Reflections from the Edge of Death 1
It was 10:30 PM on Thursday, February 2. Linda had already gone to bed and had been asleep for half an hour when I suddenly felt pain in my chest that radiated to my back. I ran upstairs and woke her up, “Call 911!”
The paramedics treated me as if it were a heart-attack and rushed me to Mercy Medical Center in Canton. It took a while for the ER doctors to figure out what was wrong with me because all the tests for heart-attack came back negative. They took an X-Ray that revealed the problem: My ascending aorta that leads up from the heart had dissected—the tear had ripped through two of the three layers of the aorta and was threatening to burst, which would result in death. The aorta had ballooned, looking like a football.
I was immediately sent to surgery. Dr. Mark Tawil operating on me from 2:30 AM to 3:30 PM (yes, that's 13 hours!).
Linda had my very good friends Matt and Miche by her side (Matt drove her to the hospital; Miche, a nurse at Mercy, was working that night). Linda made some phone calls at 3:00 in the morning to friends and family and the news of the situation spread like wildfire. In those early morning hours, we were blessed to have many, many people already praying for me. By daybreak, Linda had several friends and family with her—listening to her, comforting her, and praying with her at the hospital.
This is the major news of this ordeal: By the time I had come out of surgery and was placed in ICU, there were more people than we can count praying for my life. People were praying for me from several different churches and several different states. The doctors and nurses I’ve spoken to have all said that I should not have survived. One nurse that was assisting in the surgery said that when they opened me up and she saw the aorta it was “as if somebody was holding it together.” It should have burst. Dr. Tawil stated it clearly: "It was your faith and the faith of your family and friends that saved you."
There is ongoing skepticism that prayer works in healing. Many newspapers are reporting this week about a major study published this month in the American Heart Journal—the New York Times had a front page article this past Friday (March 31) that had the headline, “Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer.” The study had total strangers praying for heart bypass patients and monitored the patients’ progress for thirty days. The report concluded that “Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from coronary artery bypass graft, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.”
But the New York Times reported that “Dean Marek, a chaplain at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a co-author of the report, said the study said nothing about the power of personal prayer or about prayers for family members and friends. Working in a large medical center like Mayo, Mr. Marek said, ‘You hear tons of stories about the power of prayer, and I don't doubt them.’”
I also note that the study did not consider whether or not the prayers were offered in the name of the Lord of healing, Jesus Christ. Christ tells us in several passages (see John chapters 14-16) that there is real power when we make requests to the Father in the name of Christ.
I, for one, have no doubts that it was prayer that moved God’s hand to heal me. God agreed with these prayers that I should remain alive for His glory—so that my wife Linda would not be a widow with three children to raise, and that Joel, Kaira, and Trey would have there daddy to lead them into adulthood. And that I have much more ministry to do with the CCO, the local church, and in various other ways. And that I am to re-develop my relationships with my extended family and with my friends.
This was God’s will. I have a new life to live for God’s glory. Thank you to all who prayed. Praise goes to God for his power to heal.
Next: My Kairos Lesson.