Memorial Day, 2005… Retirement, after more than 20 years of teaching in the same school district, is only days away.
Dick is worn out, mentally and physically. It’s been a rough year! And now he’s looking at a complete and total change in his life. After June 8th everything he has known, almost continuously since college, is going to be different.
He came home from school on Friday afternoon with a low-grade fever and aching all over. It was plain to see he was running on determination alone. He took a handful of pain blockers and collapsed in front of the TV; something he’d been doing with alarming regularity over the past several months.
By Saturday morning the fever was 100° plus and he’d spent the night alternately throwing off all the covers and shaking with chills, unable to get warm. We’d seen this before. In fact, we’d been seeing it off and on for a few years. Neither our family doctor nor any of several specialists he had recommended could give us a definitive diagnosis, and they’d run every test they could think of.
During the day Saturday we did what we’ve always done in the face of sickness and disease. We read the Word aloud into the physical realm, prayed, believed, and waited for God to do what He has promised.
In the early ’90s, when Dick came down with Valley Fever and was told it would take at least six months before he would be strong enough to go back to work, we put him in what I’ve come to call God’s ICU. He went back to work within six weeks!
A few years before, when Dick came down with what they told us might be salmonella, I was afraid he was going to die. And, for awhile, he was afraid he wasn’t – that’s how miserable he felt. That stuff is AWFUL! Never mind. After a few days in the hospital, we came home, put him in God’s ICU and he went back to school in record time.
But this was different!
Most of Saturday night his fever remained manageable. Sunday morning he felt like eating a little something, so I sat up a TV tray and he turned on the TV to watch the INDY 500.
Within an hour his fever shot to 104° and he began to fade in and out of consciousness.
I called 911.
The ambulance arrived, an EMT strapped a heart monitor on him and I could see the erratic spikes…176, 196! He was shaking violently and nothing was helping. They loaded him up and took him to the hospital.
I won’t take the time to describe the five hours we spent in the ER. There were tests, and more tests. There was an IV pumping the strongest antibiotic available into his veins, which seemed to bring down the fever. There was a panic-stricken call to his oldest son, who came to stand with me at his dad’s bedside. There was a Christian nurse, who helped calm all of us. It was surreal.
Finally the ER Intern who had come on at mid-day spoke with us. Dick had a serious urinary tract infection. They would leave him on IV antibiotics, keep him overnight and send us home with more antibiotics. He said,”It’s serious enough that I’m tempted to order a CT scan to check for kidney stones.”
Dick’s son and I looked at each other, remembering the scattered episodes of undiagnosed symptoms over the past few years, and said, “Do the scan! Let’s find out for certain what’s causing this.”
They did the scan and we waited.
About 3:30 Mike headed for home.
About 4 I excused myself and made a trip to the restroom. When I came back the ER Intern was sitting beside Dick’s bed saying, “It’s very treatable. You’re a young man, and we should begin aggressive treatment as soon as possible!”
Dick, always protective of me, said, “They say I have stage 3 cancer!”
He was admitted to the hospital, installed in the ‘cancer ward’ and left to await the arrival of our family doctor on Tuesday morning.
Now we were REALLY in need of God’s ICU.
I was terrified!
Dick, whose original response to the Intern had been, “You’re kidding, right?” seemed to be at peace.
We made a few calls for prayer support, found out how to get in touch with our Pastor—Dick’s spiritual mentor and personal friend—I read the Word aloud into the room, and we prayed.
On Tuesday morning, Dr. John opened the door to our room and the first words out of my mouth were, “Well, I guess now we know what’s been going on all these months!”
No nonsense as always, he responded, “NO! We don’t. He does NOT have cancer.”
By September we knew for certain! Dick did NOT have cancer. Or if Dick had cancer God banished it from his body.
Over the summer he went through two biopsies under general anesthetic, two more CT scans and a multiplicity of additional tests and blood work.
Every single test was negative! No cancer!
…If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you. Exodus 15:25-27 AMP
It has been seven years since that awful Memorial Day weekend and we remember all too well what shock waves a bad report can send through our life. But we trust and believe God’s Word more than we believe the world’s bad reports, so we put that first place in our life.
Read Psalm 103 if you doubt me….He says: ALL your iniquities and ALL your diseases. We know all means ALL. And even though we have faced, “you are quite ill” more than once – God’s promises are always faithful and true.
Follower of Christ, writer & artist.