For me, 2019 was the hardest year of my life. I spent it trying to regain the physical strength and energy I lost through my medical crisis. But everything I endured proved to be a gift. It changed my life in so many good ways.
Approximately one year ago, on April 11, 2019, my life was forever changed. Until that day, 2019 was a year marked primarily by busyness. Life and ministry with my husband and family was full. The days were good, but long. Daily, I raced through my to-do list. When reading God’s Word, too often my heart wasn’t still before him. Rather, I found myself looking for a quick nugget of truth I could take with me to start my already full day.
The previous year, my world had been rocked with my father’s diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, which was particularly upsetting because I am the quintessential “daddy’s girl.” The thought of losing my father terrified me.
Medically, pulmonary fibrosis has no cure. Save a lung transplant, it’s a death sentence for all who receive the diagnosis. Given his age of 76, my father wasn’t an apparent candidate for a lung transplant. Yet, in God’s kind providence, he did qualify. My parents quickly moved from Alabama to Duke University in North Carolina and began preparations for the transplant. Every day mattered, as he was quickly losing lung capacity.
On March 16, 2019, my father received a single lung transplant. His surgery went surprisingly well. He didn’t need a single blood transfusion and was out of ICU in less than 24 hours. The doctors were amazed at his progress, especially given his advanced age.
However, soon after he was discharged things began to go downhill. His lung capacity decreased, he regressed. I was confused, fearful, and questioning God. In support of my mom, my two sisters and I took turns visiting them at Duke. So, the day after Midwestern Seminary’s spring trustee meeting, I flew out for my turn—medical mask in hand, not wanting to bring a pathogen to my immune-suppressed father.
I arrived at the hospital to find my father quite ill, and my mother exhausted. She and I went to the hospital cafeteria for a quick bite of lunch. Since it was my 41st birthday, I opted to go “all-out” for the taco salad. Afterward, however, my stomach felt like a washing machine, so I decided to skip dinner. That night my mom and I went back to their rental house and celebrated my birthday with ice cream and Easter candy. If you know me well, it was a perfect celebration!
The next morning, I awoke dizzy and nauseated. I wasn’t that alarmed since I struggle with inner ear issues and had flown the day before. I drank a protein shake and hoped for the best. After entering the Duke Medical Center parking garage, it was a long walk to the hospital. I grew weaker still, so stopped by the gift shop and purchased a sugary drink—Hawaiian Punch fruit juice. In hindsight, that was a bad choice.
By the minute I grew worse. I was stricken with nausea and vomited up the Hawaiian Punch—or so I thought. Alarmed, my mother shuttled me back to their rental house where I laid on the dark bathroom floor. My mother returned to be with my father, who remained in the hospital for tests.