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The Brain Bleed - November 7, 1991

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Life was great. Physsy was teaching and nurturing her “special needs” children. Mike was teaching auto shop to students who resided at the Children’s Village, a local detention facility. Mike and Physsy had hearts bigger than a house. They took in about twenty “at risk” children at various times during their marriage. They were like the pied piper. Kids just followed them home. Not surprisingly, their own three sons inherited the pied piper gene. They too brought home strays and I’m not talking about cats!! Oh no, I mean the tough stuff. Kids whose parents were alcohol and drug addicted. Some of these parents were abusers and others were confused about their sexual orientation. Physsy’s home was a revolving door for broken people. Physsy says sometimes, it was pretty crazy, but being a refuge was a priority. Her parents had opened their home when she was growing up and so, it was in her blood.

She always rode to work with Hugh. He lived next door and had worked with Physsy in the special education field for years. On November the seventh, they were driving home from school. Physsy didn’t feel well and Hugh had offered to take her to the hospital. She refused the offer. She had important things to do that afternoon. First, they went to the credit union to seal the deal on a new van. This van was the vehicle that would transport her family of five and Hugh to Colorado for their much-anticipated snow ski vacation during Christmas break. Physsy was filled with excitement about this upcoming family journey. Their next stop was their usual late lunch at Burger King, consisting of burger, fries and a strawberry milkshake.
 
Physsy was a woman in hot pursuit of a fulfilling life. I sensed that she had the determination of a bull in a pasture occupied by cows. She flowed naturally in thinking and dreaming big. Her credo was “Reach for the stars”. Situations that seemed impossible to others were nothing more than tempting challenges to Physsy. She was like an active enzyme to everyone with whom she was in relationship. She was a catalyst to her husband, to Hugh, to her three sons, and to her special education students, to ignite them to excel in their individual talents. She experienced joy and gratification by watching others stretch toward their potential.
 
I think Physsy had a spark plug inside of her that fired at every opportunity to enjoy life. She was determined to live life with vivacious and relentless passion for the joy of the journey of life itself. I have learned that Physsy’s philosophy was, “Don’t waste a minute!”
 
They pulled into the driveway. Physsy was too numb to get out of the car. In fact, she really couldn’t feel her legs. Mike, Hugh and her son, Daniel, hoisted her out of the car and attempted to stand her up. She flopped to the ground like a Raggedy Ann doll. The decision was made to take her to the hospital. As they traveled, she was losing feeling in her arms and she was drifting off to sleep. This strong, determined, vivacious woman lay motionless on the seat of the van as they hurried to the hospital. This sleep would last a very long time; days, weeks, months, YEARS! In fact, the sleep became deep enough to do brain surgery with no anesthetic!
 
Physsy’s memory of that day fades away during the drive home from the credit union; however, she remembers seeing her husband, Mike, in the emergency room. He told her that he loved her and she spoke of her love for him. He squeezed her hand. That would be the last communication Mike would have with his wife for many months.
 
Their precious friends and pastors, Wally and Linda, were in the emergency room with Mike, Physsy and the surgeon. They joined hands in prayer while Wally courageously asked for Physsy’s life and for God to direct the mind and the hands of the doctor as he performed the surgery. Mike remained silent with his tears and fears, but felt encouraged by the earnest prayers of his faithful friends. Truly, they needed a miracle!
 
The medical team whisked Physsy off to surgery. The doctor drilled three tiny holes in the bone at the base of her skull. He removed a triangular shaped piece of bone which gave him access to the hypothalamus, the portion of the middle part of the brain that is known to regulate body temperature and help control the functions of the internal organs. The organ had swelled to the size of a fist. Three drops of blood had seeped from a capillary, releasing poisonous by-products into the brain. The walls of the capillary were weak and thin allowing the blood to seep through. The blood contamination to the brain stem had the effect of a sharp severing knife. Mike uses the analogy of an old switch board whose plugs have all been pulled out simultaneously. This discovery led to four hours of brain surgery.
 
The next experience Physsy described was that she was “high up somewhere”. She said to me, “They were doing surgery on this woman.” She did not identify with the woman or recognize her as being herself.
 
She described what happened: “A man came and extended his very big hand to me. I put my hand in his. It was BIG! Really big, and hairy! We left that room and walked hand in hand along a dirt path for a long ways. It was so beautiful! There was lush green grass all along the path. I have never seen such beautiful grass. There were yellow daffodils throughout the grass. They were everywhere. They smelled beautiful, heavenly. This place was serene and lovely beyond description. I didn’t want to go back. I liked it a lot!”
 
I asked her if she saw His face. She said, “No. I didn’t need to see His face. I knew who He was.”

 

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