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COLUMN: A welcomed, unexpected guest

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By John Lapp

Well, this month begins the second year since this column was first presented in The Spencer Magnet. It has been a privilege to come to you each and every week with articles that can benefit most of the readers. I have had many occasions for personal feedback when I am shopping at our local business establishments. In fact, many of my latest office appointments have come directly from readers who have called and present a problem that is being experienced.
This week’s column is something very, very personal and I continue to be amazed at this event.
In 1995, while residing in Jacksonville, Fla., my wife and I were enjoying a dinner at a family restaurant on Father’s Day with our two children, four of our present number of six grandchildren, along with two out-of-town visiting friends.
While eating our meal, Lynn, at that time my wife of 37 years, suddenly began choking very hard, and was really struggling. She got up from the table, and appeared to be heading toward the ladies bathroom, and our daughter, Rebecca, proceeded to follow her.
At that time, it also appeared that the grandchildren were upset, so I tried my best to keep them calm and continue eating. However, within a minute or two, our son, Steven, who also had left the table, came back to the table, bent down and whispered in my ear, “Mom is outside near the entrance to the restaurant, and she is not breathing, she’s not doing good.” I immediately ran outside.
Lynn had previously experienced several episodes of choking, causing her to develop symptoms of pneumonia, although recovering thereafter within a short time following these episodes. But, what I witnessed on this particular day was frightening, to say the least.
Rebecca, who was a registered nurse and knew how serious this was, had alerted someone to call the local fire department rescue unit and was bending over Lynn’s right side, attempting to resuscitate her.
The sirens from the rescue vehicles were getting louder as they were rapidly approaching. An onlooker, attempting to do her part, had abruptly attempted to do the Heimlich maneuver, believing that she had something stuck in her throat.
Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a “man” appeared and stated to the onlooker, “she doesn’t need that treatment, she has a problem with a ‘swallowing mechanism’ in her body, a symptom of Muscular Dystrophy.”
He then continued, “This woman (Rebecca) is doing the correct thing.”
Well, he then got down on his knees, on Lynn’s left side and, giving Rebecca a break, did the same thing.
Rescue personnel had arrived and they rushed to her side, all six paramedics each doing their assigned tasks, with small tubing placed into her throat, pumping air into her lungs, and later also shocking her heart, which by their later assessment, had “stopped beating, and she had no registered pulse.”
Eventually, they got her heart to start beating, and she was registering a steady, although weak pulse, and proceeded to put her on a stretcher to load her up in the rescue vehicle.
The “man” who had been so kind to become part of the whole scene was nowhere to be seen. I asked one of our out-of-town guests to see if he could be found so we could thank him for what he had done. Amazingly, he wasn’t in the restaurant, he wasn’t in the small but gathering crowd of witnesses, he had not left the parking lot in his car because both entrances/exits were blocked by the two rescue vehicles.
Where was he? Who was he? Who was he with? How did he know so much? Why did he come to be part of the overall rescue?
Well this saga concludes with the conversation Lynn and I had during her short hospital stay. I asked Lynn what did she remember about the whole matter.
She stated that she (1) did not remember leaving the restaurant, (2) did not remember Rebecca being there, (3) did not remember Steven removing his dress shirt and providing it for a cloth to help wipe the vomit off Lynn’s mouth, (4) did not remember me being there at her side, (5) did not remember the trip to the rescue vehicle, (6) did not remember the very fast, siren blowing, trip to the hospital.
But, she described several things about the “man” that she did remember, namely that he was on her left but moved to her right side, he was wearing a short sleeve gray shirt, he had graying-dark hair and appeared to be about 40 years old.
All of this was verified by Rebecca, along with his verbally-stated diagnosis of what was actually happening within her body.
Now, on dozens of occasions immediately following this incident and many years later, the consensus of statements made by each person is something similar to “you were visited by an angel.” This type of response came from ministers, including my late brother-in-law, who was an Episcopal priest and had sensed the hand of God in many other occasions similar to this one.
By the way, while the hospital neurologist was the first “doctor” to verify that Lynn does have Muscular Dystrophy, God had already known that, and lovingly sent his rescuing angel, the “man,” to help.
For more information, or with questions, call (502) 477-2818.