Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Off the Bucket List!

The road leading down, down, down from the cabin

Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

This is the second installment of a series of posts I'll be penning regarding the events that occurred when my husband, Danny, and I were supposed to be enjoying a relaxing vacation in the mountains.  To read the first episode, click on The Voice of the Lord in the Blog Archives.

We make it down the mountain safely.  Danny pulls over in a gas station parking lot so we can trade places.  As I adjust the driver's seat to fit my shorter frame, it dawns on me that in the five years we've had our Subaru, I've only driven it once.  Once!  And now, circumstances being what they are, I have to navigate the car several miles down the Great Smoky Mountain Parkway?  Lord, please be with me.  Take away my fears . . .

"Just remember," Danny cautions as he fastens his seat belt.  "The Subaru accelerates extremely fast, so go easy on the gas pedal, okay?"

What I want to say is, "Now you tell me."  What I end up saying is, "Okay," as the last thing Danny needs right now is more worry.  He's carrying enough for both of us.

Taking a deep breath, relieved that the traffic on the parkway is sparse, I set a course for Bryson City, knowing that this feat is only possible with God's help.  And help, He does!  Within minutes, I acclimate to the feel of the car, stay securely in the right hand lane, and cruise at a conservative, for most drivers, 50 miles per hour.



Danny, never a good passenger in the best of times, has only words of encouragement and assurance.  His words of comfort, I have no doubt, are God-inspired.  I feel as though I'm being embraced in a calm, warm blanket of peace.

We arrive without incident at the Swain County Medical Center.  I drop Danny at the emergency room entrance, and proceed to find a place to park.  This only takes a matter of minutes as the lot is neither large nor crowded.

When I pass through the emergency room doors only moments after Danny, I anxiously scan the waiting room.  There's no sign of him!!!  My heart plummets.  His condition must be worse than I imagined if he is seen that quickly.  I approach the admissions desk in fear and trembling.

The receptionist, Helen, greets me warmly.  I explain who I am, and ask where Danny is.

"He's already been taken back to a room so they can run tests as soon as possible.  He gave me his medical information, and I'm filling out the necessary forms for you all right now, so no need to worry about that," she tells me cheerfully.  "I need some further information from you, and then I'll take you to his room. I'll bring the paper work to you to sign when I'm done."

It takes about ten minutes to help Helen out; I thank her repeatedly as I follow her down the hallway to Danny's room.  When we arrive,I can't believe he's already in a hospital gown!  Even in the midst of what could be a dire situation, I'm relieved to see that Danny hasn't lost his sense of humor.  Turning to the nurse, he says, "You were my friend until you made me put this on!"  And a bit later, "You know, your mama was right when she told you to wear clean underwear.  Sure glad I did!"

Naturally, these comments elicit chuckles from the staff, and help me fight back the tears begging to flow.  It isn't until Helen finds me where I'm standing outside Danny's room, as I don't need to be in there as tests are run, that they burst the dam.  The trigger?  "Does he have a living will?"

Clearly aware of my distress, Helen is immediately empathetic, guiding me gently through the paperwork, and explaining in a soothing voice where I need to sign.  I am, once again, convinced that God has intervened in a most unexpected and welcomed way.  Because of her kindness, I'm able to pull myself together, and manage a smile for Danny before entering his room.

After putting Danny through a battery of tests, the doctor finally enters the room and explains that the heart condition he has can't be treated at their hospital.  Danny has what's known as third degree heart block.  Don't think clogged arteries, as we both thought at first; it's when the top half of the heart refuses to work in sync with the bottom half, causing an electrical imbalance.

"My recommendation for you is to go to St. Joseph's - Mission Hospital in Asheville," the doctor tells Danny.  "They have a dedicated cardio wing and a highly qualified team of surgeons.  We can transport you there by ambulance."

"But what about my wife?"  Danny asks.  "She can't drive expressways, and the ones in Asheville are horrible.  I need her with me."

"She can ride in the ambulance with you," the doctor assures us, "and we'll have security keep an eye on your car for you while you are gone."

As I'm sure you've probably already guessed, I'm not at all keen about riding in an ambulance, but what else am I supposed to do?  There are no alternatives if I wish to be by Danny's side.

When the ambulance crew arrives, they couldn't be any more courteous and caring as they strap Danny into the gurney and wheel him outside to the waiting vehicle.  "You'll have to sit up front with me, Mrs. Orlando," says Kaitlin, our driver.  "There aren't enough seat belts in the back."

Oh, joy!  A ride in a speeding ambulance AND shotgun to boot!  Danny overhears her, and can't refrain from joking once again.  "Hey, Martha, it's just one more thing to check off your bucket list!"

"Who knew?"  I shoot back at him, my smile a little too forced.  Resigned, and praying God will give me strength and courage, I hoist myself into the passenger side of the ambulance, fasten my seat belt, and prepare for take off.  

To be continued . . .

26 comments:

  1. You should write for TV series when they always end with a cliffhanger so you'll watch next week! I'm glued to the story! I can joke because you've already revealed the end that Danny is fine now. When you make your fortune writing for TV, don't give away the ending--just a suggestion. But glad you did on this story!

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    1. Galen, I'll have to admit it - God gave me a knack for creating those cliffhangers, so I don't take the credit here. So glad you are hooked on the story, though. I'm writing the next installment this afternoon (for Friday) so that I have plenty of time to edit later in the week.
      I'll let you know if I ever make a fortune writing for TV. Right now, I'd just be content to sell more of my novels. :)
      Love and blessings!

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  2. I can relate to most of what you and your husband went through. We did that faith cliffhanger the first week of January. I just kept thinking, I am so glad I am in the US instead of Papua New Guinea. What a blessing to have hospitals, doctors, nurses and ambulances to take care of me. I will be back to get the rest of the story...

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    1. I know you understand better than most, Betty, since you, too, have been through the whole scary heart scenario. I'm so glad you are on the mend!
      And yes, we felt so blessed to be in a situation where Danny was sure to receive the best care. More on that later!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Martha! Ugh! I was hoping for the conclusion. You ARE a writer :) I'm inspired by these posts to write about the many adventures I've lived through with my crazy, spontaneous hubby (including trips to the ER and police station!) Can't wait to read the rest, my friend. By the way, I hate driving too.
    Beckie

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    1. Beckie, it's going to be a while before we get to the conclusion, I'm afraid. In fact, I don't even know at the moment how many posts I will actually pen, but telling the story is so cathartic for me right now.
      And yes, you should write about your crazy adventures with the hub - there's almost never an experience we have where we can't see God in it somewhere. His hands were all over this one, that's for sure!
      You hate driving, too? I should have known, sister! LOL!
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Do we have to wait? Can't you just go ahead and finish it. It is such a good story thank you for sharing it with us, and I'll be watching for the next episode. Please tag me for the next post.

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    1. Nells, it would be so long, nobody would have the patience to read it, no matter how good the story line is. I'm so glad you're enjoying it, though.
      If you don't want to miss a post, go ahead and subscribe by email here. I will try my best to remind you on FB when it's up.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Martha, I'm enjoying how you're sharing this experience--so many ways God was at work in ways you could readily see and experience! Yes, writing really can be healing when we've had intensely hard/scary experiences.

    I frequently remind myself that God is always, always with me--I just need to ask Him to reveal Himself at times--reveal as in knowing He is most certainly there (not in a visible sense).

    Looking forward to the next installment...

    Love and blessings!

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    1. God is ever there with us, Kim. I, too, have to remind myself of this when in ordinary time, so please don't feel you are alone in this.
      These were extraordinary circumstances, as you well know. In those times, when we consciously lean upon the Lord, then revelations happen. The curtain is lifted, and we finally see!
      Glad you are enjoying the series!
      Love and blessings!

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  6. I think I'm in the front seat with you...

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    1. Welcome aboard, Ed! :)
      Glad you stopped by to read up on our most recent adventures.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. I have driven that road! What a mess! Can't wait to see what happens next. I know it wasn't a fun story when it happened but it seems like its going to be an amazing story of growth from this end.

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    1. That is definitely my hope, Helene, to show how both of us grew in our trust in God during this time. And no, none of it was fun in the moment, but amazingly, we were able to find things to laugh about, and to give thanks.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. Martha, Reading your words have brought back so many memories of Rev's illness and heart surgery. He will be 10 years post surgery in Sept. and I still thank him for living every day . . . knowing we both that God for that gracious gift. Blessings to you, friend! I can't wait to read the rest of the story.

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    1. Oh, wow, Deb! I knew that Rev had gone through something like this from reading your blog, but heart surgery has to be one of the scariest. Thank the Lord for healing him and allowing your love continue to grow in these past 10 years. Such a blessing!
      Glad you are eagerly awaiting the rest of the story, and praying I don't let you, nor anyone, down on that count.
      Love and blessings!

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  9. love how you are filling us with this drama. and inspired by all the kindness you were shown. Humor helps too. Reminded me of the saying we either laugh or cry and this post does both.

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    1. It's so true, Jean, that we can choose to laugh or cry at a situation. Danny has always helped me to see the lighter side of things. Considering the plight he was in at the time, I still reflect upon his maintaining a sense of humor through it all.
      The kindness was SO inspiring, and there is much more of that, and the drama, to come, so stay tuned!
      Love and blessings!

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  10. Thank you for showing us so much humor, courage and patience in such a difficult situation Martha! Glad that Danny is doing ok and I can't wait to digest your words of wisdom, lessons learned and divine interpretation of this episode.

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    1. So, so glad the story inspires you, Vishnu, and that you are looking forward to the next installment! As far as humor, courage and patience, all the credit goes to God. I don't know when I've ever prayed so much and so fervently, even when I didn't have the words.
      Stay tuned!
      Love and blessings!

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  11. Hi Martha! That road looks intense for anyone to drive, much less someone who is nervous. Good job!! I think if someone asked me about a living will, I'd be a mess too. I wish you weren't alone there (I know you had Danny, but I mean a friend or family member.) I've never been in an ambulance for a ride, I can imagine it's not something you'd ask for, but I love Danny's response.
    Yikes! This story keeps unfolding with as many twists as that road in your image. Phew! Can't wait to see what comes next...
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Yes, Ceil, I truly wished at the time that I had family with me while I handled this moment, but everyone was so absolutely empathetic, kind and caring. And of course, God was in it all; as frightened as I was, I felt His presence so powerfully. He truly helped me keep it together for Danny's sake.
      So glad you're "hooked" and will be back for Friday's episode where I go into much more detail about that ambulance ride. :)
      Love and blessings!

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  12. Your "vacation" just keeps getting more stressful, Martha. I'm amazed at your hubby's humor and his concern for you in spite of it all. I can easily see why you would be freaking out. I'm looking forward to what happens next. Have a hope-filled Easter! Love and hugs!

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    1. I know, Trudy! Vacations are NOT supposed to be stressful, not one bit. Danny is an amazing person, and I thank God every day for bringing him into my life. His deep love for me, and I for him, and his buoyant sense of humor are keys to the success of our marriage.
      Glad you're looking forward to Friday's post, too. You have a blessed and joyous Easter, my friend!
      Love and blessings!

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  13. Oh my...this is going to be an interesting story all the way through, I am certain. Just praying for a good outcome. Thank you for taking us through this harrowing time with you. I know the Lord was right there with you all the way. He has promised to be with us always...I love how He prepares the way before us and puts the right people in place to give comfort and aid as needed. So like our marvelous Savior. Looking forward to the next installment in this story.

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    1. You are so right, Pamela - God was right there with us all the way, and certainly placed the right folks along our path to help us through. I'll elaborate more on that as the episodes unfold. I'm just so eternally grateful to Him who knows our needs before we ask.
      Love and blessings!

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