Hospitals and I are no strangers and being so confined is not among my favorite things to do. I always long to be at home with my husband and child. Plus, there’s another home I always long for too and usually far more when I’m in ICU and not in a regular room. One ICU experience in particular always makes my desire for “home” a struggle. It was renewed recently as I underwent an amputation.
March/April of 2004 I had a horrific leg infection. By the time I got to the hospital I had no strength to even move from van to wheelchair and literally lay down on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the hospital. When they got me inside the ER I was freezing and wanted water so badly I begged for it. Heated blankets they rotated around me. Water they wouldn’t give me until they knew what was wrong.
I knew I was dying but the doctor confirmed it when he told my husband he should call any family or friends we had because they didn’t believe I’d survive the night. Later surrounded by family in ICU I struggled to keep my eyes open to see my husband’s face, longing to assure him I’d be okay knowing it wasn’t a promise I couldn’ make. Life and death were up to God and in that moment I surrendered. “Whatever Your will God I know I’m okay just be with those I leave behind.”
Again I begged for water and I heard a nurse promise to return with it in a few minutes. Sleep dragged me under, arms lifting me up woke me up.
First I thought my husband had lost his mind but, as my head nestled next to a chest and I heard a heartbeat beneath my right ear I knew I was in the arms of Jesus. Too weak to turn my head the surroundings were imprinted on my heart. I opened my eyes and could see sunlight dapping through the leaves and branches where hints of a sky bluer than any I’d ever seen before peeked through. Where we were was older than time itself, the trees, the ground, the tree roots, the river and I longed to look up into Jesus’ face but somehow I knew I wasn’t suppose to. The only sounds were those of His heartbeat beneath my ear and of rushing water.
We stood on the banks of a river so wide that the trees on the other side seemed small. The water was so clear it appeared silver in the sunlight, the surface appearing perfectly calm but I knew that beneath the surface the current was swift and steady hence the rushing sound I heard. In the middle of the river was a large stone, worn smooth by the waters. Jesus was going to carry me into that water!
My next thought was, “I should be scared! I can’t swim!”
Jesus replied instantly, “It’s okay Faye, I’ve got you.”
I knew His feet were in the water then and shortly I felt my gown getting wet as He strolled toward that rock, the wetter I grew the warmer I became. By the time we reached the rock I was submerged up to my upper chest and Jesus laid my shoulders and head on the rock. The rock was warm from the sun and felt not hard but supportive. Jesus arms remained beneath me. The waters rushed around me and I slept knowing Jesus had me and these waters were washing away the infection. I was safer than I’d ever been.
That event was repeated many times during my ICU days. Healing did not come quickly. I knew when I’d been transferred to another floor out of ICU and the river trips didn’t happen again I was going to live.
I’ve made over a dozen trips back to the hospital since that one. Not once has Jesus returned with me to that river. I was forever changed by that experience. How can you hear the heartbeat of Jesus and not be forever changed?