The episode began on Monday evening after dinner with a really sharp pain in the gut. At first, I thought it was the old spaghetti sauce I had eaten. But, the pain was still there in the morning. It was worse. So, my wife Stefanie and I went that Tuesday, 10/6/15, to the emergency room. We had to wait in pain until finally, late in the morning, I was sent in for a CT scan and x-rays. With the x-rays, I had to drink a chalky cocktail that I am convinced was heavier than lead. The results showed a blockage in the small intestine about half way down between the stomach and the large intestine.
I was admitted to the hospital. While still in the small patient's room in the emergency area, that evening, our small group from Fresno's Valley Christian Center came to visit. They were encouraging and we visited and prayed together.
We were interrupted by a nurse who said that I would have to get a tube placed upward into my nose and then for it to travel downward through the throat into the stomach to drain out the junk collecting in there. My friends left to the sounds of my painful scream as the tube made its way into the stomach.
That evening, shortly after both my wife and my friends had left, in came the surgeon. He had with him a rolled up stack of papers, which were permissions and advisories about surgery. He asked me if I had ever had surgery on the bowel before. I told him that I had not. Then he said that the most likely cause of the bowel blockage was cancer. He wanted to first do a laparoscopy. That is, a small incision followed by a lighted tube with a camera to investigate the area. Then, if called for, the doctor wanted to immediately do surgery to remove the blocked area.
My reaction was negative. First, I had just three weeks ago undergone major surgery to my carotid artery. I did not feel prepared to so quickly agree to another major surgery. So, I told the doctor that I would have to talk with my wife about this and let the idea settle in my mind. He left as quickly as he had come in.
That evening I was moved to a hallway area and spent a really uncomfortable night. Hardly any sleep. On the next (Wednesday) morning, Steffie came. What a delight to see her and hear her voice. Also, into the room, came another doctor. He is called a "hospitalist" because he does not have a private practice but rather works only with patients in the hospital.
This doctor did not present the picture of a busy surgeon but rather a kindly friend. He massaged my bowels for awhile and said that he felt the blockage was simply a twisted bowel that he had untwisted. However, my bowels still did not move and so the blockage continued. Further, he advised that if we simply relaxed the bowels for a couple of days by feeding me no food but putting me on an "IV" they might open.
The tube into my stomach was working. Black junk was coming up and out of the tube and into a bag. It was scary and repulsive. However, the tube was so irritating that I was beginning to gag. So, I accidentally pulled on it so hard that it came out. The nurse told me that I actually did not have to put it back in if I refused to do so. I wanted to put it back in because it was effective in removing the blocked junk in my stomach. But, I wanted to rest from it for awhile.
I was admitted to a regular hospital room. I was surprised to find how nice it was. But, the nurses there wanted to know if I wanted to reinsert the tube. I said I did. But when then were inserting it there was a tear inside my nose. Blood gushed out. It was scary all over again. So, I followed their instructions to simply stop the nose bleed. We all decided that we would try to do without the tube again.
All during this time, nurses were periodically taking my blood pressure. It was abnormally high. The nurses told me that this was common for folks in the hospital because they are nervous about their medical conditions. So was I. Sometimes I would be surprised to find my legs were trembling or that I was suffering from a temporary anxiety attack. Steffie was surprised at this. She would say, "Where is your faith?" I was praying fervently, but the nervousness did not leave.
About mid-day Wednesday, while Steffie had gone home to rest, there was a knock at the door. I could see a pair of shoes walk into the room. But the man's body was hidden by the curtain hospitals put between the door and the patient for privacy. "It's Jerry Carlson," said the voice. Immediately, I was aware that the Holy Spirit had come in the door with Jerry. My nervousness was quelled. Jerry walked over and said something like, "How are you, brother?"
I told Jerry the situation. He came over to where I was laying on the bed. He placed his hand gently on my abdomen and prayed three requests. First, that there would be no cancer. Second, that the blockage would be opened without surgery. Third, that I would be released on Friday morning (two days from that time of prayer). I was at peace. Praise God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
After Jerry left, a short time later, in walked two more dear friends, Al Edwards and Forest Shepard. They anointed me with oil and prayed a prayer of faith for healing. They also had with them some scriptures printed which they pinned onto the wall of my room These were from Isaiah 43:1-3 and from Philippians 4:4-8. I was grateful for their anointed ministry to me. And, I promptly memorized the latter. I was surprised that evening as I went to sleep that the nervousness had returned. I prayed earnestly for it to leave but without relief.
Steffie was faithful in coming. She came often and long. She would return to care for our dog Bogart and for our home. She would often lay on the couch in the room to keep me company. She was a faithful companion and a sign that God was caring for me.
Thursday, I struggled to relax. That evening my friends from the small home group of Valley Christian Center came again. They were loving, encouraging. And, it was easy to see God was motivating them with love. They were a sign to me that God had come to visit me by faithfulness to Him.
After the group and Steffie had gone home, I saw the nervousness return. I spent a night in restless prayer.
Often, during these days, I would look at the IV sticking into my arm, aware that it was keeping my body alive. It was obvious that anything I owned was useless right now. I wondered how long I could go without food but simply be on an IV. I weighed myself and I had lost five pounds in about three days.
Friday morning was a welcome sight. In came Stefanie. We chatted. Then came a technician. She was to take me back to the x-ray lab to get new pictures of my bowel tract to see if the blockage had opened. This would determine whether or not I would have to have an operation. This was accomplished at about 8:30 AM.
Back to the hospital room for a chat with Stefanie. At about 11:15 AM in came the "hospitalist." He said, "Want to see your pictures?" He went over to the computer in the room, typed in some codes, and up came the x-ray pictures from that morning. He read the captions, "No blockage, no blockage, no blockage." He turned and smiled. But his smile was no match for my grin. He finished giving Stefanie and me the news with just 10 minutes left in Friday morning, 11:50 AM. That was the news that would release me from the hospital.
In came more visitors that day. There was Dave Reynolds, a minister in our church. There were Wayne and Vina Martin, leaders of our small home group from Northside Christian Church, where we are members. They prayed for us as well.
In came liquid food from the hospital kitchen. In came a call from the kitchen asking me what solid food I would like to order next. In came the surgeon to inform me that he would be releasing me at about noon the next day, Saturday, after making sure that the solid food was going through the bowels correctly. Before the day was over, the bowels were making solid deliveries.
God had answered the specific prayer of Jerry Carlson and done it on time. It was accomplished, no doubt, with the faith of Al Edwards, Forest Shepard, my wife Steffie, the friends from Valley Christian Center, my sister and brother in law, and about 100 other faithful people who had joined in a prayer chain. But, it is God that gets the credit in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Before we left, Steffie made sure that the message of the miracle had been shared. She began by witnessing to the two doctors, the surgeon and the hospitalist. The printed scriptures on the wall had been read by any number of hospital workers. We would spend the next several days online, on the phone, speaking in person as we told of the miracle delivered on time. God had revealed Himself once again as the Great Physician.
Sure enough, the bowels continued to work. Saturday, shortly after noon time, Stefanie drove me off of the hospital campus.This is being written about four months after the hospitalization. The body is still doing fine processing its nutrients.