5 Strokes in 7 Days: One Year Later

“Many women have done excellently, but she surpasses them all.”

April 25 marked one year since the beginning of my five strokes. On April 25, 2016 I began feeling dizzy and disoriented after taking the trash to the dump. The next day I was in the hospital where results were inconclusive. That Friday, April 29 I suffered a major stroke while getting an MRI (two to be technical). The following Monday I had three more strokes while at Virginia Beach General Hospital. After a heparin drip, stay in the ICU, and days in observation, I was able to finally return back home on May 8, and begin the long process of rehab and re-learning how to do simple things I had done my whole life.

I’ve detailed before the ordeal, particularly while preaching through the book of Job last August & September. You can, thus, hear more about the strokes and what God did in my life through those two weeks by revisiting those messages (particularly the two part messages “Do We Fear God for Something or Nothing?” on Aug. 14 & 21 and then “What Does God Desire of Us?” on Oct. 9). I won’t rehash, therefore, those experiences, but instead reflect on the biggest thing I’ve learned or come to see in the past year and that is simply how incredible, strong, resilient, and valiant my wife is.

I’d argue it’s almost easier to be the person in the ICU than the spouse forced to sit at home and wait and see. It’s almost easier to be the person contemplating going to be with the Lord than the spouse forced to grapple with the reality of potentially losing one’s partner. It’s almost easier to be the frustrated patient in recovery who can’t do much for himself or others than it is to be the spouse who now has to be Mom AND Dad, who has to do everything around the house. I mean it’s something, when we first came home I wasn’t even able to take the dog out to go pee. I couldn’t bathe the kids; I couldn’t wrestle or even sit in the floor with them. I had to stay in a chair and watch them from a distance.

And this lasted not a few days, but weeks and months. Even as my coordination returned and I could physically do more, fatigue became a major factor. Anxiety and fear were constant companions. Loud noises, rapid movement, lots of talking and action would not just wear me out but would overwhelm me and leave me stressed. (In other words, a house with a four and two year old was probably near the bottom of conducive recovery locations) Needless to say, many days I was not just physically unable to contribute but emotionally unable as well.

But through it all my wife was steady and constant. She did it all, never cracking under the pressure of so many things that could have overwhelmed her. Certainly she found encouragement from family but to me their cannot be any greater testimony to the strength of the grace of God than what He has done in her this past year. Through many days she carried the family on her back (sometimes literally when it comes to our kids), she kept us focused and moving forward, and she sought to use our story as a witness to others. Like Job she wasn’t afraid to ask ‘Why’ sometimes or even to yell at God. But also like Job when God spoke she listened and responded in faith to Him.

She is my Ruth, my valiant, wise woman. On April 24, 2016 I knew that I was blessed by my spouse, but a year later the Lord has given me an even great glimpse as to just how blessed I am. An excellent wife I have found. My heart trusts in her and I have no lack of gain. With my children we rise up and call her blessed and praise her. Many women have done excellently, but you, Teresa, surpass them all.