Last night Donna and I slept for eight hours for the first time in a month. In fact, Donna and I woke up at exactly the same time, exchanged loving smiles, we kissed and wished each other a happy anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago on this day, we were married at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C.
Had it not been for that monumental day, we would not be here in Augusta at Doctors Hospital, because Aimee never would have been born. Had our marriage never happened, I am convinced that today my life would be a filled with loneliness and misery. Donna was an answer to my prayers and Paige and Aimee were answers to our combined prayers. God has been good to us by filling our family with the love we share. I can’t explain why Aimee fell ill to that horrific bacterial infection. I would love to be able to go back to the day of Aimee’s accident and undo everything that has been done, but I can’t do that, so why dwell on it? I am simply thankful to have enjoyed a fabulous family life over the past twenty nine years.
2 Corinthians 12:9 is correct in stating that “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” That scripture hits home with us. In fact, we see the scripture in action every day.
One of the first letters we received after Aimee’s accident was from Deanna Hilgemann of Galveston, Texas. Deanna wrote a beautiful letter and shared her personal testimony of how she made some mistakes in her life, but she confessed her mistakes and advised Aimee to hold her family close and further offered encouragement to Aimee to use her experiences for God’s greater glory. Deanna’s letter has touched our entire family deeply. Her love and compassion poured out of each and every word. God bless you Deanna.
One of my new friends on Facebook, Sean Murphy, decided to step out and give blood for the first time in 10 years. This was not an easy decision, because the last time he tried he suffered a vasovagal reaction and had a seizure. It took a lot of courage for Sean to step up and give blood after that experience, but he was encouraged by Aimee’s courage, so he opted to give it a try. As Sean was being processed as a donor, it was discovered that he had high blood pressure. Sean subsequently discovered that he was suffering from stage two hypertension, a condition that could have been potentially life threatening. He is now on medication to control it. In Sean’s words, “I was zooming to stroke or heart attack land, not even knowing it! Such a chain of events is definitely part of God’s mysterious ways!” I agree wholeheartedly.
Another young man wrote to tell us that he was suffering from depression and close to committing suicide when he learned about Aimee. Her situation caused him to reexamine his own life, adjust his attitude and stop feeling sorry for himself. Another life changed.
When I stopped by United Community Bank a couple of weeks ago, a man approached me in tears and told me what an inspiration Aimee had been to his son. He said his son had torn his ACL in football practice and was moping about how he might never play football again. When his son learned about Aimee, he apologized to his father and said, “here I am complaining about my knee when Aimee has lost her leg.” He said his son’s attitude change helped to strengthen his resolve and pushed him harder in his efforts to rehab his injured knee. I think that’s awesome.
I see stories like this every day and it brings to my mind that scripture from 2 Corinthians 12:9. God’s power is being made perfect through Aimee’s weakness. He is using Aimee to reach others who need hope and inspiration.
This past week Aimee had struggled mightily. Although her condition had improved significantly, her pain has been considerable. Phantom pain now plagues her “hands”. Although she has no hands, her brain is apparently still telling her body that the hands are there. If you recall, I told you that her fingers had necrotized and that her hands were puffy and purple. That is what she now feels. I asked her if she could describe the pain and she told me, “it feels like I have been carrying bags of rocks.” Wow. Imagine carrying bags of rocks for days on end and never being able to release them. You know how your fingers freeze up and you want to extend them? She can’t do that. She said her “fingers” feel contorted and twisted. Nothing really helps her pain much. Some of the pain medication makes her sick to her stomach and she winds up vomiting. Like I said, she has struggled mightily.
It is amazing the things we take for granted. How about the ability to scratch the inside of your own ear? How about the ability to go to the bathroom when you want? To type a keyboard? To use a remote control? To simply take a successful step? If you can do all those things, you are blessed. Aimee can do none of them. How do you think that makes her feel? Not so good.
This past week the proverbial poopy hit the fan for Aimee. She was lashing out at her care givers, she was in pain, she was sick to her stomach, she was unable to tend to her own basic needs and she was very unhappy. She had every right to be unhappy. By Thursday afternoon, Aimee’s misery had come full circle. She knew that many things were beyond her control and that fighting those who cared for her was not the solution. She prayed and meditated on this and she told me she was overcome by peace. She realized that she had to give in to something much bigger than herself. I asked her what she meant and she said that she surrendered her will and submitted to the will of God. She knew that anger was not the answer. She knows that God is in control.
On Friday Aimee’s nurses noticed that Aimee had returned back to her normal sweet self. They were perplexed and questioned whether a change in her medications was the reason. We know the real reason. Prayer has changed and will continue to change much over the coming days, weeks, months and years.
As for Aimee’s general medical condition, please allow me to relate the following update:
– Her lungs are now healthy. The ventilator has been out of her room for nearly two weeks now.
– She once had a plethora of tubes running into her body, perhaps as many as 16 IVs. She now has 2.
– She is making 100cc of urine an hour on her own. The normal rate is 30cc. She is off dialysis for now.
– The doctors removed her trache on 5/27 and replaced it with a trache cap so she could talk. Yesterday they removed the trache cap and bandaged her neck. The tracheotomy should close within 5 days.
– Her wounds continue to require debridement before skin grafts can adhere successfully. There may be 2-3 more of these procedures before grafts may commence.
Considering that Aimee was once the “sickest person in ICU”, according to one doctor, she has come a long way. Her survival is a blessing and her continued pace of recovery is a testament to the power of prayer. That those same prayers have healed the wounded bodies and souls of many Americans is no coincidence. That is how God works.
God bless you all!