About 2 weeks ago, we traveled to Delaware with our 7 younger children. Darrell went on with our 3 older boys to West Virginia to an Alert Camp. I stayed with family in Delaware.
On Friday, after a 5 mile hike into Harpers Ferry, while back at camp, Darrell started to feel uncomfortable and mentioned to one of the dads that he wasn't feeling well. That dad, Major Doug Daragin kept a close eye on him. When Darrell said he thinks he need to be seen at a hospital Doug accompanied him to the emergency room of a local urgent care. Once there, they assessed he was having a heart attack.
I received the call from the ER that he was being flown to a regional hospital in the area. After figuring out our exact destination...Winchester, VA, settling the younger 4 children with their Oma, and grabbing a few personal belongings and loading into the car we were off. That is Darrell's youngest sister, Suzy, and myself.
After letting the reality of the situation sink in...I started to tremble. After a moment of realizing what I was doing, I stopped myself and started to repeat some of the Lords promises and took a look at the answered prayers we were living out and knew we were going to be okay...including Darrell. I collected my thoughts and began to send out prayer requests through Facebook, texts, phone calls and emails. The suring up of prayers could be felt. I prayed for God to be our shield after I listened to one of my favorite songs, "I will be your shield". We had friends calling and praying with us on the 3 hour trip.
You know the amazing thing about this...it happened only 12 miles from a regional heart hospital that just happened to have a team on stand by waiting for him when he came in....just amazing!
We arrived at the critical care unit and found Major Dagarin and his son in the waiting room ministering to the folks there. He spoke with us and sent us back into the unit. Suzy and I were able to speak with the nurse, and Darrell. Darrell had been flown in to the hospital and taken into the cardiac unit for a cardiac catherization where they found a small artery behind the heart to be 95% blocked. That was the only blockage they found, they put a stint in and he was doing well. What encouraging news to hear! They let us stay a few minutes since we had arrived after visiting hours and we headed off into the night to find a hotel room.
The hospital had tried to locate a room for us but did not have any success. We tried a Holiday Inn Express close to the hospital. I walked in and the man at the desk was typing. When I asked for a room he informed me that the last room of the night had just canceled and it was ours and we had lucked out. We knew luck had nothing to do with it....God was meeting us right where we were and we knew it!
The next morning, we headed back to the hospital and found Darrell in good spirits. Although extremely tired he said he felt really good and was even breathing well. We visited and made a plan for the day which included running to Walmart to grab some comfortable clothes for Darrell to travel home in and some toiletry items for us since I had left my bag with the kids by accident. We also planed to check in in the boys and see how they were doing.
Back at Oma's house, with the 4 younger kids, help started to arrive in the form of Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Dave, Oma and Opa Fitzgerald and Aunt Carolyn. They of course brought all the cousins and lots of food, movies, and time at the park followed. The kids did amazingly well through it all.
While we were doing our errands, we had a phone call from Major Daragin who told us he was praying for one of the dad's at the father son camp to step up and be there for our boys. One came forward with out him even asking...we were grateful for Mr. Tucker! My boys decided they wanted to finish the camp and were encouraged to by Lt. Mike Donnely who was running the camp.
Mr. Tucker and Lt. Donnely offered to put Suzy and me up at their homes. Mr. Donnely was closer to the hospital and had a guest room which we took him up on. That night we were able to meet his wife, Patti and fellowship with the ladies. We met at Panera Bread...my first time. It is amazing how the Lord brings folks together and gives them common ground. We enjoyed ourselves and were encouraged by the women. We were very grateful they let us join them.
We followed Patti home after meeting with the women and headed to bed after being shown our rooms. I made sure to take a picture of the room Suzy stayed in...it was one of their boys rooms and was painted like a castle by Patti. My boys would love it!
The next mornings Suzy and I got a late start but made it in time to hear the message sitting behind the Alert boys in their uniforms...they looked sharp and the message was really good. Unfortunately, I was not able to get to church to be with the boys when the pastor announced from the pulpit that one of the Alert dads had had a heart attack and the congregation prayed for him....our boys hadn't heard that description yet! They handeled it very well. I was able to talk to Mr. Tucker and his wife and thank them for helping our boys. We visited with some of the ladies we had met the night before while the boys marched back to camp to start to clean up camp.
Suzy and I then headed to camp to help the boys clean up, take the tent down and pack the van. Once that was done, they fed us lunch. It was awesome to meet the dads and see my boys interact with their new friends. The boys talked fast telling about their adventures but the one thing that they kept saying was"I wish dad would have been with us!" They said their goodbyes and we headed to the hospital to visit Darrell who was now in a step down unit because he was doing so well.
The boys spent time with Darrell and filled him in on all that happened. They were very relieved to see he was okay. We were being told he was going to be discharged early and would expect to leave the next day. Suzy headed home with Jason so he could help pack them up and bring them back the next day with Suzy and Oma. I kept Brandon and Michael with me and we headed back to the Donnelly's for the night....they played with the Donnelly kids and I chatted with Mike and Patti before we all turned in at 10.
The next morning, the Donnelly's made a huge breakfast for us before we said our goodbyes and headed to the hospital. I was very excited about seeing our little ones and getting on the road towards home. We were very grateful for their hospitality.
Once at the hospital, things were going much slower than expected. We had been told the day before that Darrell would go out around 6 for a Echo test before being released and that would happen around 11....the kids arrived around 11. It was exciting and funny to see folks faces as we trekked up to Darrell's room. The ladies at the desk said only children of the patient were allowed up. Suzy grinned and said yes, they all are and kept on going! They were all glad to see dad!
It was lunch time and they started to figit. We headed to Chik-fil-a for lunch and some play time in their indoor play area. Jeanette and Suzy had to get on the road because Suzy had to work later that night and we were hoping to leave. Darrell went down for his test around 3...and here is the cool part...he had NO permanent damage to his heart! We were all praising The Lord for that and we finally checked out and headed for home at 5.
Needless to say it was a long drive...arriving at 2:45 in the morning on Tuesday. We slept in till 9 and all took long naps in the afternoon and even went to bed early too!
There were so many God moments during our days...his provision of Darrell's protection, the details of Doug Daragin's prayers being answered medically for Darrell and provisions for our boys at camp. Ours boys were brave and strong at the camp with their dad not being there. Many wonderful things were told to me of their compassion, their leadership, and their bravery during the weekend by more than one dad. I am very proud of their choices and have continued to see them helping out here at home. It has been truly amazing. The provisions of the hotel room, and home to stay in as well as the ladies fellowship encouraging us when we needed it was amazing. The prayer coverage by family, friends and Alert have been amazing. We came home to 10 days of meals being prepared for us. Our church family offering to come to our home for house church this week.
We know God has had our back through this journey and know this is part of a bigger plan. It has been amazing to be on a front row seat to what could have been a scarey time for our family. Nothing but amazing can be said for what we have experienced!