– by Tami Olson (Pastor Clowdus’ niece) –
What a wonderful opportunity to THANK you and everyone at Community Christian Center as well as my cousin Patti and The New Hope church in Oregon and countless family members and friends, for ALL your past and ongoing prayers. I believe that our Lord Jesus and all these prayers have deeply and directly affected my healing. Most of all, I feel that it is an overwhelming honor to glorify our Lord to the highest! What a comfort I now have – knowing that I can put my trust and faith totally in Him without any doubts. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness and gratitude for ALL your consistent prayers! I will always remember how much they helped me as I was going through the most difficult medical time of my life. God Bless You All!
My story begins last February 2004 with what I thought was a bad case of the flu. After 3-4 days of not even keeping water down as well as bumping the scar on my forehead, I awoke to discover my pupils were two different sizes, my right eye was pink, and the eyelid and side of my face was drooping. My medical training tells me that having two different pupil sizes usually means brain injury. The most embarrassing thing is that I’ve been an x-ray tech for 25 years and, but for reasons other than stubbornness, I can’t think of why I waited for over a week to seek medical attention. It was like I thought I could get better on my own…how idiotic that thinking was. Then when I did decide to get some medical help, it was only after promising my worried mother in Oregon I would. Unbelievably Kaiser had an opening that same afternoon!! This is where I believe the Lord or Angels must have intervened, as I have no memory of driving to or from my appointment – my head hurt so bad.
Looking back now, I clearly realize many ‘divine’ things must have transpired before my diagnosis and hospitalization. The biggest one for me was seeing and knowing just exactly what was on my x-ray/arteriogram (exam of arteries only). Until then, we had no idea how serious my condition really was. To the doctor’s amazement, I had “Horner’s Syndrome” which is caused by injury to the sympathetic nerves of the face and it was accompanied by a rare blood clot. This clot had the potential to do irreparable damage to me or possibly worse…! By the time we had completed the artery study, the clot had migrated and lodged in the right inner carotid artery. The inner carotid is located, as my doctor told me, in the middle most part of your head; a vessel in the base of the brain. The clot tore my artery and subsequently caused what is diagnosed as a dissection or splitting in two; this in turn caused major blockage of the blood supply to the brain. I knew, along with my doctors, if that clot would have traveled just a little higher or further into my brain, I wouldn’t be here today getting to share my wonderful story. Amen for that!
As I stared at my x-ray study with the radiologist and neurologist, we were all stunned to see that my artery looked like a mere thread when it should have been at least the thickness of a pencil. None of my doctors could figure out why nothing terrible, so far, had happened to me; especially for the length of time I survived without medical attention; they were expecting at least a stroke or aneurysm. This just didn’t make sense to them, at least medically and statistically speaking. After being admitted to the hospital, I remember being told that surviving this condition without medical attention for as long as I did and not having some negative occurrence should be medically impossible. I can proudly say, “I attribute my survival to Prayer and the Grace of God.”
I especially feel that our Lord Jesus was looking out for me on the day before my hospitalization because I found myself at the Kaiser clinic, but have no memory driving there. The doctor diagnosed me with Horner’s Syndrome; he also told me I was the first case of it he’d ever seen (I’m glad he’s not old, ha!). He thought I acquired it when I bumped my forehead “just so”. That would explain the uneven pupils, pink eye and drooping of the eyelid/face. He didn’t know why my head was throbbing uncontrollably, but figured it had to do with the Horner’s Syndrome. So he gave me a prescription and some radiology requests, telling me to use my x-ray status to do them soon and he sent me home – unaware of the seriousness of my condition. Like I said before, I don’t remember getting there but I do remember the pharmacy telling me it would be a two hour wait since they were so backed up. I also remember saying that I would come back in the morning because I knew full well that my pounding head couldn’t tolerate the wait. After that, I have no recollection of driving home or what I did when I got there. All I remember wanting to do was sleep, sleep, sleep…
The next morning I don’t know how I mustered up enough strength to go get my prescription but before I left, the neurology department at the hospital called. They asked me if I could get there right away. When I asked, “Why,” they said it was because my doctor apparently ‘oops!’ accidentally let me go home before doing some extremely important tests (just in case anyone’s wondering…I changed doctors). And so there I went again with some sort of divine protection because my head was hurting so bad that I don’t remember driving there. What I do remember is my tests, x-rays and what I saw.
My case was the talk of the department and still is very unusual. Throughout my hospital stay, I was constantly informed about “ALL” the praying going on for li’l ol’ me! Uncle Ken and his church, cousin Patti and her church; it just seemed like everyone, everywhere, people I know and didn’t know, all over the place, praying for my recovery. How Powerful that felt. My heart feels lifted just thinking about it…having that knowledge did and still does affect me profoundly.
Getting to my prognosis and choices to try and correct my illness: I had the choice of doing an extremely risky shunt operation or take blood thinners/coumadin, in hopes that it will help my own enzymes clear the blockage/dissection on its own. Considering the risks, blood thinners seemed like the only way to go.
After approximately six months on blood thinners, I had another scan done that showed little improvement. The neurologist told me, “The damage is done” and that coumadin is no longer effective with what I have, after six months of it. I think I should also mention that during those six months, I had the privilege of discussing my condition with a very experienced vascular ultrasound tech. She didn’t want to burst my bubble, but she thought I should know that, in all her twenty-something years of ultrasound, she has never seen a case like mine clear up by only taking blood thinners. As you can imagine, hearing that and remembering what the neurologist told me, put me feeling pretty gloomy about my prognosis, so I thought I’d better prepare for surgery since the neurologist referred me to a vascular surgeon.
When I went to my vascular surgery appointment, I ‘happened’ to get a surgeon I’ve worked with and have admired for years, so I felt I was in good care. He recommended I try the coumadin for another six months and then, if there was still no improvement – only then, if at all – should we consider doing such a risky procedure as a shunt operation. I told him about neurology and ultrasound telling me the ineffectiveness of coumadin after six months. His reply to that was, “Everyone’s different” and, since my case was so unusual, at this point coumadin was still my safest option. I left there thinking, “Oh-goody, at least I don’t have to think about surgery for six more months.”
Getting to the finale of my whole medical ordeal: a few weeks ago, I went for a check-up with my new primary care doctor. During my visit, she informed me she had read all about my unusual case the prior afternoon and was surprised at what I had survived and endured. As she pointed her index finger up, she said these words I’ll never forget, “GOD must have helped you through this.” Wow, being in the medical world, hearing that, was a first and surprised me! She also said that statistically speaking, I either shouldn’t be here or, at least, should have suffered a stroke or aneurysm. So, coming through my ordeal ‘unscathed by anything major, as she put it, was a medical miracle. I thought, “Hmm where’ve I heard this before,” and proceeded to tell her about ALL the praying that has and still is going on to help me fight this. She looked so pleased when I told her about this and her reply was, “Well it must be working!” As I left her office, all I could think about was GLORIFYING our Lord Jesus and about all you ‘pray-ers’ out there! During my excitement, I actually remember calling my Uncle Ken while I was waiting for a prescription; I wanted to share this unusual doctor visit while it was fresh in my mind. And this time I also remember driving home!
Saving for last what I believe to be the best part of my story is the artery study (angiogram) that was performed January 31 ’05. This exam demonstrated such a huge improvement that it was difficult for my radiologist friend to think he had the same patient. So he pulled my previous exam from late August, to compare the two. And what a difference, my artery went from a thread to almost wide open, in a matter of five months. He called me at home to tell me the good news and that he couldn’t believe or explain it… His actual words to me were, “Somebody up there likes you!” That’s when I told him how ‘different’ I’ve felt ever since Lord Jesus gave me the strength to go to L.A. so I could be re-baptized by my uncle Ken. He is such a caring friend as well as radiologist and he remembered me telling him how important being re-baptized was to me and how much more I appreciated and understood it now. (I was only 8 years old the first time!)
Actually, ever since my Uncle Ken baptized me on November 21 (exactly midway between my last two artery studies), I have felt ‘different’ and remember confiding that to him and numerous other family and friends; and this was way before my last scan January 31st. I wish I could think of the right English words to describe my ‘different’ feeling, but I do know, it is GOOD. Being from a science background, I don’t believe blood thinners alone gave me such a vast improvement in such a short period of time. Therefore, I as well as many of my medical constituents agree “Divine Intervention” had to be part of the formula.
What a privilege November 21st 2004 was to me! How blessed I felt spending time with my family, first having my dear uncle baptize me, and then going to see the one and only Billy Graham!! That whole day was something I had only dreamed of from home and in my hospital bed. I never really understood like I do now, “Anything is possible through Lord Jesus…Anything.” And I believe that thanks to HIM and everyone’s prayers, I was able to realize my dream. However, more importantly, that realization has turned my life into Gratefulness and Appreciation for our Lord Jesus and the Power of Prayer! I like to think of them like the x-rays – we can’t see them but we know they exist…
My Deepest, Heartfelt Thanks to Everyone for all your Thoughtfulness and Especially Prayers!