My Journey: Serving Defeats Sorrow
By Nell Heard
Feb. 24, 2013
In May 2010, on an unusually hot Saturday morning while driving home from a golf game, my son Allen Mobley felt so dizzy he had to pull over and call 911. The EMTs took him to an emergency room. As the complaint was dizziness, they dwelt on an inner-ear problem, conducting no scans.
During the ensuing weeks, the dizzy spells persisted and headaches began. As the headaches became more severe, scans revealed a brain tumor. The only treatment option was surgery — Allen could not live with the debilitating headaches. Surgery was scheduled for Aug. 17.
The planned procedure to remove the tumor was to go through the nasal and sinus cavities. The ear, nose, and throat specialist and neurosurgeon were the prime doctors that day. The surgery was estimated to take five hours; it did not go as planned.
Allen was on the operating table 14 hours and received 13 units of blood. During the next three days in ICU, Allen suffered two strokes, meningitis, a collapsed lung, as well as near kidney and liver failure. He remained in a medically induced coma. One month after surgery he was transferred to a sub-acute care facility specializing in brain injuries.
Allen did come out of the coma, but the degree of his impairment was heartbreaking. He was able to blink his eyes, stick out his tongue in answer to simple questions, squeeze our hands, and wave with his right hand. He could kick with both feet, but the left side of his body and left hand were totally helpless. Physical therapy began, but he was not able to do much. Allen’s trachea tube prevented him from talking, but he began to form words with his mouth.
Allen’s dear wife, Rena, had taken time off work and was at the hospital many hours a day for three weeks. The doctor told her she needed to return to work for both financial and emotional stability.
After Allen was transferred, Rena asked if I would stay with her awhile. I drove up Sunday nights and returned home midday Fridays. I saw Allen every day and kept things going at their house. I watered the plants, took care of Roxy the dog, and did anything to help Rena. I continued this routine for about a month. Fortunately, Allen and Rena have a great network of friends and family who also helped.
Though Allen was listed on prayer chains that encircled the globe, Rena and I were in a blind tunnel. We had no idea where this was going to lead us, and there was certainly no light shining through at the end. We grieved for our dear Allen.
Allen was rushed back to the acute care hospital a couple of times with life-threatening infections, including pneumonia. He was in intensive care several days each time, always returning to the care center. The little progress he had made seemed to have vanished, and he seemed to be fast asleep most of the time.
After six months he seemed to have awakened. Eventually the trachea tube was removed and he could feed himself. After a year we had to accept that, barring a miracle of biblical proportion, Allen had reached the limit of his natural recovery.
Rena and I realize a miracle could happen, but we live each day with the fact that it has yet to occur. Allen’s care facility in Pomona, Calif., is 160 miles round trip from my home. I was going almost every week; more recently, I visit every other week. Sometimes friends drive me; other times I go and stay with Rena a night or two.
When we reached the one-year anniversary, I was in such deep grief I was sobbing much of the time. Then God led me to offer two gifts of ministry. I wrote a play for the children and youth at church, and I joined the ladies sewing group at church that makes quilts enjoyed around the world.
I spent several months researching and writing my play, The Mayflower Affair. On Nov. 16, 2011, we had a dinner theater presentation for our church. We received rave reviews. The saga of the Mayflower is a very interesting story and such a great part of our American history — I am sure our children and youth will not forget the story for a long time.
The ladies finished 60 quilts for the children of our church as well as some for children of the neighborhood. They were presented the Sunday before Christmas. Each one was labeled with the child’s name and the inscription, “GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO THE LWCF* AUNTIES” (*Living Waters Christian Fellowship).
As 2012 began, I prayed for new inspiration, and it came! I would make a prayer quilt each month for someone seriously ill, even terminal. By March, I had completed quilts through the month of June. With every stitch, I pray for the dear one it is intended to bless. When a quilt is finished, our ladies pray over it and we pray again for the dear person who will receive it.
From the responses we have received, they have been the blessing for which we hoped. One recipient wrote to tell us he feels our love and prayers when he wraps himself in the quilt. He is suffering from chemo treatments. Another wrote that she received her quilt the day after receiving a devastating diagnosis. We have just received word that one of the recipients has passed away, but he had enjoyed his quilt for several weeks before the end.
I am now in the process of writing a new play for the children at church and one for the ladies group. I enjoy the research and writing. My grief is still with me, but I am so thankful God has given me projects to keep my hands and mind busy.
My journey continues and I have no idea what my future holds. But I know who holds my future.
NELL HEARD lives in Fallbrook, Calif., and attends Fallbrook Living Waters Christian Fellowship (Assemblies of God).
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