A Heart Revived: Hallucinations

img_0008-1Well, I completely skipped a post. I will write about my hallucinations in this post. As I have always said, I cannot write about them all because this would never end. I will try to give detail without going into everything I experienced.

I say “experience” because everything I saw I thought was real. I do have real memories of being in the urgent care, but the rest was experienced asleep, but the full emotion and understanding felt real. When I woke up fully I knew some of it was fake, but I had a hard time letting some memories go. Some of them lasted all the way through August. Others vanished once I was completely coherent.

One terrifying hallucination I had was that I witnessed rape over and over again. The perpetrator was a man, I never knew but in real life he was my nurse. Helping him in this hallucination was another nurse and doctor who would hide his rapes and his body by shielding him off by placing their backs to him and facing outwards. And, another tidbit was that Mariska Hargitay (Detective Olivia Benson from the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) was going undercover to catch him.

Long story made short, he was repeatedly raping young women, and the scariest part of it all for me was that I was the only witness. So, I saw each rape in horrific detail and I could not speak or physically move to do anything about it. Each assault became more graphic and emotionally scaring. Mariska Hargitay went undercover somehow and tried to stop these rapes. But, they continued to happen, and eventually she was assaulted as well. I could only watch and hope it would end.

The nurse who helped him was eventually transferred, and the doctor got in some sort of trouble but not for the assaults. The man committing these crimes was eventually caught. He got in trouble with the law and the hospital, but I have no memory of how.  You would think that would be a happy ending, but remember that I couldn’t testify or do anything at all.

I was stuck watching each horrific act and could do nothing to bring him to justice. I was trapped and it was the worst agony that I had yet gone through.

I know that’s not a good ending but every hallucination ended that way: devastating and heart-breaking. I wish I could write a happy ending, but I never got one.

Today I know who the nurse is and I have no hard feelings towards him. Because he isn’t the man in that hallucination. Also, it was originally hard to watch Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but now I have issues with flashing back. It has become a reminder that I’m doing much better today than this time last year.

Every, and I mean every, hallucination was frightening, but today I can recognize these false memories. Today I believe these hallucinations were a response to the trauma of what was happening. I also believe that it was an attempt to make me fearful and not grateful. That just didn’t work.

Thank you for reading this very hard post to write.

God is good and gracious.
JLG

A Heart Revived: TRISL Therapists

img_0008-1Well, this might be the one area that I truly might get way too emotional because these women pushed me to a place I didn’t think I could go. I didn’t know how hard it would be, but they helped me see that I could do it if I was willing to put in a lot of hard work. From the time I cried the first day in the standing frame, the weight training holding a baby and sobbing thinking of if I would be able to ever hold my little girl, and the time I got so mad reading a single paragraph out loud. These six weeks helped start the road to recovery. I will never forget what these women have done for me and my entire family.

Lindsay

From the first time we met, you pushed me harder than anyone ever has. The first day I couldn’t do the standing frame without sobbing and I couldn’t do the parallel bars at all. By the end I walked a short distance with help, and now I walk over 325 feet without hesitation. I remember the first time I got on my hands and knees and I crashed on my face. You were there for me and never gave up on me even when I would get angry. I know do hands and knees work every day for at least an hour each day. If you gave up on me I would I have the strength to do almost anything. Your work is much appreciated and I’ll always appreciate you.

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My first time on my hands and knees (October 2, 2015).

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This weekend (June 18th, 2016).

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Standing in the parallel bars with two people helping (September 28, 2015).

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Walked with Ali’s help in the backyard (June 14, 2016).

Danielle

Your smile and laugh kept me going during all therapy. When I was mad or frustrated you always had something positive to say. I couldn’t write a single letter, pick up my bible, put on my shoes, or use a computer… so obviously it has worked! You were always there for me and my family, and everyone remembers your work. I could not take care of myself when we met, and every time I get dressed, write sentences, and type these posts  you are directly connected. I will never forget you and I hope you know how much you helped me and my family.

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Trying to write around the tine I got home (November 2015).

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My latest writing (June 20, 2016).

Jacque

When we met I could barely utter a single word. I had very shallow breathing, and I was still embarrassed to speak to strangers. I refused to go to Loud Crowd, but after going I felt more confident with myself (by the way, I asked my wife the name of the group super loud haha). My breathing definitely improved due to your consistent practice and strategies. You helped a guy who had to a number system to communicate speak anything I thought or needed. Now I can easily talk on the phone with strangers and share my thoughts at my small group through the church. Thank you for pushing beyond my comfort zone and consistently nudging me towards challenging tasks.

I don’t have too many videos so I don’t think I can share them! Sorry!

Now, I’m not one hundred percent now, but these three started progress in what most people thought was impossible. You guys are and will always be remembered. You are family, and I hope you are all doing well. Thanks to you, I am starting to recover.

God is good and gracious.
JLG

A Heart Revived: 63 Nurses

img_0008-1I have not written here for a while and its mainly due to laziness and exhaustion. Which seems like an oxymoron but its pretty easy to understand when your job is to sit, work out, sit, work out.

Today’s installment is about the amazing nurses I had at 63 while in Barnes Jewish Hospital. There are too many to write about, but I’ll write about three of them.

Mary Kate

She was forced to deal with me on her first day, and she was always a source of relief due to her smile and upbeat attitude. I got to learn so much about her while I was in rough shape. She helped me out in some of the most painful situations I had to go through. She took the staples out of my chest while I listened to Andy Mineo’s “You Can’t Stop Me.” She always treated my family with respect and love. I appreciate and care for her deeply.

Natalie

I had so much fun with her that I eventually got to the point of sarcastic remarks with her. She always came in with double guns and a smile. Whenever I saw her I knew I was in good hands. Her smile made the entire room joyous. I loved seeing her come in and I always remember a strange friendship with her. She and the other two helped me survive and helped me remain hopeful. I’m so thankful for her.

Jenn

When I was having hallucinations I thought she was trying to hurt me. I loathed seeing her for completely twisted reasons. But, after I looked back I am so thankful for what she  did for me. I was paranoid and scared, and all she tried to do was care for me in the most vulnerable time of my life so far. She knew of my fear and still tried to care for me. I never said it before, but thank you and I’m sorry.

These three nurses are just a few of the many that took care of me. So, thank you all for keeping me alive and allowing me to see my beautiful daughter born and grow up.You all did an amazing job and I am grateful beyond expression.

Thank you.

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Mary Kate, Natalie, and I.

God is good and gracious.

JLG

A Heart Revived: Sicknesses and Surgeries

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So, I have been putting this off for an extremely long time. I have been struggling to find the words to explain how I feel. Reading and thinking about all the sicknesses and surgeries I underwent is very daunting and emotional. To be honest, I get choked up just thinking about how much happened and everything my loved ones went through. I really hate writing about this.

I underwent through 13 surgeries over the summer of 2015.I was resuscitated over 75 times and we don’t know all the times it happened in the operating room. My wife was told at least three separate times to say goodbye to me. A very experienced doctor said I was the sickest person he has met, and a doctor recently said I was the sickest person he has ever heard of. So, it is hard to only talk about one thing to write about.

I have chosen to write about this: I had a fever for 7 weeks and at one point I had a 108 degree fever.

When my fever reached 108 they didn’t know at first the thermometer they used first. It took three different thermometers to truly believe it was that high. if It reaches that high it could mean this:

“Subject may turn pale or remain flushed and red. They may become comatose, be in severe delirium, vomiting, and convulsions can occur. Blood pressure may be high or low and heart rate will be very fast.”

When I was 108 degrees my nurses had to ice almost every part of body. There was a constant of rotation of ice and my nurses were thinking I would die but they would try as hard as they could until that point. About 30 hours passed when my temperature was above 104 degrees, which understandably made everyone frantic.

My fever didn’t stop even when I woke up. I had pneumonia unit approximately August 14, 2015. All my memories consisted of ice bags on my hands and feet all day. I was so desperate for drinking water that the ice bags on my hands became an opportunity to squeeze drops out into my mouth. Every drop was a sense of relief and satisfaction. I had no idea where I was or why I was there, but I knew I was massively dehydrated and sweating all day.

I was unable to talk but my wife and others could understand if I needed ice. People needed to be on-watch 24 hours a day. To simply – and maybe insufficiently – state it: I’m alive because they did that for me. It wasn’t perfect but I’m still here.

When my fever finally subsided, relief was clear even to me. There were other huge obstacles and surgeries but I remember my fever the most. My wife went through more than I can imagine, so I want her to know how much I love her and supremely appreciate everything she has done for me.

Below are some graphic photos of my time in Barnes Jewish Hospital. Viewer discretion advised.

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God is good and gracious.

JLG

A Heart Revived: University of Missouri Hospital

  
To start this whole thing off, I want to say something that might disappointment – or give you a sigh of relief. – I will only
tell one story from each snapchat into my life. This is the most succinct and effective way of telling my story.—-

On Wednesday Jun 27, 2015 I thought I had bronchitis, so I decided to go to a Mizzou Quick Care in a HyVee here in Columbia. I thought it would be a quick fix and I would just go home with some meds. Thankfully, I was assigned a nurse that previously worked in a cardiac floor prior to switching over. She saw my heart rate and blood pressure, and then she strongly encouraged us to go an ER as soon as possible. She had a feeling that it was much more than a small problem.

So, what did we do right after this? We went to Arby’s. I know that’s insane but we still thought it wasn’t a big deal.

I drive us over to the hospital and they immediately took me back, which if you’ve ever needed the ER that never happens. Three nurses hooked me up to an EKG (electrocardiogram test), which checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. It read that I was having a heart attack! I was awake and functioning so they had no idea what was happening.

I remembering loosening my red tie as they took me into a room and joking with one of the nurses about how I wasn’t feeling it all. They took me into this curtained-off room and immediately started doing tests. When I say “immediately” I mean I don’t think I was laying down for ten seconds before the needles came out and the other machines were starting. I continued to joke with everyone because I knew everyone needed to be calm during this, including my wife and I.

I was taken back for some x-rays and then I was admitted. Funny enough, before I went in I said “I hope I get admitted so I don’t have pay the co-pay.” I ate those words soon enough.

People came to see me, but I couldn’t tell you a complete list. Then the last memory I had at Mizzou is an operation, which I had no idea what it was for at the time. I grabbed the doctor’s leg after the extremely painful surgery, and said, “Thank you. Thank you.” 

I remember nothing else from my time at Mizzou until I woke up two months later not having any clue what happened. 

Now, remember this is from my perspective, so I clearly left off things and that’s because I have no recollection. In the next post I will write about the surgeries I had, which I have little to no memories. I will write about those because it is a vital part of what happened, even if I don’t remember them. I will include disturbing images of myself and of the surgeries that were performed, so if you’re slightly grossed out or queasy be ready for some hard pictures to look at. Trust me, it is still hard for me to look at.

I hope this first installment gave you a sample of what it will look like. The other posts will be longer and that’s because I remember more. Some things I wish I could forget but they are etched my mind forever. 

I hope this sheds light and starts to show that even though things didn’t look good, God is still good and has a plan for us all.

God is good and gracious.  

JLG

A Heart Revived: Preview

   
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to write a series of posts about each facet of my journey. These posts won’t be the complete list of what I’ve been saved from. The series will be called “A Heart Revived.” Some of the topics include:

  1. Mizzou Hospital
  2. All the surgeries (photos may be unsuitable for children)
  3. My hallucinations while sedated
  4. 63 Nurses
  5. TRISL therapists
  6. The evolution of my wheelchair
  7. The ambulance ride over to rehab
  8. Discharge from TRISL
  9. Coming Home
  10. Eden
  11. Outpatient
  12.  Nosebleeds and hurt legs
  13. Karis Church

I hope I can write about each of these. Doing this will only help me deal with it, and I hope others are impacted by what God has done. Sure, I’ve been through a lot but what good is it if others arent’ brought to greater love for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’ll start soon so look for something to come out soon!

God is good and gracious.

JLG

We Undervalue Life

 
 I think we undervalue life.
That might sound like an odd statement to make especially because most people believe this saying: “Live life to the fullest” or “You Only Live Once.” I agree with those statements, but I believe a different definitions of what those mean.
Live life to the fullest

  • Living life to the fullest means loving others and considering others higher than yourself.
  • Living life to the fullest means loving others in word and deed as much as humanly possible.
  • Living life to the fullest means meeting people’s needs when you can without contemplating what it costs you. 
  • Living life to the fullest means when suffering you find the blessing in all of it for your sake and for others well-being.
  • Living life to the fullest means appreciating every second of your life as an unmerited blessing from God.
  • Living life to the fullest means accepting whatever comes your way as a road to joy in this life or your eternal life.
  • Living life to the fullest means loving each moment you spend with loved ones due to their inherit value and grace in your life.
  • Living life to the fullest means spending your life what you love most, and that stems from gratitude for each as a gift.
  • Living life to the fullest means loving Jesus as your Lord and Savior because He gives a life of forgiveness and love. 
  • Living life to the fullest means living a life worthy of the amazing salvation we have undeservedly received from God the Father, through Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is not exhaustive, but they stuck out the most for me and everything that has happened to me in the last seven months. People always ask me how I’m doing, how I’m handling it all. I usually say this,

“I’m doing well. I’ve become happier than I’ve been. I just think being overly sad or mad about it is literally a waste of life. I have no idea how much time I have, and I think God has made me more grateful and thankful than ever before. I’m just trying to live life to the fullest.”

So, here goes the second one…

You Only Live Once

  • You only life once means not making excuses for crazy actions, but instead it means making the most impactful thing you can do for others.
  • You only life once means living the kind of life that leaves a legacy for your children that they should be proud of.
  • You only life once means loving your spouse so much because they need to experience the love of God.
  • You only life once means one life on earth, but you have an eternal life that is much longer and important.
  • You only life once means spending each day encouraging others toward Christ, the only One who gives life and life abundantly. 
  • You only life once means enjoying each person for who they and where they are at because our lives are about serving others.
  • You only life once means learning as much as you can about God because He is the only One who is holy and perfect.
  • You only life once means going out of your way to be generous to those that need support and prayer.
  • You only life once means enjoying the fellowship of God in prayer because He has given us access to the throne to enjoy His presence and plead for guidance. 
  • You only life once means enjoying God’s creation without worshipping it because only God deserves all of our affections.

We only live once here, but if we trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we will enjoy life everlasting, eternal life. 
Let’s live moment by moment to serve others and love God, with every ounce of gratitude and thankfulness we can demonstrate. If we live our lives to the real fullest and you live life once, as it was meant to be lived, I guarantee you will find joy and a life that is truly worth being lived.

God is good and gracious.