Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Betsy’s fine with no permanent damage

Some newspapers run this syndicated weekly column on Sundays.  Some run it on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. The latter group really appreciates a columnist who sends his musings well before a Monday holiday, such as Labor Day, since they can enjoy the holiday if they get most of the holiday week’s paper set up early.  I had a deadline of getting my column out by Thursday before.

This meant writing it Wednesday, or early Thursday.  

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My idea was to deal with a Conference Call national committee meeting early Wednesday, type up and send out minutes of a Board meeting, wrap up an estimate for a grant application, then run home for lunch and knock out my column over a cheese & jelly sandwich, since Betsy was making muscadine jelly, and maybe she’d have enough for a pie for dessert.  

I finished the Conference Call about 9:35, and turned my attention to the Board Minutes. The phone rang about 10. It was Betsy.

“I need you to come home right now,” she declared.  “Something is wrong.”

I said “Yessum” and headed for the car. The house is seven miles from the office, and when I rushed in, she was lying on the bed wet with sweat and having chest pains. I scooped her into the car, punched the flashers button, and stomped it. I know, some people would say at this point, “Call 9-1-1,” but ever since they took the ambulances away from the funeral homes, whenever anyone out here calls 9-1-1, we say, “I’ll meet you at the highway west of the Mennonite Church, in a white Mercury.” Works fine if you have time, but I didn’t feel like I had the time.

I asked my bride one question: “Did you take an aspirin?” She had done so.

Called daughter B.C., an OT for the county hospital, mainly to ask where the Emergency Entrance was. She suggested I call our family doctor, because he has done our physicals for the past decade.

I did that, and he said to bring Betsy to his office: “To see what’s happening and treat her initially, if it’s a heart problem.”

I was there in record time, fifteen miles. Not one minute after I parked, Betsy was hooked up to a heart machine. The nurse took one look and grabbed Dr. Jerry.

He said mildly, “She’s having an MI right now! Can you get her to the Emergency Room, or do you want to wait for an ambulance?”

I’ve explained that, so she was out of the office in two minutes flat and at the ER two minutes after that. Not a cop in sight, but there was no traffic and I had my blinkers on again.

Dr. Hilton met me at the EM ramp with a wheelchair, for Dr. Jerry had called ahead to get the action started.

Dr. Mansour’s heart team was standing by and they wheeled her in as I chunked my insurance card at the registrar lady and answered a few brief questions before a nurse came and grabbed me.  

I signed a couple of consent forms, and Betsy was in surgery for a stint in the one clogged artery by 11:15.  That was one hour and 15 minutes from the first call, and over 25 miles with two quick stops. She was out of surgery before noon!

No permanent damage, no other blockages. Both doctors said that’s probably due to the aspirin!

You know what got me? The prayers and the people.

Of course, B.C. was there quickly, but not before one Brownspur neighbor dropped by and another had called my cell phone. Two preachers came before the OR door was closed, as did a hospital trustee.

Two church ladies met me in the parking lot as I moved the car. The Ex-Mayor’s wife was there before the doctors got through. Two more ladies awaited me in the parking lot when I left. Two young mothers from our old church Youth Group called or arrived as Betsy was transferred from OR to ICU.

Tonight was Prayer Meeting, and Bennie burst out with, “Praise the Lord for how quickly the Prayer Chain worked to get the word out so we could pray!”  

One church lady on the Kairos Outside team with Betsy had called to get KO prayers started, and a Kairos buddy left a message that he was getting the word to our brothers behind bars.  

Tonight, there are e-mails and phone messages from Kairos people from South Africa to California, as well as from all over Mississippi.

Prayer works, folks. I’ve seen it myownself. Thanks for yours, for Betsy.

Email Bob Neill at

Editor’s Note: This column was scheduled to run last week, but due to insufficient space it was delayed. The message is still timely so the decision was made to run it this week.