Life is fragile. Tomorrow is not promised to us. We think we’ll die of old age, decades from now. It’s too scary to think about any other possibility.
I found out just how fragile life was exactly four years ago today – Friday November 13, 2009. A few weeks prior, I was diagnosed with a liver abscess and spent 7 days at Troy Beaumont. At the time we thought the worst was over.
A couple weeks later I had a follow up CAT scan to make sure everything was OK. It wasn’t. The liver abscess was back and bigger than ever, the size of a softball this time. So I needed to get it drained once again.
We went in on November 13th (as in Friday the 13th . . . and no, I am still not superstitious even after everything that happened) for an outpatient procedure to drain my liver abscess a 2nd time. During the procedure the doctor punctured my diaphragm. Which turned this outpatient procedure into being admitted once again to the hospital. Over the next few days it was more and more painful – unbearably so – and getting harder to breathe.
On November 16th I had an episode where I couldn’t breathe and the next thing I knew the “crash team” stormed into my room – a half dozen nurses and doctors. They thought I might be going into pulmonary arrest. I was rushed for a CAT scan which revealed my right lung was severely compressed. It turns out when the doctor punctured my diaphragm, the bacterial fluid from the abscess transferred into my lung cavity and started multiplying.
I knew it was serious when right after this CAT scan, they transferred me to intensive care. I remember thinking, “I’m not that sick, am I?” After all, people get admitted to intensive care and come out with a toe tag.
Over the next few days it got harder and harder to breathe. It was scary beyond words. I was 36 years old, married, and had two little girls at home under the age of 3. I didn’t want Kellie to be a widow and for Faith and Evelyn to grow up without their daddy. So we prayed and prayed and prayed. And so did hundreds of others around the globe, literally.
I ended up having surgery on November 21st on my right lung cavity. It was a success! Praise God for that. But I wasn’t out of the woods just yet. After the surgery, I was so weak I had to use a walker; I was in so much pain they had me on a cocktail of painkillers; I had 3 chest tubes inserted in my side; and developed a severe blood clot.
Thanks to the prayers of the saints I got released from the hospital on November 30th – spending a grand total of 25 days at Troy Beaumont in October and November.
This blog post is already long so let me end by sharing an excerpt from an e-mail I sent out about a week after I was released from the hospital…
I still have one chest tube sticking out of my right side (all I want for Christmas this year is for this tube to be removed once and for all) so if you hug me when you see me, please hug carefully! And I still have a PICC line in my left arm for I.V. antibiotics each night. And I lost 25 pounds thanks to a combination of bad hospital food and having absolutely no appetite thanks to being pumped full of antibiotics and painkillers. But overall I am feeling a hundred times better than when I got released from the hospital a week ago. I had zero energy last Monday when I came home. Since then I have been getting stronger each day. Kellie has been AMAZING in taking care of me and playing with Faith and Evelyn has never been sweeter. Did I mention how awesome Kellie has been?
In many ways I feel like George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Let me share a few things I learned on this journey. Being able to take a deep breath is a gift. Being able to walk without the assistance of a walker is a gift. Being able to eat and not vomit is a gift. Being able to get out of bed without assistance from others is a gift. Looking at Christmas lights as you drive down the road is a gift. Spending time with your kids “playing blocks” on the floor is a gift. Giving your spouse a hug is a gift. Being able to sleep through the night is a gift. All of these I took for granted before, but by the grace of God, I will never take them for granted again.
Life is fragile. Each day is a gift. It really is a wonderful life. Remember that.
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. I will be preaching on the the focal point of our faith, the Crucifixion of Jesus in Matthew 27:32-44. We are going to do a deep dive into that passage and look at details we normally don’t look at on days like Good Friday. November 17. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***