Jeff O is 50 years old, divorced, and a former college music professor and clarinetist.
He was driving back home from Valdosta, Georgia to Milwaukee for the Christmas holiday when he began to develop numbness and weakness in both legs. He began to stop at rest stops to get out and stretch his legs and he was having upper back pain.
In Southern Illinois he stopped and was unable to get out of his car. He drove to the nearest ER and was diagnosed with spinal tumor with spinal cord compression. He was transferred to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St Louis where it was found he had prostate cancer with metastasis to his pelvis and spine. He underwent immediate surgery to decompress the tumor around his upper back and stabilize his collapsing vertebrae. He was unable to breathe on his own for two weeks after surgery.
Jeff was previously healthy. His mom said he had confessed to being a Christian but was not going to Church. They reached out to the pastor that married Jeff’s sister-Pastor Lonnie who was a friend of Grace on Wings and we were called to go bring Jeff back to Milwaukee.
When we arrived to the ICU, Jeff looked very ill and thin. He was paralyzed from the chest down but was able to use his right arm weakly to write. He was breathing on his own for the past 3 days through the trachea but had so much secretions-he writes “I feel like I’m drowning”. He was unable to cough and had to be frequently suctioned.
We placed him on our cot and secured him and loaded him into the ground ambulance. He was so frail that his heart became irritable and began to show some arrhythmia. I had done some research on his condition and found his life expectancy was 2 years at best.
Tucked in and secured in the aircraft, I felt the need to share with Jeff, but he couldn’t speak. But having our Bose headsets on, makes a captive audience and I returned to a discussion that the crew and I had earlier that morning:
“If you were standing at the gates of Heaven right now, why would you be let in?” Our new recruit paramedic Danielle had said she was a Christian but wasn’t sure why.”
So I asked our other paramedic Scott to give us his answer: “by the blood of Christ that redeemed ME”.
And he continued in the Truth that our works don’t get us to heaven but they do demonstrate our Love for Christ.
His analogy was that if you love football, you buy the jersey, root for your team at games, watch the games and talk about it. He said that loving Christ is the same.
I saw Jeff’s eyes open at that.
We arrived safely to a negative 15 degree tarmac in Milwaukee and Jeff’s family was out there to brave the cold to welcome him home.
Later we all stood around his bedside at his new hospital and prayed over him. May God grant Jeff “the peace that only God can give.”
Thanks to wonderful team of Hal, Rusty, Danielle and Scott, and also for great lunch with Pastor Lonnie.
Click Photo To View