Buddy is a walking miracle.
His wife Jody wasn't scheduled to be home that day. She skipped a tennis lesson, a rare occurrence. So she was there to find Buddy laying in the floor sweating, asking for an aspirin. He said, "I think I'm having a heart attack."
Buddy almost talked himself out of going to the hospital. He walked around, thought he was fine, but their new son-in-law was there, and he just happens to be an EMT. He confirmed Buddy should go.
They shouldn't have made it to St. Joseph's in time but he and Jody had decided years ago if they ever had heart issues they would go straight to St. Jo's, home of the best heart surgeons in the Southeast. That day, Buddy kept saying, "Don't call an ambulance." And Jody took him to St. Jo's. In morning rush-hour traffic.
The doctors ruled out heart attack and stroke, and were stumped. When they asked about family history, Jody remembered Buddy's grandfather had had an aortic aneurysm just two weeks before. They ran the test. That's what it was. She was glad she hadn't thought of that on the way in, or she could've panicked.
By this time, their three adult kids were there and Buddy was turning blue. He asked his chances. The doctor told him to say his goodbyes.
Three other Grace pastors had arrived and were told with the family that the longer he stayed in surgery, the more hopeful they could be. He was in at least four hours. But they got the aneurysm Now came recovery. The group was told it could be 48 hours to several weeks before he would wake up, and even longer before he could communicate.
While in the waiting room, Matt, the pastor from Midtown, said he wished Buddy could just feel the prayers of everybody -- they already had messages of people praying from all over the world because Buddy has friends everywhere. So the three young pastors went into pray with him and as SOON as they touched him, Buddy moved his foot. They weren't sure if that was good or bad. They kept praying and a nurse came over. They were, of course, in ICU.
As they prayed, Buddy continued to stir and the nurse said, "He's waking up." She asked if he could squeeze her hand. He did. Then with his other hand. He did. She asked if he could wiggle the toes of one foot but the guys told her not that one -- he's had polio there. But the other one moved. He was awake and began to communicate.
The nurse was having him spell out letters in her hand at one point. He wrote REAL. No one knew what that meant but they tried to be affirming. He then spelled TOTALLY. They thought it was the meds and the nurse began to walk to another part of the room. Buddy snapped his finger to get her attention, insisting on another word. He spelled out H-E-A-V-E-N.
We still don't know the rest of that story but we do know the day after his surgery, Buddy was sitting up in a chair drinking a Coke talking with his family! At some point that day, he'd asked again what his chances were. His son said, "Dad you're chances were yesterday. You're fine now." Buddy said, no really. What are my chances? It was hard to sink in.
Doctor after doctor kept dropping by to say, "I don't know if you understand how rare it is that he's doing this well." One said, "In our industry, the only word we have for it is miraculous." Jody said in our world, we use the same word.
Buddy still has to recover from major surgery but is on the other side of that miracle. His daughter wrote about all this ina very elegant paragraph. It has been a powerful week.