The Making of a Miracle


IMG_3333September 15, 2016

It was so strange to return to Yosemite. Many things seem different than I remembered, but now there is road construction in Yosemite Valley. We walked into the Yosemite Medical Clinic and ask to see Dr. Groves. We waited to meet MD Ralph since he was working with a patient.

 After greeting us, he walked us to the back of house where we met ambulance medics Joy and Mike. The three of them range in height from 6’2” – 6’7”!! My husband is 6’3”. At 5’4”, I am quite a shrimp in comparison.  

Apparently, my case was extraordinarily atypical and won’t soon be forgotten by YOSAR (Yosemite Search and Rescue) or the Yosemite medical staff. After initial thank yous and hugs, we spoke with the three and learned a few more details regarding my descent to the awaiting helicopter.

The average YOSAR teams are composed of a mix of medical personnel and non-medical personnel. Matt was a paramedic with the team who reached me first. He phoned via satellite the Yosemite Medical Clinic to speak with the MD Ralph regarding my symptoms. At this point, I was able to answer the neuro-cognitive tests (What year is it? Who is president?” etc.) accurately and paramedic Matt (and team) did not suspect I was not lucid. This is one of those times the tests didn’t give the whole picture. I don’t remember the YOSAR team at all! Or the search and rescue dog! Since 99.9% of cases that present with my symptoms are dehydration and altitude sickness, the doctor believed I was another simple case: just give the patient IV saline and altitude sickness medication; the patient will rapidly improve. We were told that one of the fastest hikers, who happened to be an EMT, took the medication up the mountain to us, which was around 6 miles from the trailhead.

After the medications were administered, they expected to see an almost immediate and significant improvement. Instead, my decline was rapid.  It became obvious that this was not going to be a typical case. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t do most things in the classic normal fashion. We think this must be around the time I started counting in German!  Ralph was searching for other causes of my condition. He had no way to confirm what he suspected: hyponatremia (critically low electrolytes especially sodium, calcium, potassium). He had recently read a case study of a Grand Canyon hiker with hyponatremia. The hiker did not recover. This condition is mostly found in marathoners in desert areas. To confirm diagnosis, a blood sample is analyzed. Treatment is IV hypertonic saline.  Ralph queries: “Does anyone know if we even have hypertonic saline?” Medic Mike (the un-organized by reputation) had been recently put in charge of the inventory and organization of the medical supplies. He recalls seeing an odd type saline in the supplies. He thinks this is what the Ralph is wanting and he knows where it is. Yes! There are 2 bags of the hypertonic! Ralph weighs the risks vs. benefits of giving me the hypertonic and decided the benefits (if correct) would outweigh the risks (if incorrect). Remember, it’s around midnight at this point. Because of my continued decline, it was “all hands on deck”! YOSAR is bringing me down trail on a gurney with 6 people steadying it and, probably, another 2-3 carrying equipment and supplies. It is still a few miles, around 2 hours to the ambulance waiting at the trailhead. Ralph decides he needs to get the hypertonic to me quickly. Someone needs to hike the medicine to meet the team on the trail. Medics Mike and Joy cannot leave the ambulance. MD Ralph decides to drive to the trailhead and take it to me himself! It took him an hour to get to us.

I believe this is pivotal to both my being alive and having normal brain activity. God knew the hypertonic would begin the restoration of my electrolytes. God knew that Mike would know where the hypertonic was in the supply closet. God knew Ralph, a runner, would be quick on the trail to get to me.

It was another hour before I was at the ambulance. Typical ambulance procedure has one medic as driver and one with the patient. I was in such distress that both medics and another one rode in back with me. (Again, I’m not a typical patient!) We think it was one the of YOSAR team who jumped in to drive the ambulance the 40 minutes to the helipads at Crane Flat Lookout. There was a party in the back and I don’t remember any of it!! The blood analyzer wasn’t working to confirm diagnosis. I began showing the signs of pulmonary edema (trouble breathing). MD Ralph must weigh the options once again. It was decided to add the 2nd hypertonic IV. The party moves on to the helipad. The flight nurse is given all the notes for my case. Due to the pulmonary edema, the nurse decides it is best to intubate before take-off rather than risk needing to do it quickly while en-route on a moving helicopter.

A few people have asked, “Why didn’t they med-evac me off the mountain with the helicopter?” and “Why didn’t the helicopter land in Yosemite Valley?” The answer is: no flying in Yosemite Valley after sunset. It is too dangerous with the varying terrain.

This had such an impact on both YOSAR and the Yosemite Medical Team that the next day Cheyne (non-medical YOSAR) went to the clinic to ask Ralph what was wrong with me. I am glad this doesn’t happen much!

We took some photos near the ambulances. After hugs and some tears, and more hugs, we parted.IMG_3332

Bill and I decided we had time to drive to Modesto and visit Doctors Medical Center Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU). To gain entry, one must call the nurse station. Bill called and asked for the charge nurse on duty (Susan). Susan comes out to see us. He explains why we are there. She tells him that she remembers hearing about my case and that the staff would love to meet us. Susan takes us into NCCU. Several of the nurses on duty remember us, even remembering our daughters.  One recalled extubating me! There were lots of hugs and a few tears. I have to admit that only one of them looked familiar to me. IMG_3344

Both groups told us that they rarely see the long term outcome of patients. It was an exciting treat for them. I told them “You done good!” laughing that my daughters would cringe at that phrase.

Here’s what went into the orchestration of my miracle (some taken from brother Ken’s list):

  • I trained and was fit enough to complete the Half Dome Hike.
  • There were other people with me.
  • I chose to turn around, rather than push too far.
  • I was able to hike 2 miles toward the trailhead – I didn’t fall, get lost, or meet a critter. I believe Jesus was carrying me.
  • I agreed that I needed help and one cell phone had service where we were. God was the strong tower of communications.
  • The YOSAR Team was less than 30 minutes away, not 3-4 hours. I consider this a divine coincidence. Unfortunately, the hiker, Timothy Nolan, they had been searching for was found dead the next day, having suffered a diabetic crisis.
  • I had my medical info on my phone, plus my drug allergy bracelet. God forbid I need to use them again!
  • YOSAR convinced Ken and Nils to continue back to Yosemite Valley to keep them safe. God watching over them.
  • The “fastest” hiker was available to bring the initial medications to me and get the IV started.
  • The medical staff was able to see that I needed more help as soon as possible. Divine intuition.
  • Ralph had read and remembered the article about hyponatremia. He’s a runner. He decided to give both bags of hypertonic saline. God’s discernment.
  • Competent Medical teams were waiting at the ambulance and the helicopter.
  • Doctors Medical Center in Modesto is the trauma center for the valley and was prepared to handle my case.
  • My phone led the charge nurse to call my husband. Divine communications.
  • As my family and friends learned of my condition, a prayer fire started sweeping from coast to coast! God’s people joining together, petitioning heaven!
  • My husband and daughters were able to get to Modesto – probably not as quickly as they would have preferred – but safely. God watching over them.
  • Ken was able to secure hotel rooms during a tournament weekend. God’s provision.
  • As my electrolyte levels came back within a normal range, I was brought out of the medically induced coma, able to respond. God’s timing.
  • As my cognition improved, I was able to recognize family, pass the swallow test, and begin walking again. I was discharged and returned to Houston in less than a week! God’s restoring power!

God was the maestro and each person was an instrument in His orchestra. Thank God they were willing and available!

Jesus healed 10 but only 1 returned to thank Him. I want to be continually grateful for my life being spared, for the expertise of those medical professionals I encountered in the process, for my family being together, for the Body of Christ to unite in prayer, and for the opportunity to encourage others by showing God’s love.

I won’t know this side of heaven why God chose me for a miraculous healing and not someone else. My prayer is that the story spreads His love throughout the country. Remember, I am not perfect – well, perfectly ordinary! God uses those who have an open heart and are obedient to His calling.

Epilogue: I went for my yearly eye exam expecting nothing had changed. God is full of surprises! Amazingly, my left eye is now correctable to 20/20! Thank You Doctor Jesus! When I put on the new glasses, my world became so crisp and clear! I pray that I can keep God’s vision in full, clear view.


Circus in My Head

imagesLPL28SA8When I sit in silence, listening for God, the circus in my head distracts me. Can you relate? My circus is much larger than the famous “3-ring Circus”.  Here’s what’s happening in my circus rings: doubt, to-do-list, stress, family, health issues, guilt, groceries, “did I wash my hair?”, denial, and the list keeps on going, surpassing the “Energizer Bunny”.  It’s no wonder I don’t hear God!! There’s too much noise! I’m working on quieting the din. I want to hear God’s gentle whispers of guidance and love.


Even writing this, I am disrupted by the inconsequential chatter of my brain. Our busy society makes it too easy to be a multi-tasker. Social media, tablets, movies, television-in every room, and cell phones keep us connected regardless of our geographic locale.  Which do you do first: pray and read your Bible? OR check social media?


I am challenging myself to STOP the circus. I want to give the Master of the Universe my full attention. To turn off the television, music, games, phones and sit quietly, patiently waiting on Him. But the circus is so boisterous! I find it so difficult to ignore. I am like a child at the circus. I want cotton candy, peanuts, and to watch 100 clowns pile into a tiny car. I tug impatiently at Abba’s hand to come with me. All He wants is my devoted attention.


What is distracting you from hearing God? I challenge you to quiet the circus. Be still and know He is God.






In this moment

42-17251068I have been an impatient person (probably) my whole life. Many are the times God uses situations to teach me patience. Just when I think I’m mellowing-at least some-I find a new circumstance stirring my impatience pot. I put on blinders, pretending I’m not frustrated or angered, but the reality is I get stressed. God wants me to learn (and relearn) patience and understanding. As were the Israelites, I, too, am quite stubborn, pig-headed, hyper-focused, wanting things my way and in my time frame.
This is a new life season for me. Waiting for the birth of the first grandchild. Waiting. Waiting. WAITING!!!!! Past the due date, one day, two days, three days, four days…every day and every night asking for God to set the systems to go. This precious miracle of life I am longing to hold in my arms. It’s so very exciting and exhilarating! Can you understand why I am impatient? However, the expectations I have for the timing of this event have been overruled by Abba (Father). It’s a good thing He doesn’t ask my permission on these matters!
One year ago, I wasn’t sure whether my eyes would heal from hemorrhages or if I would ever drive again. (Look back to 8/24/15 entry for hiking blog beginning.) I think I had more patience then. But others may disagree. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would still live a full life albeit with some minor inconveniences. With an otherwise miraculous recovery, my God story was forming, getting ready for the telling. I was content to walk through the season of healing, sharing my miracle, drawing nearer to God.
Fast forward to celebrating life and the blessings a child brings to a family. Unable to drive, my daughter needed someone to be with her during the day.  I am blessed to have the flexibility to drop my schedule to help her.  That’s what moms do. It’s been two weeks. She has shown many signals that labor is not far away. Still, no birth.
God’s message is to enjoy every moment. Live in the now. Not the then or the yet to be. Don’t wish away life. Sometimes I am so focused on the next phase, I lose sight of the current phase. I need to embrace these days with my daughter. This time with her will never be back. Our dynamic will change as she takes on the role of mother and leaves daughter on the back burner. My prayer is that this will be a firm foundation for the changing relationship.
God’s plans are bigger and better than I can imagine. He only gives me enough vision for my current stage. I would want to jump ahead if I had the whole trip mapped out for me! He knows that too! He loves my daughter and grandson more than I do. He has perfect timing every time.
So, here I sit at her table, 500+ miles away from home. Thunderstorms rumbling the apartment. Lights flickering and lightning flashes. Waiting for labor to begin. Listening to raindrops on the roof and downspout.
Thank You, Father, for this step, for reminding me to not rush through life; for time to reflect and pray. Make me a blessing to someone everyday!

p.s. Hiking blog update coming soon.


Am I Scared of God?


Recently, I read Proverbs 31:30-31:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I was struck by “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” What does this mean? Am I supposed to be scared of the hell, fire, brimstone and damnation so frequently toted among certain groups? I don’t think so.

God is my (our) Abba, Father, Daddy, Papa. Yes, He disciplines His children, as any good father would do. It seems to me that He wants respect, awe, reverence, and loyalty, not a paralyzing fear of Him.

He is: Jehovah-Rapha, our Healer; Jehovah-Shalom, our Peace; El-Roi, God who sees me; Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider; Adonai Lord and many other names from the Old and New Testaments.

I am in awe of all God’s creations. Consider how humans are amazing machines capable of thinking, creating, reproducing, communicating, etc. Our brains tell muscles to move our bones, and we walk. No oil changes need (except maybe shampooing), just routine maintenance of food and liquids, exercise and rest. Or plants that start as a tiny seed and grow to bear fruit or provide great shade (important in Houston). Tiny leaves slowly unfurl to catch nutrients from the sun causing growth to maturity; with roots that absorb water to support that growth. That was a mini science note!

God works miracles small and large on a daily basis. You just need to pay attention.  It can be a life saving delay that keeps me from a fatal accident. Or a miraculous healing that the doctors cannot explain. He loves us SO much that He sent Jesus, His only Son. How amazingly awesome is that?!?!

Reverence is deep respect. How do I respect God? Personally, I strive to not pollute my environment, body and soul; reading His Word for its revealing wisdom and path to Abba; being a servant and not served; taking on His yoke. You might think “sounds great, but is it sustainable?” I am an imperfect human. Therefore, it is God who brings to fruition grace and forgiveness in my life. He gives me His words to speak when I’d like to scream at someone. But I have to be aware and open the channel to Him first. Also, reverence includes not having a tantrum if the answer to my prayer is “wait” or “no.” God is omniscient – all knowing. He has the big road map and I have the street map. His ways are higher and are for my good. I may need hindsight to see it sometimes.

Lord, Abba, El-Roi, continue to reveal Your amazing grace and love to me that I may share with others. Help me to remember to seek You first and have a grateful attitude. Let others see the something different in me is Your Holy Spirit. Let me be a woman who is in awe of You! Amen.



Now it has been 7 months since my “reboot”.  God has been amazing! I’m sure you’re thinking, “she writes that every time!” It seems to me that I know God is omnipotent and omnipresent. My human brain cannot fathom some of the miracles I have seen! It could be a cultural concept – keeping God in a box. I am as normal as I ever have been, whatever that means! I am determined not to forget what miracle God has done for my family. This weekend, we celebrated community and life with our wonderful friends who happen to be neighbors, about 35 of them! One of the neighborhood contact points for September’s traumatic event told us how he wanted news, but knew that was NOT our priority. He was patient, but had to respond every few hours to emails and texts from others inquiring if there was any update. This was my first time to hear his side.  He was talking about how amazing my healing has been. I went from critical with not much chance, to I will live but what brain function will be lost, to walking, to leaving the hospital and flying home the next day. A rare outcome for someone with all the medical issues I had. God is faithful and I know He has more planned. I heard song lyrics: “the best is not done, the best is yet to come.” That is how life is with Abba, Jehovah Rapha, Elohim, our Heavenly Father. When it seems you are in a dry place, remember God has a “waiting room” for you while He is getting things prepared for His plan.


Scripture: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24


“What has happened to me?”

The fog in my head starts clearing. My husband and daughters are constantly with me. My brother, his wife and my sister are nearby. My BFF and her husband have been at the hospital too. I struggle with their names sometimes. Thank God that is temporary! I start asking B questions: Me: “Where were we vacationing?” B: “We weren’t vacationing together. You started out at your sister’s.” Me: “That’s right. Then I went to BFF J’s and on to Yosemite.” Some details are still jumbled. Slowly, I remember hiking with K and N; stopping to rest before the summit; deciding to turn back down-trail. Why won’t they let me drink anything? The realization that 3 days have passed and I don’t have any memories of them strikes me, befuddles me.

This is what I have been told:

I hiked 2 miles down-trail (from 7300 ft. to 6100 ft.) without getting lost or falling! Along the way, I became quite nauseous and began vomiting. I was texting with K and B. I even had cell service to call them! Cell service is spotty at best in Yosemite. When K and N caught up to me, K asked if he should get help and I told him yes. First, he tried to use his phone to dial 911. It didn’t have reception. Then, he used my phone and it worked! God is watching over us! I told K my passcode and how to access my health app in my smart phone. It has my medical information (and can be accessed from a locked screen-BE SURE TO PUT YOUR INFO IN YOUR PHONE!).

The Yosemite Search and Rescue Team, including an EMT and canine team, were returning from searching for another hiker and happened to be less than 30 minutes away from us. The average response time is between 3 and 4 HOURS! Again, God is taking care of the situation! During their assessment, I was able to answer their questions correctly. (I do not remember any of this!) Initial diagnosis: High Altitude Sickness. The EMT asked that a Paramedic be sent up to help. The plan was to give me anti-altitude sickness medication (I didn’t know there was such a thing.), spend the night on the mountain, and get me feeling well enough to hike down the rest of the way. The Rescue Team told K and N to hike back to the valley. They didn’t want 3 people to rescue.

The Paramedic arrived with more equipment. After his assessment, he called the Doctor at the Yosemite Clinic. The Doctor thinks that I am dehydrated and have hypothermia. IV treatment of fluids begins. Sometime after that, I began quickly deteriorating. I started counting in German and I was confused. I don’t speak German, but I can count to 3 in German. Further assessment: she’s deteriorating rapidly and it is critical to get her to a hospital for treatment. The Rescue Team had to request a special one-wheeled litter to take me down the mountain.

The Doctor and Medical Staff didn’t really understand why I was getting worse. The litter team was about half-way to me when it occurred to the Doctor that I could have hyponatremia – all the electrolyte levels bottomed out. Treatment is hypertonic solution given by IV. He sends a Rescue Team member with a bag to catch the litter. These guys are the fastest hikers on the planet!

I don’t’ know how long it took to get the litter to our location. It was about 2 a.m. (PDT) when we got to the valley floor where an ambulance was waiting. After one IV bag of hypertonic solution, I was still getting worse. The ambulance had an analyzer that could confirm the diagnosis, but the system failed to analyze two samples. Decision was made to give me a second hypertonic bag. It was a 30 minute ambulance ride to the helipad. In the ambulance, my lungs were checked: oxygen levels below normal, crackling sounds in lower lungs, labored breathing, fluid in the lungs. At the helipad, the Life Flight crew decided to intubate me prior to loading me onto the helicopter. Once in the helicopter, there would not be sufficient space to perform the procedure especially on a choppy flight. I aspirated. As I hear the story, I begin understanding the seriousness of my situation.

By the time we reach Doctors Medical Center, I was exhibiting evidence of more fluid in my lungs. I had pulmonary and cerebral edema; after 2 bags of hypertonic sodium count was 120 – normal range 136-145; potassium depleted; water intoxication; high altitude sickness. No wonder there were 7 IV’s with 9 bags pumping me full of medication! My body needed time to recover and I was put into a medically induced coma. That was early Thursday, September 17, 2015.

Now, it’s Saturday, September 19, 2015. I am beginning to comprehend my predicament. Thankfully, my restraints are gone. My arms look like someone’s punching bag with tubes connecting to IV’s. I’m being poked and prodded every few hours whether I need it or not. The oxygen mask is bothering my nose. I keep moving it. The nurse decides that is OK as long as it stays near my nose. Later, another nurse will change it to the candela, which is not much more comfortable! Someone on the medical staff tells me that I seem very calm about the circumstances. God gave me peace throughout the experience.

The Respiratory Therapist visits. She wants to check my swallow. Why? I’ve been swallowing for many years. I don’t understand. She knows that cerebral edema can cause multiple issues with normal things like swallowing, talking, memory and thinking, walking, eating, etc and that after intubation I might have trouble swallowing. She brings a cup with ice chips and a spoon. Of course, I am not allowed to do it myself – probably a good thing considering I drank too much water! The ice is cold and wet on my tongue, truly wonderful. I swallow and begin coughing. She pulls the cup back and says “That’s all for now.” My brain is screaming “NO, I want a drink!” Instead, I just say “Kill joy.” My family chuckles and is SO relieved to hear this because it means my personality is still intact! Later, we try again and I am allowed to have “thick” liquids. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

The Physical Therapist arrives to see if I have balance and strength to stand. She puts a leather belt around my waist. It’s a multi-function belt: it keeps the gown closed – THANK YOU! – and gives her a hand-hold to steady me. On Sunday, they bring a wheel chair. With B by my side, I push it to the elevator; go down and out to the patio. It’s the first time I’ve been outside. It was a lot of work. My body was weak and my vision blurred, distorted. Another hurdle, I am walking with assistance! I’m given a walker.

I leave NCCU and head for an inpatient wing. WHOOT! I’m moving up in the world! Maybe, I can blow this popsicle stand soon. Just a few more hurdles: swallowing and eating, walking without assistance, etc. I am motivated to go home at this point.

My daughter sits with me. I run my fingers through my hair over and over. She asks, several times, if I have a headache. Headache is common with cerebral edema. I tell her that I don’t have a headache. But I still run my fingers through my hair…more later.

My swallow is improving and my walk getting steadier. Monday the Physical Therapist has me walking with wing without assistance! I still need someone near when I get out of bed for any reason. Hallelujah! I get to shower!!! After a sweaty hike and 5 days at the hospital, you can imagine how I feel about a shower.

Shower finished. I’m given comb and brush. That’s when I look in a mirror and realize my bangs have been CHOPPED, not just cut. Now I understand why I kept messing with my hair. I knew it didn’t feel right. Apparently, I had been taped to a back board for stability. When they went to remove the tape, about 4” of my bangs were cut with the tape. Ever had 1/2″ bangs? It looked like a bad mullet gone horribly wrong!

What’s this? I get real food to eat? YES!! No more thickened juice! Can I go home yet? I’m told most patients would need a stay at a rehabilitation hospital, before going home. What will this mean for me? I’m in California, but I live in Texas. My husband has stayed by my side each night. He can’t have me in CA for weeks and work in TX. Thankfully, God has this too. I am discharged Tuesday and approved to fly home Wednesday. No rehab stay and no long-term medication!

Our Primary Care Physician checks me out. Lungs are clearing and I’m gaining strength. My vision should clear in a few weeks, but it doesn’t. I had hemorrhaging behind both eyes. The left eye has not healed, but should be healed by the end of January. Currently, I am back to my workout routines and my vision is greatly improved. My healing has been nothing short of miraculous!

Maybe you’re thinking this is a horrible story. Well, it isn’t. It is a story of how God orchestrated each segment for good. I believe it was Jesus carrying me the 2 miles down trail and responding to the Rescue Team. The Search and Rescue Team including the EMT being so close to my location is another piece of the miracle. Those in my family, who didn’t/don’t believe in miracles, witnessed one! If you still don’t believe, I will believe for you! While all the chaos was going on in California, our neighbors, friends, and church connected. Most didn’t know each other prior to my illness. They gathered together in our driveway to pray for me, B and our family. They activated pray circles at many churches. One e-mail became forwarded to others who then sent a person to visit with us at the hospital! People we didn’t know praying for us! We have counted over 50 different churches praying for us – that’s just the ones we know of first hand!! These wonderful friends organized 2 weeks of meals for us! We were welcomed home with a poster signed by those attending the prayer vigil. What a blessing to know these wonderful people!

I had asked God to show me His goodness in this world. Be careful what you ask of God!! I would not have chosen this path, but God is using it to reach out to others, to bring together community and family, to share His love and goodness in this world.

Our God’s not dead! He is very much alive!

Romans 8:28    And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.


The Earth Shifts…

As stated earlier, this is really OUR story. So, without further adieu, B’s experience as told to me. I should note that he recorded the facts in journal form. I “interviewed” him for a look at the emotional side of the events.

It’s hike day for L. Wednesday, September 16th, mid-morning (CDT), I sent her a text to which she replied “1.5 hours in” with pic of her smiling face with sunglasses. At 1:27 p.m. (CDT), L calls. She is crying, saying she wasn’t going to make it to the summit. I asked her why. Her reply was that she was dizzy. We talked for a little while. I told her that it was a good decision to stop than to risk a more serious issue at a higher elevation. L had told K and N to keep going. At the end of the call, I asked if she was OK. She told me that she was fine. Her voice was good and her tone gave no cause for concern.

Six hours later, things had changed. I received a text from L: “FYI little hiccup, I have altitude problem. Getting help down.” Me: “are you OK?” L: “Mah. May be spending the night in the park. I love you. I will be. K may call you.” I told her to call me when she knew if they were staying in the park overnight. Soon thereafter, L called. She said that they were going to take her down the mountain. She didn’t sound right. She cut the call off short. Now, I am concerned. About 20 minutes later, I call K. He told me that the Search and Rescue Team was with her. They had sent K and N down trail, citing that it was better to have only one needing rescue than three. He told me he would call when he heard any news. I’m praying for the best. The waiting is difficult.

Two hours later (9:26 p.m. CDT), I text: “How are you Babe?” with no response. Thinking her issues were due to high altitude, my expectation was that she would recover quickly once she was at lower altitude. At 11:22 p.m. (CDT), still no news from L. K called. He had spoken to the Search and Rescue Team. He told me to call L’s cell. The rescuers had it and were waiting for me to call. Of course, I did just that. 11:24 p.m. I spoke to a paramedic. He explained that L was deteriorating and they needed to get her to a hospital expeditiously. There was also an EMT with the team, and they were in communication with the park doctors via satellite telephone. This was reassuring to me. They were waiting for a special stretcher to carry L down the mountain. She had been with the rescuers 5 hours at this point. It seemed to take way too long to get her off the mountain. Concern turns to worry and a feeling of helplessness; more prayers.

Although it was late in Houston, I decided to text my boss. I told him that L was having trouble and that I wouldn’t be at work in the morning – just in case I needed to go to California.

Time goes by excruciatingly slowly when waiting for news from over 1800 miles away! My sleep was fitful at best.

Thursday, September 17th: I awoke early. By 6:30 a.m. (CDT), I was beyond frustrated with the lack of information. It was only 4:30 a.m. in California. By 8:30 a.m. (CDT), still no news. I was anxious to hear something; do something. It was still early in California, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I called K. He had not heard from anyone either. K had called L’s cell phone, but no answer. K was going to track-down L, but it was only 6:30 a.m. (PDT) and the park offices wouldn’t open until 9:00 a.m.

My mind is racing with thoughts: “Should I jump on a plane?” “What should I do next?” “Why can’t I get answers?” I tried to keep positive, expecting L to call and say that she had a long day with a tough night but she was feeling better. This was not going to happen.

I would find out later that the charge nurse in Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU) saw the cell battery was low and decided to charge L’s phone. She noticed the missed call from K. She called him and he requested that she call me. Around 10:07 a.m. (CDT), the charge nurse called me. L was in NCCU at a trauma center hospital in Modesto, CA. L was in critical condition, on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma. I felt as if I’d been kicked in the stomach. I was stunned. My world changed in an instant. She gave me time to digest the information. It was difficult to process what this meant. The charge nurse told me of 3 airports that were each about an hour and a half drive from the hospital. She gave me her name, L’ nurse’s name, and the direct number to the NCCU Nurse Station to call (Of course, I couldn’t find pen and paper anywhere!) if I needed anything or wanted to check on L’s condition. She would call back if anything changed. I walked circles in the kitchen, mind spinning, unfocused.

Finally, I pulled it together. I had to book my flight, get a car, pack. I had to call our (adult) daughters. They both wanted to go to their mother’s side. I felt badly that I couldn’t work on coordinating all our flights. I HAD to get to L! So they worked it out together. I am very grateful to them.

Our neighbor Mrs. P had been calling to see how everything was going since she hadn’t seen an update on L’s Facebook page. I returned her call at 10:21 a.m. (CDT) and told her what was going on with L. She asked what I needed. I told her someone to take care of our dogs. She started spreading the news with the other neighbors. Thank God for good neighbors! A short time later, Mrs. D was at the front door to tell me she was taking me to the airport. I was shaking from the entire situation. Mrs. D saw that I had a large suitcase by the door. L had my carry-on and I, being in a frenetic hurry, couldn’t find the other one. She went home and brought back a carry-on bag, and repacked for me. No checking baggage!

Our long-time friend called to check on the situation and ask if I needed anything. He is from Bakersfield, CA. I asked him if he knew how to get from San Francisco to Modesto. He didn’t. So, I had him get directions and e-mail them to me. Having the directions when I got there was an invaluable help! I was 45 minutes into the drive when I realized it was the same route to get to our San Ramon headquarters, at least partway.

Mrs. D took me to the airport. The timing was excellent. When I got to the gate, I went to the counter and explained my situation. I inquired if I could board early to avoid having to gate check my bag. The agent put me in boarding Group 1 (thank you!). While I was waiting, I called the hospital to check in with the nurse. I didn’t know then, just how careful the nurse was with her information. Later, she explained that she couldn’t tell me that L would recover, because she didn’t know.


The aircraft boarding finally started. It was about half full, when a ONE HOUR weather delay was announced! This was very tough to hear. Everyone had to deplane. My patience was being tested. Remarkably, I remained calm. As I was about to sit down back in the airport terminal, there was another announcement regarding my flight. I didn’t hear it. I asked several people around me what the announcement had said. I must have seemed anxious. One of them asked if I was concerned about missing a connecting flight. I told them no and gave them the 411 on my situation. At last, passengers re-board and the aircraft was on the way to San Francisco. While taxiing out to the runway, I replay everything: “Did I pack all that I need?” “Have I missed any details?” “Have I called everyone I need to call?” I realized that I had not called L’s boss to let them know the situation. As the plane taxied, I send my boss a text asking him to notify them.

The flight was unbearably long. To keep from going insane, I played chess, read a book or just listened to music. Thank God for my iPad! I couldn’t focus on any one thing for long. Finally, on approach to SFO! My emotions had welled up and were about to make an outward appearance. Reality has hit and I feel like I’m losing it. As the flight taxied, a young woman behind me handed me a note. It was very sweet. She had overheard the conversation in the terminal. She wrote: “Have a safe journey. Please be careful on the road…I will keep you, your wife and family in my prayers…” It was signed with her name. She was an off-duty United flight attendant. We deplaned. The terminal was under construction. I wasn’t sure which way to go. The same flight attendant saw my confusion. She pointed me in the right direction. I hope to say “thank you” to her one day.

Off to get a rental car and get on the road. It was 4:22 p.m. (PDT) when I, at long last, was on the freeway and heading to the hospital – normally one and a half hours away. But 4:22 p.m. is full on rush – hour traffic. The stop and go traffic was maddening. It felt like I was being tested again. I remained calm, realizing that an accident would delay me even more. A full three hours later, I arrived at the hospital. It had been just under 12 hours since receiving the call from the nurse.

Neuro Critical Care (NCCU) waiting room: The first people I saw were L’s BFF J and husband; K and his wife J. I just needed to get to L NOW!! BFF J took me into NCCU. It was very difficult to see L this way: intubated, breathing machine, many IV tubes, restrained. I was scared, terrified by the recurring thought that I could be looking at life without her; not knowing what she would want if that happened.

About 4 hours later, our daughters (and one terrific boyfriend) arrived at the hospital. Their arrival brought me both relief and pain as we shared the shocking reality. After they spent time with L, we went to check-in at the same hotel as K. Once they were settled, I went back to the hospital. I spent the night with L, my head on the bed next to her legs.