20 years ago today it had been ten days since I had surgery to remove what was thought to be a cancerous tumor. It wasn’t and i was as happy as could be. I was engaged to most beautiful woman I had known and life was good. When one is a 26 year old male living in America and in love, nothing can go wrong. I was invincible – on top of the world.
Or so I thought.
During the last few days the site of the surgery had become a bit tender. I called the doctor on Wednesday the 18th and reported the tenderness. He upped my pain meds, told me to take it easy. It offered to see me if I wanted, but since I was in Oak Park (near my Lisy) and he was in Waukegan (1 1/4 hours away) I passed on the offer. I was invincible. I accounted the pain to too much activity still trying to show Lisy around Chicago. I thought I would rest a bit on Thursday and stayed home watching movies.
Friday morning I awoke with a big day planned. I was going to take Lisy to meet some of my fellow staff members at the Youth For Christ office in Arlington Heights. Greg my ministry supervisor and the other staff would be there for the regular Friday morning prayer and staff meeting. After the meeting I had planned to get out my late monthly supporters newsletter. I had been sidelined the last couple weeks and needed to get the letter out.
While showering to get ready an odd thing happened. My surgical wound opened up and began oozing bad stuff. I knew I had to go to the doctor in Waukegan but being invincible I decided to go the the meetings and work on my prayer letter. Lisy and I headed to the meetings. I was in quite a bit of pain and taking codeine. I had wrapped the surgery site in gauze and took off on our journey. I knew I would eventually have to see the doctor.
We had a great time at the Youth For Christ office. We prayed with the staff and I go to show off the love of my life. After the meeting I called the doctor’s office and told him about the open surgery site, he ordered me to the emergency room immediately. I waited to spend some more time with friends and to get my prayer letter out. About 90 minutes later we headed out the door for the 40 minute drive to Waukegan.
As we were driving there my pain was becoming unbearable and the wound was oozing outside of the gauze. I believe that at this point (if not sooner) Lisy was becoming a bit anxious. Most likely telling me that she had told me we should have gone to the doctor sooner. Once again a pattern that I could recognize for the next 20 years – me being stubborn, she being right and telling me so.
We arrived at the emergency room at around 1 PM. They admitted me immediately and paged the doctor. After a shot of morphine they cut open the surgery site to find that I had a massive post operative infection that become gravely dangerous. I had the wonderful experience of getting to see an emergency wound evacuation and enjoyed it as a science geek. I was admitted and put on IV antibiotics.
My poor Lisy. Since she met me three and 1/2 weeks ago she has fallen in love with me, nearly broken up, found out I was sick, gotten engaged, heard I had cancer, seen me go into surgery, hear I did not have cancer and now see me admitted into an emergency room with a life threatening post operative infection. She was 1500 miles from home and family. She went through all of this with a infant relationship with her God and Savior. She had little experience in faith and prayer. When we talk about it now she often says she just looked at how I was handling things and tried to reflect the same confidence.
I had fevers and broke fevers, They tried several intravenous antibiotics until one took hold. Poor nurses had to come in three times a day to manipulate and clean the now wide open surgery site. I became weaker and weaker, my body fighting the systemic infection.I ended up in the hospital for 8 days.
Due to the great distance, Lisy was not able to come visit too often. Actually only a few visitors came by. It had all happened so fast and communication was different those days when one did not carry a cell phone, or Palm Pilot with all of your contacts.
One odd coincidence of those days was that one of the nurses that cared for me was the mother of one of the troubled youth I had been working with. Her boy was not one of the roughest kids I had met, but due to no father in the home and the rough neighborhood he had gotten into some troubles. I remember her being very appreciative for the work we had been doing with her son through our Youth Guidance boys club.
Once again our rollercoaster of a life had taken another dip. Unfortunately, this dip was a physical one that would greatly affect me for the next six weeks and linger for six months. My body had taken a bit hit and I was exhausted. But during this whole time Lisy hung in there and our newly found love had endured another trial. We had gotten through it together.
Now we just had to wait for the chaperone to arrive and wedding plans to be made.