Blessings In Disguise

sunriseI am reposting the story that follows with permission from Miles Coleman. Miles’ dad Fred was my first-ever vocal coach and is my friend. This story is one that is truly inexplicable. I don’t usually use the word “miracle” simply because of how it has been abused and misunderstood. But there is no other acceptable word to use for this story. No more words from me. What follows is written by Miles’ wife Anna.

Two years ago today, I was planning on working out at the  5 am CrossFit class that my husband happened to coach. I was dressed, had my shoes by the door, and at the last minute decided to stay home and go back to bed. I had a headache and thought I should rest before going to work for the day.  My husband, Miles, kissed me goodbye, told me he loved me, and headed to the gym.  Twenty minutes later my phone rang. I glanced at my phone and saw that it was a friend from the gym. I assumed she was going to harass me as to why I wasn’t at the gym, so like any normal person would do at 5 am, I ignored her phone call.  She then texted me, “Anna, please pick up your phone.” I sensed something was wrong, and that this wasn’t a joke. I called her back and could tell her voice was shaking, she told me I needed to get to the gym as soon as possible because Miles had gotten hurt.  I still was trying to process what she was saying, and didn’t fully comprehend how serious it was.  I asked what was wrong, and she said he had hit his head and needed to go to the hospital.  My response was to ask if he needed stitches. Clearly I didn’t have a clue as to what had transpired.

I got up out of bed, put my shoes on, and found my keys.  I drove to the gym anxiously praying it wasn’t anything serious. When I arrived an ambulance was pulling away, and some of the guys from the gym took my keys and ushered me to another vehicle.  I got in to the car of one of the gym members, Ryan, who happened to be a doctor, and he asked me for my phone and who should he call to meet us at the hospital. I was starting to realize this was more serious and involved more than just stitches. I was confused and asked him what he meant. He said, “you should probably call his parents, and any other family members and tell them to come down immediately.”  I looked at Ryan, and asked him if it was that serious and he said yes. I also asked him if Miles was going to die, and he said, “I don’t know.”  At that point I think I was in shock. I still didn’t know what happened and what was going on.

We arrived at the hospital and several of the CrossFit members arrived as well. They started to tell me what had happened that morning. While Miles was getting the class warmed up he sent them out for a 400-meter jog.  The WOD that day included rope climbs.  Miles was going to get the ropes down that were stored up among the rafters from which hung when in use. As he had done countless times before, he grabbed a plyometric box, and jumped up to grab a loop of the rope that was hanging down slightly from the rafters.  While hanging on with only one hand, he was using the other hand to wrestle the rope down from the rafters. Somehow, his knee got tangled in the rope and he lost his grip, flipping him upside down and falling about 12 feet to the ground, where he landed directly on his head on cement.  They didn’t tell me he was unresponsive, and all the blood he had lost. But I could tell by their faces and tears in their eyes they were shaken up but trying to be supportive.

Miles was placed in ICU and it was at least a couple of hours before I could see him and they had stabilized him. I finally was able see him. I walked in the ICU room and vividly remember seeing him hooked up to a ventilator and a probe coming out of his brain. The doctors and nurses were all talking and trying to explain to me what was going on. I didn’t hear them, I was still in shock staring at my husband who was currently in a coma and non-responsive. This couldn’t be real, I kept thinking.  The nurse handed me a stack of papers to sign, and at that moment I broke down and lost it.  I was trying to process what was happening but still couldn’t wrap my head around it. Miles suffered a traumatic brain injury from the fall and as a result had a factored skull, severe swelling in the brain,  and two hematomas.  I walked over to him held his hand, told him I loved him and that everything was going to be ok. I barely recognized my husband, and asked for him to squeeze my hand…but nothing. No response.

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They ushered me back out to the waiting room, and I still was in a state of shock.  The doctors came out and began to explain that the next 24 hours were critical. They also explained that if Miles did survive, he would most likely have serious complications and there was the possibility of never walking or talking again.  They were certain he would never practice law and he may lose his memory including his memory of me.  I suddenly realized how my life was probably going to change forever.  I remember walking out of the hallway and not being able to breathe.  Two of my friends embraced me, and our pastor came over as well. I don’t remember much from that time, but I do remember our pastor saying, “All you need to do is remember Jesus loves you and Miles.” The words were simple, but true and comforting. The One who created the world out of nothing loved me and had my best interest in mind, even in the midst of this horrible situation.  I knew ultimately that Jesus loved Miles more than I did, that He would do what was best for both of us, and that I needed to trust Him.

Over the next few weeks, miracle after miracle occurred. The doctors thought they would have to do brain surgery on Miles to relieve the pressure, but moments before they began, the pressure subsided on its own. Miles was responsive that same evening by squeezing my hand. The next day a therapy dog–who happened to be a Great Dane, like our two dogs–came to visit. I leaned over and told Miles there was a dog that came to visit him, he lifted his hand up and  placed his hand on the dog. A few days later they took the ventilator out of his mouth, they asked who his wife was and he said my name. Three days after the accident a physical therapist came down and he was able to walk. The doctors were astounded and nicknamed him “Miracle Miles.”  They had never seen someone with such a severe brain injury begin to recover so rapidly.  We spent 11 days total in the hospital and then went to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital.

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When we left for rehab, I started to notice that Miles wasn’t quite his normal jovial self. He was extremely serious, and it almost seemed as if he lost his sense of humor and filter. I was warned by the doctors that the part of his brain that was injured could affect his personality. But, I was so excited because it seemed he would make a full recovery physically that I dismissed any signs in the hospital of a personality change. As we progressed through rehab, it was apparent his personality had changed. I was heart broken, and kept asking the doctors if he would return back to the way he use to be. Of course, they couldn’t tell me yes or no, but just said it would take time. I prayed and prayed that God would restore his personality.  Honestly, the thought of living with someone who acted different than the person I married quite frankly scared me. I knew that if God had healed him this far, he could continue to completely heal his brain and mind and restore his personality that he created in Miles. While sitting in rehab, I would play sermons out loud and Christian music.  I clung to the truth and knew Miles had hidden God’s word in his heart and those truths would not be void.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit who dwelled inside of him would be evident and his personality would return. After spending two weeks at inpatient therapy we were able to go home. Once we got home, little by little Miles personality was restored. He continued out-patient therapy until December, and then was cleared.  Amazing!

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Now, two years later, looking back before the accident, it’s amazing to see how God had prepared us to go through this trial without us even knowing what was coming.  He provided a church family after almost a year of searching, he provided us with a second car so that when my parents unexpectedly flew in we would have a way to transport them back and forth to the hospital, I had recently moved to a new school with an incredibly supportive staff.  Finally, he providentially placed at the accident scene an EMS worker, a fire fighter, two doctors–one of whom was the chief of staff at the hospital–and two nurses in the CrossFit class that morning. Miles was able to receive immediate medical attention seconds after the accident occurred.

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Fast forward to today, it’s by God’s kindness and grace that Miles is doing so well. If I were to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have believed you if you would have told me two years later that Miles would still be working as a lawyer and we would have a son.  Not only did God restore Miles’ health and personality, but Miles has had some amazing opportunities in his career the past year and a half. He has been able to write several briefs that were submitted to the United States Supreme Court, argue before the South Carolina Supreme Court, and work on a number of other significant cases.  This truly is a testament of God’s amazing healing power that allowed Miles’ brain to be restored.  Laura Story’s song, “Blessings” was a great encouragement to me during that time.  The trial he allowed us to go through turned out to be one his greatest blessing…

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace,
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep,
We pray for healing, for prosperity,
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.

All the while You hear each spoken need,
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights,
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear,
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near,
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love,
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.

And all the while You hear each desperate plea,
And long that we’d have faith to believe.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights,
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win,
We know that pain reminds this heart,
That this is not, this is not our home,
It’s not our home.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops,
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights,
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments,
Or the aching of this life,
Is the revealing of a greater thirst,
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I’m extremely blessed that I have a husband who is alive and healthy and that we are blessed with a son as well. When our son was born we decided to name him Asher, which means “blessed” or “blessing” in Hebrew. God has been gracious to me and has blessed me with two miracles in my life, Miles and Asher.  I have learned that life is a gift,  cherish your loved ones, and do not take them for granted.  I would have never chosen to go through the trial that the Lord allowed us to go through; however, it has changed our lives and made us appreciate each day the Lord gives to us.

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