Mike visited with one of his Downtown Jasper friends while I took a nap. My recent engagement to Theo, my 3rd birthday on February 5th, and those long wogs that Mike takes me on have me needing some rest so I’m handing writing off to him this week. While he visited with Alan Beasley, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church located in Downtown Jasper, I napped.
Thanks, Tallulah, I appreciate that. Before Alan’s very important story, it would be negligent if I didn’t mention the importance of this white marble house of worship to Jasper, Walker County, and the nation. As many residents know, this was the church home to the Bankhead Family where Tallulah Bankhead’s father, William Brockman Bankhead, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was a member and where his funeral was held. President Franklin Roosevelt attended that funeral in Downtown Jasper in 1940; a plaque is placed on the pew where FDR sat.
I did visit with one of my good Downtown Jasper friends who also happens to be a fellow cyclist, minister, husband, dad, grandfather, and now to add to that list, Covid-19 survivor. I asked Alan to sit down and tell me his experiences with this deadly disease, and always if possible, he graciously agreed to my request.
A mantra that Alan lives by because of Covid, but knowing him I’m confident this mantra has been ever-present in his life, is simple: “A miracle occurs when you can correlate prayer to change.”
When Alan began this journey with what he suspected was his annual sinus infection, that is until he was notified that he tested positive, he was presented with a series of events that he can only describe as miracles.
His connection with Dr. Hutton Brantley began when his daughter Diana was employed with him at Birmingham’s Cardiology P.C. Diana told Dr. Brantley about her dad’s symptoms and condition, and he immediately sent Alan to Princeton, a hospital where Dr. Brantley has admitting privileges. When he reached the hospital, Alan’s oxygen level was at an unsafe 89.
Alan was put on nasal cannula tubing, the first of four levels of oxygen delivery, depending on oxygen saturation levels, but was soon moved to the 2nd level of a high-flow mask. His oxygen levels went up but then took a downward turn the next day. He was aware enough to know that his levels were not staying up because of the beeping from the monitors.
It was at this time that Alan sent a text to Lori, his wife, for prayer that the oxygen levels would elevate. She then sent a text to their family and their church family at FUMC. Alan also texted a close personal friend at 4AM for prayer. One of his miracles came when he began to stabilize. The correlation of those series of text messages and his oxygen levels improving was unmistakable to Alan and Lori as a clear miracle.
While still not out of the woods at this point and anxiety high, Alan couldn’t determine if he was feeling tired or if he were trying to slip into something deeper than sleep, which alarmed him. He credits an unnamed nurse, who I’ll call an angel, for stopping everything she was doing and assuring him that he could relax and go to sleep.
The miracle text messages started again when the convalescent plasma infusion was ordered; this is sometimes unavailable. After two days of text messages, waiting, and praying, he received the yellow wrist band that identifies him as a recipient, and that the hard-to-get plasma had arrived. Overwhelmed by people’s responses, Alan later found out that friends had arrived at his home praying for him on his deck and in his driveway.
Eventually, Alan stepped down to the nasal cannula tubing, and saw the nurse go behind him several times. She was lowering the oxygen, but as a general rule, doesn’t tell the patient so as not to alarm him. Finally, he was told to go home and get well. He wasn’t well, but thanks to his faith and the miracles surrounding him, he was too well to be in the hospital. Today, Alan is dedicated to a regimen of exercise and hydration and slowly rebuilding his strength.
As he recognized these events as miracles, Alan was assured by a physician who had access to his charts and said, “Prayer changed your course.” Alan was glad the physician recognized that, but I can imagine he simply smiled and thought to himself…yes, yes it did.