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  • Writer's pictureMaureen Diaz

The Most Wonderful, Terrible Thing - Part 2

Before I go on with this story, it is important to note the circumstances that brought George to the point of this crisis.

First, my husband is an admitted workaholic. He thrives on his work, loves his work, tends to be consumed with his work. This to the point of, at times when we were younger, occasionally working for 2 and even 3 days straight, without rest.

Eating is not a huge priority to George; he’d rather not take the time for a meal when it means he must stop what he’s doing, even just to eat a sandwich.

Also, about 10 or 12 years ago George became very ill with Lyme Disease. This debilitating illness had him bedridden for a period of time, and after choosing to do 5 months of intense antibiotic treatment, his gut was wrecked - now he had Rheumatoid Arthritis as well!

It took about a year to recover his health from all of this, which we did primarily with food and herbal medicine. But at the end of that year he was back to his old self, whistling and working hard once again!

But later, after an extended period of time working away from home and ignoring the dietary principles that had helped him so much, George’s health began to decline once again.

And did I mention that he has been a smoker for the last 40+ years? Yeah, there’s that too…

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy!


I continued waiting in that dark space, all alone, but optimistic after conferring with the cardiologist. George would wake up soon, we would be heading home in just a few more days. Waiting, waiting, until finally a grim-faced doctor came out to give me the sickening news: George did not wake up. He was in a coma, and they didn’t know why, or if he would ever wake up again. Don’t get your hopes up, this is very serious, he said. There may be brain damage. His heart is very weak. They were transferring him to the ICU and would let me know when I could see him.

Alone and afraid, I sat and tearfully waited some more, praying intensely. Phone calls were made, family finally reached, the grim news shared.

A friend from our old church in PA contacted someone she knew in the area. Help was coming, I didn’t need to be alone. Natalie sent me Laura, someone I could lean on, pray with, talk to, be blessed by.

Before she arrived, I was taken to his room. There he was, my beloved, hooked up to more tubes, wires, and machines than I had ever seen. His nurse gave an overview of what she was doing, what everything meant, what to expect (and not expect).

The staff helped me to settle in; I am to this day so very thankful for every single nurse, assistant, hospitalist, custodian, administrator, every single person whom I encountered that day, and in the days to come. They literally all showed me such great compassion and care that it still brings me to tears to think of them!

“Did you get something to eat? What would you like? Can I get you a pillow? How can I help you?”

At one point, still alone, I took a walk to the cafeteria to get a bite. On my way there a woman stopped me. She noticed that I was upset and wondered what was wrong, could she help me? This kind woman held me as I cried into her shoulder, her care and concern providing comfort, and assured me that all would be okay in the end. I later saw her again; she was an administrator. Not a nurse, nor a social worker. But someone whose job description entailed working with numbers and managing people, not consoling patients or their families. This was how people at Northern Lights Hospital were. Every single person we encountered in that hospital were the same: compassionate and kind.

But the nurses-wow! I was, and remain still, amazed at what they do and did. For 12 hour shifts these men and women would monitor, adjust, make life-saving decisions, all while remaining totally focused and calm. Doctors would be consulted, but the nurses were the ones who actually kept my husband alive, for them I am most thankful!

Soon Laura arrived; she was such a huge blessing to me! First, we prayed. We hugged. We cried. George was heading into surgery to set a “swan” line and a balloon pump in his leg, to relieve some of the pressure from the heart so that it could have somewhat of a rest. This was a scary but necessary procedure, and as I was told that he may not make it through this operation, it was beyond comforting to have someone by my side, holding my hand.

I chose to distract myself from the cares of the day by going to the hotel to gather our things. The desk clerk assured me that I needn’t bother, but I wanted to have George’s belongings in my hand, smell his smell, and have a moment alone to remember what had transpired the evening before, both good and bad (there was a lot of good preceding the bad!)

The hospital kept in touch as I packed up, and after returning the rental car to the airport Laura took me back to wait for the surgery to be completed.

George came through, the first of several really big things. I was beginning to learn how to pray…


The next day was a critical one. First of all, the ballon pump could not stay for long as there was risk of it rupturing the blood vessel, which would be deadly in and of itself. This was being monitored closely.

But more importantly, the doctors and nurses were completely unsure whether George would/could wake up, and if so the question as to the integrity his brain was deeply concerning.

And so they began to allow his body to slowly warm back up to normal temperature, backing off of that life-saving hypothermia apparatus. They wanted, needed, him to wake up to asses the situation.

I spoke soothing words to my husband and, at about 9 a.m., George opened his eyes, looking into mine!

But there was a great deal of distress over his intubation, which was of course even more problematic for his heart. And so he was put into an induced coma in an effort to allow for more rest, more time to heal.

There were several major hurdles for George to overcome, more warnings as to the severity of each issue, more concerns, more waiting. But for every single thing that needed to happen, each tiny detail, we prayed. Very specific prayers, always placing the burden on God’s shoulders rather than our own mortal ones. And one by one, our prayers were answered favorably.

The nurses would gently warn me not to get my hopes up, and then breath a sigh of relief as George pulled through each challenge. They saw me praying, Laura and others who came to encourage me, strangers who cared; they heard the conversations over the phone with others, they knew where we put our trust, they saw what real faith in God looked like.

And me? I learned to let go and let God, to place my trust in Him for things that were beyond my control. I learned to pray very specifically, that God is in the details. And I finally understood that He does, indeed, truly care for me.

I was at peace, no matter the outcome. Such a strange feeling in the midst of a dreadful uncertainty…

Laura stayed with me until our family began arriving Tuesday afternoon and evening. Everyone came, all 9 children, 2 grandchildren, a couple of spouses, both of George’s parents and his step-mother, his sister. They all came to say goodbye, but happily, that was not to be!

Meanwhile, there were complications. One was pneumonia, and George didn’t seem to be responding to the antibiotics. Erin had brought some essential oils with her and offered them to me; I am very accustomed to their use and was thankful, both for the calming effects upon my own system, but also for the medicinal value as it pertains to respiratory ailments.

And so that evening I dabbed a little lavender EO on George’s temples, and beneath his nose. I massaged some Thieves into the bottom of his feet, and at his nostrils. With sensors and wires all over his chest massaging the oils there, where it would be most useful, was not an option.

The nurse on duty was startled when he saw (smelled?) what I was doing as the hospital did not allow fragrances out of concern for the discomfort of sensitive individuals. But he quickly acquiesced, stating that were it his wife laying there, he would want to do the same. And so he drew the curtains, closed the door, and went for a break.

The fever was reduced overnight, George overcame his pneumonia.

I was made comfortable each day and night in his room, the hospital being very accommodating for such situations. Meanwhile our family was given private space down the hall in which to

spend our time. We were permitted only 2 in George’s room at a time, and so this was a very special blessing to all of us. We took meals there, read, prayed, sang, played, and generally comforted and consoled one another, taking our turns with George; it was all so very uplifting!

Another day and night came and went, with George still holding on. But we were now at a critical point: the balloon pump out, George now needed to breath on his own, and wake up.

Part 3 to follow tomorrow

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