Coming home is a major victory for Rev. Mike and Kay Franklin
by Doris Weber
Mike Franklin, pastor of the local New Life Assembly of God Church, received a warm “Welcome Home” greeting from the people of his church on Sunday, October 13.
Pastor Mike entered the church during opening exercises as Carli Petersen was making the announcement that he was home after a hard-fought battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome, but was not expected to be at the service. At that moment, Pastor Mike stepped through the doorway, and Petersen exclaimed, “Good grief! Here he is!”
The entire congregation responded with cheers and gathered around him with greetings, hugs and handshakes.
Pastor Mike and his wife, Kay, arrived home in Springfield on Saturday, Oct. 12, after his eight months hospitalization. It was the day he and Kay had long awaited.
Tears of happiness welled in his eyes, he said, as Springfield came into view during their ride home.
It was an “incredible” feeling to be home, Pastor Mike said during a recent interview.
Pastor Mike was stricken in February. He felt a tingling in his fingers on Feb. 7. He had been shoveling snow and thought the tingling was caused by frost nip. By Saturday, Feb. 9, he was having trouble walking. Early the morning of Sunday, Feb. 10, he was transported by ambulance to Mayo Clinic Health System — Springfield. His condition was diagnosed as neurological and he was transported to MCHS in Mankato where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in the body’s immune system that attacks the nerves. Weakness and tingling in the body’s extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations quickly spread and paralyzed his entire body. He was hospitalized and had surgical procedures of tracheostomy and gastrostomy.
There’s no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but several treatments can ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, though some experience lingering effects from it, such as weakness, numbness or fatigue.
Pastor Mike was transferred to Regency Rehabilitation Center in Golden Valley on Thursday, Feb. 21. His wife, Kay, stayed with their son and daughter-in-law and their children in Coon Rapids, and the family transported her to the hospital each day.
It was a very difficult time for the Franklins. Mike was paralyzed and couldn’t speak. He was lonely and depressed and his future looked bleak.
His spirits were lifted one day by Dick and Jan Eilders, who “felt impressed by the Lord to drive to the cities to see me,” Pastor Mike recalled. “That was one day I really remember.”
“The hardest day in my life” was April 1 when I learned that Kay had suffered a stroke,” Pastor Mike said. “I was frozen. I could not move my arms or legs. I had always taken care of my wife, and now she was stricken and hospitalized, and I couldn’t do anything.”
A day remembered is the day he was taken off the respirator. “My son brought balloons to my room and we celebrated,” Pastor Mike recalled.
“My day of victory was having my trach removed,” on May 14, Pastor Mike said. Once off the trach and after passing the various medical tests, he was moved to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley where he received extensive therapy two to three hours a day, six days a week, including therapy in the pool, which made measurable improvements in his outcome. “I have nothing by praise for the staff at Courage Kenny,” Pastor Mike said.
The steely determination that Pastor Mike showed during his hospitalization and rehabilitation played a huge role in his almost miraculous recovery. He acknowledges that the prayers, love, caring and support he and Kay received from God’s people (from all churches in Springfield) were an important part of their recovery.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.