Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Means of Grace

I thought I would share a very special story that recently had a beautiful ending in mine and my husband's life. About 2 months ago Michael and I were thrown a terrible curve ball as Michael got terribly sick and ended up in the ICU within 8 hours of first showing symptoms.

It all started with me leaving town to help my mom with her private voice studio. I drove 2 hours away to my home town and was about to have dinner with my parents when I got a phone call from one of my husband's good friends. He simply said he was in the emergency room with my husband and needed his social security # because Michael was too busy puking to fill out the necessary paperwork. It turns out Michael had been vomiting for 3 hrs straight at this point and the friend couldn't fill out the paperwork not because Michael was puking, but because Michael had no idea what his address, social security number, phone number and other things were- he was incapable of answering such questions

In the mean time, I assumed it was some sort of really bad case of food poisoning, packed up and left my parents for the 2 hour drive home. This whole drive I tried to keep calm, thinking he must just need an IV to rehydrate, and we would be home that night. Michael got hooked up immediately to all sorts of things including an IV as well as different antibiotics to fight the doctor's number one suspicion at the emergency room- that he had meningitis. He was given a spinal tap, draining his spinal fluid to test for meningitis, and also an MRI by the time I arrived at the emergency room.

It was such a strange thing to see the man I loved so very far from how I left him. He was on a bed, writhing in pain from a migraine, puking every 5 minutes, and speaking as if he had just had a stroke. At some points he was better than others, but there were times when his motor skills to speak the thoughts he had were completely gone and he couldn't ask for something as simple as a paper towel to wipe the vomit from his chin. I was terrified, overwhelmed, and so confused as to why this was all happening to us- so quickly and so scary!

The doctors came in to inspect his symptoms, and said they had suspected it was meningitis, but the spinal fluid came back normal, so now they were just puzzled. The moved him to ICU for overnight, and I called both my mother and mother-in-law asking them to come help me. I had absolutely no idea what to do, what to tell the doctors, and I was the closest relative.

After the first night in the ICU, another MRI and a CT scan, Michael improved. Around 3 in the morning I was able to go in and see him, and he started speaking more like himself. One of the first signs that he was going to be alright was when he looked over at me and winked. I knew he was still in there somewhere. Nurses were great to us in the ICU, and while I was very relieved that doctors thought he was well enough to be moved to a regular hospital room, I was sad to leave the wonderful care of those nurses.

In the meantime, we had a huge outpouring of love, prayers and concern from family members, friends, and our church. My mothers both came to keep my company and help me stay sane in the hospital. Doctors still had no idea what suddenly struck Michael, but after one more night in a regular hospital room Michael was released with no diagnosis.

His official list of symptoms included a terrible debilitating migraine, nausea, vomiting, fever, elevated white blood cell count, and confusion.

Doctors best guess- A complex migraine?

We went home and I did my best to convince Michael to take it easy and take as much time as he needed to fully recover. We prayed knowing that eventually the bills from that horrible 72 hours would arrive and begin to pile up. Many were very worried for us because we do not have health insurance. My husband works as a paid intern at a farm credit union, but gets no benefits, no health insurance, not even vacation days. So, we put our faith in the Lord and asked all those who prayed for Michael's health to pray for God's provision for the bills.

Sure enough, in the coming months, bill after bill after bill arrived in the mail. We contacted the hospital to ask if there was anything, any program that could help people in our position. First the bad news came that we weren't eligible for State funding. Next news was somewhat hopeful as we were informed that there was a program- "In House Funding" from the hospital itself, we are eligible for with our low income. Now came time for filling out the application, coming up with the necessary proof of income, and then the long, arduous wait for the application to go through committees.

In the meantime, our community gave us so much support and love. Several times we were given money, a couple times anonymously from our church. Our pastors prayed faithfully that our bill would be forgiven.

We waited as patiently as possible for the news to arrive until about 2 weeks ago- the letter arrived just as we were heading out for a bbq with some friends from church. I'll never forget the joy and relief I felt as I skimmed to see the words "forgiven 100%" and "bill: O$". In total, around 20k just wiped clean. God is SO faithful to provide! Not only was my husband healthy, but now we owed not a penny for the whole horrible event.

So why is this blog titled, "A Means of Grace"...? Well even though that whole ordeal was frightening and stressful, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about how his grace is most sweet when we truly need it. I love this quote from a commentary on Ruth: "It is the grace of God, which directs the outcomes of those decisions and events according to his sovereignty and good purpose for his people. That grace is not always evident to the players in the game at the time. But it is always there, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged. Ultimately, for Christians, the grace of God is always the defining element of our lives."
You see, because of this event in my life, I now have an increased measure of faith in God as my provider, healer, and comforter. I have seen his grace working to bring me to a low place where I have nothing and do not know what else to do but fall upon his grace.

I praise the Lord that he is more than capable to use the bad for good. He is always working for the good purpose for his people.

Romans 8:28
" And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are callen according to his purpose."


AnniKae said...

Thank You for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes...