Scott McGillivray

Hello everyone! My name is Scott McGillivray. I am here to share a story from my life with you. This is not my conversion story, just a big story that impacted my life. We have heard some amazing stories thus far and I am just hopeful that mine can have some positive effect on someone.

First, a bit of background about me. I was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. I am the youngest of 3 with 2 older sisters. I came from a very good family, but not what I would call a Christian one. Only my mother and I are believers. I only ever went to church if a friend's parents happen to take me and I didn't have a good understanding of who or what Jesus was until in my twenties. However, before I turned 21, I was drawn to a new church not too far from our home and it was there that I came to know Christ and got baptized.

God led me into a career in computers. I failed University and tech school due to my laziness, and yet, thanks only to God, I still managed to get a very good career in the field of computers. My last job in Saskatchewan was as the computer systems administrator for the Five Hills Health Region in Moose Jaw. While there, I also managed to open up four computer gaming stores in Regina and Moose Jaw. I also was able to have a fairly successful acting career. I had good speaking roles on "Corner Gas" and several other TV shows as well as movies. Life was good and very busy.

However, I was feeling a calling to head West. I managed to get a new job in Vancouver and moved here about 5 years ago. It was here that I met my lovely wife, Melody. We fell in love and were married very quickly.

About a year after we were married, in 2009, I was working at a new job at the Richmond Olympic Oval. The building was brand new and the Olympics were on their way. It was a very exciting time. In late May, I was heading home on a beautiful Friday afternoon. I was riding my new Victory motorcycle and really enjoying the feel of the sun on my back and the wind in my face.

I never made it home.

Not far from my home, a truck swerved into my lane causing me to crash my 700 pound bike. I took the full impact on my right side. I remember waking up on the road, laying on my right side. I was very calm, in my head. I thought, "Ok...I've had an accident, but I'm still alive." I couldn't breathe very well so I went to roll over onto my back. I could hear voices from people around me telling me not to move because of my back or neck. I had recently finished a first-aid course, so I knew what they meant, but I had to breathe. As I rolled onto my back I could feel and "hear" my ribs moving inside me. I thought, "Well, I have broken some ribs. That's not so bad." I went in and out of consciousness. I had cut my head open pretty badly and people were mainly concerned about my head/neck damage. The next thing I recall is someone standing near my head. They had a bright, white shirt on. Was it an angel? No, it was my brother-in-law, Dan. He is a paramedic who just happened to be on shift and in that area (what I call a God-incidence). He did not recognize me due to the blood etc. It wasn't until later when they went to take my jacket off and I said "Ok Dan" that it clicked that I knew him and then he realized who I was. This was a double-blessing in that not only did I get the best possible care, but he was able to contact his wife and she contacted my wife and they were able to meet up with us at the Royal Columbian hospital.

Most of the ride and other events are of a snapshot-style memory. I do recall waking up at one point in the hospital with a laser shining in my eye. I realized I was getting a CAT scan, but don't recall getting into the machine. Later, a surgeon came to talk with my wife and I to say that I had a lot of damage. I had shattered 8 ribs, broken my shoulder blade, bit through my tongue, gashed my head open, vertigo in both ears and had lots of road rash. Oh, and they noticed I had previously broken my neck (News to me! It must have happened from high school wrestling). All of that was no big deal. The bad news was that I had torn my descending aorta. This is the largest artery in the body and main connection to your heart. What happens in a traumatic tear like this is that the heart is not fixed into place in your body. So when one has massive trauma like I did, the heart bounces towards one side and the aorta, which is like a hose, tears. The stats for this injury are about 98% fatal. 90% die on the spot. The remaining 8% die in the hospital. I learned later that at any point, my aorta could fully rupture and I would just drop dead. A cough, a bump...darn near anything could kill me. I had to go in for major open heart surgery. I didn't know it at the time, but the doctor explained that in this surgery they go in through your back and in doing so, there was a 1 in 20 chance I would be paralyzed.

I remember getting prepped for surgery. They had given me something for the pain and along with the shock, my memories are still in snap-shots. I do recall at one point that I had the sudden urge to vomit. I was reclined in a bed with many people working around me getting ready for the operation. I told them I had to throw up. I was confused as they all became rather unsettled. I explained again, "Look I am going to throw up so give me something to vomit into." The one fellow grabbed a can and nervously brought it over to me. I was getting upset at this strange, slow reaction. I threw up once and felt better. Well, it turns out that the reason everyone became so grim is that normally throwing up is one of the last things one does with this sort of injury. They thought I was just about to die.

Well, obviously, I didn't. But then, they just about killed me because they didn't have the bed locked in a reclining position. After I threw up I leaned back in the bed and it collapsed back to a full horizontal position. Again, that should have killed me, but it didn't.

The surgery itself was supposed to take 2-3 hours. I was being worked on by a very young surgeon named Dr. Gunning. My wife and her family had to wait in the trauma waiting room. They waited...and they waited. 3 hours went by and there was no word. 4 hours. 5, 6 hours. Nothing. It was not like in the movies where they come out once in a while to give you an update. 7 hours. 8 hours. Finally, 9 hours after I had gone in, Dr. Gunning came out to say it was done but that it more complicated than expected. My aorta had been far more damaged than they thought. When they did the operation, they made me lie on my right side. Remember, this is the side with 8 shattered ribs. Ouch. They had to run a bypass from my heart to my femoral artery in my legs and work on me sort of like a plumber. When they replaced one section of my aorta and "turn the taps back on" they found it leaking in another spot. It got so bad that my surgeon called in a backup surgeon to assist. They wound up replacing a 4 inch piece of it with a synthetic material.

I recall waking up in the Cardiac ICU. I could see the nurse inspecting clear hoses with blood moving in them. They were tubes running to my lungs. I had 2 on one side and one on the other. Fascinating. Later I recall seeing a man standing next to my bed. It was Dr. Ho, the anesthesiologist. I recall him talking to me with a shocked, amazed expression...like he was talking to a ghost. He said to me "You have no idea. No idea how big an operation that was!" This was an experienced trauma doctor saying this. Wow. What happened in there?

My recovery started off pretty smoothly. I had over 70 staples in my back and groin from the operation plus uncounted hundreds of stitches inside me. I couldn't lay in a bed due to the lovely combination of the shattered ribs on one side and a 2 foot incision on the other. So, I did most of my recovery in a reclining chair...sort of like a laz-y-boy. The full gravity of what I just survived had not fully sunk in yet. But I was thankful to have made it. But I wasn't done yet. About the 3rd day after the surgery, I had massive pains in my chest. Turns out I had many serious blood clots in my lungs and they threatened to still kill me. I had no idea that I could still die from this. They rushed me into a very high-tech area where they inserted an IVC filter. This is a metal, spider-looking device about 2" tall that they insert via the femoral vein and guide it up to sit in the middle of my chest where it could catch blood clots before they got into my heart. The procedure was not too painful in itself, but I had to lay perfectly still, flat on my back. It felt like I had daggers sticking into me, which I sort of did with my broken ribs. I had to lie like that for many hours. It was then that the Devil really came after me. He is such a coward and SO evil that he waits until your weakest moment to strike. It was that night that I was scared. I was really scared. I had never really been afraid of dying before, but that night...I was very afraid. I prayed and God gave me just enough strength to hold on until the morning.

Days went by. Things got better. Many crazy events happened in the room I shared with 3 others. Some funny, some tragic. My wife was with me the whole time. She came early in the mornings and left late at night. My family from Regina had flown out the very first day and stayed until I was doing okay. I am very blessed to have had so many loving people around me.

After 15 days, more x-rays and CT scans than I can begin to exaggerate I was able to go home. Amazing, really, that I could walk/wheelchair out so soon. I spent another 6-8 weeks recovering at home before heading back to work. To this day I still have my broken ribs, which will likely never heal, and some wonderful scars to show for it.

What did I learn from this? Dying does not really hurt. If you know of someone that has died in a violent manner, trust me that they really didn't feel much pain. From witness statements, I seemed in great agony lying on the road, but that's not what I recall. My body suffered...I didn't.

God was with me, but not in a visceral way. I didn't feel closer to Him then. I never felt His hand upon me. During such trauma, there is just SO much going on. It makes me realize that people who think they will give a death-bed confession in an accident simply will never have the chance to do so. You better be ready to face God now. Don't expect to get a chance to decide just before you die.

Death can happen at any moment. Look around this room. Everyone you see will die at some point. This is not a morbid thought...this is fact. This is part of life. For a Christian, it is part of our graduation ceremony. We move from here to our true home. The seed that forms a great tree must first be put into the ground. So...when will your turn be? Decades from now? What about today? What about on your drive or walk home from church today? Are you ready? Are you sure you are ready? If not, don't wait. Talk with Pastor Jim or me or many of the members here and find out what Jesus is willing to do for you.

One last thing. When I spoke with Dr. Ho in the ICU, he explained that he put over 8 litres of blood through me because it was such a big, long operation. Even at my size, I don't hold 8 litres of blood. That meant that when I woke up, pretty much all the blood in me was from someone else. So, I thank those of you who are blood donors. But, like my T-shirt says, I was really saved by ONE blood donor. Jesus Christ who poured out His blood for me.

Michael Moll