Life can turn upside down in a moment

Mary Dovgin, Family Member

My husband John and I had been staying on our boat in South Haven and were preparing to leave for a doctor’s appointment one recent morning. John, who has myasthenia gravis, had put one leg out of the boat when the muscles in his other leg gave way. His illness had never affected his legs before, but bundled in heavy clothing, he lost his balance and toppled into the icy water.

John disappeared momentarily before coming to the surface. I tossed a life ring and then grabbed at him, helping to raise his head above the water.  Somehow I managed to get my arms wrapped under his and worked to get him up against the swimming platform at the back of the boat.

I held on to him for dear life, screaming for help, but my cries fell on deaf ears.  I had no way to get to my phone and no one was coming to help us. This was crazy. In an instant our quiet morning evaporated and our lives had turned upside down. I looked into my husband’s eyes and could sense his distress. Fear rose in me. I knew I had to do something, but was helpless. I looked down at my arms wrapped around John and caught sight of the watch around my wrist. I yelled, “Siri, call 9-1-1.” A mechanical voice replied, “Calling 9-1-1.” I began to feel hope again.

Emergency responders arrived and took charge. Hypothermic from his time in the frigid water and injured by the fall, they immediately worked to stabilize my husband and ready him for transport to hospital. From the moment that the EMS team arrived, through his trip to the emergency room at Bronson South Haven, and eventually to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, the care John received was incredible, seamless.

I can’t thank Bronson enough. They have been so friendly, so warm. And, the care by both the hospitals was nothing less than impressive. I was so worried about losing John and now, just a few days later, he is looking so much better. Even with 5 broken ribs, he’s recovering quickly and has regained his sense of humor. He told me that he now has two women in his life. There’s me and then there’s Siri! While he keeps thanking me for his life, I’m more than happy to share that honor with the many that worked so diligently to save my husband’s life.

John and I are so incredibly grateful to the EMS team, Bronson South Haven and Bronson Methodist Hospital for both the extraordinary care AND caring we have received. You have made us feel so well taken care of. They always say that God won’t give you more than you can handle.  And, while this was no doubt a horrible experience, I do feel like I’ve come out on the other side with an even more positive attitude than I had before.