September 28, 2019 is a day I will never forget. It was a Saturday, the only day of the week that Chris, my husband, sleeps in. I had made plans to work out with a group of women in Murfreesboro that morning, but I had overslept, so I decided I to stay with Chris another hour and not disturb him. When I got ready to go to the Walk for Type 2 Diabetes, I went to my car, but I couldn’t get out because Chris’s truck was blocking me in. The business van was parked in the driveway, too, so there was no way of getting around his truck. Because I don’t know how to drive a stick shift, I had to go back into the house and wake Chris so he could move the truck.
When I woke Chris, he sat up in the bed, and I left the room. But when I returned, Chris was lying back in bed again. I asked him again to move the truck, and he got out of bed, but I noticed something strange when he was getting dressed. He was using his left hand, which he never does, and his right arm was limp at his side. He also seemed a little unbalanced. I asked him what was going on, and he said, “Nothing. I’m good.” But when I lifted his right arm, it dropped back to his side with no movement. Immediately, I thought he’d had a stroke, but I didn’t want to believe it.
I knew something wasn’t right, so I told Chris to look at me and smile. He didn’t smile, but he looked like his normal self. So I gave him a bottle of water and asked him to drink it. I wanted to see if he would be able to keep the water in his mouth as he drank. He drank all of the water without wasting one drop of it. Then I held up two fingers and asked him how many he saw, and he said he saw two. I held up three fingers and asked him how many he saw. He said he saw four.
As I dialed 911, Chris said, “There is nothing wrong with me. I’m all right.” He took the phone and told me that I was overreacting. I said, “If you’re all right, then move your right arm.” He lifted his right arm with his left and said, “See? Like I said, I’m okay.” Knowing he needed to get to the hospital, I said, “If you’re okay, then go move your truck,” knowing he couldn’t. He went out to the truck but couldn’t lift his arm to put the key in the ignition.
“Are you ready to go to the hospital?”
Considering how much time had passed, I knew it would take too long for an ambulance to arrive, so I needed someone to help me get my car out immediately so I could drive. I ran to a neighbor’s house and, after explaining the situation, I asked if anyone there could drive a stick shift. My neighbor said she could, and she moved Chris’s truck, and I drove Chris to Vanderbilt.
When we arrived at the emergency room, an attendant asked if we needed a wheelchair. Trying to stay calm, I told the attendant that I believed that my husband had had a stroke. The attendant immediately ran back into the hospital, bringing back medics with a bed to roll Chris in quickly. The medics immediately took Chris back and asked me a series of routine questions about timing, medications, allergies, activities, and anything that would help them determine the type of treatment needed. When Chris talked on the way to the ER, he didn’t slur any words, nor did he look like a typical stroke victim. But once we got to the hospital, I noticed that he was scrambling his words.
Once the medics got Chris into a room, they ran an MRI and other tests. Amazingly, all his vitals were fine, but results from his MRI confirmed that he had had a stroke and showed two spots on his brain that were affecting his speech. However, no blood clots were found. Chris was admitted to the critical care unit (CCU). After three days, he was discharged and sent to an in-patient rehabilitation hospital. No one but God could allow a person to go from the CCU directly to rehab.
Chris went through eight days in rehab before being discharged to go home. A week later, he started out-patient therapy at a different facility at Vanderbilt. The in-patient therapy hospital had a waiting list––but God! Chris’s doctor called the office, and they were able to schedule him the following week. As you can imagine, my emotions were on a roller coaster ride from the moment God allowed me to wake him that Saturday morning in September.
I share our testimony in detail so you can imagine what we went through in the physical. Now let me share the spiritual side. God is and always will be our provider. He still performs miracles in this day and time. What may seem like a disaster can be a blessing in disguise.
It wasn’t by accident that I overslept that morning, nor that my car was blocked in by Chris’s truck, which meant that I had to go back into the house to wake him. Once I realized that something was not right with my husband, I went into prayer as I was trying to convince him to go to the hospital. It was not a long, formal prayer. I just simply said, “I need you, Lord. Please have mercy!” When we arrived at the hospital and they assigned Chris to a room, I immediately called family members and texted my prayer warriors.
Chris was someone who worked out and was in overall good health, but he’d had a stroke in his sleep. How could that have happened? God put it on my heart, and I finally understood that none of this had happened for us but for someone else. God will never leave you alone. Not only was He there in the Spirit, but He sent the right people there by my side in the physical who were there to comfort and support me.
After Chris was assigned a room, God gave me extraordinary strength and peace. On the night of September 28, I prayed over my husband and touched him from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet, believing God had heard my prayer and would provide restoration. I knew all was going to be all right, even when the doctors were still running tests and trying to determine what had caused the stroke. I heard in my spirit, “Do you trust Me?” I was lying on a cot near my husband and answered aloud, “Yes, I trust You!” When I said that, Chris looked around to see who I was talking to. I looked at him and said, “Everything is fine. I love you. Now get some rest.” I was at peace. When you know what you know what you know, God Is!
Only by God’s grace, the situation was not as it could have been. Instead of asking the Lord why this had happened, I asked, “How can You use me in this situation?” I knew I had to share this testimony. Beginning the next day, I saw more of God’s favor manifested and an overflow of blessings on our behalf:
• The next day, Sunday, I emailed my employer to let them know I would not be at work due to the situation and that I wasn’t sure when I would return. Monday, the CFO called and told me that they did not want me to use any of my PTO or take leave. They made an “unheard of” exception for me to work from home for two months and would extend it if needed because they trusted me. They provided me with everything I needed to work from home but said, “Get online to work when you can, but your priority is to focus and care for your husband and help him get better.” My department also had dinner delivered to our home three days a week for a month because they wanted to help simplify my life as I cared for Chris.
• I called our business contacts to let them know what had happened. Two other independent owners worked our route for two weeks at no charge, as well as doing their own routes. Even the area manager stepped in and ran our route without charging us.
• Close friends we considered family were there for us, too. They prayed; brought baskets of snacks and dinners so we didn’t have to eat hospital food; kept Chris company when I tried to rest; and brought books, cards, flowers, and comfortable neck pillows.
• While I was at the hospital with Chris, our family came from Georgia and West Tennessee and took care of our home; cared for Zora, our German Shepard; and took care of many other tasks. Before our family arrived, our neighbors took care of Zora as well as our nephew.
• Chris had In-patient therapy for eight days at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. When we arrived at rehab, initially, Chris was assigned a room with a roommate. I knew the amount of visitors we would have and requested a single room. There were none available. But the Lord worked it out, and they gave us a double room and blocked it so no one would be assigned to it. Won’t He do it?
• The out-patient speech therapy clinic had a waitlist. Chris was put at the top of the list and was able to begin his therapy a week after being discharged from in-patient therapy.
• The Deacon’s Ministry showed up and showed out! There were prayers and blessings on top of blessings.
• Neighbors smoked brisket, baked cakes, offered to do the lawn when needed, and came by just to check on us.
• And we received many blessings through phone calls, cards, visits, meals, and people’s time.
All I can say is thank God for Who You are! Thank You for Your mercy, grace, and favor! Thank You for all You’ve done, all You’re doing, and all You will do! To God be all the glory!
By Deaconess Tonya Brown