In the last episode, I told you about my son, Steven’s illness. Quick recap: He got sick with an extreme case of ulcerative colitis the end of 2012, then had to have an emergency colon removal because the colon perforated, allowing the contents to spill into his abdomen on January 8th of this year, 2013. I ended the last episode by saying “Initially, Steven was expected to be in the hospital for just a week to ten days. It stretched to over two months.”
I was shocked today when I went back to my Facebook timeline to remember the progression of the highs and lows while Steven was in the hospital, because as it turns out, it only seemed like over two months. It was actually only 20 days. It seemed like two months because of the home care we had to do, but I’ll tell you about that as the story unfolds today. I just wanted to make the correction here at the top of the show.
I’ll get into the rest of the story in a few moments. But first….
The Source of Faith
So the reason I’m doing the This Life Of Faith show is because I want to encourage you. A life of faith is about trusting God. Some of us trust Him easily, others…not so much. I’ve discovered that often times, God brings us along in our faith a step at a time. Now, don’t be concerned if you feel that you have little faith right now. It’s not up to you to build or strengthen it. You can’t. Faith isn’t something you talk yourself into…it’s not a “head” thing. And faith isn’t something you “feel”. It’s not about emotions. So where does faith come from?
The new testament book of Hebrews, chapter 12 says, “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” What that means is that the faith you have comes from God, from Jesus. He is the author, he begins the faith in you. And the fact that He is the finisher, implies that there is a process to go through before your faith is finished, or complete. And He accomplishes this work through the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
One more thought before we move on to complete Steven’s story. So faith is something that you have been given from God. And the forming of that faith, or completion of it, is a process. Right? Well, in another New Testament book, the book of Philippians chapter 1, it says, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” So God will continue to work in you.
In other words, your growth is God’s responsibility. It’s not something that you work up. There are no exercises you can do to build your faith, any more than an apple tree can do exercises to grow or produce more apples. God is likened to a farmer in the Bible. It’s the farmer’s responsibility to tend his crops, right?
Next week I’ll talk a bit about how God develops our faith. But for now, rest in the confidence that God isn’t finished with you yet, and He has infinite love for you!
Steven’s Story Continues
So when last we talked about my 21 year old son’s illness, he had just come from a long surgery, and just prior to the surgery, he was close to death. Dr. Rick Ha saved his life the operating room, and told us that he would recover and should be going home in seven to ten days.
The day after surgery was great. We were feeling very thankful because Steven was feeling great. Big smiles, even walking. But the following day he felt tired and his temperature was somewhat elevated. And the day after that was even worse. He looked terrible, he was too lethargic to walk, his temp spiked to 102.
Looking back now, we know that what was happening is that even though Dr. Ha irrigated Steven’s abdomen with over a liter of sterile saline to clean out the bile and waste from his colon, microscopic amounts of bacteria were left behind. And now they were growing, making him sick with infection.
The I.V. antibiotics were switched to something stronger. Twenty four hours a day, three separate antibiotics were dripping into Steven’s arm.
A CT scan showed fluid building up in Steven’s abdomen, so the doctor did a procedure to drain it. This was difficult for Steven, but it seemed the only way to get the poison out of him.
The next day, he seemed like a new man. He was even able to take a short walk, with the help of a walker.
But the fever came back. The next day he was again too weak to walk.
Because he was too sick to eat, he was supposed to be given nourishment by what is called a picc line. This is a small tube that is inserted somewhat near your collar bone, and goes through a vein almost to your heart. Somehow, the order to insert the picc line kept getting pushed off from one shift to the next, and Steven was not getting any nourishment. As it turned out, he went for more than 48 hours before the picc was inserted. By then, he was very, very weak.
However, once the line was inserted, Dr. Ha said that if everything plays out perfectly, Steven might possibly be able to go home in the next three days. This was on January 13.
Two days later, however, the fevers had not gone away. It would go up to 102 to 103. On a CT scan, they discovered that fluid was beginning to accumulate around his lungs. My Facebook status for the day said: “Steps forward, Steps back. Steven’s fever came back this afternoon and they could not get it to go down. They used ice, and Tylenol. They were waiting for Motrin when we left tonight. And now they are concerned about the fluid they saw around or in his lungs on the xray today. They are concerned it might be pneumonia. Tomorrow they have planned to do a procedure to remove fluid and then make a culture with it. Dear Lord please hear our cries. I know you have. I still have my son. Now will you please heal every part of him? I will love you and praise you no matter what, but I would appreciate another touch of your grace on Steven’s body.”
As it turned out, draining the fluid, about a liter of it, didn’t help the fevers to leave. By now, there were several doctors on the case, including an infectious disease specialist.
Four days later, on January 19th, this was my FB update: “He’s been running a low grade fever for several days and the doctors have been unable to determine the cause. A few days ago hey drained about a liter of fluid from around his right lung, thinking that might be the cause. Turns out it wasn’t, because the fever didn’t leave.
“Yesterday they did another chest xray and found that more fluid has accumulated around the lung, so they have inserted a tube which will stay in for a couple days. There is a small amount of vacuum, and the hope is that this will allow the source of the accumulating fluid to stop.
“Steven’s red blood cell count has dropped significantly. This indicates a loss of blood from somewhere. Since there is no bleeding into the lung or into the abdomen, his surgeon thinks that perhaps the small amount of colon he has left might be the cause. Remember, the reason for all of this adventure is that Steven had an extremely severe case of ulcerative colitis. His colon has been bleeding for nearly two months. It makes sense that the remaining part that is still present would still be bleeding, and perhaps the cause of his fever.
“I guess time will tell.
“Please pray that the doctors will figure this out. Steven wants so badly to come home. He was very disappointed this morning when Dr. Ha told him about having to have that tube inserted. He feels like he’s not making any progress. I encouraged him, reminding him that he has made great strides from where he was when he first checked into the hospital. He agreed and was a real trooper when doctor came to his room to do the procedure.
“Pray for strength and encouragement, as well as bodily healing for Steven. We know that friends and family around the world are praying, and believe me, these prayers make a huge difference. Your prayers bring us strength and peace. We are deeply indebted to you, and appreciate each and every one of you.”
So by now, Steven has been in the hospital for eleven days.
On the next episode, I’ll tell you what happened that contributed to an additional ten days, and nearly drove Steven out of his mind.
Spread the Word!
So that you don’t miss an episode, you can sign up on our mailing list. Just go to ThisLifeOfFaith.com. You’ll see a form at the top of the page on the right side. You’ll get an email when a new episode is released. Or you can subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes store, Stitcher, or wherever fine podcasts are found.
You can write to me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you. Tell me how your faith is being tested, or how it has been strengthened. I want to know.
There’s a Facebook page where you can interact with me. Just search for Lifespring Media.
I’m on twitter at _stevewebb_, Google+ at google.com/+SteveWebb777, and lots of other places. Feel free to connect with me. I’d like to get to know you.
If you would be so kind as to leave a review at the iTunes store, that would be awesome, since the show is brand new. Help me get the word out there, and share it on your various social networks.
“Be Not Afraid” was arranged and performed by Cat Jahnke. You can check out the rest of Cat’s music at CatJahnke.com. That’s spelled “C-a-t-j-a-h-n-k-e.com.
I’ll see you next time. Until then, may God bless you richly. I’m Steve Webb.