This is a report for Mission 291 by Grace on Wings.
Departure: Bristol, Tennessee
Arrival: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date: March 14, 2014
Shortly before we departed on Mission 290, we found out that God doubly blessed us by allowing us to serve him doing back-to-back missions.
As you remember, we had just flown our sister in Christ, Sam, from Texas to Oklahoma on Thursday.
After safely getting her home, we had lunch at a cute, little 50’s themed diner at the airport and then headed east to Bristol Tennessee.
Now the first thing that came to my mind when I heard we were going to Bristol was NASCAR. Of course all of you NASCAR fans out there know where last weeks race was, don’t you? Bristol! Wow! Trying to find a hotel room in and around the area was nearly impossible, not to mention a rental car. Hal persevered and we ended up overnight about 20 miles away in Virginia.
It was fun to see the different teams and their colorful private jets arrive, and observe the flurry of ramp activity, however, Nellie still had the sharpest paint job of any aircraft on the ramp!
We traveled to Bristol to pick up 23 year old Sarah M.
Sarah is an avid outdoors enthusiast who enjoys various sports. She was riding her mountain bike in the Blueridge Mountains near Bristol with a friend and was involved in a serious accident. Unfortunately, she wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time. She struck the pavement with her head and was immediately rendered unconscious. She often rides alone, but thankfully she was riding with a friend that day, and they were able to summon help quickly.
She was assessed by the medical team on site and they deemed it necessary to air lift her to the nearest Trauma 1 hospital, Johnson City Medical Center, in Johnson City, TN. Her parents live in Toledo, OH and received the phone call that no parent ever wants to answer, that their “precious daughter” had been involved in a grave accident.
Without hardly any preparation, they took off to be at Sarah’s bedside. Her father, Ken, said tearfully, that for the first few days they didn’t even know if she’d live or die. Due to the severe brain swelling, the trauma physicians painted a grim picture of her condition. If she did survive, she probably would be just a shell of a human being. On full life support, it wasn’t hard to understand why.
“By the grace of God, miracles do happen” said Tim. After the initial acute phase passed, Sarah started to improve almost hourly. She was able to be removed from the ventilator and a couple of days after that, speak! Her doctors just couldn’t believe it, but we all know who was healing Sarah.
As Sarah’s condition improved to the point it was time to look for a rehab center for further extend care. As with many of our GOW patients, Sarah’s insurance would only cover a transfer to the nearest rehab facility which was 10+ hours from her family. Not only did her family almost lose her, now they don’t have the means to get her home. I love Tim’s quote, “Grace on Wings, like all other events in this tragedy, came along at the right time.” An anonymous donor, “someone who really loves Sarah”, paid for Sarah to be flown to Ypsilanti, MI for rehab in Ann Arbor. Only a little over an hour from Toledo.
It was an easy, uneventful 1:31 flight north to Michigan. While she was awake and conscious, she suffered from expressive aphasia, the ability to speak but the words that she tries to convey make sense to her but not to the receiver. For example, she used the word egg often. After a while, we were able to discern that meant hospital. Please keep Sarah and her family in your prayers as she continues to heal and regain strength and that she is a personal witness to Christ’s everlasting love for all of us as they make their journey together.