I was stalling for time yesterday, waiting for another in what seemed like an endless chain of doctor's appointments. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with the horrible skin infection called MRSA. I was told to cancel all my travel plans and pack a bag for a quick run to the hospital if bad symptoms such a high fever or abscess on the skin developed. As if this were not bad enough news, the doctor's nurse called the afternoon of the day before Thanksgiving to inform me that my creatine levels were high and I might be going into kidney failure (since then I found out that which was elevated was not creatine but something else).
I felt bad all day Thanksgiving and the day after. Of course my doctor was not available. On Saturday I thought I felt a lump so I decided to visit the emergency room. After CT scans and blood work I was released with the understanding I would see my regular doctor yesterday. To carry me through, the ER placed me back on the antibiotics I had run out of, which were the only ones that worked for this infection.
When I first received this news a few weeks ago, I sent a letter to a number of people I knew explaining what was happening and asking for prayer. In the weeks since, I was dismayed that no one had contacted me via e-mail, phone or letter to check up on my condition. In fact, I was becoming pretty grouchy about it. [note; perhaps this is why I wrote the post on Christmas--sorry]
Anyway, I was at a mall getting some information on some products and my cell phone rang. On the line was one of the dear friends I had sent the letter to and who was one that I was quite dismayed had not contacted me. As it turned out, he had been out of town and had just read the letter. We talked and he suddenly (as his manner is) said "let me pray for you". Before I could get settled in a position to hear better he started exercising one of his long suits which is praying for deliverance. He has a deliverance ministry, teaches classes and writes books on the subject and he knows what he is doing.
As he prayed for the "virus" attacking my body, I thought "wait a minute, this is a bacteria not a virus", but it didn't cause any doubts. As he prayed for the power of God to enter my body and "burn the virus up", again I thought "this is a bacteria, not a virus". When he was done praying and we chatted for awhile about what we each were doing, he commented; "you are under siege brother, you need more people praying for you". I reminded him of the letter and we said our good-byes.
Ten years ago, I was doing quite well being the spiritual "lone ranger". My wife and I lived in the middle of a 180 acre farm with our 5 dogs. We had few friends, our families had not visited us in years and we pretty much just kept to ourselves and tried to stay in fellowship with God. We were happy, healthy and blessed. We were also very isolated and alone.
In June of 1997 I had the first of what turned out to be 17 or 18 heart caths (a procedure where they thread a camera up through the main artery to view if there is blockage in the heart blood vessels). Within weeks I was making frequent trips to the hospital to deal with further complications from the original procedure. This was very difficult for we lived well over an hour from the nearest hospital.
In March of 1998 I had emergency double by-pass surgery after suffering one of many heart attacks. Instead of getting better, I got worse and sunk into a state of congestive heart failure. I spent two weeks at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota in the fall of 1998 and another 6 weeks there in January and February of 2000. At long last the experts there told me one fateful day in late February 2000 that I had a condition called "restrictive cardio myopathy" and that I had to have a heart transplant or die within six months. They then told me I had better prepare to die since I would never qualify for a transplant due to my excessive weight.
It was a Friday afternoon when they told me this bad news. The following two days were days that honestly changed my life. I was in Minnesota alone because my wife had to keep working. I was staying in the cheapest run down motel in town to save money. I went back to that motel room and for the first time in years, poured my heart out to God. I cried more than I had in 30 years. I was not crying for myself, I was crying for my wife, mother and dogs. All of them depended upon me for many things.
Looking back, the biggest problem I had at that point in my life was lack of prayer partners of any kind. I was trying to stand, walk, survive and live through only the prayers of my wife, myself, and my mother-in-law's church. I didn't like admitting I was in trouble. I didn't like exhibiting that kind of weakness. I felt I should be strong and "take things like a man". My stubborn pride almost killed me.
The more I prayed and the more I cried, I finally reached rock bottom that weekend almost 8 years ago. Funny how once you hit the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up. Somewhere during that weekend I let go of my pride and humbled myself before Almighty God. Somewhere in the course of a very long and troubling weekend I crawled out of myself and up onto Daddy's lap. There I talked to Him as I hadn't for years. There, on His warm and loving lap, I broke down and allowed my Heavenly Father to hug me and whisper in my ear that everything was going to be alright. Deep in my heart, I believed Him.
If there was one thing I know my Heavenly Father told me that weekend; it was to FIGHT for myself, my family and my health. On Monday morning I stormed into the transplant unit and demanded to speak with the doctor who had pronounced his death sentence on me the previous Friday. Ignoring commands to leave, I found the man and told him I wanted a second opinion. After much arguing and fighting, he reluctantly sent me across the street to the Echo lab for one last echocardiogram.
The only doctor there was the department head who was a world renowned expert on echocardiograms. Upon hearing the situation he agreed to do one on me himself. After did the test, he suggested a second test where I had to swallow a camera. I shall never in my life forget his words after the second test. Obviously irritated he exclaimed; "What is wrong with those people, they obviously didn't read the previous tests right." Oh what music to my ears.
The next few hours were spent listening to two doctors argue over who was right. I sat there amused, for I knew who was right, whether he won the argument of not. I was finally told to leave and results would be sent to my local cardiologist. No one had to tell me twice to "get out of Dodge". For the next few months I tried everything in my power to lose weight, get in physical and spiritual shape. I got better but due to the huge number of prescription drugs I was on, I was still having problems.
In September of 2000 I was rushed to the hospital because I felt horrible. I figured this was it, after all my hard work, it was all in vain. I had just spent two weeks in a hospital with an odd set of symptoms that were never diagnosed. Now I was heading to the biggest hospital in St. Louis to probably be told it was all over. Perhaps I should have thought these things, but I really didn't. I knew everything would be fine, for my Heavenly Father had told me so. In fact, I had a strange sense that things were going to get better not worse.
It was determined that the cause of my feeling so poorly was a combination of having been bitten by a brown recluse spider and all the medication I was on. I spent well over a week in the big hospital and they succeeded in weaning me off of most of my medications, doing every cardiac test known to man and trying new and better drugs and therapy on me. When it was time to leave, my new cardiologist told me I did not need a heart transplant and that my condition would improve with time and the changes made.
You know what? He was right. It has been almost 8 years since the doctors at Mayo pronounced me a dead man walking. Since that time, I have neither had a heart transplant nor have I died. Over the years I have learned the hard way that if you do not FIGHT for yourself, your family, your relationship with God and your health; the devil will try everything in his power to steal it from you, kill you and destroy everything you spent a lifetime building.
Yesterday when I was sitting in the doctor's office, feeling lousy and worrying about what he was about to say; I heard a still small voice tell me to FIGHT. Oh my, I just about caused the doctor to have a heart attack. Out of nowhere I jumped up and told him; "I'm going to be fine". We chatted for a few minutes and I left feeling much better than I had in weeks. I do not know what he thought, nor do I really care, but I know the nearby nurse was looking at me the way people do when looking at a crazy person.
I do not know what the future holds in regards to my health. All I know is that a man I love dearly and trust more than a brother prayed for a virus to get burned out of my body. You know what? I am stubborn enough to believe that's exactly what happened. I am going to walk out on my faith the way Peter walked on the water. I won't be stupid and quit taking my antibiotics, but I am not going to let the devil steal my health, succeed in killing me or destroying my family. That is where the line has to be drawn in the sand and never compromised.
Many years ago I figured out I had watched the movie "Rocky III" somewhere close to 40 times. It was in watching that movie that I learned how to FIGHT for myself, my family and my dreams. I used to have vast sections of dialogue memorized and ready to quote to myself when I needed a "pep talk". I no longer need Rocky to inspire me for I have a much better source of inspiration and motivation. I have God and I have His Word, both written and personally spoken to my heart. If I will but believe Him and quit feeling sorry for myself, I believe I could fight Rocky himself and win.
Thank you for allowing me to share so much of my heart. I feel better just sharing all this with people I have never met and probably will never get the joy of meeting. In the future, if the devil puts me under siege again, I will go to this site's prayer section and let you know. I am so thankful I learned years ago to allow people to pray for me, even on a cell phone in a mall. Thank you my dear brother for having the guts to call me and just pray for me before I could come up with an excuse not to. Thank you my Heavenly Father for honoring that prayer and providing deliverance. Thank all of you for being to me as a family, for which I am eternally thankful.
Thank you for that blog. It's a testimony to God... Jesus always tells me to never give up. I always gave up before I was saved. Now, no matter what happens, God whispers to me... Don't give up. Just keep going.
If you can get through all that and never give up, I can do what I have to and not give up. Thanks for that blog.
Praiose God for everythign He has brought you trhough. Thanks so much for sharing! I really needed that this morning. We have to keep fighting against the devil. We cannot let him get our hopes and dreams. YOu are in my prayers brother!