Latter-day Saint Life

Why an Atheist Doctor Told This LDS Couple They Needed to Thank God for the Miracle They Experienced


This following story was excerpted from Elder Gerald Lund's book, Divine Signatures, and shares an incredible account of a miracle his youngest brother, Michael R. Lund, experienced from the perspective of his wife, Linda.

August 22, 1997, was a life-changing day for us as a couple and for our family. I say life-changing because all (and I really do believe all) big decisions that we now make for ourselves and our family are made in some part with Mike’s biking accident in the back of our minds.

On that day, Mike was involved in a bicycle accident with a fully loaded cement truck. The cement truck won. Riding a road bike is a passion that Mike has had for years. He has his favorite places to ride, and he was on one of those that day. A cement truck approached Mike from behind while he was pedaling up a slight grade and attempted to pass him on a “no pass” curve. When another car approached from the opposite direction, the cement truck quickly returned to its lane and the stabilizing trailer attached to the rear of the truck ran over Mike. He was slammed so hard to the ground that it split his bicycle helmet in two.

Those who found him on the road and the emergency teams did not think he would make it to the hospital alive. The rear wheel of the trailer went right across the back of Mike’s body, leaving the imprint of the tire tread embedded all the way up his back. From there, our long journey began. Mike had multiple broken bones in his arm, ribs, shoulders, neck, and back. He had a severe TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and though he had been wearing a helmet, the damage was still great enough that underlying problems were causing havoc with his blood pressure and organs.

He was placed in an induced coma and remained in the critical care unit for three weeks. The first few days were really rough. I overheard comments by the medical staff when they came on shift, saying that they were surprised that Mike was still with us. One doctor suggested we quit trying so hard to stabilize him. (I made sure that doctor never returned to Mike’s room.)

After his stay in CCU and an additional two-weeks’ stay on another floor, he was moved to a rehab hospital where he would stay as an in-patient for two months, then spend ten hours a day as an out-patient for another two months.

Many miracles and experiences took place during this time. Many took place right before our eyes as we made our way through this difficult time. We learned that some miracles had taken place so many years before that we would never have known about them if we had not been put in this situation. One in particular, which occurred during a consultation session, was an amazing miracle for us.

During Mike’s recovery, we would have regular conferences with doctors, nurses, caseworkers, and insurance representatives. I attended most of these on my own, but this one happened much later so Mike was able to attend. The meeting that day was to decide which path we should take to treat his multiple bodily injuries and the damage to the brain. The discussion went well. But as we came to the end of the meeting, the lead doctor asked everyone to leave but Mike and me. The insurance people wanted to stay, but the doctor firmly informed them that he wanted to speak to just the two of us.

This man was a wonderful doctor. He specialized in the brain, focusing specifically on TBIs. He always had Mike’s best interest in mind. Once we were alone, he started out with this surprising statement: “Before we begin, I need to tell you something. I don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe in miracles.” What an opening statement! To us, that was what had gotten us to the point where we were on that day, with Mike alive and talking about rehabilitation. We knew we had a loving Heavenly Father who had never left our sides and given us many miracles.

“You Have Seen a Miracle in Your Life”

After that introduction, he then proceeded to walk to the screens where Mike’s X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans (I can’t remember which) had been displayed during the conference. He said he wanted to show us something. It was like he had a surprise for us and couldn’t wait to show us.

He showed us an X-ray of a skull. “Here is an X-ray of the brain,” he began. “You can see the different parts of the brain.” He pointed to a spot at the base of the skull just above the spinal cord. “This is the cerebellum. It processes input from other areas of the brain and the spinal cord. In other words, this is the part of the brain that controls motor functions for the body.”

Then he removed that X-ray and put another one up, also of a skull. “Do you notice anything different about this one?” he asked.

It took me a moment, but then I pointed. “There doesn’t seem to be a cerebellum on this one,” I said.

“That’s right,” he said, pleased. “There is no cerebellum.” Then he turned to Mike. “This is the X-ray of your head, Mike.” He tapped the X-ray. “And this is where your cerebellum should be. But it is not. You don’t have one.”

He continued, “If I had not personally seen you myself, heard you speak and watched your mobility, and I had been given this film to view, I would have diagnosed you as being in a vegetative state without any mobility.” He then peppered Mike with questions. Had he enjoyed an active childhood? Did he have problems with mobility? His balance? Then he caught himself as he remembered that Mike’s accident had occurred while he was on one of his twenty-mile bike rides.

Very sober now, he told us that was why he had asked everyone else to leave the room. He didn’t want this information in any way to influence the decisions being made for Mike’s care. He explained that when he saw the films, he was amazed and stunned. We all knew that when Mike had been slammed down onto the pavement, one of the wheels of the 2,000-pound stabilizing trailer had run up Mike’s back and directly over the base of his skull. The doctor said that force would very likely have crushed the cerebellum and left him with severe physical and perhaps mental handicaps.

He said that the only thing he could figure out to explain any of it was that while Mike was in the womb, the cerebellum had never developed. But the brain, being the wonderful organ it is, had taken upon itself to reroute things so that the functions of the cerebellum were assumed by other areas. He then said that in all his years as a neurologist and brain surgeon, he had never seen anything like it before.

We were in awe. We sat there for a few moments in silence. Then the doctor leaned forward and said, “Let me say again what I said earlier. I still don’t believe in God, and I still don’t believe in miracles, but I think we’ve seen one today. So when you go home, you kneel beside your bed, and you thank whatever God you believe in for what has happened, because you have seen a miracle in your life.”

After many months in the rehab hospital and many more of physical therapy, life eventually returned to normal (whatever normal is). With time, Mike was able to go back to work. He became physically stronger and eventually started taking his favorite bike rides again.

We still talk about the accident and how everything fell into place. There were many little things, like our pager (no cell phones then) that was accidently dropped in water but miraculously still worked. That pager was my lifeline to my children at home and school during Mike’s hospitalization. Or like the ER nurse being LDS and finding Mike’s temple recommend in his wallet and alerting the Church to our needs. Or having just the right medical personnel show up who had the answer that no one else could figure out.

In a priesthood blessing, Mike was told that “all would be okay,” and from that point on, I knew it would. It was a rough road, but I knew that in the end we would be okay. We both know that our Heavenly Father was forever mindful of us and our family. We recognized it then, and we recognize it even more now. When things aren’t going as planned, we have learned to have faith, do the best we can, and then try to enjoy the journey as much as possible and see what is at the end of the tunnel.

Lead image from Pixabay

Image title

As Latter-day Saints, we know God exists, but sometimes we may wonder, “Heavenly Father, are you really there for me?”

When trials seem beyond our ability to bear, some people lose their spiritual bearings, while others are made even stronger. How can we strengthen our faith and deepen our testimony to the point that we can endure whatever life holds in store for us and emerge stronger than before?

In this unique book, Gerald N. Lund shows how having a correct idea of God's character, perfections, and attributes is essential to our ability to strengthen our faith and develop our testimony.


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