Before you scoff at that title, let me explain. While God did not literally resurrect me, I’ve come eerily close to death on more than one occasion over the past three months. If you don’t believe that, just ask my wife.
I’m on my fourth hospital stay since Thanksgiving, hopefully going home next week. It’s been a while since I wrote, mainly due to bad eyesight and not feeling well.
This visit started with an early morning 911 call. I woke up after a good night’s sleep only to find that I was very short of breath and needed oxygen. Once the ambulance arrived, they immediately placed me on oxygen and headed to UK. It’s scary to feel like you’re smothering; I had been here before, but not this bad. The odd thing is that my vital signs were all good, even oxygen saturation. My lungs just don’t work right anymore. Given my weak immune system and difficulty breathing, I needed quick medical attention.
Throwing Darts with a Blindfold
Six weeks later, we’re still not sure what happened. I’ve had every test posssible. The usual culprit, a fungal infection wasn’t the enemy this time. I did test for a few common bugs, but none was the chief cause of my shortness of breath. I spent several nghts in ICU while on CPAP machine to help me breathe.
So for weeks the doctors threw everything possible at it–broad spectrum antimicrobial drugs–and ran more tests. Still, nothing. Finally, we made the decision to have a bronchoscopy. This allowed the surgeon to go into my lung and take a sample of lesions therein. This is fairly routine, but not for me because of my compromised lung function. The result of severe GVHD is widespread inflammation similar to COPD. In fact, it was risky enough that Christi and I were advised to say any “final words” in the event of complications or if my lungs were not strong enough to be weaned off the ventilator.
By the time we were ready to have the procedure, we’d prayed, cried, said goodbye, confirmed last wishes, reviewed insurance information, and spent a few hours with the girls. The last thing I remember was one of the nurses or doctors reassuring me as I drifted off. She had the biggest smile that calmed me. I’m convinced she was an angel. Seriously.
When I awoke a day later, my first thought was “well, I’m alive.” Then it was, “hey, I feel pretty good” and “alright, I have a new feeding tube (mine needed replacing but it’s painful to to so).” My awesome ICU nurse had changed it while I was under the effects of sedation
Soon, my elation was replaced by pain and fear as I started choking on the breathing tube in my mouth. The nurses removed it I was no worse for the wear. So, instead or being bound to a ventilator for days, I was tethered to it a mere twenty-two hours. And by the grace of God, I endured it far better than expected.
After all that, the tests were still inconclusive. Symptomatically, I’m much better. Physically, I’m still very weak. I still have a long road of recovery, including phyical therapy, and I’m apprehensive about the next ailment to contend with. Emotionally and spititually, I’ve been tested and still am.
Why Lazarus, Why Me?
As I said earlier, God didn’t literally raise me from the dead like he did Lazarus, but I’ve been closer to death’s door during the last two hospital visits than any other time. I’ve thought briefly what it would mean to quit, but honestly that sounds worse than driving on, and would betray my God who created me, my family who loves me, the doctors who care for me, each of you, and everything I’ve written over the last two years. So, no, I won’t quit.
Still, it’s only human to ask, why is God letting this happen? I’ve spent fourteen weeks in the hospital since January. After my release in May, I spent a mere 13 days at home before returning here. Why am I still so sick? Perhaps the story of Lazarus can shed some light. Maybe it is simply so others can see God’s glory. Jesus never apologized to Martha or Mary for their suffering. He had compassion for them, but their comfort wasn’t the point. Revealing God’s glory was the point. What an honor to be part of His plan.
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (John 11:40 NLT)
–With Christi Cole