The power of prayer, the goodness of God

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

As I was being transferred on a gurney from the holding area to the operating room on Friday, Feb. 22, my last conscious thought was asking God to take care of me.

Entering into serious back surgery at 74, I had given very serious thought to the things that could happen. For months I had been asking God to show me His will. I had even asked Him if it was not meant to be, then to put things in the way of it happening. Although I had a couple of bumps, I felt His peace.

Since late last spring, my right leg has been so very painful, caused by a separation of a vertebra that was pressing on a nerve down the side of my leg. I have had problems in this area for at least 25 years, caused by a fall. I walked for years to help with that pain, but it changed last spring and I was no longer able to be on my feet for more than 10 minutes.

Finally, all these years later, the only real solution was surgery — lumbar spinal fusion of L4 and L5.

The surgery went beautifully and I awoke with my family around me. My sister, Sharon Lawrence,, had promised she would be with me at the hospital as long as it took for me to get well. Everybody else soon went home. It had been a long day.

On Saturday, things could not have been better. My surgeon, Dr. John Davis Jr., came by and said I was doing so well I could probably go home on Monday. I had told all my family and friends prior to surgery that I would be home on Monday. I had that much confidence that I would do well.

Sunday morning came with very little pain and I felt really good. One of the physical therapists came into the room and said we were going to take a little walk. I had no trouble getting up and using the walker.

“To the door and back,” he said. “We don’t want to wear you out first time out.”

I started walking, reached the door and when I turned, my world went black. I was out cold for 20 minutes. When I started to come around everything in my sight was swirling around in bright colors and I was trying so hard to focus. Somebody was pressing hard on my chest and it hurt — so I was trying to push him away.

I was finally able to focus and could see the concern on everybody’s faces. I was also aware that my right hand was limp and the right side of my body felt strange. I knew what had happened — I had had a stroke. When I tried to talk, it was just babble, no real words. Later my family was told I had suffered a mid-cerebral artery stroke and it affected speech, but not thought processes.

Sharon immediately called our daughter Ann, who was just beginning to teach her Sunday school class at our church, Briarwood Baptist. Ann left immediately on her way to the hospital after alerting the rest of the family.

Tests were being run and it seemed every time I was taken back to the room, there were more family members there. I was so sorry I had scared them and I tried to say so, but the attempt at speech just made it worse.  

Later on Sunday, just immediate family was there and I made eye contact with my son and tried to make him understand that I wanted to know about our dog, Lola. Lola had been sick when I went to the hospital and I knew she was better, but thought if I could just make contact, they would know I was okay. In a few minutes, we had sort of a game of charades under way and smart boy that he is, he figured it out and after assuring me Lola was okay, everybody lightened up a little. Having gotten their attention, I gave them a big lopsided smile.

I was transferred to another room and slept pretty okay that night. By the next morning, my sister knew my thought processes were improving and started trying to figure out what I needed. Eventually I wanted to stand up, and after getting somebody in to help, I stood up on both my feet and said “Won-der-ful!”

“Wonderful! You bet it is wonderful,” she said, hugging me close. As the day progressed, I tried to say more words, not too successfully — but the next thing I knew, speech therapy was there helping me. With a little help, the right side of my body was also getting a wee bit stronger and I could open and close my hand just a little.

Every morning I turned a new little curve and did better. I had several specialists who came in and said the kind of stoke I had just does not respond so quickly. They kept trying to decide if I should be in long-term re-hab, or just what to do with me. Every day as I improved there was amazement on the faces of all those people.

On Wednesday, I was assessed to be at 100 percent by amazed personnel from speech, physical and occupational therapies, and practically everybody else who worked with me. The personnel at St. Tammany Parish Hospital deserve an A-plus for the care they gave me.

The sweet doctor who discharged me on Wednesday afternoon said they had no idea what had caused the stroke or why I had been able to recover so quickly. She said all my tests were good and they could find no real cause for a stroke, but there are many suppositions they could make, but none with the symptoms I displayed. She said I was perfectly fine and ready to go home.

I came home with home health and after one visit and a check-up, the nurse said I didn’t need her. I still have OT and PT coming, to help me strengthen muscles because of the back surgery, which is going great. I am walking for the first time in many months without pain, although my back is still a little stiff. I am able to go outside and walk and it feels so good!

My family, friends and church family have been so wonderful to me. My sister was my right arm and my protector. A nurse for 40 years and now retired, she was there with me every minute of every day until just before I came home. My daughter, Kaye, drove me home.

So exactly what happened to me and why? Why did I get well so quickly when others with the same problems take months to get better?

If medical minds can’t decide, it might be hard for me to know what happened except for one thing I didn’t learn about until after I was home a few days.

When my daughter left her Sunday school class headed for the hospital, our pastor, Eric Williams and our Briarwood deacons went into his study to pray. Classes stopped in the middle of lessons and they spent the time praying for me.

As soon word got out, other prayers went up for me as I continued to improve. I am so thankful for all those prayers and those that continue today.

I’m sure this is what happened and this is my testimony: Through the power of prayer and the goodness of God, I was given a miracle.  I believe it with all my heart.

It didn’t happen because I am deserving. I’m certainly not. It happened for some reason I don’t understand and may never understand. I only know I will be grateful and praise Him for as long as I have breath.

Prayer is powerful and God’s promise from Jeremiah 33:3 is still relevant today:

“Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things.”

Indeed, He does!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at