On July 6th 2005 I suffered a massive virus attack on my heart.
Medical speak states that,
I was initially in the Ulster hospital on the outskirts of Belfast for a day and a half, and then rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. First to intensive care and then to the heart ward on the 5th floor. After intensive investigation the hospital doctors told Linda that a Coxsackie B virus had greatly damaged my heart, that my liver was "shot to pieces" and my kidneys were closing down. Answering Linda's questions they said that there was no cure and that they were keeping me alive "15 minutes at a time" and that if the family wanted to say 'goodbye' they should be contacted immediately. Shortly after making the phone calls Linda collapsed, and we thank God for the CRi team members and friends who were there to help her.
When Linda regained some composure she went to the family who were now waiting in the hospital restaurant and told them the news. She then declared through tears that whether I lived or died the family would praise the Lord.
Meanwhile, the Consultant had contacted Freeman's hospital at Newcastle upon Tyne, one of the UK's heart transplant hospitals, and they agreed to receive me. The consultant told Linda that a heart transplant might possibly save my life.
However this was the day of the London bombings and UK planes were grounded.
Undeterred the medical staff phoned around Europe for two hours determined to fight for my life.
An air ambulance was finally called in from Luxemburg to Belfast, and now, in an induced coma, and attached to a heavy balloon pump to keep my heart going I was flown to Freeman's Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. The doctors told Linda that I might not even survive the flight.
My wife and four children and my two sisters followed via normal scheduled flights.
On arrival at Freeman's Hospital the doctors told the family that they would do what they could but that I was 'on a knife edge'.
For five days I lay unconscious on life support.
My wife, eldest son, and my two sisters kept vigil, speaking to me and playing Christian music. The rest of the family waited every day in the waiting room, only seeing me when I eventually became conscious.
Peter Horrobin, of Ellel International Ministries, along with his wife Fiona, drove from Lancaster to Newcastle for a full morning and prayed for me. Apparently I appeared to be responding to his prayers, but sadly I have no conscious recollection of any thing during the first five days.
The wonderful team of doctors at Freeman's then decided to gradually bring me out of the induced coma, and slowly, very slowly and rather dramatically I became conscious again. (During this journey back to consciousness I experienced terrifying hallucinations for many hours, due I presume, to the drugs I had been given), and after some tests they declared that there appeared to be no brain damage through oxygen deficiency.
When I finally came to my full senses, my wife and eldest son explained to me that I was in Newcastle upon Tyne now, and this took some coming to terms with.
Two weeks after admission to Freeman's Hospital I was flown back to Belfast City Airport in another Lear Jet, along with a doctor and nurse. Amazingly, my sister Jill got permission to go out on to the airfield (escorted of course) to meet me as I got off this luxurious little jet plane that superstars own or hire for their holidays! Linda had already arrived at the airport a little earlier by regular service, and as she watched from the airport window she was in tears watching 'the little plane bringing her husband home.' The heavy life support machine that I had been attached to going to Newcastle upon Tyne was brought back to Belfast on the same plane, and it was quite an effort for the ambulance men to get it into the waiting ambulance. The ambulance then collected Linda outside the airport took us straight to the Royal Hospital in Belfast where I remained for the next six weeks.
There I was told that I was a very sick man and that any improvement - which could not be guaranteed - would be over a long period of time. Despite surviving what was expected to be a quick and certain death, the virus had caused viral myocarditis, atrial fibrillation, impaired kidney function and congestive heart failure'.
Fluid retention was a big issue and my ankles were very swollen and I will never forget the hours that my wife and my two sisters spent gently massaging my swollen feet.
I confess that I wept as the tubes were finally removed from my neck.
Some two weeks later I was moved from the
private room into an open ward used for short term hospital stays.
Such was my radical improvement in wellbeing that one nurse, after introducing herself, said 'so you are the miracle man'
Just days short of two calendar months from the date that the virus struck I was discharged from hospital! I had 'pestered' every doctor and the consultant to let me out of hospital - no matter what the consequences were for me - and eventually, and reluctantly - he agreed to release me on September 3rd, just two weeks away. On that day he tried to convince me to want to stay, telling me that I was still a 'medium risk', but I could not wait to escape!
The first week I was out I showed up at our ministry's weekly training night for half and hour - much to the surprise and joy of the team. I was putting down a marker in the spiritual realm and the following two training nights I not only showed up, but did an hour's teaching. Sitting down the first time, but standing for an hour the second time.
Now I am back teaching on a weekly basis.
The first week I was out from hospital I went to church on the Sunday morning and when the Pastor announced that I was in the church the 400 + people applauded. It was very moving.
I am now back at church every week.
My youngest son went to Ellel Pierrepont to do the 8 month NETS school on October 7th and while in hospital my prayer was that I would be well enough to go fishing with 'my buddy' one more time before he left home.
Three weeks after my discharge I was able to take my wife and son on a two day fishing trip where I drove 85 miles to our accommodation by the lakeside, fished for two days and did the rowing on the lakes both days!
My family were overwhelmed by the prayer response and with the emails of love and encouragement from the Body of Christ world wide.
Ireland, Canada, Ecuador, Israel, Hong Kong, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Poland, England, Scotland, to name but a few..
Thank you one and all who prayed for me and for my family.
' No weapon formed against you shall prosper' Isaiah 54:17
Posted October 21st 2005
Another little miracle occurred last Friday. I had been warned to be on my guard against mouth infections and suddenly I was had a painfully inflamed gum. Healing evangelist Bill Prankard from Canada was speaking in our church over the weekend and I went with my daughter on the Friday evening to hear him. As I parked outside the church I was in pain, and could barely touch the inflamed gum, so I determined to go the dentist when they reopened on Monday. However that appointment was never needed as during the service Bill put his finger into the right hand side his mouth and said "God is healing someone's mouth right here", and it was me! Instantly my inflamed gum was healed. I bit my teeth together, tapped my gum with my finger but not one painful sensation could I muster.
God is watching over me!
Posted November 22nd 2005
I feel as though I can now outwalk just about anybody, up hill and down dale with no ill effects at all! Linda and I flew to Ellel Pierrepont to visit our son who is doing NETS and on a long walk through the local countryside he asked me to slow down! Truly remarkable. (though I was very tired for several days when I got home) Even before my 6 month review at the hospital -due March/April - my own doctor has taken me off all iron tablets since my blood count is now excellent (15+, when it was only 6.1 when I came off life support!)
I have been taken off the twice weekly injections plus another daily tablet for my kidneys since the readings are so good. When I came out of hospital I had lost two stone in weight. All that weight is back on - plus a pound or two more. For the first time in my life I am considering a diet! Praise God for energy and strength. The team and I are now preparing a normal 2006 calendar except that it may well be the busiest year yet!
God is SO good.
Posted December 8th 2005
The big test came this week when on Sunday I flew to London, then travelled to Ellel Pierrepont, taught four sessions (each one lasts for an hour and a quarter) on Monday and the same on Tuesday - 10 hours in all. Not only that, I went out both evenings with friends and family, and squeezed in a long lunch time walk on Tuesday with my son. Interestingly the Tuesday (December 6th) was the five month anniversary of my dramatic entrance into hospital. On Wednesday I flew home with more energy than I had set out with!.
Today Thursday is a day of rest and then tomorrow I embark with some of the CRi team on a 600+ mile round trip drive to Cork returning home on Sunday.
Truly God is to be praised.
Final posting of 2005
The photo shows me on the lower slopes of Slieve Donard - out of picture on the left.
(I had planned to ascend Slieve Donard, which at some 2500' makes it the highest mountain in Northern Ireland, but wisdom from my young son prevailed)
Next time it will be the full ascent! (Note; I did a full ascent three years later - See 2012 update below)
Thank you for all your prayers. God has answered them so powerfully.
In April this year I had the first appointment with my consultant since leaving hospital the previous September. It was then that I was told that when I left hospital my atrial valve (left hand chamber) was only pumping 10% of its volume. However when the consultant heard details of my fully active 'normal' lifestyle he said that clearly something had happened to my heart and asked me to take another ultrasound scan the following month. When the results eventually came through it showed that my heart volume had increased to 40%. The consultant then suggested that I take another cardio-version (electric shock) as he was now 50-60% confident of restoring my heart to a natural rhythm. I went into hospital on the 21st of this September and took the cardio-version, but it did not restore my irregular heartbeat.