Italy flag

Venetian Heart Surgery
2 October 2018

Since the end of our tour of duty with the U.S. Navy in Naples, Italy, in 1986, we have frequently longed to return to our favorite foreign country as much as possible. We miss the awesome food, the beautiful language, the delightful people, the landmarks, the history, the archeology, the unsurpassed art, the music, the grand architecture, and the creative driving. Nearing retirement age, we have been blessed with the means to travel in style as well as take exclusive tours that cater to those with high expectations.

What one expects in life can sometimes be far from what actually transpires, and in this case there’s no one to blame. Our usual travelogue is not possible for this visit to Italy.

Our first flight of this trip left Fort Smith at 7 a.m. on 21 September 2018. This was our 6th return to Italy since 1986.

In mid-2017, we were invited to participate in an exclusive dream vacation with a small group of tourists who had already seen the major sites of Italy. It was ideal for us. We paid in full to be included and we got some extra privileges by signing up so far in advance. The tour was led by Mark Story, the owner/operator of Story Land and Sea. We can’t say enough about how helpful he was to Jeannie after our arrival in Venice. (We’ve been twice before to Italy using Mark’s tour company and we highly recommend him to those with the means to enjoy this kind of vacation.) We hadn’t met Mark since he was about 7 years old and we were eagerly anticipating getting to travel with him. Mark was running around the house as young boys do when Michael and Jeannie first met at Mark’s cousin’s house in Clinton, Arkansas, in 1974. Michael knew right away that Jeannie would make someone a great wife one day. We were just teenage country kids at the end of our first year in college. (Best we remember, we totally ignored Mark and most of the other guests, as well.) Michael really hopes there is opportunity to see the adult Mark someday.

How did a physician get himself (and his wife) into the disaster which is described below? More than a decade ago Michael was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse after a heart murmur was discovered. Lots of people have this and it rarely amounts to anything. Michael should have followed the Cardiologist’s advice and had an echocardiogram annually, but after having no change year after year (and thinking he had “more important” things to do with his time and money), he didn’t have another echocardiogram until about 3 years ago when he started having occasional irregular heart beats that were not really very bothersome. He followed instructions and started taking Metoprolol 25mg once daily and repeated the echocardiogram the next year. Since his heart seemed to be doing very well on the medicine, he returned to ignoring the annual testing. (You may have heard that doctors are not good patients.)

Prior to getting on the airplane in Fort Smith to begin this long-awaited trip, Michael felt no different than other trips where we leave home so early in the morning. He just felt tired and figured he could rest in Venice where we were arriving 3 days before our tour was scheduled to begin. Truly, the first sign that he might be stressing his heart occurred when he was unusually short of breath as he walked into the terminal at DFW. On the next flight (to Philadelphia) he noticed that eating lunch was difficult due to mild weakness. While sitting still, he had no shortness of breath. Jeannie had to carry his backpack through the terminal in Philadelphia from arrival gate to departure gate because by this time he didn’t have the energy to walk, breathe, and carry the extra weight. We discussed whether we should cancel the trip. Michael was determined that he just needed to sleep. We would forever regret not continuing the trip if after 3 days he felt normal. At this time he took an extra Metoprolol, hoping it would slow his rapid heart rate without dropping his blood pressure. While waiting for departure, for an hour he sat working on patient charts on the computer and felt much better.

After getting aboard he decided to skip supper so he could have more time for sleep. Every time he would fall asleep, though, he would awaken to take several deep breaths after what felt like only a few seconds of sleep. At this point he knew he was in trouble, but it wasn’t until about halfway over the Atlantic that he started experiencing his first heart pains, which at first would quickly go away by taking some deep breaths. When he told the flight attendant that he wasn’t going to eat breakfast, she asked if he was all right, and he told her he would explain after she finished serving everyone’s meal. After informing Jeannie, he told the stewardess about 8 a.m. that he was having bad chest pain and that he would need to be taken to the hospital immediately after landing in Venice in about 30 minutes. After getting his permission, she announced that a doctor or nurse was needed. Within seconds a Cardiologist from Philadelphia (Dr. Howard Rosner), a cardiac nurse, and a surgical nurse were checking him out, giving him oxygen and starting an I.V.

A normal passenger would have likely promptly advised the person they were traveling with and the plane would have landed at the nearest city with a good hospital. We’ll let you judge whether Michael was courteous to let those hundreds of passengers get to their vacation destination on time or whether he was the chief among fools for taking such a risk of life. (Michael has absolutely no fear of dying, trusting the promise of a better abode in the Creator and Savior’s presence.)

Michael was unashamedly wheeled from the plane to an ambulance on the tarmac. At this point, we really didn’t know how serious it was nor that his mitral valve was responsible. (And we are still not sure if the airplane cabin pressure was what pushed him into acute heart failure.)

We had prearranged private transportation from the airport to our hotel in Venice, which by some miracle (praise be to God) Jeannie just happened to spot as she went to search for a taxi. The driver took her to the emergency room, then he took our two suitcases to our hotel. Jeannie patiently waited 6 or 7 hours by herself with our two backpacks in the hospital waiting room.

Michael was on a stretcher in a big ward in the emergency room where someone gave attention to him about every 2 hours. Tests showed he was in atrial-fibrillation with a low blood oxygen concentration. His blood pressure was so low he couldn’t stand. He was incredibly weak and short-winded. The chest pain had improved. A CT scan revealed some fluid in his lungs and an enlarged heart. No one was telling him much due to the language barrier.

When he was moved out of the emergency room, he still was not sure what was planned. Thanks to text messaging, Jeannie came to his side, where he was having an echocardiogram that indicated very severe mitral valve leakage between his left heart chambers and he was rushed upstairs to the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU). Doctors explained in English that, because this was a life-threatening condition, he would require mitral valve replacement or repair before he could leave the hospital. We both understood that surgery was planned in two days, on Monday. (It should not have come as a surprise that our health insurance company would cause a considerable delay before authorizing payment.)

After Michael was stabilized in ICU on Saturday evening, Jeannie met Mark Story downstairs. He took her to supper, then made sure she was safely taken to her (formerly, our) elegant room at the hotel in Venice. The following day, Mark made all the arrangements and moved her to a hotel closer to the hospital in Mestre, Italy.

Michael was not sure what all was being done to him in the hospital that first evening, but they were making him feel a little better. As an American physician, he felt everything was being done appropriately, equal to the quality of care he would have received in the States.

Our daughter (and angel) Angelique arrived Sunday night. She was a blessing to us beyond words to describe. She has traveled a lot in Italy with her husband. She can speak the Italian language more fluently than both her parents put together. Angelique thought it was great to suddenly and unexpectedly have an excuse to be in Italy again. She and Jeannie spent countless hours on their phones trying to get our health insurance company and our travel insurance company to get their acts together so Michael’s needed surgery could proceed without unnecessary delay.

Even though it can seem so expensive, we are so glad we bought trip insurance from Travelex. All of this would be an even worse nightmare without the insurance. We highly recommend that travel insurance always be acquired for any trip outside the country. Except for half the cost of our roundtrip airline ticket to Venice, we were refunded for almost every expense we faced in Italy. Michael's employer-sponsored health insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, paid most of the hospital charges. On 3 January 2019, we wired our share to the hospital for final payment, which was soon reimbursed to us by our travel insurance. Amazingly, 100% of our "vacation" and medical expenses between 22 September and 12 October were paid by insurance.

Michael and Jeannie always use an upcoming trip to Italy as good incentive to brush up on the language. Jeannie continued to study till we left home. Michael stopped the lessons a couple weeks before, sure that we probably would not have opportunity to interact with anyone during our tour who wouldn’t know English. That turned out to be a big mistake for him. Most of the nurses knew few words in English. Michael generally could understand two words in each sentence that a nurse spoke. Google Translate app came in handy several times. Fortunately, the language barrier did not cause us any major problems. All the physicians spoke English relatively well.

Michael found the daily afternoon visits by Jeannie and Angelique to the ICU were a blessed relief. Otherwise, the monotony was unbroken as the days started to run together. Eating while lying flat was quite unpleasant. The bland diet was barely tolerable, especially in a country known for delicious meals. Bed baths and bedpans were totally new experiences. Michael’s usual high productivity level had ended abruptly, and when his ability might return to accomplish anything at all was an unpleasant unknown.

Eleven days after admission, on Tuesday, 2 October around 8 a.m., the surgery began that replaced Michael’s mitral heart valve by the Chief Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dr. Domenico Mangino, at Ospedale dell'Angelo in Mestre, Veneto, Italia. Heart function was fully restored to normal. Discharge from the hospital would be 9 long days later.

Before the surgery Jeannie & Angelique moved to a hotel closer for walking daily to the hospital. They didn’t mind the shopping mall midway. The train station for 30-minute trips into Venice was also on their path to the hospital. They took advantage of a few opportunities to play tourists. Angelique returned to her family in Texas the day before Michael left the hospital.

The long-awaited day of discharge came on Thursday, 11 October. Our travel insurance company, sent Angie, a nurse (and angel) from the States, to accompany us from the hospital to our hotel. She accepted our invitation to go with us to a nearby Neapolitan-style restaurant, Rossopomodoro, for a delicious evening meal, where Michael had his one and only truly Italian dining experience on this trip. (Rossopomodoro is an Italian pizza restaurant chain, headquartered in Naples. Jeannie and Angelique ate there nearly every day.)

Early the following morning, Angie escorted us to the Venice airport. She made sure he had a wheelchair at the terminals and sat next to Michael throughout the day, frequently monitoring his vital signs. At the Fort Smith airport, Angie was astonished at the crowd who welcomed us home. Our nurse stayed with us till we were safely inside our front door the evening of Friday, 12 October, three weeks after we had left home for an adventure. It was fitting to be back from Italy on the anniversary of the arrival in the Americas of the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus.

In spite of considerable weakness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and post-operative pain in his sternum, Michael quickly returned to refilling prescriptions and other tasks for his patients that could be done from his home computer between frequent rest breaks. We were thrilled to be in worship with our friends on Sunday morning, just two days after getting home. He was evaluated by a Cardiologist on Monday and a Cardiovascular Surgeon examined him on Tuesday. Both physicians confirmed that excellent medical and surgical care had been provided in Italy.

Walking for exercise the length of our street and back a few times daily was a challenging routine, initially very slow and unsteady, requiring Jeannie's assistance. Jeannie had to take charge of driving till 4 weeks post-op. When needed, we took advantage of handicap parking for several weeks.

On Monday, 5 November, Michael started working half days in his clinic, seeing four patients each morning. Two weeks later, he was working full time with an eight-patient limit per day. On the first Monday in December he began a late afternoon 12-week cardiac rehab program three days a week at the hospital fitness center. Though chest soreness continued and he was not fully back to normal strength, Michael joyfully returned to a full patient load at work ninety days after his open-heart surgery.

We praised God regularly that healing progressed as anticipated, without complications of any kind.
With a healthy heart, we eagerly look forward to our next overseas trip.

Michael & Jeannie Cole

Read on for Jeannie's perspective

2018 Italian Odyssey
Ladies’ Bible Study Devotional
29 October 2018

Since recorded history, strange things have happened in the Mediterranean:
  • A giant fish swallows a man; spits him out 3 days later.
  • Ancient, advanced cultures sink and disappear and become legendary. (Atlantis) (Minoan?)
  • Violent storms, whirlpools, and shipwrecks.
  • Of course, there is the most ancient work of Western literature from the 8th century B.C. – Homer’s Odyssey. In the story, opposing gods interfered with Odysseus (Ulysses) on his 10-year return home after the Trojan War.
    He faced storms, monsters, sirens, lotus-eaters, Cyclops, …

Here are Webster’s definitions of “odyssey”:
1st: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune.
2nd: an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest.

I do believe last month’s trip turned into an odyssey for my husband and me – a long wandering marked by changes of fortune, as well as an intellectual and spiritual quest.

Odysseus’ journey home was thwarted by warring Olympic gods and nymphs. Michael’s and my journey was aided by the one true God.

One of our questions in today’s lesson is:
“Relate how Jesus has brought calm to your life during a storm.”

I’ve often acknowledged and thanked God that my life has not been plagued by a number of trials and storms.
This “vacation” was probably the worst storm I have ever faced.
Like Odysseus, it felt like we were blown “off course” by a storm, making this trip longer than intended and much more challenging, but one of self-discovery and spiritual faith-strengthening.

Last year at this same time Michael and I were in Swaziland and Zambia – two places one would NOT want to be with a life-threatening medical emergency.

This year Michael and I left home on September 21st for a 2-week vacation that was to start in Venice, Italy, and we were to return from Bologna, Italy, on October 4th. We had been invited to join a small group tour with one of our favorite travel companies -- Story Land & Sea.

Perhaps our Odyssey began back when I was a little girl growing up in rural Jackson County. This is one of those “because of this,” that happened, and because of that, this happened, and because, because, because cascades …

Because ...
I grew up in Jackson County, Arkansas, where our small rural church had a very personable and fun Harding Bible student named Gary Martin as our youth minister for a period of time. And it just so happened that Gary had served as a Harding recruiter at Michael’s home congregation when he was a teen.

Fast forward to Spring of 1974: I was finishing my first year at Harding University when it was announced at College Church that students were needed immediately after the semester ended to go on evangelistic door-knocking missions for one week with one of the Arkansas “May campaigns.” Gary Martin, my former youth minister, was leading one to Clinton, Arkansas. So I signed up to go with him. I did not yet know anyone else on the campaign team. And because they knew Gary Martin, Michael and his college roommate also signed up to participate. The team met several times before we left so I “kinda” became acquainted with some of the team members.

On Wednesday night of the campaign, all the Harding students were invited over to JoJo Story’s house for a social evening. JoJo was an upper classman at Harding. It was at that party that I started “socializing” with Michael. Also at that party was JoJo’s 8-year-old cousin, Mark Story. If I ever laid eyes on Mark, I don’t remember. I just remember “socializing” with Michael that evening.
By the next year’s May campaign, Michael and I were engaged, and then before the following campaign in 1976 we were married.

By graduation, Michael had been accepted into medical school and enlisted in the U.S. Navy for a scholarship that fully paid for med school. After med school graduation and then a 3-year residency here in Fort Smith, the Navy shipped us off to Italy for 3+ years. We fell in love with the country, its history, art, culture, people, and the food. So much so, we have returned six times for vacations.

In 2009 we signed up for a Northern Italian small group tour with Story Land and Sea. You can imagine our surprise when we got an email from the owner, Mark Story, asking if we were the Michael and Jeannie Cole from Harding that he remembered meeting in his cousin’s house many years ago! Yes, indeed!
We started following each other on Facebook. Mark is also a Harding grad who went on a campaign for Christ to Australia. That is when Mark discovered his love for travel and turned it into his profession as a travel agent and guide. This September was to be the 3rd trip he arranged for us and the 1st one that he was going to be our tour captain. So we were doubly excited about this trip – visiting Italy and getting to meet Mark as an adult.

And so our odyssey begins: Because Michael and I both knew Gary Martin, we met each other. Because “little" Mark Story was at that party, he thought he knew us and wanted to travel with us. Because we love Italy, and because we wanted to travel with Mark to a part of Italy that we did not know well, all things were in place for an exciting 2 weeks.

The storm on the horizon: Michael’s heart had other plans. We had known for about a decade that Michael had developed a mitral valve prolapse. He had been back for regular check-ups, but nothing had changed. We didn’t think much about it when he missed his last heart check-up due to a scheduling issue.

The weeks before any extended trip –especially overseas– are filled with getting regular things in order before leaving, as well as preparations for the trip itself. Besides making sure everything will function as it should while we are out of the country for 2 weeks, there are the banks and credit card companies to alert that we would be making out of country charges, get the appropriate international data plan for our cell phones, etc. It is stressful, but acceptable, knowing that good things lie ahead. Michael was overworked, tired, and ready to get out of town so he could rest from his busy clinic schedule.

We flew out of Fort Smith early Friday, September 21.

Adding to the storm: We were carrying backpacks as our carry-on luggage instead of roller board carry-ons – a requirement for this particular trip. In the Dallas airport, Michael looked and felt exhausted. He just wanted to get on the next 3-hour flight and sleep. When we landed in Philadelphia, I challenged Michael’s ability to go on. In fact by this time, I was carrying HIS backpack as well as my own.
We had plenty of time to get to the international terminal – which was a good thing because we were moving very slowly and stopping several times for Michael to get enough energy to proceed to the gate. Michael attempted to convince me that he just needed to rest. Who am I to challenge a doctor?
In retrospect, I should have thrown his backpack across one of the empty gate areas and said, “if you are well enough to go on, go pick up your backpack and meet me at the gate in 5 minutes and I will get on the plane with you. Otherwise, we are not going any further.” Life is full of “should haves …”

Full storm: The 8-hour overseas flight proved to be his undoing. Apparently, air pressure in a plane cabin can be a challenge for hearts in distress. We had not identified that as the problem before this time, but it was creeping up the scale of possibilities by mid-Atlantic. Michael was so tired that he did not eat the dinner offered.
I knew Michael was uncomfortable, but I got a good night’s sleep thinking that I may need that sleep come morning. Indeed I did.
When I awoke the next morning, the flight crew was preparing to serve breakfast. Michael was still lying down. By this time, he was pretty confident he was having a heart issue.
When the flight attendant offered him breakfast, he said, “No, thank you.” She asked him if he was okay and he replied, “I’ll answer that when you finish serving everyone breakfast.” She came back shortly and he told her that he was a doctor and he believed he was having a heart problem that would require him being taken by ambulance to a hospital upon landing. She announced over the intercom asking for medical volunteers to come assist him.

God is good all the time: A cardiologist, a cardiac intensive care nurse, and a surgical nurse were there at his side in no time checking his heart, giving him oxygen and attempting to start an I.V. They stayed with him until it was time to land in Venice.

Michael and I were taken off the plane in an ambulance and officially entered the country that Saturday through an airport medical entrance bypassing the usual customs entrance.
I had to go retrieve our luggage while medical personnel were attending to Michael and was told that I should get a taxi and go to the Ospedale St. Angelo emergency room in Mestre where they would be transporting Michael. Mestre is the town on the mainland – the port to get to the islands of Venice.

God was taking care of me as well. After quickly getting our luggage, I immediately saw a man standing there holding a sign that said, “Story Land and Sea.” As the driver was transporting me to the emergency room, he assured me that this was THE hospital to be in with a heart problem in southern Europe. It was very modern with the best heart surgeons. He escorted me in with our two carry-ons. Then he took our two big suitcases to our nice “tour hotel” in Venice.

The Tempest Rages: One of the virtues of having a task-oriented brain is that you can pretty much shut down the emotions and just work through the task at hand. I never shed a tear throughout this whole ordeal, but the 7-hour wait in that Italian emergency room was a challenge. I speak Italian perhaps on a kindergarten level. The attendants in the emergency room spoke no English.
I had acquired no euro on arriving so I was unable to purchase anything out of the snack or beverage machine. I was not even 100% sure I was in the right emergency room since I did not see the name of the place as we drove in. The staff seemed content to ignore me since it was difficult for us to communicate. Michael texted me once or twice during that time, but I still had not seen him and I felt "in the dark." They took his cell phone away from him at some point. I was relying heavily on the Holy Spirit during my prayers, because my attempts to do anything were not making much sense to me.

Late that afternoon they allowed me back and explained that they were admitting him to the hospital with acute heart failure. I saw him briefly before they whisked him away to their cardiac ICU.
It was about an hour later that I was allowed to see him briefly and found him with the strangest plastic “gold-fish bowl helmet” type apparatus over his head – saturating him with 100% oxygen. I was told I could see him and his doctor again the next day after 1:00 pm.

My personal storm: So here I was on Saturday night alone in Mestre, knowing I’m maybe 50 minutes away from my luggage and hotel in Venice. I was tired and hungry. I was pretty confident that I could manage to get to the Mestre port by cab and then find a water taxi to take me to my hotel in Venice, but I was not looking forward to this ordeal. Nothing was as it “should” have been.

God is good all the time. I stepped outside the cardiac ICU and immediately heard someone calling my name. It was Mark Story, the boy-now-man who was to be our tour leader. He introduced himself, hugged me and escorted me to Venice to my hotel and then took me out for dinner and listened to our saga and assured me that he and his staff were going to be taking care of my needs. Mark had to depart with the rest of the tour group on Tuesday, but he had staff members that would assist me as needed. Burdens are lifted.

I had texted both of our kids that Saturday afternoon. In fact, my cell phone battery was running low by late afternoon and I had to search through Michael’s backpack to find a European adaptor and then find an outlet to charge it up – no small feat in an Italian ER waiting room.

Early on, our daughter Angelique offered to come, but I didn’t take that offer seriously. She loves Italy as much as we do. We lived in Italy while she was age 3 to 6. She and her husband had spent a semester studying in Florence with Harding University and they have returned a few times since. She speaks much better Italian than we do. By Saturday night when she said she was serious with her offer to come, I told her I would not say no.

On Sunday morning Mark helped me check out of my very nice Venetian hotel and moved me and my stuff to a hotel close to the hospital.

Angelique was there by Sunday evening. My Angel. God is good. She was such a blessing to have as my personal assistant, communications director, second brain, and loving daughter.

After Michael was assessed by the cardiac specialist team on Monday, they put in an aortic heart pump which stabilized him. He would need to be scheduled as soon as possible for surgery to either repair or replace his mitral valve.

Raging storm: And so began the task of countless hours of trying to get our health insurance company and our travel insurance company to communicate with the Italian hospital administration to pay for heart surgery. This became the biggest obstacle for me personally. For 4 days we kept 3 devices –my iPad, my iPhone, and Angelique’s cell phone– quite busy trying to get our insurance representatives to connect and communicate with the hospital. And, we had to work with the travel insurance to cancel our scheduled return flight and to book a new return flight for an as-yet-to-be determined date. We used up our cell phone data plan within that first week. The language barrier was somewhat of an issue, as well as the 7-hour time zone difference which meant that every communication between the hospital and our insurance had to be done by email since the Italians had gone home by the time our U.S. insurance people had come into work. Finally, on Friday, all the entities fully communicated and agreed that we could proceed with the surgery. Surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, October 2nd with Dr. Mangino, one of Europe’s renown cardiac surgeons – 11 days after entering the country and being admitted to the hospital.

God is good all the time. During that week before the surgery, Angelique and I moved to a hotel within walking distance of the hospital. This was a quadruple blessing:

  1. We could walk instead of having to rely on a taxi.
  2. Between the hotel and the hospital was a shopping mall where we could purchase most everything we needed for our extended stay - including gelato.
  3. The train station for Venice was nearby – Angelique and I slipped off to Venice 4 mornings – (3 p.m. hospital visiting hours).
  4. And blessing of blessings: a most wonderful Italian restaurant, Rosso Pomodoro, which served the best pizza in the region. Angelique and I shared one every day.
Rosso Pomodoro gets their ingredients from Campania – the region where we had lived and learned to love Italian food. This was comfort food to us, and the staff was happy to see us every day.

The surgery went well on October 2nd. Michael’s destroyed mitral valve was replaced. Dr. Mangino said Michael’s heart was now “perfect.” He just needed time for his chest to heal and to regain his strength after 11 days of lying flat on his back. Following the surgery, the improvement was slow, but steady.

One thing that I initially viewed as a “storm” turned out to be another of God’s blessing. We had understood Dr. Mangino to say that Michael would recuperate in a private room, but in fact, he was put into a semi-private room. I was not looking forward to sharing this time and space with an Italian family that I would have to think hard how to communicate with. I totally love the Italian people, but there are times when they can be over emotional, over dramatic, over assertive, etc.
The staff was real thoughtful and put Alan McNabb from Scotland in as Michael’s roommate. Alan and his wife had been on a Mediterranean cruise when he had a heart attack and needed emergency triple bypass surgery the day after Michael’s surgery. Their two daughters came to assist their mother. They spoke no Italian. We got along wonderfully with this family. It was nice to share a similar odyssey with another family. We took the wife and daughters to our favorite restaurant for a meal. When Angelique and I brought gelato to Michael, we brought enough to share with the McNabb family as well. They returned the favor another day.

Angelique flew back home to Texas on Wednesday, October 10th. Michael was discharged the next afternoon, 20 days after being admitted to the hospital. Our travel insurance provided a “rescue nurse” to meet us at the hospital and accompany us on our return trip. That Thursday night, she and I accompanied Michael to Rosso Pomodoro for his one true Italian meal where he ordered insalata caprese, verace pizza and gnocchi – his favorite Italian dishes.

On day 21 we flew home with Angie, the medical escort nurse. She provided door-to-door assistance. She came to our hotel room that morning in Italy and helped us get out the door, saw that we were checked out of the hotel, arranged for our transportation to the airport, and made sure there was a wheelchair at each airport. She sat beside him on each of the 3 flights and monitored his pulse and oxygen level every few hours. She was quite amazed when she wheeled Michael into the Fort Smith airport and there were a number of church members to greet him at 10:30 at night! Her duties were completed when she got Michael and all our belongings into the foyer of our house.

Michael is healing. He tires easily and is feeling less pain every day, provided he doesn’t over do it. He actually started back to work yesterday morning on half days seeing a limited number of patients.

God is good all the time. He is there to help us through the storms of life.

Jeannie Cole

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