful tears welled up in her eyes as she excitedly said, “You’ve got to go see this! He’s awake! The doctors woke him up from the coma, and he’s sitting up! He’s eating lunch!!”
Dee saw me through the window on the way to his room. He was still groggy from the medicine and asked his mother what was wrong that I was in the hospital. She smiled and told Dee I was fine, that I was there to see him.
Until then, the last thing he remembered was being at his son’s baseball game Friday night.
Still confused, Dee was trying to put the empty slots in his memory back into logical order, yet when he reached out and shook my hand, his hospital grip was stronger than most men on their best day.
He was exactly like Alanda described, sitting up eating lunch!
He spoke normally, and although you could tell the medication hadn’t completely worn off, there were no side effects. No long term symptoms. No impairments.
Dee, was Dee!
I stood at the end of Dee’s bed wide mouthed in amazement at how miraculously well he was.
“Dee, I’m so glad to see you!!”
He shrugged, and gave me a man look, like that’s a weird thing to say. Mrs. Pennywell was just beaming, grateful her son was back.
I said, “This is amazing!”
Without hesitation, Mrs. Pennywell spoke while raising one hand up in the air, “No! My Goooooood is amazing!!”
I looked back at Dee. “Yes ma’am! But this is just incredible!!”
Lifting her hand even higher to the heavens, “Uh ugh! My Goooooood is incredible!”
A tear rolled down her cheek. Dee saw.
Seeing a tear on his mother’s face caused him distress. He followed with a tear of his own, still not fully understanding all that had happened to him, yet in awe of all he was hearing.
The doctor said Dee needed to keep his blood pressure down. Mrs. Pennywell realized his blood pressure would go up with tears. She instantly switched gears to cool, calm and collected.
In a mama’s voice, as if she was preaching to the choir, she spoke.
“Dekovin.” (Only Dee’s mother calls him by his birth name.)
“Dekovin, look at me!”
Dee looked up, then back down.
“You look at me, Dekovin!”
“You’re from good stock Dekovin! But your stock, it didn’t come from your Daddy. Your stock, didn’t come from your Mom.”
Leaning in while pointing up, she stared straight in his Dee’s eyes. “Your stock? It comes, from your GOOOOOOOD!!”
Dee nodded, took a deep breath, and his blood pressure numbers began to drop back down.
Honestly, tears were in my eyes.
It was the best church service I’ve been to in a long time! I just wanted to run grab a doctor or ICU nurse. I mean somewhere, somebody needed to pass the plate!
Dee came back to work a couple of weeks later and hasn’t missed a step. Doctors never figured out for sure what happened, but precautionary measures were put in place, and he’s as strong as ever.
It’s still mind blowing amazing to me.
On the other hand, it’s pretty simple because his mother is right.
He comes from good stock!!!