Karla and I remember these three days five years ago because life was beginning to regain at least some sense of normalcy. I was moved back to the rehabilitation unit for the second time and could begin to rebuild my broken world. Order and progress were at least now possibilities, whereas in the previous week it seemed as if all of the powers of hell itself had unleashed their power and concentrated like a laser beam on me. Rather than one life threatening crisis after another it now appeared that there was at least hope on the horizon. I no longer had the undeniable sense of impending doom. Perhaps I was too weak.
In a previous post #11 I wrote that I felt and told God “I got nothing left to give. Nothing.” By this time in the saga my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength were completely depleted. Karla wrote several blog post over this three day period as she emphasized her gratitude for the technology that made quick and wide spread dissemination of information possible (the blog had 5,790 hits on heart surgery day alone!) as well as the encouragement that poured in. She also came to understand more fully just how very close to death I had come.
Words of Encouragement May 3rd, 2009 (Karla)
“We have been getting much encouragement from all over the world. While all the technology sometimes bothers me, the internet has made this possible.
When I got here this morning, Mike informed me that he had actually slept last night, which he has never said in the past three weeks. He is speaking much more clearly today. I personally think there is a direct correlation between his speech and the amount of sleep he gets. He is currently downstairs getting an echocardiogram, which is standard procedure following heart surgery.
Dr. Meyer was in again this morning, but unfortunately it was after Mike left. He is fine with him going to rehab tomorrow, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. He will be going in a much weaker state than previously, which will probably translate into a longer stay. Dr. Meyer also keeps reiterating that we do not know if there has been any damage done to the right side, so it will take time to see what the long-term effects are. Dr. Fogleson was more optimistic, saying that he felt good tone in Mike’s leg yesterday, but not in the arm yet.
Mike also keeps trying to get the nurses to let him stand up and such. I guess he thinks that since he did it before he can still do it now. Hopefully physical therapy will work with him on that today.
It has been interesting to see where the encouragement comes from. I am so grateful to the Smiths, who skipped District Conference to be here with me. Another pastor friend posted that it’s like Mike and I are in the middle of a storm on a sea and everyone is shouting encouragements from the safety of the shore. I think that’s a pretty good description!
Another friend sent a devotional that she receives via e-mail each day. This one was from Charles Spurgeon, on Isaiah 48:10, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” Our current circumstances definitely feel like a furnace of affliction. In Spurgeon’s commentary, he says, “If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace.” This is the greatest comfort, that Jesus is with us in the furnace, and in the storm, and wherever else we may be! Thankfully we have so many reminding us of this.
I’m hoping for a good day! Mike will be seeing many therapists, and I am looking forward to any encouraging words they have!”
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
“I tried to sleep in, but for some reason I wake up at 5 every morning. Not a great time to get up, for a night person!
Mike did not sleep well at all last night. He was up coughing much of the night. So, he is very tired today. It will be interesting to see how rehab goes on so little sleep. We have not seen the cardiac service yet today, so I am not sure where we are with the anticoagulent. He cannot go to rehab until he is off of the IV anticoagulent.
We keep finding out more tidbits about last week’s surgery. Yesterday we were told that only two places in the country perform the surgery Mike had last week, here and somewhere in San Diego. We asked Dr. Fogleson about it and he said that he really did not think Mike would survive surgery. I know I’ve said this before, but it is very overwhelming to think about!
On a very bright note, Jared finally decided to talk to me on the phone last night! It had been twelve days. He didn’t talk very long, but I was glad he did. Elisabeth asked when I was coming home. I told her that I was not planning it any more. When Dad is better I’ll just show up. She was okay with that.
It sounds like Mike is ready for me to go back in there, so I’m off. Thanks for the continued prayer!”
(Later that day)
“Mike did make the move to rehab today, much to my surprise! I had a friend coming to go out for lunch with me. When she got there, I told her that all of sudden we were headed downstairs. Fortunately she was able to wait long enough for us to grab a quick lunch at Cafe Presto.
This roommate situation is much better than last time. Mel is an older gentleman from around here who had a logging accident and is now in a wheelchair. He is very quiet, respectful, and interesting to talk to. He took it upon himself to encourage Mike tonight!
We also had a group of Mennonites stop in to sing tonight. There were probably about 10 of them and they sounded beautiful. It made me realize how much I missed being at church the last three weeks.
Tomorrow everything really starts up. Mike will have a schedule with the bare minimum to start out with. As his strength builds up, they will increase his activities. They are also watching his calorie intake make sure he is eating enough. They did not do that last time. I’m sure our friend Marla the dietician is glad to hear that! The funny thing about his diet is that he needs to let people know if he suddenly wants to eat large amounts of green vegetables, as this would seriously mess with his coumadin levels!
I’m about to head out. Since Mike has a roommate, I am not allowed to spend the night on a cot. I am confident in the nursing care so far, which is good. Mike is comfortable with it, which is the most important thing. Good night!”
The Snow is Melting in Rochester (May 5th, 2009)
“I drove in this morning on very messy roads. The temperature was the same at 6:30 this morning as it was at 9 last night.
Once again, Mike did not sleep well. Tonight they are going to give him Benedryl to see if that helps. He is coughing less, which is a good thing.
The occupational therapist was not very with it today. She got here about 10 minutes late and did not have everything ready to go. All she got accomplished was the shower, which is not much for an hour. I think we’re going to talk to the rehab doctor about it, as Mike thought it was worthless.
Three weeks ago from this very minute, Mike was waiting for the AVM resection surgery to start. Two weeks ago he was laying on a cooling blanket in neuro ICU with a temperature of 105 that was caused by a blood infection. One week ago Mike was headed for open heart surgery to remove that huge blood clot from his heart and bunches of clots from his lungs. Today is better already!
Yesterday I went to the mall for awhile to walk around and pick up a couple more things Mike needed for rehab. I’ve been to restaurants, but apart from that, I am pretty much at the hospital. I was surprised at how bothered I was by everyone going on with their lives while mine is on hold. As hard as it is in the hospital, it is less emotionally challenging here. Everyone around us in the hospital is also in the midst of dealing with a health problem.
So what am I going to do to deal with this? Well, one thing is to remind myself of the people here who are in more difficult situations than we are. One such person is the lady on the cardiac floor who had a heart/double lung transplant. She has been in the hospital since October and not seen her kids since Christmas. She is a single mom who now has to stay in Rochester for the next year. She also has a very kind brother who has been with her the entire time. They like Rochester so much that he has found a job and is moving her children and mother here to live permanently. That’s commitment!
I am also going to take the advice of our friend, Randy, and take one day at a time. It is overwhelmingly stressful to think past today. Randy quoted the verse that says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” So I’ll just deal with today’s trouble, which so far is the easiest Thursday trouble yet!”
Day One in Rehab is Over (March 5th, 2009)
“Well, we made it through the first day of rehab. What a relief that is! And as I had hoped, this Thursday was far better than any of the previous ones!
Mike was thoroughly exhausted today after all this therapy. He is not too thrilled with the occupational therapist, so we’ll see how that goes tomorrow. It is easiest to see progress with physical therapy, so I think that is what he thinks is most productive. He was able to take a much needed nap after lunch, and hopefully that will work tomorrow as well. He’s out again now, so hopefully he will be able to get some sleep tonight.
A friend e-mailed today with the names of some people from our church during the graduate school years who now live in Rochester. One of the couples actually worked with us in the youth program. I called them tonight to see if they would be willing to visit Mike when I get to go back home. It was great to connect with them after all these years!
I’m heading back to the Krueger’s house. I am hoping to get in a couple good night’s sleep. Every time someone asked Mike how his day was going, he would say that it was very uneventful. No one knew quite how to take it. We assured them it was a good thing. We’re hoping for another uneventful day tomorrow!”
The following is a poem written by my friend Pastor Tim Trudeau as a blog comment on March 4, 2009. As you can see I have good friends with a good sense of humor.
A Tribute to a Friend
Michael Evans is his name,
Life to him is no mere game;
He loves his children, adores his wife,
He sucks the marrow out of life.
He is a man of many talents,
Which he pursues in proper balance;
Behind a camera, on a keyboard bench,
Holding a javelin, hammer or wrench.
If the waitress is stingy with the grated cheese,
He is not bashful: “I’ll take some more, please!”
At Grandma’s Saloon or the Cheescake Factory,
He loves to satisfy his senses olfactory.
He preaches with passion, true to the Word
His zeal is evident to all who have heard.
With sharpness of intellect he parses the text,
Always faithful to the Scripture context.
He serves his church faithfully, with wisdom and wit,
Together these years, it seems a good “fit.”
Though I am sure there are times of trial or stress,
They know he desires them to toward God onward press.
If you are an Arminian, you better beware,
Mike has little patience for those who go there;
He’ll take you to task with a Biblical razor,
You’ll feel like your hit with a policeman’s tazer.
I do love my friend, though I’m hesitant to say,
In case you will think I am in a closet way gay.
I am not the only one, of that I am sure.
He has many friends believing that this trial he’ll endure.
Recently my friend nearly died, as you know,
And if he had left us, to heaven he’d go;
But God has great plans for him, of that I am sure,
Calling many to follow Him, with hearts that are pure.
After getting moved to rehab for the second time and finishing my first full day there, it had now been three full weeks since I had undergone the original brain surgery. It was very nice to have made it through a Thursday without any crisis, even though at the time I wasn’t very much aware of time. Restless and mostly sleepless nights tend to cause the days and weeks to blur together. But here are the facts: First Thursday brain surgery. Second Thursday blood infection. Third Thursday blood clots and coding. Fourth Thursday completed my first full day in rehab without a hitch!
I was still entirely out on the entire right side of my body and was still having difficulty speaking and word finding, but at least I was still alive to keep fighting…even if I felt extremely weak and drained.
I also remember my roommate Mel and remember him as a gift from God for this time in my life. He was an excellent roommate. He was encouraging, respectful, and kind. As Karla mentioned he was partially paralyzed from a logging accident and was trying desperately to regain some of his lost functioning. So every day we would leave the safe confines of the room and go off to work…the hardest kind of work. I recently called Mel for the first time to see how he was getting along. We had a very nice chat for fifteen minutes or so. He does not cut logs any more.
Here is one of the many mini epistles that my friend Pastor Randy Anderson wrote) during our many days away from home:
Dear Karla and Mike,
I am so happy to hear about Thursday — I hope you will soon be remembering March 5th (which is my mother’s birthday), as trend smashing Thursday. After three shattering Thursdays a Thursday of therapy and progress. A word of encouragement from the Lord is found in 1 Peter 1:6,
1 Peter 1:6-7 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Notice that the ongoing genuineness of your faith — which is clearly there, and now with less dross in it than ever before; now that it has been freshly tested by fire — painful burning fire as you know 10 times better than I — this has and continues to work something in you more precious than gold — the metaphor for more precious than anything earth has to offer — and the real value of this — of all that you are going through and all that is happening so as to refine and deepen that faith — this is going to come to light “at the revelation of Jesus Christ…’
Jesus will get all the praise for having taught you to trust Him deeply and fully — life’s greatest accomplishment. The Lord Jesus has you both in daily advanced therapy — advanced training. Why you? I haven’t a clue. He signed you up — no one voluntarily signs up for where you are.
Peter is telling me that what I read in your blog each day — and I do read faith there — it is more precious than gold.
It will only be ‘for a little while’ and it will even seem that way
“When we’ve been there 10,000 years
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.