This morning on Facebook, I published a lengthy status that had a record-making (for me) response — many shares and comments. It obviously affected and encouraged so many in my circles, for which I am so thankful. God’s stories need to be shared. For that reason, I am re-publishing it here tonight:
Although I could do the math, I don’t remember the day we left Peru.
The date that is forever imprinted in my memory, however, is April 19, 2010. A late Monday night, to be specific…
Rewind a couple weeks. Mike had pain. More than he let on for a while. We had been hosting short-term missions teams almost non-stop for a few months and had recently arrived in Cusco for another one. A couple days into the project, Mike was completely bedridden with the pain and we decided to take the overnight bus back to our home in Arequipa so we could see a doctor there.
(Cue Miracle #1: He should not have survived that bus ride.)
Many cultural confusions, hours of wait time, wheelchair pushing, x-rays, paperwork and more wait time later, we finally were told that Mike had the back of an 80-year-old who had been picking potatoes his whole life.
(Cue Miracle #2: Had we accepted that, Mike would not be alive.)
We were on the plane to Lima for a second opinion pretty quickly. Remember I’m pushing my 30-year-old husband in a wheelchair…
In a gigantic city where we knew no one, we were blessed to be provided an apartment to stay in. We were additionally blessed with a new friend, Edwin, who accompanied us many times back and forth to the hospital (almost an hour each way).
Days, doctors, tests, taxis, PAIN, the Latin waiting game and a whole lot of prayer.
When the weekend came, the doctor gave us his cell number and told Mike to call every 12 hours to discuss the mystery and its symptoms. At the end of Monday, late afternoon, we had another appointment. As he was about to just send us home to Arequipa to wait out what must be a virus, he decided to measure Mike’s legs. One was significantly wider than the other — a sign of something. We were clueless but down we went to the ultrasound room.
(Cue Miracle #3: We had the most persistent doctor, determined to figure this out. Not all would have gone to these lengths.)
We had to wait quite a while because apparently the ultrasound tech had gone home for the night and he was called back. This man obviously had many years of experience and we were feeling hopeful to possibly be getting some answers.
Mere moments into the wand viewing the insides of Mike’s legs and this professional man became almost unprofessional as his face went ashen.
He sounded the alarm, so to speak, several people came into the room and our lives were spinning. We learned a new Spanish word to us: coágulo. Clot. Coágulo de sangre. Blood clot. Someone explained that he had extensive blood clots in his legs and up through his abdomen. The right leg was fully clotted while the left only partially. Mike was immediately hospitalized to begin blood thinners.
The doctor pulled me aside outside Mike’s room and told me he might not make it through the night. It was at least a couple years before I told Mike that part of the story and it’s why April 19 is permanently etched in my mind.
Many of you know this story, but many of you do not. We’ve moved on, lived in other places, and met new friends. That’s why I’m sharing. Because here’s the best part:
Blessings absolutely can come from the darkest times.
As Christians, we’ve witnessed many examples of the power of prayer. For us, this was one of the biggest! Mike was placed on emergency prayer chains all around the world and it was amazing to hear from people for the days and weeks after the storm calmed — that they had been lifting us up and we didn’t even know them. It was huge, humbling and not just a little awesome.
Probably one of my favorite parts of that was when (well over a year later) Mike was making a phone call on behalf of our organization. This man lived somewhere on the east coast and Mike had never met him. When he introduced himself, the man said, “Mike Drinkwater?!” And then he pulled the phone a little away from his ear and said, “Honey, guess who I’m talking to! Mike Drinkwater!” He went on to explain how they had been part of this God-sized prayer team. I mean, how cool is that!
Dozens of blessings happened (and probably still will) because of this experience. For example, because we had to return to the States for Mike’s long recovery, I was able to spend more time with a good friend who died in a car accident the following year. We would have missed that had we been in South America.
I could list blessings all day. My dad being an RN is one — he was able to fly down and be with us. We would interpret the nurses and he’d then explain it.
More? A few days into the hospitalization, additional testing revealed Mike had Epstein-barr. Had that been discovered in initial blood work, we would have been sent home to wait out the virus…and die of blood clots.
If you’re having dark days like this right now, try making a list of the blessings that are around you right now. Add to it every day. That’s what I did in that hospital room while my husband slowly became stable and safe. I’ve continued the habit to this day.
Hindsight paints a beautiful picture of God’s hand in the situation. He loves us (and you) so much that even death can’t separate us from Him. He fought for us, for Mike’s life, for our trust in Him, and He sure won.
I have so many more vivid memories that never fade and there are dozens of more details to this story, but I’m incredibly thankful it was something we experienced. We’re stronger — in our faith, in our marriage, in perspectives and much more.
Happy April 19th and may God give you strength today.