#7: God Will Intervene
I was in a coma state for an extended time after my death. When I came out of the coma I was still attached to a ventilator—something that was incredibly uncomfortable. There is something painfully artificial about breathing through a small tube jammed down your throat!
I found it very difficult to sleep while on the breathing machine. At one point I went for a few days without sleeping at all. The ICU rooms at this hospital were pretty boring. The nurses were not humorous. No TVs. No windows. It was about impossible to figure out if it was daytime or nighttime. This all added to my insomnia.
In the midst of my restlessness, something vital happened. At exactly 3:30 AM a nurse, an African-American woman, stepped into my room. She was different. Her hair was braided. She wore a bright, rainbow-colored sweater and jeans under her lab coat. She carried herself a lot like Whoopi Goldberg. She was sassy and a little rude. She said, “Look if you don’t rest you’re not going to make it. You have to get to sleep. Now go on—get to sleep. I mean now!” When she said, “You’re not going to make it” I felt a little shiver. It was a dire warning. More than just rude, she was mean. I determined that when I was able to talk I was going to complain about Nurse Whoopi. This was no way to treat a patient!
Soon after she left I fell asleep for the first time in days.
Sleepless in ICU
The next night came, and like all the others, I was unable to fall asleep. I just sat in bed staring. All the other patients in ICU were quiet and sleeping but again I was awake and alert. For whatever reason, my inner clock was confused. Again at 3:30 AM in walked the good Nurse Goldberg. She said about the same thing. “If you don’t get to sleep you aren’t going to make it. You have to get to sleep. Now I mean it. Get to sleep!” What a mean person I thought. She needs counseling! If she became a Believer, I thought, God would be able to deal with her anger issues. Again, I fell asleep quickly.
I won’t bore you with the details of the third night. Suffice it to say at 3:30 AM… You get the idea. The same nurse wearing the same clothes. Same bedside manner.
The next day my breathing tube was removed and I was able to talk. After I made some initial comments I followed through on my determined threat to complain to the head nurse. I explained in detail the times Whoopi showed up as well as the way she was dressed and of course her behavior. This woman looked a little perplexed. She explained there was no African-American nurse currently on a night shift. Besides, it was not allowed to wear jeans as part of the uniform. She completely agreed that such behavior was inappropriate, but she couldn’t reprimand a non-existent employee.
One of two things happened those three nights:
- Someone with pull in the Screen Actors Guild talked the real Whoopi into visiting me those nights at University Hospital. In that case, she was just being herself. Therefore this story was not all that amazing. Or…
- God put this together. He called upon his cast of African-American angels. One of them stopped by my room a few times to do his bidding. (By the way, I wasn’t aware there were African-American female angels. I had always assumed all angels were blondes with blue eyes of Scandinavian descent like me. That’s how they look in paintings anyway.)
In any case, this “nurse” saved my life. The sleeping meds were revving me up. They were having the opposite of their intended effect. Her words were life-giving if rough. I needed it.
When we go through an utter death we need a deposit to compensate for what we’ve lost. God comes alongside us with amazing nearness. Our part is to simply anticipate his presence. A loss is coming your way. In this fallen world that is a certainty. The good news is God is coming your way as well.