Stories

Shark Attack Challenges Couple's Perseverance

Shark Attack Challenges Couple's Perseverance
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/12/2018 5:46:37 AM IST

 Tiffany and her husband JJ were enjoying a day of snorkeling while on a cruise. But he started feeling sick and headed back to the boat.

“In the meantime,” said JJ, “my wife is just out there snorkeling by herself, never thought that she was in any kind of danger.”

But in these waters, danger is always close by.

“And I felt like I had bumped into something,” remembered Tiffany. “I was face to face with a shark. He had my whole arm in his mouth. I remember the sound of me screaming through the snorkel tube.”

Tiffany was in a fight for her life.

“I felt the strength of the Lord just come out from inside of me and give me the strength to fight. And I remember thinking, ‘No, I’m not going to die here. You are not going to take my life’” declared Tiffany. “So I started to yank, harder. When I yanked the last time, his jaws opened up and I remember when my arm popped out, I looked at it and I was just in shock because it was completely gone.”

“That's when I hear Tiff scream.  And she screamed ‘help me, help me, Jesus’” shuddered JJ. “I see half of her right arm was gone and it was just mangled, you know, a mangled stump. And I see blood everywhere all around her. I screamed ‘baby,’ and I jumped off the boat after her, and the first thing that I heard her doing, was praying.”

The boat’s captain threw out a rope and JJ and Tiffany pulled themselves in.

“The moment I hit that boat, the peace of the lord was so strong,” described Tiffany, “it was like a tangible cloud, a presence that I’ve never felt before.”

As the boat sped back towards the dock, JJ made a tourniquet out of a towel trying to stem the flow of blood from Tiffany’s arm.

“I just laid my head on his lap and I just began to pray in the Holy Spirit,” said Tiffany through tears. “Praying for my husband to give him strength. And I prayed for my kids. I prayed in that boat, that God would use this for His glory.”

“That was the only time that I felt like ‘oh my gosh, my wife could die on me,’” said JJ.

Once back on shore, they called an ambulance. Tiffany was rushed to the Nassau hospital and taken into surgery.

“I remember making phone calls to her immediate family, my immediate family telling them what happened, just to pray for her,” nodded JJ. “So I was just praying that the Lord would just heal my wife, - that she would be okay. That she was gonna make it through this.”

The surgery lasted four hours. But it wasn’t over.

“After the surgery,” said JJ, “the doctor approached me and told me ‘Mr. Johnson, your wife, she's stable and we stopped the bleeding, but she needs to see an American doctor as soon as possible.’"

Without proper and immediate care, Tiffany could lose what was left of her arm, or worse, develop a life-threatening infection.

“But they really just did not have the resources like we do here,” said Tiffany, “so I was in a lot of pain.”

But getting back to America wasn’t so easy.

“We knew that we needed an act of God and a miracle for us to get back,” JJ said.

Their only option was to hire a medevac crew that would fly them from Nassau back to the states.

“It cost $16,000 for the medevac flight,” said JJ, wide-eyed.

“The medevac told JJ, you know, if we don’t get this pre-approved, chances are it’s going to be an out-of-pocket expense,” said Tiffany.

JJ was more than willing to pay, but the couple still prayed for another miracle.  Two hours later, they got a call from the medevac company.

“‘You don’t have to worry about one penny of it. We’ll take care of it,’” said Tiffany, recalling what the Medevac company told her. “And I remember JJ hanging up the phone and just bawling.”

Less than 24 hours later, Tiffany and JJ landed in Charlotte, where an ambulance was waiting.

“And it's just incredible,” said JJ with an exhale, “just to see how God moved the mountains for us to get back home. And we didn't waver on our faith, we just knew that He was going to come through.”

Tiffany never fought infection and had two more successful surgeries. One of which was an innovative nerve transfer surgery that allowed her to control a prosthetic arm. “I remember tears kind of starting to roll down my cheeks as I was realizing that everyday tasks are not going to be the same,” said an emotional Tiffany. 

“And JJ looked over at me and he’s like ‘it’s okay, we’re just going to establish our new normal now.’”

And they have done just that. Tiffany leads worship at church, and together she and JJ continue raising their three children: Kylie, Luke and Natalie. They thank God for His faithfulness through everything.

“My prayers were definitely answered, more than I could ever imagine,” beamed JJ. “She's not only alive, but she's thriving and her testimony is one that's going to last for ages.”

“The tears I cry are not of depression and frustration, and ‘why me,’ they’re tears of gratitude that I’m even here, like I shouldn’t even be alive, so, it’s just a limb” said Tiffany with a tearful smile. 

“So any time I do get frustrated or feel like ‘ugh, this is just not fun,’ you know, it’s just a reminder that I’m here and I’m alive and God’s in this and He’s using it.”

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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