The Charterses: 'There's Always Hope'
By Sheryl Fountain
The 700 Club
"He was unrecognizable. His head was swollen up like a basketball. Both of his eyes were black, and so I just flat out said, 'Is he going to die?' She said, 'There’s a high probability that he will.'"
Newly engaged couple Carla Lundgren and Lang Charters were excited about their new life together. But they never imagined that their love and their faith in God would be put to the ultimate test.
Lang, an Air Force pilot, and Carla, a bank mananger, were long time aquaintances. After seeing each other again at a family party, sparks began to fly.
A month after the engagement, Carla and her son were visiting Lang and his daughter. They decided to go hiking at Red Rock Canyon.
"We were there for probably about 20-30 minutes," Carla recalls. "The kids noticed there was a cave sort of around the bend and wanted to check it out. Lang went to get around this rock, but when he stood up, his sandal slipped right out from underneath him. He fell about 20 to 30 feet. I could tell he was instantly unconscious."
Carla left the children on the path and climbed down to see if Lang was still alive.
I saw his belly moving. So I knew that he was still breathing. I started screaming for help. Right at that moment, this woman popped out behind this rock. She says, 'I can help you. I’m a respiratory therapist.' She helped me unfold him, and there was no place to lay him flat. He was still unconscious. I just started praying. I had never prayed out loud in my life, and I just started screaming my prayers."
Soon Lang stopped breathing. Carla began CPR while waiting for more help to arrive.
"It took about 15 minutes for the helicopter to arrive. I kept praying, and I just asking God to have mercy on Lang and to send help as soon as possible."
When the helicopter arrived, Lang was loaded into a stretcher and taken to the nearest hospital.
"That’s when they did tell Lang’s family, 'If you want to see your brother, your son alive, you need to get on a plane and come now because we don’t know how long he’s going to last.'"
His brain swelled and slits were cut into his eyes to release the pressure. The number of broken bones in his face resulted in what the doctor’s called a floating face. Carla began a blog recording Lang’s progress asking others to pray.
"I was really scared, but at the same time, I felt comforted in a way. I probably prayed more than I’d ever prayed in my life."
Lang pulled through, and the doctors were hopeful of a recovery.
"To what extent or what quality of life he would have, they couldn’t tell me."
Then he took a turn for the worse, and Carla sent out another message.
Their friends and family began to pray.
"Lang stopped feeding himself. He stopped speaking. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t get out of bed. He just was declining really quickly, and we couldn’t figure out why.
They did more tests and found out that the cerebral fluid in his brain was not draining properly, and so it was building up and causing these issues."
The doctors installed a permenant shunt in his head to continually drain the fluid. After 2 months in ICU, their prayers had been answered. He was strong enough to be sent to the veterans administration recovery hospital in Palo Alto, CA.
"Once we got to the rehab hospital things, things, after the first couple of weeks things started picking up quickly with him." Then another prayer was answered. "He would communicate on a little eraser board that we carried around with us. Until February 13th, the day his voice came back, he was able to talk."
Carla was able to tell him about the accident. Lang recals, "It still took me awhile to kind of come to grips with what happened."
During the four months at the V.A. hospital, Lang had to relearn all the basic skills, including: walking, talking and feeding himself.
Carla stayed by his side.
"She gave up her job. She gave up her house. She gave up her being with her son for several months," Lang says. "All to be with me and help me heal and help me survive."
Following Lang’s release from the hospital, he and carla married and moved to Tuscan, Arizona. They started a foundation called C Me As Hope, which brings awareness to individuals with traumatic brain injuries.
In 2009, a year after the accident, they took part in their first marathon.
"At that moment when you think that there’s no more hope left and you have no more strength left and you have no more to give, God will give you what you need. God will give you the strength. No matter what, there’s always hope."
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