Paul Janssen: When the Doctors Gave Up
By Amy Reid
The 700 Club
The Janssen's were sound asleep and received a phone call that parents hope they'll never get.
Chuck Janssen (Paul's father): We got a phone call about 2:30 in the morning. I looked at the caller id and it said state highway patrol. I said to my wife, "This isn’t going to be good." The officer informed me that one of our sons was in an accident. My wife ran out the front door to see which car was in the driveway and discovered it was Paul’s. The officer told us that we needed to get to the hospital immediately, that he had been life-flighted to Cleveland Metro. They had no info about his condition, so we just jumped in the car and drove there as fast as we could.
When they got to the hospital, the medical team was still working on Paul.
Chuck Janssen: So we had to wait, which was really hard. I just opened the Bible. I said, "Lord, you’ve got to give me something out of your Word for this." The one that particularly seemed to resonate in me at the time was Psalm 40. Then I felt like I should continue to read, so I read Psalm 41: "The Lord will sustain him on his sick bed and restore him from his bed of illness." And at that point I felt like God said, "That’s what I’m going to do."
Then the highway patrol told them what happened. Paul had gone off the road into a wooded area and had gotten out of the car and then collapsed face down into the ditch. There were residents nearby who heard the accident, called 911 and God had put an officer within minutes of the accident. The officer came by and pulled him out of that ditch.
Chuck Janssen: The words of that Psalm that I’d read just minutes before just came back to me. Psalm 40 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Chuck Janssen: That’s exactly where Paul was. It was like no other feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, I felt so confident that despite what they were going to tell me about him, this was God’s promise and God has the final word. He said, "I will sustain him and I will restore him." And we said "restore is 100 percent.”
When Paul’s parents finally spoke to the doctor that afternoon, they received some grave news.
Dr. Joel Peerless: We were extremely worried from the beginning about whether or not Paul would live, whether his lungs would recover, whether he would come off the ventilator, whether he would ever wake up, and if he did wake up whether he would have lifelong neurologic damage.
Shelley Janssen (Paul's mother): The afternoon after the accident we had just stepped out of his room into the lobby to take a little breather and all of a sudden the nurses came out and they said, "You need to come back to the room right away." We ran back into the room and Dr. Peerless was standing and he looked at us and he said, "I’m sorry." He said, "We’ve done everything we can do. Everything’s going now, he’s crashing. We want to know if he’s an organ donor and if you want him off life support.”
Shelley Janssen: It was so surreal. I looked at him; I said, "We’re going to pray." We walked over to the bed and we prayed and we sang and we proclaimed the word of the Lord over him. And we didn’t make any decisions. We just put it in God’s hands.
Doctors prescribed a paralytic drug to keep Paul still and try to stabilize him.
Shelley Janssen: It was extremely difficult to sit by his bedside and look at him and see his eyes open, but there was no life.
Dr. Joel Peerless: Paul seemed to have one crisis after another. We started with what we knew was a severe lung injury from the water in the lungs. He had a brain injury. He developed kidney failure. We were concerned that he had a stroke in his spinal cord because at one point he wasn’t moving his legs. He had a heart attack.
Chuck Janssen: We would read Psalm 40 over Paul every day, without fail, because we knew that was the Word of God for him. And whether he was in a coma or not, we knew that somehow the Lord would just minister to his spirit with that Psalm.
People joined together to pray for Paul.
Chuck Janssen: When we would get these reports from the doctors or the nurses on his condition we would go out to the lobby and say, "This is the specific need we need to pray," and the brothers and sisters who were there, they would begin to pray.
Three weeks after Paul entered the hospital he was finally stable enough to undergo an MRI.
Shelley Janssen: At that time they noticed that he had some spots on his frontal lobes of the brain and they felt that he had had some mini-strokes. They said, "We don’t know what kind of brain damage he has.”
His doctors began weaning him off the paralytic drugs and the sedatives. They warned Paul’s parents that he might never come out of the coma. For almost two weeks, there was little change in Paul’s condition. Then his mother got a call from the hospital. It was one of the nurses.
Shelley Janssen: The nurse said, "Mrs. Janssen, I just wanted to call and tell you, I was asking him, Paul, Paul, what’s your name? Paul, Paul." And she said she was a little gruff with him and all of a sudden he just said, (whispering) "Janssen.”
Chuck Janssen: And when we knew that, we thought, "Well, he didn’t say his first name because she was calling him Paul. So he knew his last name," we knew.
Shelley Janssen: From that moment on, for me, it was like I could breathe a sigh of relief. He was OK. He was going to be OK. He knew who he was.
To the amazement of his doctors, Paul’s condition began to improve.
Dr. Joel Peerless: Paul’s recovery was miraculous. From the time I started to care for him, I wasn’t sure if he would survive. I wasn’t sure if he would wake up. I wasn’t sure if his lungs would recover. I wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to breathe on his own without the help of a ventilator.
A week later, Paul was transferred to a rehab hospital.
Paul Janssen: When I was in rehabilitation, everything was difficult. I mean walking, brushing my hair, buttoning a shirt, tying shoes.
Shelley Janssen: And we were starting to realize that he had to relearn all these things.
And relearn them he did! In January of 2007 Paul went back to work, and today is a videographer and editor for CBN. His restoration has been more than just a physical one.
Paul Janssen: Before the accident I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life. I just really felt abandoned by Him. And I just rebelled against everything I could, and God literally pulled me out of the mud and the mire both physically and spiritually. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by when I don’t think about the car accident, the life I was living before, the life God’s given me now, and just everything that God has done for me. He’s given me a beautiful wife. He’s given me a great job, just basically restored everything.
Can God change your life?
Chuck Janssen: There’s a million great scriptures I could have read that would have encouraged me that day. But God gave me that specific Word that described the accident that my son was in. God had seen the whole thing. So put your trust in Him, because He has the final word.
God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life.
Discover how you can find peace with God.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.