My name is Becky Trautman, and this is husband, Tom. We have been married for 22 years and have five kids. We are members of Grace (Camas Foursquare Church) in Camas, Wash., pastored by Dave and Charmaine McCabe. We discovered Grace in 1992 and knew instantly this is where God wanted us to be.
In 2008, the pressures of life, work, schedules and family began to take their toll on our marriage. We knew our relationship was slipping but pressed forward, never stopping in the midst of it all to pray with each other and work through our problems.
Then, in November 2009, my husband came down with a seasonal flu that turned into pneumonia. What would happen next would test our faith, our marriage, and our kids’ faith, and bring us to a complete brokenness before God.
I will never forget December 22, 2009. Tom was rushed to emergency for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). He immediately was tested for H1N1—the dreaded swine flu—and the results came back positive. He was admitted into ICU at Kaiser, where he stayed for the next 13 days.
Tom’s condition went from bad to worse on January 4, 2010—his organs began to fail, and he was given a 10 percent chance of living.
The doctor at Kaiser immediately contacted Legacy Emanuel Hospital in north Portland. A rather new technology called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) was being used there to treat patients with ARDS and severe cases of H1N1. Tom was obviously a candidate for this, and was rushed into surgery to place his heart and lungs on the machine.
This rare device is only being used by two hospitals in the United States. It allows blood to be circulated outside the body by a tube system through an oxygenation machine; the blood is then returned to the body, essentially allowing the lungs to rest and recover.
Tom was placed on seven different life support systems, underwent more than 30 surgeries and received more than nine complete blood transfusions. His body was being kept alive by machines, and he was in a coma. Every second he survived felt like a gift from God, for all we had were seconds, not days or years.
I was broken, angry, afraid, confused and worn out. It was at this point I had a complete surrender before God. In the hospital hallways, I collapsed to my knees and pleaded for my husband’s life. I knew that nothing, not machine nor man, could do what only God could do. All I had was now resting in His hands. I intentionally sought out God’s peace, and He held me ever so closely during this time.
God heard my prayer and all the prayers around the world for my husband. On January 20, I walked into his room. As I leaned over his bed, I whispered, “I love you”—and he opened his eyes. Tears of joy and utter thankfulness streamed down my face.
Day by day, Tom became more alert. Every day he would receive visits from different doctors and nurses, all of whom were surprised to see he was still alive. Tom knew God had spared his life. People were deeply touched by this living miracle.
During this time, Tom would spend moments in silent prayer and praise. (A tracheotomy prevented him from talking.) There were many songs that became very personal to him. One of these was “He Knows My Name” by Tommy Walker.
“As I sang the words in my mind, it was as if God would repeat back what I was singing,” Tom recalls. “God would repeat back to me: ‘I know your name, Tom; I hear your every thought; I see each tear that falls and hear you when you call.’ All I could do was weep, for I needed to hear Him say those words to me and feel His presence in the midst of this storm.
“All I had done for so long was to attend church on Sundays; I never knew what a real relationship with God was,” Tom continues. “This disease almost took my life, and it is because of this disease that I now have an intimate and undeniable relationship with Christ. Now I know that God loves me, and I am not a nobody to Him. Every thought I had ever had that God could not use me proved to be a lie from Satan himself, for God can and will use you if you only allow him to.”
We will forever be grateful for the outpouring of support from our pastor and the entire church family at Grace. Their support came in many forms. We received meals daily at home and at the hospital; our mortgage and bills were taken care of; and we received countless amounts of prayer support from everyone who had heard our story.
We are so thankful for all those who have prayed, and continue to pray, for our family. It is through Christ that we have been set free and healed. We are in awe of all God has done, and continues to do, in our lives, our marriage and our family.