Friday, May 14, 2010

Floods, Summer School, the ICU, and Dad's Heart Attack

It was just about a month ago that I wrote my last blog post.
It was just about 3 weeks ago that I finished my freshman year of college.
It was just about 2 weeks ago that my house flooded.
It was just about 7 days ago when my best friend, Ryan N., was hit by an 18 wheeler on his way home from helping me move into my apartment.
It was just about 6 days ago when my dad had a heart attack.
It was just about an hour ago that I learned that Ryan might be waking up today.
And through all this, my Savior has been near and FAITHFUL.

Some say hellacious. I sure did. But now, I stand amazed at the goodness of the Lord. Now, I know that I am to sing blessed be the name of the Lord at ALL times of my life.

My last few weeks of college went even faster than my first few weeks of college. Between exams, projects, packing, goodbyes, a new's a blur! But it was so fun. And I truly loved my freshman year. I can't wait for my sophomore year.

On April 30th, I went home to Franklin for the weekend, and to take a load of my junk home, because there was absolutely no way it could all fit into my car in one trip. So I went home. It began to rain Friday night. And all day Saturday. My home backs up to a flood plain, and beyond that is the Harpeth River. Saturday afternoon, the river began to rise. Saturday evening, the river was in my backyard, and had become more of a lake. Saturday night, the river/lake was licking at both my back door and my front door.

Sunday morning, the water had receded. But my front yard looked like the picture above. And the water only began to rise. Sunday afternoon at about 1, the water began to come into my house. At about 2 oclock, we had 3 inches in our downstairs, and my dad made the call to evacuate. We had moved everything upstairs on Saturday, so most of our stuff was saved from the flood waters.
Lucy looks out the window at the flood waters rising.
The neighbor's backyard at about 1 oclock on Sunday afternoon. Also pictured is part of my backyard.

We left the house out of our dining room window. The water in our front yard was up to my thighs, and at its deepest point it was past my waist. We swam around the corner and down the street. We were picked up by firemen in a life raft. The dog was with us, in my dad's arms. She was terrified, so she was put in the life raft, along with my brother and our backpacks and duffle bags. We waded to the end of the street where we were picked up and taken to the Clubhouse in my neighborhood. From there were were bused to The People's Church (hooray for my home church being a Red Cross Shelter!). Since Lucy (my beagle/cocker spaniel mix) was with us, we weren't going to stay at TPC. The fantastic Baldwin Family came and picked my family and I up and housed us for the night.

Monday morning, we woke up and went to check out our house. We had 13 inches of water in the downstairs, and had to gut the drywall (up to 4 feet) and flooring out, along with the whole kitchen. My mom's excited about that...she gets a new kitchen!

But throughout the week after the flood, (the first week of May) my family was consistently reminded of the Lord's goodness and His providing hand. COUNTLESS stories can be told. My dad needing a mechanic, and one showing up at the house literally 5 minutes later (without a phone call or anything!), people bringing us food (we had enough food to last us a good long while!), and all the volunteers. My family started having to turn volunteers away we had so much help. It was absolutely amazing. God is so good! The dry wallers/ rebuilders are at my house this week putting us back together. :)

So this past Monday, I came back to Lee for summer school. It's just three weeks, and one physical science class. It's 4 hours long and rather dull, but at least I get it out of the way in 3 weeks!

Monday night as Anna (one of the Simmons Sisters, and my female best friend here at Lee) and I were unpacking and moving into our apartment, we called Ryan N. over to help us move a couch out of storage and into our apartment. He had a truck, that's why we called him. Anna and I both drive cute little cars...that are in no way suitable for hauling couches across town.

Ryan came up from Dalton, Georgia to help us move heavy boxes and the couch. We weren't able to get the couch out of storage, we didn't have a key to get into the unit. So we went to Target instead, to pick up "essentials." Which included soap that smells like mangos, a trash can large enough for me to live in, air freshener, and Saran Wrap.

After our Target run, we ordered a pizza. We ate it on the floor of mine and Anna's apartment, since we were severely lacking furniture. It was fun to catch up and laugh. At about 8:20, Ryan left to go home to Dalton.

At 9:30, Ryan T. (a very good mutual friend of Ryan N. and I) called me and told me there had been an accident. He said that Ryan N. was involved in a wreck on Dalton Pike, and that he had, at most, a broken leg. Ryan T. also told me that the Man Clan (that's what Anna and I have dubbed them. They are the three boys that Ryan N hangs out with remind me a lot of the Man Clan back in Franklin!) were already at the hospital in Cleveland, and that Anna and I were more than welcome to come too. So we loaded up and headed down the road.

Once at SkyRidge, we met up with the guys...and heard that an ambulance with Ryan N. hadn't been by. Anna and I went into the ER to check if Ryan N had been checked into the system. The man at the desk told us that he hadn't. So we went back outside and hung out until we had more information.

Then the phone call came.

Ryan N. was being airlifted to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. The lot of us loaded up in Ryan T's Explorer and booked it into Chattanooga. We made it in 15 minutes, but it felt like an eternity to get to the hospital. Once there, we made our way to the emergency room and asked for the Narramores. The lady at the desk told us that Mama and Papa Narramore were in the Family Waiting Room. We went in and sat with them and asked what the latest news was.

Papa Narramore told us that Ryan had been hit by a semi and was in surgery. He said that Ry had a ruptured spleen, a bleeding liver, a swelling brain, a broken leg, and two broken arms. He also informed us that the doctors had given my best friend a 50/50 chance of survival.

I felt like I had been sucker punched. I felt like I was simultaneously going to throw up, faint, and cry at the same time. I left the room and called my mom. And the tears started. This boy, who has seen me through such a hard season of my life, was standing at death's door, according to the doctor. Ryan, my best friend. Ryan, the one who makes me laugh and sings country songs loudly and wears boots and holds the door open for little old ladies and gives 5 dollar bills to the homeless man by the interstate exit, had a 50/50 chance of survival. I might not have ever see him again. I might not have ever been able to punch him in the arm when he called me a tard. I might not have ever been able to hear his advice again. My world, and the world of his closest friends, came to a screeching halt.

People that were important to Ryan began to arrive in the ER as the word spread. Pastors from Grove Level, Ryan T's mom, the Douglases, friends from Lee, faculty from Lee. We all prayed and waited for an answer from the doctors.

In about three hours, the doctors came out and told us that Ryan had survived surgery, but he had lost about 30-40 units of blood and his brain was still swelling. They also told us that it wasn't a day by day fight for Ryan, but an hour by hour battle. The doctors left, and more texts were sent. More family and friends came.

At 3:30, Anna and I had to come back to Lee for our class that started on Tuesday morning. We came home and crashed.

At 7:45, I woke up and called my mom. She asked how Ryan was, and I told her that the doctors were going to put pins and casts on his arms and legs, along with a gauge to measure brain activity that day (Tuesday).

Mom then told me that she had something to tell me. My stomach instantly plummeted, and I knew that my dad had had a heart attack. When she told me that's what happened, I began to cry. My house was only half liveable, my best friend was in critical condition, and now my dad was in the hospital from a heart attack. My life was quickly becoming chaotic.

Mom assured me that my dad was okay, and that he was stable. She said that his heart attack was minor, and that he was going to be okay. I couldn't help but be fearful. What if it happened again? What if my dad died from this? He wouldn't be able to see me graduate college or walk me down the aisle on my wedding day or hold his grandbabies. I'm very very very close to my dad, and these thoughts broke my heart. But mom assured me that dad was alright.

I went to class, and through my day, all in constant communication with my family and friends about dad's condition and Ryan's condition. Prayers were being prayed all over the world for both these men that mean so much to me.

Dad and I at my Senior Prom

Ryan teaching V how to shoot a rifle.

Tuesday night, Anna, the Man Clan, and I, all went to the hospital. We were hoping to see Ryan, but we were not able to. His brain was still very sensitive to swelling, and it was under stress when a lot of people were in the room. So we just hung out in the waiting room, trying to keep everything positive and uplifting. The boys did a great job of making us laugh, and we had a great time getting to know one another even more.

I found out how Ryan's wreck happened that night. He was on Dalton Pike going home, and was trying to pass multiple cars in his lane. This road is a two lane, straight shot, highway. He pulled into the left lane and there was a semi truck coming at him from a long distance off. The semi saw Ryan in his lane, and pulled off the road as far as he could. But Ryan couldn't clear it, and clipped the side of the semi.

It's a miracle that he lived through the wreck. God has SO got big plans for this boy!

We also heard that he was in rough condition in the ICU. Carly, his girlfriend, told us that there were lots of tubes and machines, but that he looked just like Ryan always has. No facial swelling, no scratches or bruises.

That night was rough. I came home and cried. I didn't know what was going to happen. I hit my knees and prayed hard. Anna, the superwoman that she is, cooked spaghetti for dinner. We ate it and watched Glee together, which put me in a better mood.

Wednesday, good news came. Ryan had a surgery to revist his liver (they had removed part of it, along with taking out his ruptured spleen) to check for continued bleeding. But- miracle!- there was NO MORE INTERNAL BLEEDING. And!!!!---- HIS BRAIN HAD STARTED DRAINING ON IT'S OWN. He was pumping blood on his own, and his brain swelling was going down. We were so happy. We cried happy tears, and danced around and sang praises to the King. Ryan's a fighter, and the Lord is merciful and mighty!

(I didn't go to the hospital on Wednesday, instead I was able to have date night with Chad. It was MARVELOUS to see him and get a hug and a kiss. He is really really amazing. I am so incredibly thankful for him. The ways he has impacted and blessed my life are beyond measure. :) )

Wednesday night, Ryan tried breathing on his own. HE WAS BREATHING ON HIS OWN. God is SO AWESOME. The doctors didn't want Ryan using his energy, so they gave him a paralytic to help him save his energy. But what a big step!

Thursday was a quiet day on the Ryan front. Dad was discharged from the hospital, and sent home in good spirits. I was able to go to the hospital yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, with hopes of seeing Ryan. But I wasn't able to. I hung out with his family, and updated them on my house and my dad's condition. We laughed and shared sweet stories of Ryan. I also spent lots of time with Carly, Ryan's girlfriend.

Today, more great news came. Color is coming back to Ryan's lips and cheeks. His brain pressure is the best it has been, and the doctors are going to attempt to take Ryan off his sedation to see if his body can handle being awake. If not, they will try again later.

All in all, it has been a crazy few weeks. It really is true that with Christ, all things are possible. It really is true that whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger (thank you, Kanye West, for that great piece of advice). It really is true that I have grown up a little more in the past 14 days. It really is true that God is still in the business of miracles, and that He hears my prayers and the prayers of so many around this globe. It really is true that He is King of Kings, and His name is greatly to be praised, come high waters, heart attacks, or serious car crashes. Because He cares, He loves, and He is in CONTROL.

Summer has started. Not really with the bang that I wanted it to, but it's okay. I've learned more and loved more and listened more. I am thankful for what God is doing and what He has planned for my future.

All the glory belongs to Him. I am just the messenger.


Suze said...

Amberly, you've always been a cheerful, happy and positive soul. Your smiles to us have been more than just a smle. Ben is also very special to us even though we don't see your family much anymore. Your Mom and Dad have taught me a lot about living, and have always been real Christians in every sense of the word. God is great, and gives you strength to handle all the worst days of your life. I hope your friend Ryan recovers fully from his tragic incident, and your Dad from his heart attack as well. Not only does God have great plans for Ryan, but because you are you, He has great plans for you as well. You truly are special. Hugs and love to you all!

velicity said...

Ambs God has placed you in a position where he needs you to be an intercessor and the enemy knows that an he knows that the people that are connected to you and your family will keep you lifted up in prayer and because of that the enemy is afraid and he wants you to become discouraged because of how amazing you are and how you bless people just by being in their presence.....I thank God for the calling that you have on your life because I know that its not easy and you are going to make.....the Lord sees where you are and he hears you and its amazing how the lord has kept you through all of are a fighter and will continue to be.....I love you so much....and if I dont see you again just know that I love you dearly and all is well when you trust in the lord....p.s. I like the pic you put of me and ryan....that was amazing...I love you girl