All of us have challenges as we go through life. The question is how do we deal with them? The immediate crisis always seems to be the most overwhelming. In 1997 my mammogram came back questionable. The doctor recommended surgery in four days. Each time I saw him I would say, “I’m expecting a good report!”
To this day, I continue saying this for every appointment or test. Al talks at length about this challenge in our book, “First Light on the Water.” I am now 10 years cancer free! God gets the glory for being my strength and my healer for I stood on scriptures special to me at this time.
Little did I know this chapter in my life actually prepared me for what I now call the biggest challenge in my life. I am so glad that in 1979 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am also thankful I began attending a bible believing, bible preaching church. Al and I have been attending Living Word North for over 20 years where we hear the uncompromised word of God. We have learned of a loving God and His promises to those who believe. There has been “good seed” planted in my heart of God’s Word. It has rooted well. What you have planted in your heart will determine the course of your life.
As a child, I had three bouts with rheumatic fever. A heart murmur went undetected until I was about 23 years old. After that, I had a cardiologist exam annually. In early December of 2001, my cardiologist said it was time for a mitral heart valve replacement. This surgery could wait until after Christmas and was scheduled for January 18, 2002, at Abbott Hospital in Minneapolis.
Now I had to prepare mentally and physically for my surgery. Wanting to stay healthy, I chose to remain inside at home. This way I could avoid picking up anything from “people contact.” I immersed myself in the Word of God finding scriptures meaningful for my situation. These were written down as I found them. My special scripture was Mark 11:22-26. This was the same one I kept in my heart and held onto for the cancer surgery. Also, I had praise music playing all the time and listened to CDs with teachings what the bible has to say about healing. I was preparing for battle, arming myself with “weapons” to sustain me to victory! I was on prayer lists all over this nation. Even some of the NFL coaches and players were praying for me, thanks to Tony Dungy! (I am a huge football fan!) People would send encouraging emails to our office and all of this really blessed me.
I had given all my scriptures to the church secretary to make full size pages so I could place them around my room. She did a beautiful job making lovely borders and typing in different font styles. I also had some made smaller to keep in a book by my bedside.
On January 15, I received a call from Dr. Joyce that the surgery was rescheduled for February 5. A maze procedure was going to be done along with the valve replacement. An easier method to accomplish this would be coming and they wanted to use it instead of the old method. The maze procedure is to direct the “renegade” electric impulses into the normal route. This meant more weeks of continuing to be built up for the surgery. It was like popping a balloon and inflating again!
We arrived at Abbott Northwestern Hospital on February 3, 2002. Our sons flew in from Phoenix and Los Angeles. There was housing attached to the hospital, so it was really nice for us to be together. All went well with the prep work the day before surgery.
I was scheduled early and we had asked Dr. Joyce if we could pray for him and any of the operating staff. He agreed and in pre-op Al said a prayer for all of us. He prayed for God to guide everyone on that surgical team. Then, Dr. Joyce said he would like to pray. We were so blessed. He told us that he never goes into surgery without God.
Surgery went well and I began my stay in ICU. I was in that unit for five days. Normally you would be heading home after five days of a valve replacement. We had one instance of alarms going off and Al said everyone was rushing to my bedside. I don’t recall any of that.
I had asked God to give me a mauve colored room. Not pink or rose, but mauve. On the sixth day
I was transferred to the hospital floor and wheeled into a cream colored room. In that room would also come another crisis. My heart was not beating in sinus rhythm. I still had wire leads coming from the incision area in case a rhythm adjustment was necessary. That day about seven specialists and many nurses filled my room. They got it back into rhythm with everyone jubilant, especially me!
The next day I was moved to a private room and it was mauve! The only mauve room on that floor. God answers small and big prayers! I promptly put all my beautiful scriptures on the walls of that room! Al and I kept the door closed so we could have it quiet for our prayer and conversation. Little did I know the battle was just beginning. Our niece, Dawn had a very large email list of churches and people updating them daily and what the specific prayer need was for that day. The medications were being adjusted each day, as my body seemed to have a continual reaction. One adjustment would throw something else off and on and on. (I kept dropping weight, as I had no appetite, now weighing only 104 lbs.) I was hungry for lime Popsicles, watermelon and pickles. Al took a cab to fill my request. Next, my blood platelets took a dive. Three transfusions later, they were less than before. I had doctors for every different problem. But the one who dealt with the blood sent my sample to the U of M. It came back that I was allergic to the blood thinner, heparin. Only 1% has a reaction and there I was! By changing the thinner, I was on my way to mending. These daily challenges ensued for 16 more days after my release from Abbott.
My room was filled with flowers and the fragrance so beautiful. But this was a room of almost continual prayer. We spoke to the mountain that was the challenge for each day as it came. Al was with me every single day from 8 AM to 10 or 11 PM. This was a room that was filled with the peace and presence of God.
Never, never quit until you win! Keep happy and positive, these are life-sustaining actions that you do on purpose. Also, I laughed a lot, just to laugh. It is so good for you. It is a choice to be positive or negative. To fight or just sit back. It’s worth the fight and to surround you with people that carry that same value.
Twenty-one days later, at 4:00 PM, they asked me IF I would like to go home! Two hours later, on February 26, Al and I headed home on one of the coldest and most brutal of winter nights. But there was great joy in our car. I cried when he carried me into our home. How wonderful to be back. My slow recovery took another three months.
But in time of challenge, we always had something daily to thank God for. Valve surgeries are done in numbers every day and usually are a five-day stay. The heparin—that was the monkey wrench. If it could have been discovered early, my stay would have been shorter. There is no test to give ahead to know this.
It was so good to be back in my garden of flowers that spring! I thank God for every day! The Bible says that satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give life and more abundantly. I am so glad to have my LORD as my defender and uplifter!
The Joy of the Lord is my strength!