As a compassionate health care provider, I practice what I’ve been trained, to treat the patients with brain injury or unconscious as if they can hear me. I learned early on in my training, and it’s been told time and time again that “even though I was unconscious, I could hear and understand.” Who are we to know where reflexes end and the soul begins? I admit that a lot of times-I “just go through the motions” and don’t truly speak to these patients during transport as if they are really hearing me. I confess it’s my lack of faith in God’s ability not only to heal, but to really use me for His kingdom.
Kirby M is a 67 year old man that retired from teaching and also coaching basketball-some players I’m told even went on to professional level. His wife said he still ran 5 miles a day, lifted weights and frequently played a few rounds of golf daily. He was traveling from his home in Atlanta to Indy for his fraternity’s 100th anniversary when in southern Indiana, was hit by a drunk driver.
His wife was home caring for her sister who was going through chemotherapy for crippling spinal cancer when she got the call–he’d been cut out of the car and life-flighted to University of Kentucky in critical condition. Cynthia called her son to go be by his side while she searched for someone to come and care for her sister.
Kirby was diagnosed with a serious traumatic brain injury and lie in a coma 2 states away from his family. Cynthia said it was a week before she could finally get to Louisville. She and her family proceeded to travel back and forth for the next month as Kirby gradually began to open his eyes and was sent to a local nursing home. With many infectious setbacks, he finally grew strong enough to move his right arm and leg a little and breath on his own, but unable to speak.
His wife was told about Grace on Wings from one of his fraternity brothers who was a pilot and we were originally scheduled to get him last Monday but weather caused us to cancel and Nellie, our aircraft, had to be in scheduled maintenance Tuesday. We finally arrived to his bedside yesterday.
He opened his eyes to us, but no visible reliable response was seen. After we transferred him onto our cot, the staff asked if we’d hold up so they could get a picture. His nurse had tears in her eyes and I thought-wow, she must be emotional! How could she be attached to a patient that was minimally responsive?
After prayer on the tarmac and loading him up (no family was with him), I noticed a tear from his R eye but wasn’t sure it was “for real.” He didn’t move much but his eye contact was a little unnerving-he would lock onto you and not look away. It seemed he was trying to communicate with only his eyes.
We proceeded to listen to the radio communication and “gab” during flight-Kirby finally closed his eyes to rest. When we landed in Atlanta and unloaded him to the ground ambulance-Kirby broke down bawling!!! Immediately we realized he knew he was home!
We had trouble consoling him. What an amazing display of raw emotion. Soon we were all tearful. I praised God and immediately understood why his nurse had been crying to see him leave-Kirby had found a way to communicate with her through his shell of a body.
“The lamp of the body is the eye; if therefore your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”
Thanks to the crew: Hal, Mark, and Tim for serving and thank you God for letting us be Your hands and feet
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