Life’s unexpected trouble gives us all an opportunity to show Christian love.
John A. Braun
Accidents are accidents because no one expects them to happen. Andy Zeller went out to make a minor repair on piece of heavy equipment. He extended the bucket so he could get at the repair. But while he was working, the hydraulic line holding the bucket in the air ruptured. The bucket fell landing on his midsection and left leg.
Still conscious, he somehow was able to crawl over the 700 pound bucket and call for help. How he freed himself was a mystery because it seemed physical impossible. Family members credited God’s care and Andy’s guardian angel. The ambulance got to the house quickly, but Andy had a broken pelvis and lower left leg.
He first went to the local hospital in Joplin, Missouri, but they decided that he would need multiple surgeries to rebuild his pelvis and leg and was airlifted to the university hospital in Columbia, Missouri, two hours away by air. After making arrangements for the care of the kids, Tiffani joined Andy as soon as she could.
The next day Andy underwent surgery to rebuild his broken pelvis. It seemed to be successful and the doctors anticipated surgery for his leg the next day. But the staff could not wake Andy in post-op. In spite of all the efforts to purge his body of drugs for pain and anesthesia, he did not respond. More tests revealed that fatty tissue had entered his blood stream and traveled through his system.
Usually the body clears that tissue by filtering it through the lungs. In Andy’s case it escaped the filtering of the lungs and accumulated in his brain. His condition was called Fat Embolism Syndrome and affected his breathing, speech, emotion and memory. He was experiencing multiple mini-strokes. No one could say if the damage would be permanent or only temporary. The doctors worked to keep him stable and allow the body to repair itself. That meant inserting feeding and breathing tubes. Waiting was difficult!
Pastor Schuman joined the family and had a devotion and brought them the comfort of Holy Communion. Pastor said, “The mini strokes did not affect his hearing. What a blessing this has been from the Lord as we know he can hear us as we share with him the comfort that he is not alone, that his Savior is with him every waking moment and that through this trial his God will never leave him or forsake him.”
Andy’s wife, Tiffani and other family members were at his side watching, waiting, and praying. The medical staff decided surgery to repair Andy’s leg was the next step. Four days after the accident, surgery was successful so his physical damage was fixed and on the mend. But the doctors said that his body would require 2-4 weeks before they would know whether the damage to his brain would improve. For now it was keep him stable.
Slowly they began to see hopeful signs. When the pastor was there and talked about the kids they noticed a lot of eye movement. When he reminded Andy that the Lord was with him, they noticed the same increase in eye movement, Tiffani remembers, “I cannot express how hopeful and exciting this was for me and everyone.”
Tiffani wrote updates on Andy’s progress. That first hopeful sign was shared with everyone. It was one of the first pieces of good news she had shared. She concluded, “Thank you all for your prayers and support! I look forward to giving another great report tomorrow!! Thank you all!!”
Everyone looked for new reports and shared their support. One wrote, “We are thinking and praying for Andrew’s full recover. Thank you for updating us in this very difficult time.” Others wrote,
· “I’m so glad to hear the progress that is happening! I can’t help but think of the Psalm pastor read on Sunday during a devotion with Andy. Psalm 121.”
· “Our prayers are with you during this difficult time. May God give you tons of peace and comfort! You all will be in our prayers.”
· “We are all hear for you and Tiffani and your kids and all your loved ones.”
The apparently small progress signaled by the eye movement meant a great deal to everyone. The responses Tiffani got from friends and family were a huge boost for her. She wrote, “Thank you all for your prayers and everything else you all are doing. We are so incredible blessed to have all of you. The kids are doing well. A little stir crazy in the hotel for two days and they have been pretty tired so hopefully after another good night’s sleep they will feel better and we can get them out somewhere to run off some energy.”
The next day Andy noticed Tiffani in the room with him and followed her with his eyes for the first time. A small step forward but still very good news. Some of the news was not so good. Andy’s breathing tube seemed to have contributed to a problem with pneumonia. But there were good days too. “Andrew is smiling today!!!” But they had to put him back on the ventilator.
Andy began to listen, smile, and laugh. He was still not able to remember the accident and got confused and frustrated. He was happy to see visitors. After almost two weeks in the hospital he began physical therapy and began sitting in a chair for a few hours. Tiffani wrote, “Thank God for everything he has done for us!” and “Thank you all for your prayers and support on this rollercoaster ride.”
Progress continued. Andy celebrated his birthday in the hospital with balloons and banners, “The kids all came in and sang him happy birthday.” The excitement made him tired but happy.
Christians are to love each other. That means they help in times of need. Friends and family alike pitched in to help with prayers, messages of support, and in many other ways, Tiffani responded, “ We have had an outpouring of help both back home, with the kids, with food, diapers and financially. I don’t think I can thank everyone enough. The friends and family that have watched my three VERY young and active kids and shown them lots of fun and lots of love have kept this experience from being traumatic for them, which is priceless to me. The prayers from those we know well those we don’t know at all have been the absolute best support we have had. My cup runneth over! What an amazing amount of blessings God has given us. I hope one day we can show you all how much it all has meant to us. Love you all! Keep praying!!”
Improvement continued. Andy’s first outing was church and Bible study. After almost a month in the hospital, Andy came home. His brain function returned to normal, and he enjoyed the time with his kids, “That is definitely one of God’s many blessings in this whole ordeal,” he said. Rehab was difficult but all is now well. Thank God for his blessings and for friends and family.
John Braun is executive editor of the Forward in Christ magazine.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017
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