In A Pickle  

Prayer proceeds COVID-19 recovery 'miracle'

Power of prayer

“Fred’s going to pass away. If you choose to keep him alive, Fred will be in a nursing home the rest of his life in a vegetative state,” the doctor told Fred’s son Simon. “We want to clinically let him go, but need your permission.”

But Simon refused to surrender his dad to the undertaker.

They’d intubated and put his father into a coma weeks earlier. Mortality rates from being mechanically ventilated range from 50% to 97%. Nonetheless, Fred beat the odds with divine intervention.

He fell ill in early September with COVID-19, and within 10 days, Fred landed in Kelowna General Hospital where he was ventilated on the 21st at his request.

Between the church secretary and his family, I learned about our friend’s life and death struggle through emails and texts. Hospitalization because of the Corona Virus is an emotional roller coaster ride from hell that’s playing out for hundreds of thousands of people world-wide.

This time it hit home because the disease struck our buddy hard. He was down but not out.

Sometimes it looked promising, like when he woke up to the sound of Simon’s voice. But our optimism quickly dissolved as the illness gained the upper-hand.

Meanwhile, I heard from a friend from Calgary whose husband survived the same experience. It made me hopeful Fred would make it too. Although I felt uncertain, I went through the motions, reassuring the family.

Weeks passed and Fred failed to thrive. The machine kept him alive, but barely. I prayed he’d enter into rest. When Jesus returns, he'll resurrect Christians from the grave and take them to heaven. The Lord will wipe away our tears because there will no longer be any type of sickness, pain, or death. I wasn’t afraid because of that promise. Something better awaited Fred.

However, that doesn’t mean when a loved one passes away, it isn’t painful for me. I mourned for the family’s heartache they would suffer, as they’d recently lost their mother. Fred’s wife, Shannon, died 2 1/2 years earlier. This couple welcomed the homeless. Along with that, they evangelized to whoever would listen. Because of their kindness, a myriad of people picked up his fight on their knees, paying it forward.

On the evening of Oct. 16, after the doctor gave his grim prognosis, the family recruited other believers to drive in a convoy, circling the hospital seven times. They prayed and gave thanks to God for tearing down the walls enclosing Fred’s health.

Ten vehicles full of Christians showed up and those who couldn’t attend in person did so in sync within the comfort of their homes. It was a modern form of a Jericho March, but by automobile instead.

A prayer walk by a group of believers is sometimes called a Jericho March. Their rationale is to petition God to come against something harmful, to intervene, defend, or heal. The number seven is the figure of completeness and perfection. The Biblical basis of marching seven times comes from Joshua 6:1-27. After the hospital procession, they expected a supernatural result.

On the third day, Fred regained consciousness. The nurses sat him up and took out his sedation. He turned and looked at his family from behind the glass and responded to basic commands from medical staff, like blinking, opening and closing his eyes, showing he understood. Fred’s oxygen inlet valve was reduced to the lowest level. He nodded his head and exhibited a variety of facial expressions.

On Nov. 2, Fred was off the ventilator. He spoke softly and got ready to eat actual food. The physiotherapist started working with him and he steadily regained his mobility. Fred even cracked jokes and appeared thrilled to have contact with the outside again through his mobile phone.

I talked to him on Nov.17 and he spoke his piece, saying: “Suddenly, I woke up in the presence of the Lord. His love washed away all my negativity and fear. I realized I’d been too immersed in the world. Now I feel invigorated by the Holy Spirit, and experience joy and peace, in-spite-of having to learn to walk again, have tremors and other side-effects. The Great Physician made the final decision, and I’m happy to be alive and kicking.”

Fred discharged himself from hospital on Nov. 28, and the same day he married Angie at his West Kelowna home.

(This a true story.)


Something repeatedly knocks a decoration off the wall

Phantom breaks the 'rules'

A picture flew off the shelf, bounced down the stairs and fell apart when I opened the front door.

It scared the bee jeebies out of the dog and me. My brave canine protector cowered behind me, softly growling with her hackles raised.
I went downstairs to retrieve the picture frame and scattered family photos. As I picked them up, I noticed a slight cut across the face of one boy’s image and on another of the same child.
This collection of family photos spanned several years and was the second time it tumbled down the staircase. Now the wood had chips out of the bottom corners.
I felt the hair on my neck stand up as I stood upright, putting it back together.
According to Irish superstition, when a picture falls off a wall and the glass cracks over one person’s image, that person will die or suffer grave misfortune. However, I prayed against it, and it hasn’t come to pass. The child is fine.

I quoted KG 21 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children and have overcome them because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
Months earlier, we heard a crash bang boom reverberate from the basement, which startled us out of a light sleep. It was 11 p.m. and we had just retired one hour earlier and had peacefully drifted off.
We bolted downstairs, discovering the clock had been knocked off the wall and landed face down in the centre of the room, three metres away.
The Irish also believe when a clock falls to the floor, your time is up. Two years later, we’re still here but spooky things continue to happen.

Last spring I was working on a homemade grad cap in the garage and was studying some black string. Above me, I heard a spool unravel and saw white thread swirl down in front of my face.

“Good idea, white will look much better,” I said aloud as I nonchalantly snipped and glued one end to the top of the hat and the other end to the tassel.

It suddenly dawned on me how disturbing that was and I wondered what had I spoken to. I felt goose bumps dance upon my skull when I put on the ill-fitting cap to pose for a selfie. My skin crawled with good reason.
The cap and gown were invented in the Middle Ages and worn by Catholic hierarchy. Universities soon thereafter adopted the practice and it has been a tradition ever since. The cardboard cap stands for intelligence and superiority to the uneducated lay people they studied.

I yanked the cap off my head and the willies quickly subsided until the next incident.

Five months passed when a ceramic wall decoration titled Dutch House Rules fell off the side of the cupboard and clattered onto the kitchen counter. Len had secured it with picture hanging tape initially. The incident happened moments after he left for work in the early morning hours. I woke up to investigate after being startled awake.

I discovered it was chipped on one side, but other than that was okay. When Len came home, he put it back up and it promptly fell off once we turned our backs. Undeterred, he re-attached it with new tape, then went out on the balcony to enjoy the sunshine.

After we left, we heard a clatter. The plate hit the counter and spun around like a top. But this time the entity smashed the artwork.

Whatever it was, it scoffed at our Dutch house rules.

Writer remembers serious horseback-riding injury

Recovery recounted

The horse exploded as I threw my leg up over his back.

He bolted and lit into bucking. I had one foot in the stirrup whilst the other dangled free. Meanwhile, the reins were slack and useless. My body slammed against the saddle-horn three times. The first two blows broke my pelvis, while the third tore my bladder open.

The fourth buck shot me off his backside from about three metres in the air and I landed hard on the ground. I narrowly missed a tree trunk by one centimetre with my helmet covered head. It was then I realized I couldn't get up. The horse, now subdued, watched me from a short distance and nibbled on the turf. I cussed at him.

My riding partner Val was delayed, so I dragged myself across the cratered field, over to the neighbours’ property. I grabbed onto handfuls of grass and inched my way towards them. Miraculously, the men outside heard my cries over a diesel engine.

A man named Andy, and his twin teenage boys, hopped the fence and ran towards me. Andy called 911 and reassured me in a soft voice. He touched my arm gently when I tried to get up or writhed around. His son tucked a sweater under my head.

Val appeared shortly thereafter and prayed out loud for me, which was comforting, from one Christian to another.

I could hear ambulance sirens wailing up the driveway, announcing help had arrived. The three men and Val assisted the paramedics with my stretcher. Once I stabilized, they carted me off to Kelowna General Hospital.

The trauma team was waiting. I was whisked away to undergo a CT scan to find out the extent of my injuries. Then I had a vascular embolization procedure to repair the broken veins, and they gave me two units of blood.

During that time, I believe I died and came back. The medical equipment alarms rang out and everything suddenly went black. At that time I heard the creepy voice of the Enemy, telling me I was dead, a goner, finished… I gasped and regained consciousness saying Psalm 23; 4 out loud and called upon Jesus, the great physician, to help me. Next I raised my arms up and softly whispered an old hymn. I recall the medical team staring in disbelief. This spiritual battle was bona fide, as I could feel the icy hands of death reaching across the abyss.

It would be an uphill, nine-week battle from there on in.

I spent the next three agonizing days in the critical care unit, with skilled nurses and doctors who worked diligently to remove blood clots which formed in my bladder and I was flushed out with an irrigation line, with many tubes coming out of both arms and my nose. They syringed out the coagulates. I screamed and shrieked in agony, sounding like a wounded animal.

There were times I wanted to pass away and prayed silently: “Into your hands, Father, I commit my spirit.” But death did not come. My husband, Len, saw a defeated look on my face and begged me: “Please Doreen, don’t give up.”

“Your daughter Candace is on her way,” he told me, “Just hang in there.”

I thought to myself I had better not perish before she gets here.

Once Candace arrived and held my hand, I knew I had to fight the grim reaper, who was dogging my every breath.

Two surgeries followed simultaneously. On Sept. 29 an orthopedic surgeon mended my broken pelvis with a plate and pins, while a urologist patched up my lacerated bladder. Six days later, they had to re-open me up to fix another tear. I had sprung a leak out of a suture. I then developed an infection, abdominal sepsis and was on antibiotics for weeks.

When the intravenous failed because of collapsing veins, they inserted a picc line which was a hose that snaked through my upper arm, down into my chest. It then pumped the antibiotics directly towards my heart.

During this ordeal I was blown away by the kindness I received from Christian brothers and sisters and strangers with no religious affiliations.

It was five years on Sept. 21 since that awful accident. I suffered the following injuries;

1) Extreme blunt force trauma—the sixth leading cause of death world-wide.

2) Open book pelvic break—A morbid injury which is frequently lethal from 5% to 50% historically and increases with pelvic sepsis, and falling from a height. Modern advances in trauma care, however, have decreased those numbers significantly.

3) Traumatic bladder injury—60% mortality when combined with extra peritoneal rupture and 17% during surgery, with poor long-term prognosis.

4) Retroperitoneal hematoma—All internal organs bleeding and bruised; 18% to 60% expire.

5) Abdominal sepsis—72% fatal and only about 30% survive the first year after hospitalization.

I am no mathematician but I can say my chances of survival were slim. I’d love to know statistically what my odds were.

Five-years-later, I am doing remarkably well, but I have a new normal. I walk the Rail Trail with my husband regularly and the exercise has improved my mobility and well-being.

We re-homed the horse shortly after the accident so he could receive rehabilitative training. Now I only ride the carousel variety (of horse) and feel much safer that way.

Without a skilled trauma team at KGH and my faith in God, I wouldn’t have made it.

I now count each day as a blessing.


Photo-bombed from the great beyond

The buck stops there

Was it a blip on the camera-card or a glimpse into another dimension? The invisible creature went unseen to the naked eye, but not my lens.

Whatever the cause, a four-point buck materialized from the afterworld. To a computer guru, it was nothing more than a corrupted file on the memory cartridge, but I believed it held a more esoteric meaning, as I didn’t take a picture of this beautiful animal and would have remembered doing so.

Carefully, I scrutinized that device and no such image existed.

A year earlier, I photographed a male deer with smaller antlers and different markings, not the same individual.

In many cultures, the stag is sacred, a protector and a spirit guide. Tibetan legends portray deer as helping people solve their problems.

Perhaps that was the meaning of the photo-bomber. The stag stood in the portal to a parallel universe, telling me I wasn’t alone. He was ready to lend a hoof.

Birthday bucks

On my birthday, two bucks milled around the gate and when I went back for my camera, only one remained. He warily allowed me to photograph him, but pawed the ground and lowered his head when I came too close.

Those wild eyes pierced right through me, while the greenish aura-like tinge to his coat reminded me of a supernatural entity. A chill swirled down my spine and I respectfully backed up, climbed into my vehicle, and took more shots out the window.

He calmed down, folded his legs and lay on the ground, but watched me intently. By doing this, the buck showed he trusted me to a point.

Other herbivores’ such as a bull, will give identical warning signals and it is important to pay attention. Ignorance of these gestures could prove fatal.

According to some First Nations beliefs, a deer visitation is a relative that's passed on. I had three guests at that same gate.

Deer Stare Down

When one stares at you, it means that they recognize you have a strong intuition and can read people’s emotional states and intentions. Those mammals are telepathic.

I experienced firsthand a deer’s ability to differentiate between people who were harmless and those who weren't. The ex and I had driven around the foothills in November 2008, during hunting season. When a herd of deer saw our SUV, they emerged for a photo op but disappeared again as another truck approached.

The other party was hunters, and the deer knew the difference between our intentions. One group showed up to admire, while the other turned up, hoping to fill their freezer.

By studying deer symbolism, I realized that these gentle beings have been messaging me to trust my perceptions.

I verified this with a hunch that unknown cousins were buried in a nearby cemetery, which I’d never visited. By physically locating and photographing their grave marker, I realized I needed to believe in my intuition.

How much more do I discern regarding the living that I can see, hear and touch, I wondered. Those instincts have saved my bacon countless times and when I’ve disregarded it, suffered the consequences. I learn the hard way.

Camera shy antelope

In a previous story called “The places in-between” I wrote about photographing an antelope on the Saskatchewan prairies which didn’t materialize when I downloaded the images. However, the photos of my step grandchildren taken just before and after the impala sighting did.

The ex and I plainly saw the creature, but the camera couldn’t capture its image.

With the white-tailed buck, he materialized in the picture I took of horses in an over grazed field, but this critter was standing in tall grass within a door shaped rectangle.

When the spirit world manifests physically, it normally doesn’t let you keep its image, while at other times it plays peek-a-boo on film rather than letting you see it in the flesh.

I am relieved it was pretty ungulates instead of ghouls that showed up!

Neil Young’s voice sang out in my brain with “home, home on the Range, where the deer and the antelope play” and in my rendition, with my head.

More In A Pickle articles

About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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