By Charlie Hodge
Do you believe in miracles?
I certainly do. In fact, I am one.
I always have believed in miracles, however last week’s visit to the edge and back reinforces my belief in the unbelievable and unexplainable. Regardless of my perspective when those in the profession of saving lives shake their head and say they can’t explain why I’m still here – that certainly adds credibility to the incredulous.
When I reflect on the build up to my down fall and how the stars aligned in my low-odds survival the term miracle certainly fits. It was way more than just pure luck.
Suffice to say I am once again more than thankful and humbled by the fact I am still on this side of the dirt. One week ago the odds were greatly stacked against my ever penning another HodgePodge.
Credit due where credit is deserved – first with the doctors and nurses that scrambled for several hours to keep me alive.
For a couple months my energy level and breathing capacity was on the downward spiral. I chalked much of it up to a loss of weight and not eating properly (due to the jaw surgeries and no teeth), lack of sleep from pain, and of course slowly dying lungs. CO2 poisoning was never considered. It all makes sense now.
On January 2 I wound up visiting my lung specialist who took one look at me and said he would meet me at emergency in half an hour.
I jokingly told him to make it 45 minutes as I was going for a beer first.
It was not need for a beer that inspired that silly move as much as it was perhaps a final act of defiance or independence. I needed a few minutes to pull myself together for what I could sense was going to be another long fight for my life. The beer was an excuse for a few minutes of bolstering my energy and hiding the fear.
As it turned out I only drank half the glass, realized what an idiot I was being and went to the emergency. Tez and Dr. McCauley met me at the door . Last thing I recall was walking through the doors.
Two days later I came off life support systems and woke up in ICU.
It remains a mystery what happened however what is known is that my CO2 levels climbed from the normal number of 40 to 165 and then literally off the chart. I have no right to be here. Doctors ran tubes down my throat to keep me alive and then went to work while I teetered on life support.
Credit due to those who worked the miracles including Doctors Foster, Yermann, Mackenzie-Feder, and Chaubey.
Credit due to the amazingly kind and professional staff at ICU. Sherry was the first Intensive Care Unit nurse I consciously remember welcoming me back to the land of the living, though I know there were others involved in my battle long before her.
However Sherry’s warm smile and cheerful voice set the tone for a week of wonderful care by all involved. She was later joined by a host of skilled, patient nurses, respiratory specialist, volunteers and others who bolstered my spirits and made me feel valued and cared for. Though I run the risk of forgetting many I must give hearty thanks to workers such as Verena, Amanda, Brittany, and Brian who spoiled me beyond belief, as did Ashnola, Steph, Linda, Jasbir, Vicki, Usha, Rebecca, Adriana, Karen and many others.
They were followed up by home care respiratory therapists and Home Oxygen experts such as Richard Milo, Robin Carter, Tracey Heyworth and Julian.
Credit and limitless thanks as well to my wife Tez who rarely left my bedside throughout the ordeal, praying and constantly talking positively to me despite my state of unconscious. She refused to give up on me even when a few others appeared to have.
Credit and thanks also to my brother Vicars and brothers by choice Curtis Tulman, Gene Carr, and Jim Krahn who spent hours by my side urging me through the shadow of death that surrounded me. Jim filled my room with positive energy while Vic, Curtis and Gene used their faith in prayer as well.
Credit and thanks to the hundreds if not thousands of folks not just in Kelowna but literally around the world who sent prayers and well wishes. Tez jokingly suggests God was so inundated by the sure number of prayers he/she sent me back just to turn down the volume.
Finally my thanks to the great architect of the universe for yet another chance at life. Numerous folks suggest between this last sedation vacation trip to Kelowna General Hospital, my battle back from pneumonia, and two major life threatening oral surgeries to rebuild my jaw I have used up more lives than a cat. I can’t really argue with that.
I have no explanation for why I have been blessed enough to still be here however I think there is a bigger plan in place than I comprehend. I believe part of that is to continue to give back to my world and hope to start on a project in the next few weeks that I believe is connected. I will start visiting groups and individuals facing life and death issues particularly regarding emphysema, Osteomyelitis, and tracheotomies, in an effort to inspire and help prepare them for their journey ahead.
I am already working with local respiratory workers on this, however if you know anyone I may be able to assist do not hesitate to contact me.
Meanwhile I return to the City Council and Regional District tables with energy, focus, and excitement, and even an increased amount of humbleness and thanks.
This cat is not done yet.
Bless all of you.