What a wonderful time to celebrate our son and his bride as they made a covenant before the Lord to remain faithful to one another until the Lord takes them home. (I included some pics below!!) How much joy and yet what a whirlwind we ended up having as life started spinning out of control!!
As usual, the weeks leading up to a wedding get a little crazy!! I felt like Queen Esther from the Bible, with all the preparations I was doing just to get myself ready for the big day!! Along with that, the rehearsal dinner prep, decorations, center pieces, meal plan and making of the deserts was also on my list of things to do. Making sure my guys had the right size tuxes, girls had their dresses, shoes, and grooming supplies, etc., etc.!! Those that have been a part of the planning process of a wedding with a big family know what I am talking about!!
Anyway, on Wednesday of the week leading up to the wedding, Ray came in not feeling well that night! He had been stung by some bees on Wednesday morning, so he thought he might just be having a reaction. He medicated himself and went to bed early that night. I wasn't too worried about it and honestly I was more concerned with packing the car and making sure we were ready to go to Texas the next day without forgetting anything we needed!
On Thursday we began to make our trek down to the Ranch for wedding weekend. I left with the first car full of supplies and kids, so I could get down there and unload and be ready to start setting up Friday morning for the dinner. Ray came in the second wave, waiting on our college daughter, Ruth, to get out of her last day of classes for the semester. They came in late that night, and didn't get to the Ranch until 2:30am! That whole day Thursday, unbeknownst to me, Ray had been treating himself for fever and was taking an antibiotic incase this was some type of infection he had picked up from the bees.
Friday morning we woke up ready to get to work making the flower arrangements and center pieces for the tables. It was raining, so I assured Ray he could rest, since there was nothing for him to do until the rain stopped and we went down to do final setup late that afternoon. I thought he was just tired from the late night of travel. He told me later he was still treating himself for fever and if he didn't snap out of this, he would change to another antibiotic the next morning.
Me, Mom, and sisters decorating.
Jeanan, Baylor Friend, came to help too.
The dinner was wonderful and we had a sweet time of fellowship and celebration of Jesse and Hannah. Ray did an amazing job of leading the dinner and sharing from his heart.
I thought Ray was all better, but that night when we finally went to bed, his fever came back up and he fought it throughout night, really not resting much.
Also, after the dinner that night, we were driving back to one of the houses on the ranch to pick something up and Ray missed the turn, so he slammed on the brakes on my car. The brakes seemed to lock up, or at least added a drag to the car from that point on, and wouldn't un-stick. Oh well, we had to drive to the venue the next morning (which was over 2 hours away), and needed both cars, so we didn't have time to mess with it at the moment!! Ray said it might ruin my car, but honestly, what could I do? I didn't' feel like I had a choice, my son only gets married once! So Ray said he would stop on the way to the venue to get stuff to fix the car the next day while we were all getting ready!
In the middle of the night, while we were supposed to be sleeping (Ray wasn't because of fever) we got a phone call at 2:30 in the morning, informing us that one of our dogs got out and had been hit back up in Stillwater. He was alive but not doing that great! Since we were 4 hours away, there wasn't much we could do, so we instructed our friends to put him at the house, and if he was alive the next morning, to take him to the vet. We would deal with this on Sunday when we got home!!
Saturday morning came, and we were all in a bustle trying to get all our stuff together and head to the venue in Van Alstyne!! Ray was miserable, and had already called in more medicine. I was a little stressed because we were all supposed to be at the venue by 11 for a walk through rehearsal. Ray said he had to pick up the meds AND the parts for the car first, and then he would be there.
All the rest of us headed out, and he was going to be following behind us. We all made it, but Ray called and said he was feeling so bad, he was going straight to the hotel instead, to lay down.
Rehearsal, Esther standing in for Jesse!
After the walk through, we headed to the hotel to start doing hair, makeup, and dresses.
Ray was resting when we arrived, but I left, and when I got back from my hair appointment, Ray was gone. The girls said he was stepping out for a minute. I went out and looked for him, thinking he might have felt like working on the car after his nap, but he was no where to be found. We all finished getting dressed and it was time to go, but no Ray! I texted him, but no response. About that time, in he walks, or rather, drags into our room, shaking and miserable. I asked where he had been, and he said he had been laying on the parking lot trying to get warm, the asphalt felt good to him!! What?! Well, it was time for us to leave to be there early to welcome guests and be there before the wedding started, but Ray said for us to just go on without him. No, I couldn't just leave Ray and I felt like he needed my help, hopefully to get dressed and go, at least to the ceremony, of our son's wedding! I sent the girls on with my mom, and I helped Ray shower, dress, and he took 1000 ml of Motrin to try and bring the fever down.
I got him in the car, and drove like a bat out of hell to get to the wedding before it started!! We came barreling in to the parking lot 10 minutes before start time! On the drive there, his fever seemed to break a little, which gave him some relief. God, I know, gave him the strength to sit through and enjoy the wedding ceremony, and the first hour and an half of the reception.
We even had a dance, but then he began to crash.
My brother-in-law volunteered to take him back to the hotel so I could stay and visit with all our guests. But when we all got back to the room that night, Ray was shaking, wearing all his clothes, wrapped in blankets and moaning. That was our night all night Saturday night and early into Sunday morning. As we tried to get out of bed that morning, Ray finally said, he needed to go to the hospital. The antibiotics had not helped, and he was obviously getting worse. We gathered all our crew up and loaded up. Ray just crawled in the passenger seat and closed his eyes. Ruth drove Ray in his truck and I drove the family car with the locked up brakes. I figured if something bad was going to happen in the car, I would rather be driving than her. We caravanned back to Stillwater, and my car, was dragging the whole time. Ruth said my brakes lights kept coming on and off the entire time we were driving. Seemed like I was using twice as much gas, but I didn't care!! Cars are replaceable, Ray is not!! I began calling and asking our family and friends to pray. Pray for Ray, and for whoever was going to be on the receiving end at the hospital. We needed the Lord to show the Dr. where this infection was coming from, and not get distracted by alot of rabbit trails.
2 miles from the Stillwater exit, the "check engine soon" light started FLASHING at me. Ray always told me that if the light comes on it isn't an emergency, it is just good to get it checked out soon. If the light starts flashing, pull over immediately!!! Well, I HAD to get my husband to the hospital, so I just cried out to the Lord, literally, to keep my car going, and carry it to the hospital. I scared the kids to death, who were resting from the weekend!! All of a sudden, the light went off, and I kept the cruise control on, heading straight for the hospital. I kept praying out-loud until we made it, for the Lord to carry our car there and not let it explode!!
When we pulled into the hospital, Dr. Mark Mueller was the Dr. in the ER that day. He is a friend of Ray's, a Godly man, a fellow Kanakuk Kamp Dr., and his wife was my Bible Study leader last year. Mark began the process of figuring out what was going on, and after blood work, some tests, ultra-sounds, and observation, he said he was still baffled. Ray and I kept praying for wisdom, and Mark came back in the room and asked if Ray had been bitten by a tick. Ray said no, but I said Yes!! reminding him that he had me pull one off of him about a week and a half ago. Ray had forgotten since we get tick bites all the time in our family and think nothing of it!! The dots started connecting and Mark said he thought Ray had a tick born illness but it would take days to find out from the tick panel. Because of the severity of Ray's condition, they put Ray in the ICU until they felt like they had a handle on his situation. His blood counts for white and platelets were extremely low, and his liver enzymes were rising by the minute, and with a temp of 103.6 and rising with medication onboard, they were very concerned.
We were a little in shock that he was that sick, but so thankful God had shown Dr. Mueller to ask that specific question. We have since read that people die from this (Ehrlichiosis) because it is not diagnosed early enough. Praise God for His wisdom that he gave Dr. Mueller!
That first night in ICU was miserable, as they were not able to give Ray relief from the fever, so he was uncomfortable all night, as well as they wake you up to check on you every hour in the ICU anyway. I stayed with Ray in the chair next to the bed, trying to doze off every once in awhile. I guess, because of all the stress from the wedding planning, travel, and Ray's sickness, I got a migraine. I asked one of Ray's Dr. friends and partners to bring some strong migraine medicine to me that night, and I took it, but it didn't seem to touch it. By 5 am the next morning, I started throwing up, a result of the migraine. One of Ray's partners came in to check on him, and I'm right there in the room, ICU toilets are in the room, not separate, throwing up violently. He got me some nausea medicine, but after 2 doses, it didn't even touch it. By the time the Dr. came around to check on Ray, I was so weak, dehydrated, and exhausted from throwing up for 6 hours, I could hardly even look up and listen to what he was discussing about Ray's condition. Ray started trying to lean over out of his bed, with wires connected all over him, to try and take care of me!! Ridiculous!! Finally, I gave up, and Ray's brother took me across the street to get a shot to help with the migraine and throwing up. I returned 4 hours later a new woman!!
In the mean time, while Ray was still in the ICU, we got a phone call from our vet concerning our dog that had been hit over the wedding weekend, since we had not taken car of the dog on Sunday when we got back into town. Obviously, that had moved down on the priority list, since Ray was about to die and had to go into the ICU. Once Ray answered and explained we were in the hospital, he assured us he would keep him comfortable until we could tend to him!! Thank goodness.
They moved Ray to a regular room, and after 2 more days in the hospital, the tick panel came back, and it was confirmed, Ehrlichiosis. They let us go home, but with a pic line connected to Ray, so they could continue to give him IV antibiotics. We were sent home to rest for the rest of the week.
Below is a picture of Ray resting the evening we got home from the hospital....
While we were in the hospital, some of our friends, who were also our Klife directors in Stillwater, stayed with our kids and tried to keep things going while we were unable to. They dropped off our car at the shop, thinking I had probably completely burned up the brakes on that 4 hour trek home from Texas. Can you believe, they looked the entire car over and said they could not find one thing wrong with it!!?? I promise you there was!!! Ray thinks God may have healed my car when I cried out those last 10 miles to the hospital!!!
The dog was not so lucky, as when we finally got over to see about him later on in the week, we had to put him down. He is now buried in our back yard. The whole family was sad, but in light of what their Daddy had just endured, and the fact that HE was alive, it kinda gave us better perspective on losing our dog. He will be missed though.
Wow, what a wedding weekend!! After it was all over, and we felt like Ray was at least out of the woods, and on his way to healing, and after the dog was buried in the back yard, the flood gates opened up and I cried. It all came out, and I realized my son had gotten married!! What?! I barely remembered because of all that had happened since. Thank goodness people took pictures! Thank the Lord He is faithful, my son is married, my husband is alive, and we are home. Glory be to God.
We are 2 weeks out from the wedding and the ICU weekend at the time I am writing this. Ray is healing, it is slow but steady. His energy levels are lower than normal, and he poops our real quick. He is finished with the antibiotics and is just mending now. One of our friends from Kamp who had this same thing, said it took 6 months before he felt like himself again. So we will see, sounds like a marathon and not a sprint, kinda like life in general. We are grateful for today. Those that have prayed, thank you.