One thing that Mums are good at is keeping well. With a family to look after, and a house to run, any ailments that they may encounter get quickly put to one side, in the hope that they will go away. And most times they do. But the aches and pains that Jennifer Rees Larcombe did her best to ignore put her into hospital and brought her close to death. This story is included with her kind permission.
Before I started to feel ill it seemed as though I had everything that I could wish for. I had a loving husband, six adorable children, a wonderful l house in the country and good friends. I used to daydream as a child about the life I wanted to have when I grew up. All the things I had at that point in time were on the list, as well as a collection of animals, which I also enjoyed. In my childish daydreams even a goat had be1en somewhere on the list, and although I never acquired one of those, we had ducks instead.
My husband Tony and I have six children. One of my children was very concerned about my health. Very often she would say, ‘You’re not going to die are you?’ I would reassure her that I was fit and well, and would probably live to be a hundred!
When the first signs of illness started, I brushed them off as nothing to be concerned about. And in fact the symptoms I started to experience seemed nothing to worry about. I had a bout of influenza that would not go away, with a feeling of tiredness that persisted, and limbs that felt as heavy as lead. I also had a persistent headache. I started to swallow vitamin pills like smarties, and to go on long walks around the countryside that I lived in, determined to keep fit and fight off the illness. Then things went from bad to worse. I began to fall over, due to the dizzy spells that I experienced with increasing frequency. To my relief, the children thought it a huge joke, but I swore them to secrecy as far as Tony was concerned. I didn’t want him taking me off to the doctor.
It was one morning whilst I was doing something as mundane as cleaning the bath that I realised that I was in need of some medical help. I had a severe headache, and my neck was completely stiff. I was seeing four bath taps instead of two, and then I realised that I could not make my arm bend, or my hand grip the sponge. My whole body started to feel out of control, and I thought I was going mad.
Our GP examined me the next morning, and in a short space of time he was phoning for an ambulance to take me to our local hospital, suspecting that I had encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain. After I was taken to a ward all I wanted to do was sleep, but every so often nurses or doctors awoke me, when they needed to do tests. By now, even my speech was slurred, and I worried that people who didn’t know any better might think that I had been taking drugs! But after a while I ceased to worry even about that. They had placed me in a small quiet room off the main ward. Cot sides were put around my bed, in case I had a convulsion.
People came and went over the next week, and I remained in a semi-conscious state. I was told that I would be moved to another hospital the next day, and wondered in my jumbled mind how I would manage the journey on my own.
Then I had a visit from my minister and his wife, who had been on their holidays when I had been taken into hospital, but had now returned. I was reassured by their presence, and felt everything was going to be all right. I mumbled something about going to Heaven, and Brian said that he understood what I was saying, but he was going to pray for me anyway. I still remember his lovely warm voice just melting away, and thinking at the same time that it was too much of an effort to breathe, and realising that it was far easier not to bother.
Then, at the foot of my bed, I was suddenly aware of a light beginning to glow. As I looked, it grew brighter. I was curious. Light of an y kind had been painful for some time, but this one did not hurt my eyes, and seemed to have magnetic qualities about it, and, sure enough, I felt drawn towards it. Then I was aware of what seemed to be a cave opening up in the darkness of the wall, leading upwards and out of the room. I felt myself floating effortlessly away from my body. I found that moving my arms and legs was no longer painful, and in fact I could do cartwheels if I wanted to! I presumed that it must feel like this when one is falling from an aeroplane, except that I was going up, not down! ‘So this is what dying feels like’, I thought. ‘If I had known it was like this, I wouldn’t have worried. At the end of the tunnel I am going to meet God at long last.’
I sensed that I was standing on the threshold of somewhere far more wonderful and beautiful that I had ever encountered, and below was the darkness and pain that I had left behind. I had had a relationship with God since I was a small child, and I felt His presence waiting there for me, although I did not see Him. What I did see were lights – thousands of coloured lights, in every shade imaginable, all indescribably lovely, glowing soft like rainbows. Think of a colour and it was there – turquoise, pink, yellow and blue, and in one Heavenly kaleidoscope.
I knew at this point that I had a choice – I could press on to where I would meet my Maker, and be with Him forever, or I could return to this world, and all the problems and difficulties that I faced. The choice was mine. I hated making decisions at the best of times, but everything seemed to be waiting for me to do so. Then I thought of Tony and the children, and with a strange feeling of disappointment, I decided to return, a decision I have often regretted since.
As I returned to my body, deep in my spirit I heard the Lord speaking to me. “From this moment you will begin to recover and go back. It is going to be a struggle, but I will give you My strength”, He said.
I felt the pain return as I re-entered my body. Brian was still praying for me, but he quickly brought things to a close, as the nurses started to buzz around me. I did start to feel better, almost immediately. I spent the night remembering those amazing colours and what had happened to me, but the sense of anti-climax was devastating. With my ability to think more clearly came the realisation that I was seriously ill. And although I did have to spend several years in a wheel chair, I was eventually completely healed and now enjoy good health again.
I used to have a real fear of death – not of actually being dead, but of the dying process, and now that has totally gone. Looking back I suppose death was the thing that I feared the most, and now I know that there is absolutely nothing to fear at all.
Jennifer’s fascinating story is told in full in her book “Unexpected Healing,” published by Hodder and Stoughton, UK.
The true story of Jennifer Rees Larcombe is included, with her kind permission, in the free e-book BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER which includes 27 similar true stories, and may be freely read and downloaded from this web site.