An integrated life

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

I usually don’t use this blog for happenings in my personal family, but since prayers for my dear wife seem to have gone viral, I needed a place to point people who were interested in the story, and this was as good a place as any…

On Friday, my precious wife and daughter were on their way out of town for a long-awaited Mother/Daughter getaway that Hope and I had planned for Carol (my wife). They got a bit of a late start and were supposed to head off to Winston-Salem about 2.5 hours away. I prayed that the Lord would watch over them as they were away from us, as I sometimes remember to do.

For some reason, they decided to stop to do some shopping in Cary and all of a sudden Carol found herself in great pain in her abdominal area. (As you will see, this was the first answer to my prayer for their protection). Hope called and we were not sure if it was something as simple as gas or a potential emergency situation, only two years after Hope had to have her appendix out after similar “unexplained” pain. They decided to stop at a friends house and let Carol lay down a little to see if it subsided and they could continue on to Winston-Salem. We sent out a quick prayer request to our church loop for Carol and wisdom as to whether or not she should continue to Winston Salem. Over the next few hours, there were phone calls back and forth and eventually it was decided that Carol should go to a nearby “Urgent Care” place, and I was on stand by as to whether I should meet her at an emergency room.

The UrgentCare place noticed her having slightly low blood pressure, determined that there wasn’t signs of an appendix problem, gave her an IV as she seemed dehydrated and thought it might be some sort of cyst. As she continued to deteriorate and it was getting late on a Friday, they determined she should go to the Emergency Room to get a scan and figure out how serious it was. (Second answer to prayer). I sent a follow up email before leaving saying she had gotten worse and I was going to meet her at the ER. As I scrambled to grab myself some personal care items and a change of clothes in case I needed to stay overnight, my son reminded me that I didn’t need to get anything for my wife… she was already packed for the weekend, so I got out of there pretty fast. (Third answer to prayer).

By this time, Carol could not get up without feeling nauseous and light headed. They wheeled her out of the urgent care to the car, and Hope got her to the ER pretty quickly where they also put her in a wheel chair. Unlike the usual wait in the ER if it is not clear that you are dying, they got to her pretty quickly, just after I arrived there. They asked her the usual intake questions, asked if she was usually that pale, and whether her blood pressure had been this low at the Urgent Care place (72/46). Dr. Bob DiLorenzo, our dear friend who is an ER doctor was on vacation across the country in Yosemite where he shouldn’t have had a signal. He just happened to be in a spot where he was checking his email, and called while we were checking in. (More answers to prayer). He said that it was probably internal bleeding of some sort and that it was good we were in the ER. I sent a quick email out that it may be internal bleeding, and the prayer request started going viral. Carol, by this point was in pain, shivering, and couldn’t move without feeling like she was going to throw up or faint. (I’ll leave some of the more personal details out here).

It wasn’t too long until a doctor was officially brought in, they started pumping her full of IV and arranging a CT Scan. Though the staff was staying calm, they made it clear that this was a serious situation. The doc said he expected to see a lot of blood internally and hopefully see where it was coming from, and that we should be thinking about who we wanted to do the surgery. Though Dr. Bob was in a remote spot, we managed to get a signal long enough to get his recommendations which corresponded to the two men we already knew and trusted:

  • Dr. Eric Dubberman who was the one who found and removed Hope’s mystery problem two years earlier if it was a non-gynecological problem, and
  • Dr. Greg Brannon who is a bold Christian ob-gyn who loves life and had helped deliver Joshua six years ago if it was a gynecological problem – we knew that he wouldn’t do anything to Carol to stop her reproductive system that wasn’t necessary.

But would either of them be available for emergency surgery on Labor Day weekend? We clearly had no time to spare.

The CT Scan showed “blood up to her liver” and the source was inconclusive, though one suspect was the right ovary. As Carol was wheeled back from the CT Scan room, the ER doc got on the phone and found that Dr. Brannon was available as was Dr. Dubberman. Within about a minute we heard Dr. Brannon’s unmistakable gregarious voice saying, “See, what did I tell you. Less than 90 seconds.” He came into the room, made fun at Carol for not coming to see him for more than five years and doing something extreme like this to get to see him again. He checked her out and got on the phone to Dr. Dubberman, who quickly agreed to meet him in the operating room and be there since it was unclear where the source of the bleeding was and that this wasn’t something to mess around with. Dr. Brannon explained that there was no time for a laparoscopic procedure, and that they were going to have to cut her open and move skillfully and quickly, saving whatever they could, but having to do whatever they needed to do to stop the bleeding.

While this was happening, Carol and I spoke very little other than a few words of encouragement that God was in control and had sent the best people we could ask for to help her, and reminders of our love for one another. We prayed briefly together, but little did we know how many prayers were storming the gates of heaven. I was calm and at peace, though very much aware that if they didn’t get to her soon, couldn’t find and fix the source of the problem, or there were any complications, this might be my last time on earth that I would see my wife alive as it was clear that her vital signs were close to the edge and more blood loss could push her over it. When I asked how long I should expect her to be in surgery, I was told, “Best case, about an hour. Otherwise, as long as it takes.”

I got to the waiting room, and now the hard part came for me. While I was with Carol, I could concentrate on reassuring her. Now, I had nothing to do but wait and pray. I wasn’t even sure how to pray. I was somewhat numb from the events of the day. I didn’t know what to ask the Lord other than I wanted my wife to live, but “not my will but Yours”. I was reassured by all of the coincidences that He had already lined up… Carol could have easily been halfway to Winston Salem when this hit her and nowhere close to anyone we knew, deciding to tough it out. She could have gotten to the ER later and been behind other people who looked worse than Carol. We could have had the least experienced and ungodly doctors in the county covering for all the “senior docs” taking a long weekend off. Bob could have been at a part of Yosemite joyfully ignorant of what was happening back home while he enjoyed God’s wonderful creation. Many people who we love and love us could have been away from their computer when the emails and FaceBook posts started… but they were not.

As I pulled out my iPad to send an update out, I was overwhelmed by the pouring out of prayers from all over the country… I’ll come back to this later.

In less than an hour, Dr. Brannon came out and he said that there was a large rupture in her right ovary like he had never seen before. In fact, he had only seen anything like it once before, 25 years earlier in a 20-year-old girl. Evidently, ovarian cysts rupture all the time and sometimes cause some bleeding that gets flushed through the system and out through the paths that are there. Carol, believing she is going through the early stages of menopause, hadn’t had a period for about 4 months. Evidently, she had a large growing cyst during that time and when it ruptured, it basically exploded and blew right through the back side of her ovary. Though she now has one less ovary, it appears that this was the clear source of the problem and, as I am writing this she is well into recovery. The biggest concern at the end of the surgery was her blood level as she lost so much blood.

The prayers of the saints are being answered as Carol’s recovery is going as well as can be expected and better. The difference between where she was 12 hours ago in the recovery process to now is quite amazing. They added 4 pints of blood to her slowly through about 10 AM this morning. They’ve since taken several blood samples, and all the numbers are going rapidly in the right direction. Her latest blood tests are showing that she is continuing to go in the right direction even though she has been off of transfusions or IVs since before noon. She is now on oral pain medication. She just had a really good two hours of walking, urinating on her own, and having full conversations. She isn’t taking in much food (clear only right now) but she is keeping down everything she has taken in. All of these things are what they are looking for before they let her out of here. The last two hours (and the 24+ before that) have wiped her out and she is back to sleep, but otherwise doing great. We expect that she’ll be moving slow for a few weeks, but otherwise will be perfectly fine. (If you are still out there reading this, don’t stop praying. The recovery period isn’t over).

I’m praying they will let her out of here tomorrow, but if she has to stay until Monday as they originally expected we really have no business complaining. It was so good to see her having a normal conversation with color in her cheeks… just 24 hours ago I was wondering if those cheeks would ever have color in them again.

Carol and I were both sharing with each other a few hours ago that when we were in the midst of the crisis, we both had peace and didn’t really know how to pray besides the simple prayer “God, your will be done, but please fix it.” Though we were both aware that it could have been our last night together on this earth, we could only encourage each other and say this simple prayer. While we were coming up short on how to pray, we know that there were literally thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – from around the country praying as we could not. Prayers for Carol were going viral. I didn’t have time to pray in the waiting room while I was reading notes from folks who told me they were praying… I received emails from people all over the country I didn’t even know. I was copied on other people’s facebook comments. I was receiving phone calls from people I had only met once or twice. In fact, I almost missed the news from the doctor when he came out to the waiting room because someone called to pray with me. Just before they called, the folks in the waiting room with me (waiting for someone to finish a routine day surgery) recognized what was happening as I could barely put my phone down and, when I had just a moment between calls, they came over and prayed with me before they left. Just afterward, Tony Hernandez showed up with a Grilled Stuff Burrito and we caught up on each other’s lives while I had to wait to see Carol. Since then, I have been notified today about many more church and ministry prayer loops we were on in North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and who knows where else.

In the morning, during a moment she seemed to be awake, I read the Bible to her and I just happened to have it bookmarked at Romans 8. By the time I got to this passage:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (NASB)

Carol was already asleep.

How faithful our Lord is. When we don’t know how to pray as we should, He just takes over. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! All glory and honor to His name!

As if that was not enough, we have been offered more meals and service than we can handle.

As I told one dear sister, “There are meals supplied already for the next 4 days. There is a churchwide campout tomorrow night that the children are looking forward to. Carol’s sister and mother are going to be down on Monday to help and, quite honestly, I have no idea what else we could possibly ask for (unless you want to pay off our mortgage?). Our cup overflows, and the children are going to get lazy on me if anyone gives them any more.”

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take Him at his word; just to rest upon His promise, and to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!

Once again the Lord has proven Himself faithful and done exceedingly abundantly beyond all we ask or think.

Pray for those who don’t trust in Him. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through something like this without Him… Praise the Lord, by His amazing and abundant grace, I will never have to know. Lord, pour your grace upon them as you have on me and my family!