By: Lee Rogers
I would like to introduce my wife, Kathy and my daughter Annie. I could never have come this far without their love.
I awoke early Sunday Morning, October 25, 2009, and had my coffee and my time in the Bible. I had spent the weekend at The Encounter Center, a retreat facility I own. It was now time to get breakfast ready for over 100 people and even though my day was just beginning I was already real tired. I pushed myself, I knew Scott Hornsby was going to be the guest speaker at my church, Northwood Church, and I didn’t want to miss him. The Sunday morning message was titled “Get Real.” The recommendations he made were to have a good friend you can confide in, a good pastor you can tell anything to, in confidence, and a good doctor. A good doctor, I pondered and thought, well I am indestructible, or so I thought. After the service was over I returned to The Encounter Center to finish up my work. The next morning, Monday, was a day not unlike any other day, I got up, got my coffee
and I read in my Bible:
The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice!
Again, even though my day was just beginning I was already really tired. I had even
slept late, rising at 6:00 instead of my usual 5:30. I knew I had a full day of
appointments with four meetings scheduled that morning and I had to get going.
I read on:
For you, O LORD, are supreme over all the earth; you are exalted far above all
I read further:
He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked.
It was about 7:30 and I had not even gotten out of the house. I was now in a rush and wondered whether I had time for the gym with my full schedule. I weighed 311 pounds and while I enjoyed going to the gym I didn’t take it too seriously.
I was standing at our kitchen counter with my coffee mug in hand ready to leave when Kathy came into the kitchen; she had turned on the shower and then decided to come back to the kitchen. She noticed a funny look on my face, and I collapsed and hit the floor hard. She tried to break my fall but to no avail. She called Annie from the back of the house and told her to call 911, “I think your Daddy’s had a stroke.” Annie calmly did everything she was asked to do. Kathy stood over me and called on the name of Jesus and prayed and told me “don’t quit on me now”. She had Annie get her cell phone and while Annie was on the phone with 911 Kathy called our pastor, our two sons and other family.
During this time I didn’t feel much, if any pain. My arms and legs were completely numb as if I had been shot up with Novocain. I don’t recall feeling any fear whatsoever.
In Psalms it reads:
The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?
My sons, Joseph and Joshua, saw the ambulance ahead of them on the highway and quickly caught up with it. They assisted the ambulance personnel with loading me onto the stretcher and into the ambulance; I’m not sure how they would have done it without my sons. The Ambulance ride took so long with the traffic congestion that time of day. Joseph rode shotgun in the ambulance with me, shooing the traffic. Joshua stayed behind to bring Kathy and Annie to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, the stretcher lift from the ambulance seemed somewhat painful. I was getting my feeling back, but only in my left side. I could see somewhat, but only through my left eye. My friend Mike Crouse was let back to see me. Because of my paralysis I was having trouble swallowing so the nurse let him have a turn suctioning me. He commented that the suction was neat, but I had no idea what was he doing. I had very little feeling and he was standing on my right side so I could only see him as I turned my head.
My parents, my mother-in-law and my Pastor were there too. I drew consolation from the fact that so many people cared for me. If it had been many years ago, I am not sure where I would have been. Back then I had been living a hedonistic lifestyle concerned only with self, more self, and nothing but myself.
The prayers of so many were offered on my behalf. People from many different denominations joined in prayer for me: Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Non-denominational… Words cannot express the gratitude I feel as I think of the prayers offered on my behalf. People were praying for me who didn’t even know who I was.
The decision was made to give me a clot-buster medicine even though I was at the maximum limitation of the scale where it was recommended. My neurologist Dr. Mishra okayed it but the final decision was left entirely up to my wife. Kathy made the call. She is a woman of great faith and great tenacity. If it had been the wrong decision, I could have bled to death. Kathy updated the waiting room, where everyone that came to see me was eagerly waiting for news. They all started to pray. Within 15 minutes my right leg started to move.
The Hospital Stay
I was wheeled into intensive care where I slept most of that day. Upon waking up I didn’t realize that my words came out jumbled up. It’s as if I were speaking in an unknown language. My speech was gone. My thoughts and thinking process were the same as they had always been, but my body and voice weren’t making the connection. To the surprise of my nurse I somehow managed to communicate my need for a potty chair (I was not going to use a bed pan). I got up out the bed and used it, a minor miracle. I was ambulatory at least even though my right side was still feeling the effects of the stroke.
Everything seemed so foreign to me. The next day I was taken down for an MRI. The nurse wheeled me in and the technician took over, but I realized I had to pee. With so many women I was unsure of how to communicate this fact. I don’t know if you have ever been shoved into an MRI machine, but its very confining and the test can take a long time to complete. Due to my urgent need to go to the bathroom I somehow got out the machine. I think they confused my need to go to the bathroom with claustrophobia. Before I knew what was happening I
was given a sedative intravenously. I don’t know what happened to my having to urinate.
It was Wednesday and I learned I was the target of the prayer meeting that week. If you ever want to be in a prayer meeting, it is at Northwood Church. They called out for me to be whole and healed. It is the prayers of the Body of Christ that I am most humbled by.
Even though my speech was jumbled and all mixed up I discovered that I could sing old familiar songs. My favorite was “Jesus Loves Me.” Dr. Mishra called the floor nurses into the room to witness my rendition of that song, and the song, “I Love You Lord.” In all I spent 3 days in intensive care and 2 in a regular hospital room. I could walk, and walk I did all over the hospital.
It was in rehab that I learned the word Aphasia. I was not the rugged, indestructible guy I thought I was. I was frustrated. Kathy sensed my frustration, I had forgotten how to brush my hair, brush my teeth, and put on my clothes. Everything was a struggle but I knew I had to learn to do the rudimentary tasks first.
At church I had met Greg Cyrus, a hospital guard. Greg came by often to visit with me. Because of Greg I was able to walk all over the hospital while in rehab. I followed him as he made his rounds. I enjoyed the company and so did he. It was during this time I learned to nod a lot. I couldn’t talk, but I could listen. People came from all over to visit me. My clients, co-workers, church members, and family were delighted with this newfound ability to listen.
It was now the weekend and I was extra lonely. There is not much taking place on Sundays in Rehab. It had only been a week, but the time was stretching ever so slowly. That Sunday my daughter and wife came to visit me before and after church. They told me everyone was continuing to pray for me. As they were leaving after their morning visit I rode the elevator down with them and planned only to go as far as the parking lot, but Annie thought I came to get in the car with them. It broke her heart. Kathy said later “Don’t do that again.”
My children and grandchildren came often to visit me. My teenage daughter Annie would come and snuggle beside me on my bed, I think it was comforting for both of us! Jessica, my 5-year granddaughter, took extra time while visiting and took on the role of teacher to make sure I said my words right.
Ten days after my ordeal began I was temporarily released to go to our Wednesday night Prayer Meeting, which we call, The Chamber. I never knew it was so good to praise God. I sang at the top of my lungs.
The following day I was released from Memorial Hospital rehab to continue private rehab. It had been only 11 days but I fully intended to recover completely. While I earnestly prayed for a miracle to happen and my speech to instantly return the Word kept coming, “They Will Lays hands on the sick and they will recover.” I never expected my rehabilitation would take so long but there are people who take many years to recover, if ever.
I believe the enemy of my soul meant it for bad, BUT God meant it for good. I have made many new friends. I would like to thank Christie, Tammy, Jenny and Kathy from Innovative Therapies for spending so much time with me. The “Get Real” Sunday sermon by Bro. Hornsby said you have to have a good friend you can confide in. My wife Kathy is such a friend. I am fond of saying to her “when you had a chance to kick me to the curb, you didn’t.” To my friend, Mike Crouse, there was hardly a day when you didn’t come see me and kick my butt to keep me going. Thanks for letting me finish my own sentences. Bro. Hornsby said you need a good Pastor who you can tell anything to in confidence; I have such a pastor in Van Ducote. He listened to me early on and took his time and heard me when I said the stroke had not diminished my capacity to think. And a good doctor, I have found a good doctor in Dr. Mishra.
One of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11 reads:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.