For me, that’s a super easy question to answer. For all the wrong reasons. Five years ago this week I was fighting for my life in the intensive care unit of Troy Beaumont.
What started with a 103+ degree fever turned out to be much more than a bad case of the flu. In fact, a baseball size abscess was growing in my liver. It was drained in October 2009 but came back softball-sized a couple weeks later. While that would have been bad enough, during the second drainage procedure the doctor punctured my diaphragm which allowed the fluid from the abscess to begin the fill my lung cavity.
I knew it was serious when right after a CAT scan, they transferred me from my regular hospital room 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. At the time, 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 (Elizabeth wasn’t born until 2011). So we prayed and prayed and prayed. And so did hundreds of others around the globe. Literally.
I ended up having surgery on November 21, 2009 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 I developed multiple blood clots in my right shoulder and arm.
Thanks to the prayers of the saints, I got released from the hospital on November 30, 2009, spending a grand total of 25 days at Troy Beaumont in October and November.
And I’ve never been back since… except to do hospital visitations as a pastor.
Fast forward to last night. Kellie, the kids, and I watched It’s a Meaningful Life which is the Veggie Tales version of It’s a Wonderful Life. But instead of George Bailey taking a trip into the past, present, and future and looking at how the world would have been different if he’d never been born, it’s Larry the Cucumber doing something similar. 🙂
Five years ago, I felt like George Bailey… and Larry the Cucumber. 🙂 I felt like God gave me a second lease on life. In fact, here is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent out about a week after I was released from the hospital back in November 2009…
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.
***Practicing the Presence of God. That’s the title of this Sunday’s sermon as we continue our all-new series “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” Please join us as we dig deep into the Scriptures with the goal of praying like never before. November 23rd. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***