Gerald Howarth

“For three whole days dad didn’t wake up. The doctors tried to convince us that he wasn’t there anymore. We prayed, my mom and my brother and I. We prayed for God to give us a sign that dad was still there.”

Gerald Howarth is a man of many talents. From painting breathtakingly emotional still lifes of his mother-in-law’s farm in West Virginia to teaching the inspired word of God to his fellow believers, there isn’t much that he can’t palate. Living with his wife, Nancy, he has travelled the world and raised three wonderful kids as well. “I really have lived quite a fulfilled life,” Gerald stated.

Gerald regularly saw a doctor regarding health issues, including spotting on his lungs. “It was like any other appointment up until the doctor saw something suspicious,” Gerald noted. This suspicious item, Gerald and his family were to later find out, was a cancerous growth. “I remember him telling me that it was cancer, but it was operable,” Gerald explained. “I trusted my doctor. He had been taking care of me for 17 years. It was comforting to know that he would be doing the surgery.”

The day of the surgery, Gerald’s family gathered in the waiting room, waiting for news. “I remember the doctor came out and told us the surgery had been a success, but with complications,” his daughter Dorrie explained.

The mass had grown to a full 5cm since the last inspection and had attached itself to Gerald’s chest wall, encapsulating 3 of his ribs. “[The ribs] had to be removed, which meant that Gerald’s healing was going to take longer,” Nancy, his wife said.

The doctor kept Gerald sedated for three weeks as his body healed. “East Cooper was great. They let us stay with Dad and did not restrict our visiting hours,” Dorrie stated. “We prayed a lot during that time.”

After what seemed like forever it came time to wake Gerald up. The doctors removed the sedative, and nothing happened. “For three whole days, Dad didn’t wake up. The doctors tried to convince us that he wasn’t there anymore,” Dorrie stated solemnly. “We prayed, my mom and my brother and I. We prayed for God to give us a sign that dad was still there.”

“The doctor even gave me permission to slap him around,” Nancy said, with a smile. “We turned the TV on full blast, had people call in from across the country to talk, but still nothing.”

The morning of the third day, Gerald’s family gathered in his room as he went to a CT scan. “The doctor sent him down for the scan to prove that there was no brain activity, that he was not there anymore. We waited and I prayed for a sign, and God did deliver. Within 15 minutes of being back in the room, Dad woke up!”

The family was overjoyed to be with their father and husband again. The great news was only great for a moment, as the reality of the long road to recovery set in. There was the possibility for a while that Gerald would never be liberated from the ventilator. When it came time for remove the ventilator, the respiratory team at East Cooper found that Gerald could not breathe on his own and would have to be trached.

This was a tough blow for the family after such a successful surgery. “We transferred to Vibra, and they said ‘that’s what we do here, is get people off of trachs!’” Dorrie added, “The amount of positivity here, it just empowered us all.”

The first week after the transition to Vibra Hospital of Charleston was a little rocky for Gerald as he found his way back to reality. “I was worried I wouldn’t ever be able to breathe on my own again,” Gerald said. Over the coming weeks the doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists met with the family and discussed the plan. “The admission plan was to send Gerald to a long-term vent facility, which is very far away,” Cherilyn, Gerald’s case manager noted. “It would not have been good for him or his family, being so far away and unable to take care of himself.”

Once again, the Howarth family raised their prayers to God, and He delivered. With hard work from the doctors and respiratory team, Gerald was liberated from the vent.

The first thing Gerald did was call his family to tell them God is good. After he had spoke his piece, he was over the moon to have something to eat. “I was so excited to be able to even have ice chips,” Gerald noted. “My next thing I want is a lemonade from Chick-fil-a!”

The Howarth family give credit first to God, and secondly, to the wonderful people at Vibra Hospital of Charleston. “The staff at Vibra, they have been marvelous,” Gerald said. “When you can relate to the staff, talk to them like family, that’s a great thing.”

Gerald and his wonderful family look forward to getting life back to normal. Gerald looks forward to teaching bible school and watching out for his friends again. “Now that I have my voice back, I’m going to Pennsylvania on a mission. I need to talk to a good friend to see where he stands with God.”