Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Caught in the Headlights

CAUGHT IN THE HEADLIGHTS Emerging from the short, lighted tunnel and rounding the curve, two headlights were coming straight toward my car. It was dark and cars were in the other lanes and I did the only thing possible to do: swerve into the three foot median to the left of me and pray for the best. Then I blacked out. Earlier that night, my 18 month old son had been running a fever and I had had to make the call that is hard for all teachers. Is he sick enough for me to miss school tomorrow or will this pass? As his fever continued to climb, I knew that it was not going to just pass. So I made the necessary arrangements for a substitute for the next day to teach my deaf students and then made plans to take Bryan to the doctor. Little did I know that it would be a long time before I was able to return to school again or just how sick Bryan would be. Because the doctor was over in Hampton closer to where my parents lived, I decided when he finally dropped off to sleep that it would be better to drive him over there that night rather than have him crying all the way over there the next morning. My husband did something totally uncharacteristic for either of us. Instead of putting him in the back seat in the car seat, he made a bed for him right next to me in case he woke up crying on the way over to my Mom and Dad’s. That decision would save his life. I was a huge advocate of car seats and continue to be. This was just a case of the Lord watching over us. We drove out of the front of our Virginia Beach home to the sound of Debbie Boone singing her huge hit “You Light Up My Life”. I loved that song. After this night, I would never forget it! Bryan slept soundly and all was quiet. There was much less traffic on the freeway because of the late hour. That is another reason we had decided it would be better to go to my folks’ house that night. I must say that I did have a moment where I felt huge misgivings about that choice. I cannot put words on it; it was just one of those times when maybe I had a touch of warning that this was not the best choice. It came and went quickly so I paid little heed to it. I chalked it up to me just being a little uptight about the entire situation. I never stopped to think it could have been the Lord’s prompting to me through His Holy Spirit. About a third of the way there, I got in the wrong lane to go straight ahead like I wanted and had to veer off to the right. It was no big deal. I knew where I was and I would just drive the mile and a half to the front of the Navy Base, turn around and head back on my way. I felt no panic or concern. I was on familiar territory. Then came the headlights. Things moved in slow motion. I remember thinking, “Where did they come from? Am I in the wrong lane?” I wasn’t but I just couldn’t explain those headlights that were bearing down on me at a frightening speed. I swerved into the median and everything was quiet. I don’t know what time I came to. It could have been a few seconds later or minutes later. I saw the driver of the other car just standing in the middle of the freeway completely unhurt but dazed. I looked down and Bryan was at my feet in the floorboard in a crumpled heap. There was so much blood coming from his head. My heart fell into my stomach. This baby that we had wanted and prayed for was going to die and it was all my fault, or so I thought. I was able to open the door and pick him up gently. The cut in his head was so deep that I could see his skull. I grabbed a blanket in panic and wrapped his head in it praying all the while that he would survive and yet wondering how he could since he was hurt so badly. Suddenly a car stopped in the lane across the median and rushed to help us. He put us in his car and turned back toward the nearest medical help which was on the Naval Base. I kept saying, “It’s all my fault. I must have been in the wrong lane.” He gently told me not to ever say or think that again. “That guy was in the wrong lane and he was going in the wrong direction. We would later learn that he had been driving 22 hours from Pennsylvania and had gone to sleep and gone up the off ramp. He was totally uninjured and never even showed up to see how we were or for a court date. At the Naval Station, the doctors jumped to take care of Bryan immediately. They could see how badly wounded he was so they told me that they were just going to make a temporary bandage for Bryan’s head and send us in the ambulance to DuPaul Hospital. Bryan became hysterical when I handed him over to the doctors and even more so when they put him in the back of the ambulance and told me I had to sit in the front. He was so distressed that they came and got me and said I needed to ride in the back with him so that he would calm down for them. I felt better being close to him anyway! I was so scared and my thoughts were a continuous prayer that he would be alright. On arriving at DuPaul Hospital, we were rushed to the back. The police were there distracting me by asking hundreds of questions when all that I wanted to do was to be with Bryan. Suddenly a very young looking doctor came out towards me. He said that he would be taking care of Bryan and that Bryan was going to be alright eventually. He also told me that although he knew he looked like he was about 15, he actually had a wife and five children at home. He said that he would take good care of Bryan and someone would be coming out to take care of me. That puzzled me because I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with me. I was totally focused on Bryan. A nurse leaned over to my ear after this young doctor left and whispered, “You are in great luck tonight. That is Dr. Bill Magee and he is the best surgeon on the East Coast and he just happened to be on duty tonight. You don’t have to worry with him taking care of your son.” I would later learn the truth of that woman’s words. Of course, I don’t believe in luck or coincidence but Dr.Magee was probably the best surgeon anywhere. Later he would do surgeries such as the one he did on the little girl whose Mom had chopped all of her fingers off and he would painstakingly sew each finger back on connecting all of the nerves and blood vessels. After this incident, we heard numerous incredible surgeries he did. You probably have seen him on television along with his wife treating facial deformities on children in Third World Countries. He and his wife are the heads of Operation Smile and are often on television showing the work that they do. All of their time and services are donated. He was on one of the episodes of “Touched by an Angel” when it was on television but now most of his television exposure is in documentaries and is often narrated by Roma Downey who was the main character on “Touched by an Angel”. He works at his home office in Norfolk, Virginia, about half of the time for pay and all of his and his wife’s other time is donated. And we were met by this amazing man in our greatest hour of need. How many times in the future, I would remember the verse: Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”…. I was whisked back to an examining room while the policemen contacted my husband and parents. These police were also working the scene of the accident. When they contacted my relatives, they refused to tell them if we were dead or alive and since they had to pass my almost demolished car on the way to the hospital, they feared the worst. As the doctors began examining me, they discovered that it appeared that I had broken every bone in my mouth where it had hit the steering wheel. I do not know if I had on a seat belt that night. I only know that I was in the habit of wearing them. I was bruised from head to toe and had scrapes and a few cuts but the big problem was my mouth. I later learned that my mouth was going to be in traction with heavy steel wires for several months and I would be on a soft and/ or liquid diet. I had no idea of the hours of pain and misery that I had ahead of me and it was good that I didn’t!!!!! Dr. Magee did a wonderful job of sewing up Bryan’s head. It took three layers of 300 stitches. We had to be careful not to let the scar get sunburned over the summer and a year later, he went back and did what is known as a z-plasty. This actually involves making the scar into a thin zig-zag, much like a little lightening bolt. As Bryan’s face grew, this would keep the scar from growing wider. He is grown now and you would not even notice the scar unless you were really looking for it. God had surrounded our car with angels that night and then had this wonderful doctor on call at the hospital. Bryan liked his little “lightening bolt” scar and we always told him it was a reminder that God had something very special for him to do with his life. Actually my recovery took longer than Bryan’s because I had to have my mouth in traction for months and then after the bones healed, the difficult process of building a bridge for the upper front part of my mouth began. Just one of my dental appointments was six hours long. Talking was difficult and teaching was impossible. I was black and blue and very sore for quite some time. My friend, Bonnie, substituted in my classroom and she made just the exact amount of money she had needed to buy new furniture for her living room. We had dear friends, a couple named Mike and Susan, who would come over and bring board games and soft snacks and help us to have delightful times even while I was unable to go outside except to go to the doctor or dentist. I didn’t exactly look attractive anyway and my relationship with cars had changed drastically. I wanted the biggest, longest car I could get. We had had a medium sized car. Had it been smaller, the wreck would have killed us. As it was, the only part of the car that was not totaled was the driver’s area. Oh how God was caring for us! We knew that he cared for us in that incident but I often wonder how many times He has spared us on the highway or in life and we didn’t even know about. I take God’s words that He will never leave us or forsake us extremely seriously. They have proven true throughout my life and I am so grateful to be His child. At the end of the year, I went back to teaching for almost two months but I began to think about the fragility of life and how close I had come to losing our beloved son. We decided that I should take some time to stay home with him. It was delightful being a full-time mother. Out of much pain, God had brought a very joyful situation. Again, we always have reminded Bryan that God spared him for a reason; that He had a special plan for him. I still believe that. He is working with computers now and is a whiz at it but I still think we have yet to see the full extent of the plans God has for that young man. Later he had another near-fatal accident which only served to convince me that he had been spared for a reason. As for me, I eventually went back to teaching deaf children until my own children started having more homework than I did! I soon began to see that God had spared me for a reason, too. I had been so concerned about Bryan’s being saved that I didn’t give much thought to the fact that God had spared me for a very special reason also. The decision to stay at home for my children only led me to a Bible Study where God called me to do the one thing that I had said I never wanted to do and gave me great preparation for it. What was that? To be a teacher of His Word! Having grown up as a preacher’s kid, I could never have imagined that would be what He wanted of my life knowing how much I hated being in the fish bowl as the preacher’s child with everyone mothering me and having opinions as to what I should and shouldn’t do. Our God really has a sense of humor. Never say that you will never do something! It may be the very thing that He calls you to do! And guess what? I LOVE IT!!!! God continues to bless us and grow us up in Him. Life is a roller coaster with many ups and downs but as long as we know WHO is holding us, we can live confidently and peacefully. So always remember who is beside you and that even when you are “caught in the headlights”, you are held in the hand of a loving heavenly Father.

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