The Glass Box Experience
by E.J. Swanson
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Perhaps the first rule of writing is to write about something we know. My heart’s desire is to share something I know first-hand.
It was a beautiful, sunny Good Friday Morning. All seemed right with the world as I traveled down the road from my home to the local community center where I was scheduled to speak to the children of our Parish about Easter. I was all prepared with my Story, my Resurrection Eggs, and all my visual aides. I wanted to arrive before the children and get set up in order to have a moment of quiet time alone so that I could greet the children as they arrived.
Things were going well as I set up and I began to hear people arriving in the vestibule. Suddenly, I became a little dizzy and disoriented. My first thought was that it was my diabetes kicking-in at an untimely moment.
“I’ll sit down a moment and relax”, I thought. “Maybe I am anxious”
It was not until a teacher came to me and asked if I was ok. When I began to speak to her I realized I could not speak. All that came from my lips was “gibberish”. No matter how hard I tried I could not speak one word.
The lady took me by the hand and led me out to the vestibule where I was seated in a chair. I didn’t even realize that someone had already placed a 911 call. Three beautiful ladies came to me. Two placed their hands on my knees and one placed her hands on my shoulders and began to pray. I don’t know who was praying, or if they all were; I only know that the “Peace of God “ began to settle over me and stayed with me throughout the ordeal.
Soon a young man was down on his knees before me asking questions which I could not answer. But I knew his face. He was a young man who had been in my cub scout den many, many years before. Absolute love and concern shown through his eyes as he ministered to me, taking blood pressure, listening for pulse and all the things the EMS personnel is trained to do. His voice, his manner constantly said to me, “Miss Emily, you’re going to be alright” And somehow, I knew that I would.
Within the hour from the time of my stroke, I was in a helicopter and on my way to a hospital in Baton Rouge, some twenty miles or so away.
Now, flying was never on my “bucket list” of things to do. If fact it very high up on my list of “biggest fears”. The flight was noisy but uneventful. The only thing I saw were beautiful patches of blue sky. The same beautiful blue sky I had observed earlier on my ride to the community center. What a difference an hour had made in my life.
While in the ER a doctor was trying to explain to my family the urgency of administering a TPA shot to me. He was also acknowledging the fact that sometimes the shot did not work. It could cause permanent paralysis, or worse. I saw my family struggling with the decision and I desperately wanted to reach out to them and say: “Do it. It will be alright”. No words would come.
This is what I call my “Glass Box Experience”. I was totally aware of the circumstances around me. I heard every word that was uttered. I wanted my family to know that I was aware. But I was suddenly sealed in this “glass box”. I felt as though the doctor and the family were talking about me as though I wasn’t there; but I could hear, I could see and I understood.
I thought, “I know how to use sign language. I will sign to my daughter. She will understand.” But my hand would not work . She gave me a piece of paper and a pencil. The hand drew nothing but lines and circles. There were no communication skills. The “glass box” was sealed.
The decision to administer the shot was made. I was oblivious to the next few days while I was recovering in the ICU. Somehow God’s Peace continued to give me rest. I felt as though I was resting back in His arms much like a little child.
On Easter Morning my husband came in to visit me and I was able to utter my first coherent sound. I am so glad I was able to utter it to him. It was his birthday as well as Easter. He said it was the best birthday present he ever had. It was certainly like a “resurrection” for me out of the tomb of the “glass box“.
Soon I was put into a room and began very intensive therapy. There was physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. When asked what my goal would be when I was released from the hospital, I replied without hesitation that I would like to be able to fulfill a speaking engagement I had for April 19, less than a month away. I was scheduled to speak for a Missionary Benefit Tea Party. The therapist thought at first the goal was too lofty, but later she and others put their hearts into preparing me.
It is amazing how God puts people in place for our benefit. The ladies at the community center prayed giving me absolute peace, the ambulance driver who knew me by name and ministered with love, the helicopter attendant who reassured me all the way, the doctor who quickly advised my family and the therapists who just “happened to be Christians” and prepared me to do what I desperately wanted to do.
On Saturday, April 19 I spoke to a group of 100 ladies for the Annie Armstrong Tea Party at my church. I had planned to speak on “This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made”. I did speak on that scripture and that theme. But the focus of my talk had changed from my original intent several months ago. Instead of just emphasizing the fact that "this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it", I emphasized the fact that we need not only rejoice, but take advantage of every moment. Time is precious.
Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a song called, “We Have This Moment Today”. That song expresses so beautifully how I feel about life since my “glass box experience”. Being locked away from our loved ones and unable to share even the most trivial of thoughts is heart-wrenching to say the least.
I repeat, time is precious. I will never again leave unsaid the things I want to say to a friend or loved one while I have a voice.
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Emily, your testimony was beautiful. Well written. It seems that we share the jewel box this week what a wonderful surprise. I can see why this piece was selected it is a true GEM! I know first hand the touch of God's healing and grace! It is a gift to be treasured moment to moment! Thank you for sharing this encouraging word. God Bless you.
Congratulations! This has been chosen to be highlighted on the Message Boards in the Cheering Section. You can see it by clicking here: FaithWriters Jewel Chest
Hi Emily Did you see that this article has been selected as a "Jewel in the Treasure Chest"? Check it out on the Forum under the Cheering section. It has a link to this article. I am so glad that I spotted it. I thouroughly enjoyed reading this deeply personal, God-glorifying testimony! I kept thinking, how does someone who has had a stroke write with such incredible eloquence? Obviously God did a wonderful healing in your life. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Joan Campbell
God's provision shown here. Thank you for sharing.