OPINION: THE IDLE AMERICAN – Friends in High Places

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2021

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There will be those who insist that I have received my just desserts. However, I choose to believe that I have been favored by unbelievably good fortune despite a fall from my church platform. Thankfully, heartbeats and breathing were restored countless times.

This occurred during the October 24 Sunday morning traditional service at Burleson First Baptist Church. Now, mere days later, I’m still alive to tell about it.

I offer credit and thanks to many, starting with blessings from On High. I have been granted an extension of life. However long the added time may be, I’ll keep wondering, “Why me, Lord?”

Those reading this far (who’s counting?) may want more details, and, like the guy who caught the “bigger-with-each-telling” fish, I’m happy to comply.

First, I underwent open-heart surgery in 1998. After four bypasses, a mitral valve repair and medications determined, I was buoyed by surgeons’ prediction that I could live an additional 15 years “if I took care of myself.”

I’ve done “so-so” on the care thing and was in my 23rd year of reasonably good health–until recently. Then, in front of several hundred gathered for worship, I pass out, falling from the platform while welcoming folks to our church.

This had far more disruptive effect than a crying baby, a youngster racing to the bathroom or a senior adult with a smothering spell. Totally out of it, I fell forward, lectern in tow. Dr. Ronny Marriott, our Lead Pastor and Howard Payne student during our presidency there, caught me before I completely “thudded.”

At once he laid me out on the carpet. Congregants huddled in prayer and an “angel unaware,” Jen Owens, raced forward to help. A nursing practitioner and church visitor, she shredded my clothing and began exhaustive CPR. Then, an AED machine (Automated External Defibrillator) did its thing, electronic paddles activated by Jay Tasker, a member of our church’s security team.

Things were “touch and go,” even during the ambulance ride to Texas Health/Harris Hospital Fort Worth, a facility known as a premiere heart treatment hospital.

At the Harris’ Klabzuba Heart center, good things continued to happen. Excellent health care professionals were quick to assist, installing a critical stent, since two of the old bypasses had cratered. Two days later, a defibrillator/pacemaker mechanism was installed, and some 50 hours after hospital admission, I was released to go home.

I was advised to stay within three feet of my phone, since it is now monitored constantly, providing current information to my doctors. I asked, of course, what I should do if I misplace my phone.

“Don’t misplace your phone,” was the response.

I owe much to many. My wife Brenda, daughter and son-in-law Jeanie and Ryan McDaniel, grandchildren Jonah and Addison. They observed life-saving efforts before my transfer to the hospital. Many folks thought I was a goner. (Song lyrics from yesteryear occurred, “We thought he was a goner, but the cat came back.”)

Pastor Ronny deserves my eternal thanks. Doctors were in disbelief that I had no injuries, thanks to his cushioning my fall. (He is the same guy who pointed out a week later that the attack might have been fatal had I been in the audience, where I sometimes nodded off when his sermons failed to fully engage.

Little of this to be understood.

There is irony, even in this experience. In the waiting room during my ordeal was our son-in-law, Bryan Choate, who was in the same place almost 15 months ago when Julie–his wife and our oldest daughter–succumbed to a pulmonary embolism at age 50.

He cheers us on, as do his children, Ben and Brittin. Same goes for Jana and Kyle Penney, our daughter and son-in-law in Tyler, and their children Juliana and Kedren.

Finally, the grace that our late daughter constantly credited with “changing things” truly supports and comforts. I want to finish my course with a life that matters, extending thanks to everyone!


   Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, continues to write this column and speak throughout the state. Contact him at 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Website: www.speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury  Twitter: @donnewbury