New Morning Mercies

by Jan Hinkle
For the past 69 years, I have lived a blessed and full life: good health, happy marriage of 48 years, 6 loving children (5 happily married), 13 grands age one to 11 years, sweet 93 year-old Father who was also my next door neighbor, plus a long career in real estate – all which equals an endless list of urgent things for me to accomplish each day for people who depend on me.

About a year ago, in the middle of the night, I woke up lying on the floor at the end of our bed and could not get up. Thus began a long and unfamiliar journey for Doug and me and our precious family. I was no longer the caregiver; I was in need of constant care.

My family took me to the Heart Hospital thinking I’d had a stroke, but after many tests and several hours of a sodium IV, they sent me home.  My heart wasn’t the problem. However, hallucinations had begun to plague me.
Doug and daughter Elizabeth took me to Mercy Hospital where my oldest daughter Josiah met us and helped get me inside and to the emergency room. Have I mentioned how amazingly loving, faithful and efficient my children are? All of them and their families have busy lives and schedules, yet they seemed to somehow minister to Doug and me in so many ways. It was very humbling! They had scheduled themselves, their spouses, Doug (who continued to go to work), my sister and some of our dear friends to be with me 24/7 the first 3 weeks and then during the day the remainder of my time (12 days) at the Mercy Rehab Hospital.  Our son, Stephen, who lives in Chattanooga would update my condition on Facebook.

My condition got worse each day.  I was weak and exhausted from lack of sleep. The hallucinations were constant. I couldn’t move my arms or legs, change positions in the bed, lift my head or close my left eye. I thought, “Wow! I’m paralyzed!” The neurologist at Mercy was fairly certain that Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) was the cause of my condition.  After a spinal tap confirmed his diagnosis, I began a 5-day treatment of IV’s with antibodies from people who had survived GBS. The first day of treatment I was moved to the ICU so my oxygen levels could be better monitored. I loved the big, private ICU room! And after that first day of treatment, my hallucinations stopped!  Thank you, Jesus! With the hallucinations gone I was able to think.  It was during the following nights that God’s Holy Spirit was able to do business with me as only He can do in His tender, yet convicting way.  He brought to mind things I had done, said, or thought through the years that were hurtful to my siblings, husband, and children. He reminded me of the way He sees and loves them, and reminded me of the forgiveness I’ve received through Jesus. After many tears of regret and prayers of repentance He gave me a greater appreciation and love for each of them!
It was after my fifth day of treatment that I was transferred to Mercy Rehab Hospital. The therapists, nurses, aides, kitchen staff, and doctors were all wonderful! I can’t praise them enough! I arrived helpless and paralyzed – by the time I left – I could walk with a walker, drink, eat, roll from side to side in bed, sit up, and get up from bed to a wheelchair!
So many people were praying for me. Friends that I hadn’t seen for
years came to visit. I received many get-well cards and beautiful flower arrangements. Josiah had strung a line of family pictures with another two lines for get-well cards. I had the best looking room at the Mercy Rehab Hospital!

While at the Rehab I observed how painfully hard and difficult it was for the other patients who had suffered strokes, brain injuries from falls, back surgeries or those who were struggling with the pain and adjustments of losing part of a leg from diabetes. My heart ached for them and rejoiced with them for the small improvements they accomplished in therapy, and prayed for them during the nights as God brought them to my mind.
All of the therapists were great, but there was this one (not even one of mine) that caught my attention. David had a joyful countenance which would light up a room when he entered. His interactions with both his patients and co-workers were fun to watch. Close to the end of my time there, I discovered that his last name was Price and he sang in the church choir with Doug at Covenant – now, how cool is that?!

Throughout this ordeal, though I was uncomfortable and tormented by hallucinations, I was never fearful – fully aware and comforted in the presence of Jesus. His mercies were new every morning. He opened doors for physical and spiritual healing and spoke peace to my soul.  
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” - Psalm 34:4