Toby Wager: The Wake-Up Call
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
Toby Wager was an active college senior. When he called his mother from school one Sunday complaining of a fever and sore throat, she wasn’t too concerned…
Pam Wager says, “I work in the health field, and he didn’t have anything spectacular to say and I’m like, ‘Maybe you’ve got some strep coming on. So let’s see how you feel tomorrow morning.’”
When she checked back with him the next day, Toby was delirious. His mother rushed to pick him up at school and took him to their doctor’s office. Because of his high heart rate, doctors there sent him straight to the emergency room.
Pam continues, “By the time the doctor got in, his heart rate was down because he’d been resting and the strep test was negative and everything was negative. He goes, ‘it’s probably just a virus. Go on home.’”
Early the next morning, Toby’s mother got another phone call… It was Toby’s voice.
“Now he’s just 2 bedrooms down the hall and he goes, ‘Mom, help.’”
“So I ran down the hall and he was in bed just totally tremoring. His body was shaking from head to toe.”
His parents called an ambulance. By the time he got to the hospital, Toby was in even worse shape.
Pam describes the situation, “He was just in big trouble. Couldn’t breathe. The heart rate was flying. The blood pressure was low. The fever was up. Sore throat. This big lump now on the side of his neck was growing. The doctors had no idea what was going on. They really didn’t. They started a general antibiotic, but every test kept coming back negative.”
Toby was put on IV fluids. His temperature hit 107 degrees, and doctors packed him in ice. A nurse contacted his pediatrician, Dr. Tim Hessert.
Dr. Hessert explains, “When I came in, I could tell he was very, very sick. He was in something we call acute respiratory distress syndrome, and most likely his high fever was due to some type of sepsis or bacterium. We weren’t sure whether or not he was going to make it.”
Toby was put on a ventilator and slipped into a drug-induced coma. His parents mobilized everyone they knew to pray for their son.
Carl Wager prayed earnestly, “I just yielded him and I literally sensed myself putting him on the altar of the Lord, and putting him in God’s care.
Pam says, “They announced in church for prayer as you always do, but when Toby’s name was mentioned…
Carl notes, “It was like this thing went through the whole body of Christ and everyone just became very alert, and…”
Pam adds, “…everybody! just went to prayer. And people came around us and stood with us and lifted our arms up.”
Carl remembers, “So I knew at that point that God really was moving in this.”
Back at the hospital, Dr. Hessert was also looking to God.
Dr. Hessert says, “I needed His direction. I know the doctors in the ICU needed His direction. So we held hands and prayed for Toby. And I think that we knew we made the right decisions at that point in time. A peace came over us.”
“I really prayed hard and asked the Lord for some guidance and realized that the things we weren’t covering for was an anaerobe infection.”
Doctors discovered that Toby had Lemierre’s Syndrome— a rare disease caused by bacteria that thrive without oxygen and form an abcess near the jugular vein. The abcess leads to an infected clot, and in Toby’s case, pieces of the clot had broken off and lodged in both of his lungs.
Pam says, “When we went back to the hospital after church, the doctor came in and said to us, ‘We know what it is. Now we know what antibiotic to give him. And we can beat this.’”
Doctors said Toby would be on the respirator for several weeks,
Pam continues, “But it didn’t turn out that way at all. It was just a few days and he started fighting the respirator. And the doctors said, ‘You know, something good is happening here.’ So they took him off the respirator and he was back. It was—it was just a miracle. That’s all it was. The doctors were all amazed.”
Dr. Hessert explains, “In such a serious illness, you could have brain complications. You could have complications of losing fingers or limbs, having kidneys shut down or having, you know, permanent lung conditions. But Toby didn’t suffer any of these and we just thank God for that and thank the Lord for intervening in this case.”
Soon Toby was sent home, but was bedridden and spent a lot of time thinking, especially about the way he had been living before his illness.
He’s grateful to God for a second chance.
Toby says, “You really learn to appreciate life when it’s almost taken from you. Everything from that moment on was perfect. It was great. It brought my family back together. It brought my life back together. I really learned to trust God because I got a wake-up call.”
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