I should be dead a few times over

I don’t write this lightly when I say I should be dead by now. It’s literally a miracle I am still alive.

Fortunately as an adult I am quite healthy and I don’t get more than a cold every couple years; however as a young boy I was very sick and almost died on several occasions.

A few years back I asked my mom to write out all the sicknesses I had growing up and to document any of the health scares I had. My mom has since passed away but I still have her hand written letter and I have yet to be able to read through it without starting to cry. I don’t don’t understand why I am still alive.

I have decided to write out a few examples that are contained in the letter. These are word-for-word my mom’s words.

1) Three months into pregnancy your father and I were hit by a car from behind. My neck was almost broken. Told by doctors not to sign any insurance release papers because baby may be born deformed or in some way damaged (there were no ultrasounds in those days) or die from injuries.

As pregnancy progressed I became more and more frightened. At 8 months the nightmares started. Every night I dreamt of an armless or legless child or even headless. Began to take castor oil to bring on contractions. Doctor became very concerned for my mental health because I could no long sleep. He prescribed sleeping pills.

One night I took a pill, waited an hour but couldn’t sleep so I took another and another and another. I don’t know how many I took. Finally, after hours I laid down and almost immediately felt like I was floating. For some reason your father felt he had to go into the room where I was laying down and talk to me. Knowing my state of exhaustion he would have never done that normally.

He did not know I’d taken the pills. As he talked I heard everything he said but was unable to communicate. He called the doctor and took me to emergency. God saved both our lives.

2) Three weeks after birth you became extremely ill. No one else in the family was sick or had been. For the next 15 years every 2-3 weeks you suffered with bronchial asthma. The attacks lasted 7 to 10 days. You would run a very high fever, your chest would become very congested, breathing was difficult. You would vomit up any food and could only rest sitting up. Suppositories were used to force vessels to open in your chest and allow oxygen into lungs. You were given antibiotics continiously for 15 years.

3) When you were about 5 or 6 you had a very bad spell. You were lying on the chesterfield and I had gone into the kitchen to get you a drink. Suddenly I couldn’t hear you wheezing. I ran to your side but you weren’t breathing. I called the ambulance and the fire truck came as well. They gave you oxygen and got you breathing before taking you to the hospital.

(NOTE: I vaguely remember this event. I do recall a fireman putting an oxygen mask over my face and being loaded in an ambulance. I also remember spending several days in the hospital in an oxygen tent.)

4) In Australia you became very sick during the night. We took you early in the morning to the hospital emergency. There were no doctors on duty until 8am. I sat holding you begging for help. Slowly the waiting room started to fill up with other patients all of whom asked for help for you. It was very obvious that you were dying.

As your lips started turning blue from lack of oxygen, I ran out of the hospital to the car where your father and brother were trying to sleep. We started driving around trying to find someplace to get help. We drove by a chemist shop that was just opening. I ran in with you in my arms. He quickly dialed a phone number and told us to drive around the corner to a doctor’s office.

By the time we got there you were gasping for air. The doctor had a syringe ready and he plunged in to your heart. Your body started to jerk and shake and you took a few breaths.

I didn’t find out till years later that adrenaline injected in the heart works for patients going in to shock but it has no value at all to lungs full of liquid. Although we were not Christians, from the time you were 3 weeks old I had prayed to whatever God that ran the universe to save your life and to teach me the truth. God honoured both requests.

5) Again in Australia we rushed you to a doctor who prescribed some medicine for you and told us you were too sick to travel. We stopped at a local motel and a few hours later there was a knock at the door. The doctor couldn’t get you out of his mind and he had traced us to the motel.

He came and sat at your bedside for several hours monitoring your heart and pulse and personally giving you the medicine he’d prescribed earlier. He stayed until you had passed the crisis telling me if the drugs hadn’t taken hold there would have been nothing more he could have done.

We will never know if he was a Christian or whether God supernaturally directed him to your side.

….I can’t explain why I’m still here or why I was able to beat the odds and avoid death on several occasions. I am thankful for the opportunity to live a full life and to go on to have three incredible children and two remarkable grandchildren.

Those incidents are only a few that my mom wrote out. I don’t have memory of most of what she shared but it is still a part of me. I can feel it every time I read her letter. I feel the pain and terror my mom felt every time I got sick. I feel the desperation to get me help when I couldn’t breathe. Those events are part of me.

I’m not sure exactly why I am sharing all this. If you don’t know me then these stories will not have the same impact. All I know for certain is I’m grateful to be alive.

Author: Michael Burke

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