A Good Day

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the day, at least for a few hours, I’ve got to say that it has been a good day.  That may seem strange, as waiting at the hospital while my wife has major surgery is not something that I would ever request; however, I can honestly say that today was a good day.

It was a good day because my dear wife made it through very complex surgery in about half the time that we were expecting.  She’s not out of the woods yet, but so far, she is doing great.  Dying is part of life, and something that everyone will do.  Stephanie has been given the gift of an extension of her life.  It’s an important reminder not to waste that life on frivolous or petty things.  I’m reminded of Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.

It was a good day because I saw the providence of God working before my eyes.  I know that God answers prayers, and I can look back and see what He has done in the past, but today I saw it in real time.  I saw it with the peace the Stephanie had going under the knife—for weeks she has worried about it and had trouble sleeping, but when it came time for her to go into surgery, she was ready, and she was able to comfort the rest of us.   I saw it yesterday when the mass on the liver that had devastated us a few weeks ago no longer showed up on the MRI.

It was a good day because I realized that we are not alone.  I got more messages of encouragement than I can count, some with prayers, some with verses, some with jokes, all appreciated.  Several were from people that I do not know.  I was especially moved by Emanuel Bible Church.  People took times out of their day to go to church or meet downtown during lunch to pray.  I’m also ashamed that I have done such a lousy job of reaching out to others when they were hurting, and how little effort it really takes.  Even a message on Facebook, Twitter, or an email means more than you know.

It was a good day because I got to meet brilliant doctors and physicians that have been gifted by God to stay calm under pressure and have the skill to do amazing things.  Stephanie’s Dad asked the surgeon how much sleep he got last night, and he said “not much.”  He told us how he had been up during the night going over all of the contingencies that could happen as they did the surgery.  At the end of the surgery he looked very tired, but he still took the time to answer all of our questions.  It blows my mind that they can stop the heart beating, deflate it, re-route arteries, install a metal valve, and restart the heart and it all work again—that’s better than any episode of House I’ve ever seen, and I got to meet the guy who did it.

It was a good day because I was reminded that other people are hurting too.  We went into the waiting room at 5:30 this morning with our focus on this big thing in front of us, worried about my wife, my kid’s mom, my in-law’s daughter.  When we got there, we saw 15-20 other families with equal or greater problems, with the same worries, the same concerns.  Many of them got good news today, but I’m sure that some of them did not.  It’s so easy to get self absorbed when you go through this kind of thing, it’s too easy to forget that other people are hurting too.  The hospital is a great picture of how everyone is affected by the fallen state of humanity—I saw all races, genders, and every economic status at the hospital, each touched by disease and mortality.

Jeremiah 32:27 — I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

Out Of Surgery

At 2:30, the surgeon came into the waiting room.  Stephanie is out of surgery.

He said that all things considered, it went very well.  He said that she was a very healthy sick person.

Her heart was only stopped for about an hour and 10 minutes, and she didn’t require any additional assistance to restart her heart.  She was on the heart/lung machine for about 3 hours, and she came off of it with no complications.

Now she is “drying up” with clotting agents.

Risks at this point are blood loss—bleeding should decrease, but they are watching her closely.  Other risks are blood clots.  If all goes well she should be off the ventilator by tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow’s Heart Surgery

We have to leave for the hospital at 5 a.m., needing to be at Emory at 5:30. It should be 5:30-7 a.m. for prepping & anesthesia; should get into the operating room at 7 a.m.  The operation is expected to take 8-10 hours and is complicated. Dr. Keoghan walked us through the steps, 

1.  Get me on the heart/lung machine, make an incision in my femoral artery to get to the blood vessels at the bottom of the heart, and stop my heart.

2.  Take down my existing blood flow “Fontan” procedure.

3.  Recreate a standard blood flow; working on the superior vena cava to circulate blood to the top half of the body; the inferior vena cava to circulate blood to the lungs.

4.  Open the atrium wall between the right & left atrium chambers, removing the atrial septum – making the top 2 chambers into 1 big chamber.

5.  Replace the mitral valve with a mechanical valve.

6.  Shrink the right atrium.

7. Maze procedure to correct the rhythm problem – install a pacemaker underneath the heart.

So…this is not your grandma’s heart surgery.  It amazes me that anyone can take a look at human anatomy & not believe in God.   


What did you do today? I got up bright and early and had an MRI, then had pre-op. We saw a bunch of different doctors and nurses who asked a bunch of questions.

They reviewed the MRI, and they now find no evidence of a liver mass. The docs suspect that it was a pool of blood mistaken for a mass on the last MRI, because they did the last MRI after a biopsy.

Joel suggested that we celebrate this good new with tacos, since the doctor said "no mas."