Remembering is a glimpse into the past, looking at the free-fall from the future, where hindsight is 20/20, health has been restored, and lessons aptly learned.
From my first email of 10/9/02 to so many who loved, prayed and supported....
He is in pain, fatigued, and having trouble eating, keeping food down, and sleeping at night. Each day and night seems progressively worse.
We are trusting God to be our tour guide through this valley. We know full well the power of prayer, and covet all the prayer we can get. We have been praying for healing, peace, sleep, strength, and God's glory through it all. He has already begun to use this as an instrument to transform both Mike and me into the image of Christ. Our prayer is that we do not hinder His work in our lives....
The next day, Mike was hospitalized. He had become defenseless in the clutches of a greedy disease. The color of Cuba on his skin had turned to the color of pumpkin from jaundice (from liver failure), and he was showing early signs of dehydration (from kidney failure). My email from that day continued,
They all [the kidney, liver, heart and blood issues] could be as insignificant as signs that his body is under such stress, or it could mean that these areas, too, are cancerous.
Mike's spirit is stayed on Christ -- he's strong while his body appears to be withering before my eyes. But we walk by faith and not by sight. God is sustaining me as well. He is a good God still.
Three days later, the email contained some very good news:
The last two days have held so much for us, I could never tell you every wonderful thing.
On Saturday between noon and dinner time, I watched as Mike came back to me, improving moment by moment before my eyes. Every one of his conditions improved -- victories on every front:
~His calcium level has corrected.
~He was able to move his bowels, and they look normal.
~He was able to eat solid food for the first time in days.
~He started urinating again (coming out of renal failure).
~His urine color lightened from darker than iced tea back to normal.
~He actually sat up, stayed awake, and watched the Miami game on TV.
~He has had no nausea or pain meds since Saturday noon.
~His blood pressure was normal for the first time in two months.
~His night nurse cried with us when she saw the difference in him from her shift Friday night to Saturday night. She said no medication cleared up the color of his urine. There is no explanation for that.
~The GI doctor decided on Saturday afternoon to place a stint in Mike's liver to unblock the bile duct because his bilirubin continued to climb from the normal 0.1 to 8.0. But overnight, his bilirubin dropped from 8.0 to 3.0. The doctor cancelled the procedure, saying he was shocked and amazed and had never seen this before. We told him it was the hand of the Lord moving mightily.
~We had people we had never even met (including two pastors) come in and pray with Mike. They said they just felt led to do it. Another stranger came to pray and left us a check for $100. We had never seen this man before, didn't know who he was, [and have never seen him again].
~When I left him tonight, he was driving his IV pole through the oncology unit praying for fellow patients' healing.
It had only been a week since that fateful phone call. Three days were down out of 31 in the hospital. There had been a biopsy, yet we wouldn't have a firm diagnosis until more than a month after the word lymphoma first escaped the doctor's lips. There was on-again-off-again liver failure, and endless waiting for insurance company decisions, a transport ambulance, and a free bed in the oncology unit at Medical University of South Carolina. We waited for liver enzymes to recover so we could begin chemo and for the day we would be reunited with our children, who had been pretty much abandoned, and were staying with anyone and everyone who was remotely willing to keep them for us. When accompanied by the crushing need to move forward, the waiting was tedious.
But God is never desperate or in a hurry. When your world goes crazy, He is constant and steady at His work, creating in us a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. The medical details I've had to look back up, but the teaching God etched on my heart is still freshly known -- because these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is Love.