67 year old Bob and his wife Maril have left Michigan for a 2 week vacation in warm sunny Florida. Not long after their arrival Bob begins to notice there is something wrong with his right arm. He and Maril go to the emergency room in Ocala to receive a diagnosis they were not prepared for. Somehow Bob has contracted what is called, necrotizing fasciitis in his right arm. This is a very rare and serious condition sometimes referred to as “flesheating bacteria.”
It spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue literally eating away at it and can eventually lead to loss of the affected limb as well as death. Bob is not sure how he came into contact with this, perhaps working in his yard prior to his trip. No matter he needs immediate treatment. Since his admission surgeons have performed 3 surgeries on his arm in an attempt to save it.
During one such surgery Bob’s heart stopped while on the table and now he has had an AICD ( automatic implantable cardioverterdefibrillator) implanted to monitor his heartbeat. (this is similar to a pacemaker) As you can see his health problems are really compounding.
We are contacted by his wife Maril who wants to get him back home to Michigan. Along with his health issues there is added stress with being so far from home. The doctors in Florida feel like he is ready for the transport but it will have to be by air. We work together quickly with the medical team in Ocala as well as in Detroit to put this flight together to get them back home.
GALATIANS 5:14 FOR THE ENTIRE LAW IS FULFILLED IN KEEPING THIS ON COMMAND: “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
So it is, on this Saturday morning we arrive in sunny Ocala, Florida to a balmy 38 degrees. Brrrr…. We are picked up by our ambulance crew Chris and Caleb. Chris begins to tell us about this family and how he himself has been the nurse in the critical care unit caring for Bob. It is evident by our conversation that he has grown very attached to this family, so much so, that as we are making this trip his wife is in labor and yet he has chosen to serve this family.
When we get to the unit Maril meets me in the hallway with a smile of relief and a huge hug. Bob is excited to see that Chris is with us and there is a whole host of staff lining the hall to say good bye and wish them well. Once in the ambulance Bob is trying to make light of the situation and wants to know why there are no lights and sirens blaring. Bob has a great sense of humor despite his circumstances. So per Bob’s request, Chris and Caleb grant his wish. We all got a good laugh from that.
As we made the flight from Florida to Michigan we did all that we could to keep Bob comfortable. He was quite excited to have a window seat. Maril shared how they had 2 children, a daughter in California and a son in his early 20’s that they had adopted when he was only 2 days old. They train dogs now for a living and she told us how Bob enjoyed reading the bible.
Hal played some “60’s” music during the flight per Bob’s request and Bob even sang a line or 2 occasionally. They both have a very positive outlook. We landed in Michigan to an even colder 37 degrees and transported Bob to his new facility. It is easy to see how Chris, the nurse in Florida became so attached to both Bob and Maril as the truly are a great family. Please continue to pray for complete healing for Bob’s arm along with the many other health issues that have happened to him as a result.
Thank you to Hal, Daniel, and Donna for sharing this mission with me Many Blessing and may the God of grace and peace bless you abundantly.
Shelli Engle RN