Twenty-three days ago, our lives came to an abrupt stop. Figuratively speaking, we skidded to a halt with burn marks on the tarmac!
We had been camping in Elands Bay at the Vensterklip Caravan Park along the West Coast of South Africa approximately 220kms from our home town, Cape Town. A truly beautiful place. My husband had complained of a headache for a couple of days prior to this and on the 1st May he woke up vomiting, with a high temperature and suffering from an excruciating headache.
Our daughters and I broke camp, hooked up the caravan and drove back to Cape Town. It was a public holiday and no clinics or doctor’s rooms were open locally.
We arrived in Cape Town three hours later and I took Steve to the Emergency Room at our local hospital.
We waited eight minutes and then he was taken into an examination room. As he lay down on the bed he had a violent seizure – broke his watch, bit his lip open and almost gave the doctor a black eye. They put a drip up which he promptly ripped out and I sat and held his hands for the next hour to prevent him ripping the second drip out and taking off the oxygen mask. An hour later they did a CT scan and a lumbar puncture.
The doctor came into the room we were in and told us that the CT scan showed Steve may have a brain tumour and they suspected he also had meningitis. He then left the room!
Steve turned to me and said, “That’s quite scary” and the first words out of my mouth were “He is a good, good God. That’s who He is. And we are loved by Him, that’s who we are”.
No-one could have been more shocked then me to hear those words come out my mouth.
I had just been told that my best friend of 26 years, my soul mate, my husband, the father of my children may have a brain tumour and all I could say was “He is a good, good God”
It was in that moment that Philippians 1:6 became a reality in my life “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
My faith and belief in Jesus Christ was no longer based on feelings but on the Word of God.
God’s Word was finally beginning to take root in my life and become a reality “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7). I knew in that moment that my God, Steve’s God “would never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5)
We decided not to mention the possibility of a tumour until the diagnosis was confirmed, and our daughters and family informed, but I immediately sent out prayer requests worldwide for healing for Steve for meningitis.
Later that day, Steve was admitted into a hospital ward where he would spend the next 13 days. The following day he had a MRI scan and on Wednesday we were given the news that Steve did not have a tumour or meningitis but was in fact suffering from a viral form of encephalitis – the right temporal part of his brain was totally inflamed. This resulted in him being confused and forgetful those first few days. The neurologist later informed us that even with all our modern medicine there is still a 20% mortality rate for people suffering from encephalitis.
A week after being admitted into hospital a second MRI scan was performed and this showed that the brain had increased in swelling despite the intravenous antivirals he had been on. His hands and arms were bruised and swollen because every two days they had to move the drip because the medication caused his tissues to swell. He also received a daily injection in the stomach to prevent blood clots forming and was on intravenous pain medication.
As a result of the second MRI, Steve was given a daily dose of intravenous cortisone (along with the antivirals) for three days. His response to the cortisone was miraculous. Almost overnight his memory stabilized and he knew what had happened to him and where he was.
He was discharged after 13 days. His recovery will be long – he is weak and tired and will be off work for a month and then will only be able to go back on a part time basis initially. He isn’t allowed to drive for a month and will remain on anti-seizure tablets for six months. He has lost 10 kilos in three weeks because of a drug induced hepatitis which is affecting his liver which in turn leaves him with no appetite.
His staff have been amazing and they have continued to run the business, with no input from him, and are doing a wonderful job. A lot of the staff are praying people and we thank God for them.
My heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.
I thank God that when Steve had his seizure, he was in hospital surrounded by medical staff.
I praise God for the couple who came and prayed with us whilst we were still in the emergency room and who visited faithfully every day whilst Steve was in hospital.
I am thankful for the men of God who anointed Steve with oil and prayed for him.
I am thankful for all the meals and lifts provided and the gifts given.
I praise God for a picture I will always carry in my mind of three of Steve’s staff members surrounding his hospital bed, two holding his hands and one putting his hands-on Steve’s head and praying God’s healing and restoration into his mind and body. What a precious memory.
I thank God for the wisdom, empathy, and wonderful sense of humour both his physician and neurologist blessed us with.
I thank God for the men at ROTOP who have encouraged us with their prayers and messages.
I thank God that He heard and honoured the prayers of His people who were praying, interceding, and standing in the gap for us.
I also thank God for our family and especially our three daughters – their love, support and humour are such a blessing.
My thankfulness knows no bounds that Steve’s mind has been restored fully and he will suffer no long-term consequences.
And I thank God for this “gift of time” this “enforced rest” – this time to re-evaluate our lives and spend time in Him.
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
I believe, in time, we will be thanking God for this interruption!