Cassville family: Son's recovery nothing short of a miracle
Beagles laud the power of prayer
For the Beagle family of Cassville, the verse Matthew 21: 22, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer," could not be any more true.
The family turned to this verse numerous times while its middle child, Cole Beagle, was hospitalized. The family said Beagle's recovery is a testament to the power of prayer and to God's mystery.
A sophomore accounting major at Missouri State University and 2013 Cassville High School graduate, Beagle spent 10 days at Mercy Hospital in Springfield after suddenly collapsing in his apartment. By the time he got to the hospital, he was not breathing and had no pulse.
By medical standards, Beagle had died. His parents, Dan and Karen Beagle, say his recovery is a miracle and shows how powerful prayer can be.
On Jan. 7, Karen Beagle said she received a phone call from her son's number, but a different voice was at the end of the line.
"It was a girl asking if I was Cole's mom, and then she told me he was in the hospital," she said. "We were in Billings, so it took us about 20 minutes to get there."
Karen, a nurse since 1986, said the family was greeted by a chaplain and a family advocate when members arrived at the hospital.
"That's never a good sign, and the first thing I asked is if he was alive," she said. "They told me he coded and was shocked three times when he got to the hospital. The doctor said he was not sure what was going on, and then he asked us if we could all pray."
Karen said she and her husband had been praying since they received the phone call, and the fact that a doctor asked to pray with them was impressive.
Not responding to any stimuli, even painful stimuli, doctors put Cole in a medically-induced coma and dropped his body temperature to 33 degrees Celsius, aiming to avoid organ or brain damage.
Cole stayed at the frigid temperature for 24 hours. When doctors attempted to wake him, it was the first time he showed a response since he arrived at the hospital.
"He had not been responsive after they started his heart again, and there was no telling if he'd make it," Karen said. "The hardest part was the wait -- 12 hours to cool, and another 12 hours to warm back up. After that, he woke up just enough to squeeze my fingers and wiggle his toes."
Karen said her son's oxygen levels dropped to 85 percent, and his heart rate began climbing, which led doctors to sedate him a second time, keeping his temperature normal. At that point, Beagle's heart had an enlarged left ventricle and was registering 19 percent output. The doctor said about 50 percent of people in that condition would get better, about 30 percent maintain that level of output and about 20 percent get worse.
When Cole awoke again, his heart's output had spiked to 55 percent and the left ventricle had shrunk to normal size, leaving doctors and nurses baffled at such a quick bounce-back.
"At that point, we knew God had his hand in this whole process," Karen said. "He woke up and was responsive, but he was really groggy. After about an hour to an hour-and-a-half, you could tell by his words, responses and facial expressions that Cole was back."
In total, Cole was in the hospital for 10 days. As he was leaving the hospital on a Saturday, the family got a call from their pastor, James Weaver of First Baptist Church in Cassville.
"James said it's a good day today, and he didn't want to hold us up on the phone," said Dan Beagle, Cole's father. "Cole replied to him, 'I'll see you tomorrow,' and he went to church the next day."
Cole said much of the stay in the hospital he did not remember, and even now, it's somewhat unbelievable.
"It's really overwhelming to think about all that, because I don't remember any of it," he said. "The first time I could remember anything was two or three days before I came home. But it's a great feeling to know that many people supported me."
Karen said those 10 days in the hospital would have been unbearable if not for the support from the community, which manifested itself in prayers, visits, snacks and more.
"The support we received was overwhelming, and it's very humbling to know that so many people care about us and our child," she said. "When they were praying for us, it felt like we we're being supported and lifted up physically. You hear people talk about God's grace, and that's exactly what that was."
Courtney Beagle, Cole's older sister, said it was tough for the family to keep up with their phones, as they were getting so many calls, text messages and social media messages.
"All the prayer from the community was overwhelming," Karen said. "Over and over, people said they were praying and praying and praying. We prayed, too. One of the things we prayed for was for God to heal Cole completely. We tried to stay there and just take each day, day by day."
Karen said a number of people also showed up to the hospital to show their support, so many that some did not even get to see Cole after he awoke and was returning to normal.
"People started coming up from the ER because they heard he had made it, and they had had several prior patients who had not," she said. "The nurse who saw him when he came in said she could tell he did not have a pulse. She was the first to do CPR and said she did not have a good feeling about it. People don't survive very often after being without oxygen for 20 minutes."
Karen said she even asked one nurse to explain to her, medically, how Cole recovered how he did.
"She said it was the support," she said. "She said she's never seen someone come back from being literally dead, and he was definitely lifted up in prayer."
The outpouring of support from the community was what struck the Beagle family most, as so many people showed up to the waiting room that Karen said she felt somewhat guilty for taking up so much space.
"Some kids and families basically spent the whole weekend up there," she said.
Dan said so many people showed up in support, visitors had to take turns seeing Cole, and not everyone got a chance.
"It's good to know so many people support you, even if it did get embarrassing," he said. "The doctor originally said two visitors in the morning and maybe two in the afternoon, but we would take two in for a bit, then take them out and bring in the next two. Not everyone who came got to see him, but the staff let that happen."
The Beagle family also received prayer support from around the globe through a family friend's prayer network.
"They were praying for us in Greece, England, Israel, the Phillipines and Hindu India, among others," she said. "In Israel and in Greece, Cole's name was spoken in prayer every hour."
Karen said she and her husband spent a lot of time in the hospital's chapel, praying for a full recovery and poring through scriptures from the couple's Sunday school class.
Dan said the most difficult part of the experience was the fear of losing his son, even if it was God's will.
"One of the scary things for me was when the chaplain said in the chapel, 'Lord, let your will be done,'" he said. "And I said hold on a minute, I'm not ready because what if God takes him? When I got back to the room, I could see all the stuff hooked up to him and that's the most helpless feeling you can have, so, it was back to the chapel."
Karen said she felt God was preparing her for such an event through some of the scriptures she and Dan were studying.
"My Sunday school teacher gave me a Bible I thought had been marked with a ribbon, so I opened to that page and it happened to be marked at Psalm 31:24," she said. "It's the last verse and it says, 'Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that hope in Jehovah.' It had my name beside it and I asked if my teacher did that on purpose, and she said she must have done it at a different time while praying for me for another reason, but that verse really spoke to me and gave me a lot of strength."
Beagle said also, in a Dec. 2 entry in her journal, she explored the possibility that if God would bruise his own son, why would he not bruise her, citing Isaiah 53:10.
"If he would let his own son be crucified, why would he not put hardship our lives to build our faith," she said.
Beagle said she and her family read a lot of Isaiah while Cole was in the hospital, including Isaiah 55:8-9, Philippians 4-7 and many others.
"People who know us know this is not the life we have always led," Karen said. "We have been evolving in the past few years, and I don't know how we would have gotten through without the support of our church, Sunday school class and the community.
"Five to 10 years ago, we would not have thought about prayer. Now, we couldn't imagine being without it."
Beagle said during the family's time in the hospital, there were many signs along the way that showed God was present.
"During the cooling and heating process, my mind kept going and going, and I stopped to look at the clock in the hallway and it seemed to be paused at 3:33.33," she said. "The number three represents the Holy Trinity, and I told Dan, that was God letting us know he was present."
The clock was not the only 3:33 phenomenon, as Cole Beagle's cell phone alarm would go off each day at 3:33 p.m., and even after Cole got his phone back, he did not know how, or why, the alarm was set.
Dan Beagle said it's not the first time divine intervention seemed to take hold, as his youngest daughter, Callie, suffered an eye injury in 2009.
"I prayed out loud for the first time in 2009, when Callie had her eye injury," he said. "On our way to the hospital, I said, 'Lord, we need your help,' and Callie knew it would all be OK because after I said that, she said the pain went away."
Karen said everything that happened, including Cole's expected 100 percent recovery, is still hard to believe.
"We are blessed beyond measure," she said. "We still have some follow-ups to do. They feel the cause was channelopathy, and that can be genetic, autoimmune or triggered by something else, so we'll need to do more tests, and it could be a mystery we may never know."
Cole now has an implanted defibrillator, just in case a similar situation were to occur.
The Beagle family said they wish there was a way to better thank everyone who prayed or visited.
"A 'thank you' just doesn't get it," Dan said. "I know it's the best we can do, but it does not even come close to explaining or describing how you feel in a situation like that.
"From the very start of the whole ordeal, and it's a little silly to say, but things could not have happened any better. It's changed our family and a lot of good has come out of it. There's no way to explain the blessing we've received."
Karen said the experience was humbling.
"I cannot express in words how much I appreciate all the people who prayed. We physically felt that, and it's something you can't repay."
Beagle said she also hopes her son's story will serve as inspiration to others who may have questions about their faith.
"If you don't really have strong faith or don't really spend time learning what's in the Bible, it gives you so much strength," she said. "It's like a guide for our lives. Without it, those first few days would have been unbearable. I hope people are encouraged to build a relationship with God."
Dan again turned to Matthew 21:22 in hopes that others will turn to prayer.
"You can pray wherever you are, so just try it," he said. "Cole is living proof that it works."