Friday, May 2, 2014

Mary Rice Hopkins: Miracle Walking--From ICU to Life

Who would have thought I would end up in critical care fighting for my life in ICU for two weeks? For about a week I was sick with the flu and in bed, off and on.

As the week progressed, I didn’t seem to get better. I tried many different over-the-counter drugs; felt lethargic, achy, had a mild sore throat and cough. When my symptoms didn’t improve, I tried to make an appointment with my doctor, only to find that she was out of town on vacation. 



What complicated matters, my husband Gary had the flu as well. He slept in our guest room so not to wake me.

That night, about 2:00 a.m., I woke up gasping for air and unable to breathe. I was cold and shaking, so I called my friend Darcie and asked her to take me to the ER. This was more than a cold or the flu. From there I hardly remember anything. 

I’ve always been a fairly healthy person with only the occasional cold. I work out and take my vitamins. The only time I went to the hospital to speak of was when I had my two kids.

Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, CA, admitted me and put me in a room on oxygen. But it didn’t have a lung department to take care of the seriousness of my situation so they transferred me by ambulance to USC Medical Center.

The next thing I knew I was looking up and saw five medical people around me. By the movement of the vehicle, I was obviously still in an ambulance. I heard one of the medics say, “She’s breathing now.” Another one of them held my hand. And even though I felt very alone and fearful, I knew Jesus was there.

When I arrived at USC, a doctor said, “You have pneumonia in both lungs.” 

And someone else said, “and H1N1.”

They placed me in ICU. Every breath was a struggle. They must have asked me ten times if I was a smoker. I kept telling them no and told them my lungs were very important because I’m a singer and need my voice.

I had what seemed like a billion tests, IV’s and shots. There it began, and from then on I had shots every day for almost three weeks. I used to be afraid of needles, but that sure took it out of me.

There were so many people there, including my friend Darcie Maze, but I can’t remember who they all were. So many doctors and nurses, and the next thing I know they were talking about a respirator, feeding tube, and ways to keep me breathing. A sense of peace came over me every time I felt afraid. The procedure of being intubated was scary. I had to lie on my back and could hardly move. With the respirator down my throat, I couldn’t say a word. It was painful and uncomfortable. My temperature was 103 degrees. I thought of my mom.

Only two months earlier I was with Mom in ICU before she went into hospice. She wanted me to go home to rest, squeezed my hand and said, “It would just kill me if anything happened to you.” She was always thinking of others before herself, and I’ve always thought that if I could only be half the person she was, I’d be satisfied. What an amazing woman of God.

As I lay there, and my thoughts were on her… at least Mom didn’t have to be here or know about this. Maybe it’s my time to see my parents again. But then I thought about my two kids and my “undone bucket list” and my sweet husband and dogs and on and on… I heard from the nurses and doctors, “You gotta fight this infection,” and “Take slow deep breaths.”

Tears ran down the sides of my face. There were lots of unknowns. I felt like my life lay in the balance when only a few weeks earlier I was standing in Florida on the stage receiving the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for children’s ministry.

So many thoughts would rush through my mind as I looked at these four white walls with no windows. I looked around until I found the clock, but couldn’t tell if it was night or day. I’ve always loved windows and light. Now I had to search and somehow find the light in all of this. How would I find that light at the end of this tunnel? It didn’t seem to be there. I couldn’t talk, noises bothered me, so I couldn’t watch TV, and the unknown scared me. 

Then, after two days in ICU, I woke up to a colorful room. My friend had asked people to send cards, balloons, or stuffed animals. No flowers were allowed. The surprised staff didn’t realize I was a singer with a kids’ TV show. The lyrics to my songs were written in cards and on the wall. This lifted my spirits and made me fight even harder to make it through. 




The next day, I woke up to see my son David standing by my bedside. What a great sight to see! Not only is he my wonderful son, but he is a sweet, compassionate man. With the respirator in my mouth and down my throat, I couldn’t say a thing to him.

My son put a sponge up to my dry mouth and parched lips and then rubbed my arms and hands with lotion. What a healing time for me. I thought of the times he got sunburned, or had a bruise and I’d rub his arms or massaged legs with lotion. Now, the tables were turned. 

Trisha, our daughter, took time off from work and flew down from Oregon the next day. Again, I was touched. Gary had recovered from the flu and sat in the chair next to me when I didn’t even realize he was there. He asked if he could move me a little, or put a pillow behind my neck. I thought that this must be serious for the kids to take time out of their busy schedules to be here.

Later, I found out that I was a miracle walking. Code Blue had been called in the ambulance meaning I had stopped breathing and almost died, and a couple of times after that. But God heard the prayers of all our friends and family. I had no idea just how serious my condition was.

All three brothers and their wives came by several times. The Rice family was never very demonstrative and I rarely heard “I love you” growing up, though it sort of went without saying. Recently, though, with the loss of our mom, we had a closeness that I had never experienced. Suddenly, with my life in the balance, my brothers threw any conservative reserve out the window, although my room had no window. It was so good to hear them say they loved me. I was so thankful for that. They laid hands on me and prayed fervent prayers for their only sister. Their words of encouragement came like I’d never heard before. I always cried after they left when I thought about our family, Mom’s legacy, our big and faithful God, and how He brought us through so many struggles.


 


Update 5/6/2014: Now I'm only using oxygen occasionally at night to sleep, and even taking long walks. Top pulmonary doctor at USC hospital says that I'm still a huge "miracle walking" and defying all the odds. We know it's because of the army of people praying.

Last weekend I sang for the "Renewal conference" in Elk Grove, California for 500 Early Education teachers. At the end I shared my testimony along, with Darcie Maze, about the miracle we witnessed. I was able to sing for half  an hour and lead them in worship. All 500 gave us a huge standing ovation. I felt loved but even more than that, like it was applause from heaven. Thank you Lord.

9 comments:

Su Hall said...

So thankful for you, dear Mary. You are ever in my thoughts and prayers. Love n hugs. Su Hall

Glenda Lichtenwald said...

What wonderful testimony! Enjoyed reading your blog and am so glad that you are well and can resume your ministry.

Wilma Swartz said...

Mary, it's truly a miracle for you and it's quite apparent that God still had plenty of work for you down here on Earth. Darcie was terrific keeping all your friends and fans abreast of how you are recuperating and we are so greatful for her doing that because Mary, you are loved by so many. I had you on our church's prayer list and people from church kept asking me how you were doing. Once again we Darcie's help, I was able to say that you are a fighter and that you were going to lick this attack on your body. It's so great to hear that you are able to sing once again because we love your songs. I preaume also you've lost a lot of weight over this ordeal. God and your friends and fans have rallied around a person that they love and brought you back with God's and the doctors' help back to us. We're greedy. We don't want to lose you. May God bless.

kathie.sherman said...

Mary, I heard about you being very sick through Wendy Fransisco's Facebook page. I have been a fan of yours for a long time. I came to know of your ministry through a friend of mine, PJ Waite, who is married now and has the last name of Hannah. I was the chaplain at St.Thomas Episcopal school in San Antonio, TX. Together, PJ and I led two large chapels each day, and I taught music to the 3year old classes and led chapels for the 2's and 3's with 45 wee little ones. Your music was the highlight of all the chapels and classes I led. I have now introduced my fraternal twin grand children, from San Diego to your inspired music. I also led the music in an inner city VBS and the highlight of the week was to see all the children and leaders singing and doing the motions to your song" Create in Me a Clean heart O Lord." God has now called me to a ministry of being an intercessor. When I heard you were ill I stormed heaven! All day I would sing your songs and pray! I fe
Lt in my heart, eacH time I prayed that God had much more for you to do here ! I was so thrilled when Wendy shared that you were on the other side of the tunnel. Some how I didn't know you had a blog, and just found it today and read your story. You are a MIRACLE! A miracle in not only your fight during this illness but also in how He has blessed your ministry! Thank you for sharing your story! May His hand continue to be upon you, inspiring you and guiding you! With LOVE and ADMIRATION, Kathie Sherman

Mary Rice Hopkins said...

Simply overwhelmed by these sweet comments here. I have wanted to write each one of you individually to say thanks. Inspires me to keep on keeping on.

Sheryl Bullock said...

What an ordeal for you, Mary. We were praying and so were others we prayed with during the course of our weeks. I'm so happy that God did amazing things with the trial you experienced...the love expressed in your family, the witness of your life to those who cared for you, etc. Praying for you to continue to get strong over the next months.

Everything Changes said...

Wow, what a scary thing. Thankful you are recovering.

Brenda said...

Oh Mary! I had no idea! Your music has meant so much to my family since I was a little girl so I was telling another precious Mary that I know how special you are and how God used you many times in my life through your music and your ministry. I went to your website to see how you were doing and what has been going on with you lately, only to find you have been through such a dangerous and trying ordeal since May of last year. I'm so sorry that you lost your mom and for all that you've been through. What an incredibly faithful woman you are to share your testimony and how incredibly faithful you stayed through so many unknown and frightening events. I wish I could talk to you in person to tell you the different ways God has used you in my life and how interesting it was that each big time He moved in my heart through you, I never knew it was the same Mary! Three big life events for me, your music and your heart was there ... And I never knew all three times it was you! You could never imagine how much I was reminded of God's love when I realized how he orchestrated everything! God bless you my precious sister, Abba's beautiful daughter!
I will always pray for you and your family from now on!
Love,
Brenda Wilcox
954-632-3271

Mom said...

Mary: Our girls grew up on your music. They were cassette and VHS tapes at the time. We would watch them and listen to the cassettes in the car. Our entire family loved them and had all the songs memorized. We even took the girls to a concert and they met you. Fast foward and we now have a 3-year old granddaughter who loves to sing and dance. We are so excited to introduce her to Mary Rice Hopkins. I am so very glad that you are still here with us and that your ministry to children continues. What an amazing legacy you are leaving in the love that you have for children and the fun way they can sing and learn about God and Jesus (and everything else). Thank you so much!!