BACK FROM DEATH
Although I lived through that first night, my troubles were far from over. My life would continue, but now the devil had me on the ropes, and although I did not know it at the time, he was coming in to finish me off.

He proceeded to attack me in the hospital, even after that first night. Several of his blows damaged my body, while others disturbed my job situation and many of my relationships. When all else failed, he even convinced my doctors to pressure me into having an unnecessary and risky operation. In general, he constantly brought havoc into my life with a relentless wave of events designed to abort my future and the purpose of my life.

As strange as this may sound, I paid no heed to the Judgment Day messages I experienced that first night in the hospital (CHAPTER 2: The Spiritual Warfare Over Me.) This entire encounter was so unbelievably frightening and depressing, that I often questioned if these terrifying experiences could even be real.

So, I blocked all my thoughts of that night because I no longer wanted to dwell upon or think about their consequences. I rationalized them away as being nothing more than an awful dream. I pictured them as being very small and placed them in a faraway location in my mind. An unfortunate result of these actions however, is that they left me exposed to a series of demonic attacks. I was about to experience the truth of living a life without God to thwart the attacks of the devil.

THE NEXT THREE MONTHS
I spent the next few weeks in the intensive care unit (ICU), and quite frankly, I could not have been any sicker. It was so bad that I remember thinking, “at least I’m still alive.”

Seriously ill patients in intensive care unit with a artificial — Stock Photo, Image

The doctors verified that my pancreas was the problem, that it had exploded into hyper-production, generating thousands of times the necessary quantity of digestive enzymes, and releasing much of them into my bloodstream. They also told me that these digestive enzymes decompose proteins, and therefore most of my body was being damaged. My blood, veins, arteries, muscles, nerves, organs, bones, and brain were rapidly decomposing. That would explain my sensations of needles and pins all over my body and the numbness I felt after I entered the hospital.

The doctors went on to reveal that the hyper-production created immense pressure on the inner lining of the pancreas. This pressure was so great that it pushed the inner lining through the outer wall, forming a balloon-shaped cyst outside of the pancreas. The physicians called it a pseudo-cyst, and they deemed it to be a potentially fatal condition. Although my pseudo-cyst was leaking and had not yet ruptured, it would eventually harden and break open, abruptly discharging uncontrolled quantities of digestive enzymes into my bloodstream, creating even more damage to my body.

My surgeons told me that the pseudo-cysts were a ticking time-bomb that would require defusing before another explosion hit me. Surgery was on their minds and in their hearts from the very start. But for now, I was not strong enough for any surgery as my body needed to heal and gain strength.

In the meantime, the physicians proceeded with a recovery strategy based on food abstinence. They reasoned that fasting would slow down enzyme production considerably because food consumption triggers the digestive processes. Initiating this program would also give my body time to cleanse itself of the damaging toxins in my blood. To ensure that the program was working, they monitored my blood regularly and reported that my enzyme levels were continuously moving lower.

I made it through the first few weeks without eating anything and lost 30 pounds in the process. They then started feeding me by way of an IV containing sugar and vitamins. The doctors said that my body responded as expected, as my enzyme levels had returned to safer levels, and I had gained strength. While this was good news, I still felt very sick.

THE STENCH OF DEATH
It was more than physically feeling very unhealthy, however. I had begun to discern that there was something very different about my behavior. One thing that I noticed was my indecent speech. Vulgarities were now flowing out of my mouth, seemingly with every sentence I uttered, and for some reason, I did not seem to care who it offended as I spared no one from my bad speech, not my mother, father, or even my children. Physicians and nurses were daily victims, and even things like my handwritten notes strangely contained vulgarities. It was so bad that even though it was evident to me, yet I could not seem to stop. I wondered to myself, why am I saying such disgusting things? It was apparent to everyone around me that my vocabulary had changed. In reality, the stench of death was all over me. Oh, I was still alive and in this world, but the scent of death had covered me like a blanket.

My mind was also affected. My thoughts were of sensual pleasures and flirting with nurses. This behavior was unimaginable for someone so sick that they could die at any moment. I remember thinking, what is wrong with you? You’re so ill you cannot stay awake for more than an hour at a time, and you are harboring these absurd thoughts?

BREATHING PROBLEMS
One morning shortly after relocating into a conventional hospital room, I noticed that I was having breathing difficulties. I began struggling to get sufficient air into my lungs. It seemed that something was obstructing my airflow, and I found it laborious to get enough air to talk. I informed the nurse’s station, and I was startled when they considered my problem unimportant. They took no action, but rather wanted me to wait for my doctor to come around on his regular rounds. But I had been in the hospital long enough to know that this could take several more hours and that it was also possible that the doctor may not show up at all.

My breathing problem was not something I wanted to leave up to chance as whatever was wrong with me was becoming worse very quickly. So I called on my family members to get a doctor’s attention immediately, and they came through for me. My family physician arrived and discovered that my vocal cords had become swollen, thereby restricted my air supply. He explained that there were digestive enzymes in the vomit I had excreted when I entered the hospital and that they damaged my vocal cords. If left unaddressed, a total blockage would eventually occur, and I would suffocate. He ordered that I be placed on oxygen immediately and scheduled a tracheotomy for the next day.

The operation required that the physicians enter through a cut in the base of my neck. They then had to cut a hole in my windpipe just below my vocal cords and insert a small metal pipe into the hole. This mechanism ensured that the passageway remained open, allowing air to flow into my lungs through the tube even when my vocal cords closed completely. This device became my lifeline to the oxygen that I needed for the next several weeks.

EATING PROBLEMS
After I had been on the IV feedings for a while, my physicians grew concerned about their ability to maintain my weight and health on continuous IV feedings. So they decided to see if I was strong enough to start eating natural food again. They slowly introduced a liquid diet, and when that went well, they followed that up with a soft food diet. Everything went well for about a week, but then suddenly, my enzyme levels shot up dramatically again.

So they suspended these tests until my enzyme numbers turned back down, and when they did about a week later, they reinstated the same meal plan strategy. Unfortunately, my enzyme levels shot up again, and they halted the feeding program for a second time. Through all of this, the IV feedings never stopped, and their impact started to take its toll as the veins in my arms, legs, hands, and feet were all breaking down. Things were getting worse, and I was wondering if they had a solution.

A CATHETER IN THE AORTA
I was slowly moving into a no-win situation. I was unable to eat regular food while it was becoming increasingly difficult to get the nourishment I needed via the IV’s. My large veins had broken down, and the nurses were now using smaller ones, resulting in an increased in the time I had to be connected to an IV. They were also having an increasingly difficult time finding a vein, often having to make several stick attempts were now becoming common. I was eventually connected to the IV twenty hours a day, and the situation was rapidly worsening.

After a lot of agonizing about this predicament, my doctors eventually resolved to take the risk of placing a semi-permanent catheter into my Aorta. That’s correct, right through the middle of my chest and very close to my heart. They were hesitant to perform this procedure because just one slip could result in permanent heart damage.

But there were several advantages to taking the risk. One advantage is that it would solve my nutritional issues. Once this catheter was in place, I could get all the nutrition I needed in just four hours a day. Secondly, it was much simpler to use; all I needed to do was connect it to an IV bag, no more needle sticks. Things suddenly became more comfortable and pain-free. Also, I could get up and move around more often as I no longer had an IV bag to hold me back.

They conducted the Catheter insertion procedure in my hospital room, and I was conscious throughout the entire operation as the doctors required feedback from me. They started by cutting a small opening in my chest so that they could enter between two of my ribs. Then they injected the catheter through that hole and then proceeded to insert it into my Aorta. But as fate would have it, they had a great deal of trouble puncturing my Aorta wall. The Doc had to gradually exert increasing levels of pressure to force the catheter into the artery. This effort went on for several minutes until, eventually, the physician was using all of his strength and body weight to get the job done. I became very concerned when I recollected the danger warnings they gave me before the procedure began. But, the catheter finally penetrated the aorta wall, creating a sound much like the crushing of a giant beetle’s shell as it entered. The good news is that the operation was a success. There were no slips, thank God. I was delighted and relieved that this entire ordeal was over.

A MEAGER ATTEMPT TO FIND GOD
Someplace along the way, I picked up a Bible. I had never read it before, but now that I had the time, I believed that perhaps it would be as good an opportunity as any. I was still tired much of the time, and I napped several times a day. I would often read just a few chapters at a time because even reading tired me. I started reading the book of Matthew and hung in there until I eventually completed the entire book. I read the words, but they somehow did not hit home. I remember thinking that the book did not make any sense. The book of Matthew seemed like a series of beautiful stories, but not much more. I wondered why anyone would get so passionate about these simple accounts. After finishing Matthew, I resumed reading, but after a while, I gave up. The Bible did not make much of an impression on me then. Little did I know that God would reward my modest attempt to reach out to Him.

A HEALING MIRACLE
After being in the hospital for a couple of months, a staff surgeon came to talk to me about my second CAT scan and informed me that my pseudo-cysts were not being reabsorbed back into my pancreas. He stated that it would be dangerous to leave them in their current condition indefinitely. He then provided me with a long list of dangers of this condition and recommended that I have a pancreas operation.

I inquired about the dangers of surgery, and he explained that the procedure is both very complex and risky. It involved making a fifteen-inch cut in my abdomen and then physically removing my stomach, kidneys, and some intestines to get to the pancreas, which is positioned just inside the backbone and is otherwise inaccessible.

The pseudo-cysts would then lanced and sewn to the inside wall of my intestines. Once finished, they would reinstate the extracted organs and stitch me up. The surgeon acknowledged that this procedure is risky. On the other hand, he stated that the risk is justified because eventually I would have significant, possibly fatal, episodes without it.

But the complexity and risk of this operation seemed unreasonable to me. After all, I had believed from the very first day that I would recover and that everything would be fine. I declined to let negative thoughts into my mind. Bad news from the doctor was not going to change my mind about my overall outcome. It also seemed to me that the operational risk was higher than the potential future damage caused by my pancreas. I did not want to die on the operating table. This surgery just seemed intrinsically a bad idea to me. It seemed wrong in my head and my gut.

Some family members nevertheless, thought differently. Of course, at that moment, they knew much better than I, just how fortunate I was to be alive. After a discussion with them and then thinking about the right decision for some time, I decided to get a second opinion. So I contacted my family doctor to see if he could help. He searched and found a very experienced pancreatic specialist who unfortunately worked in another hospital in town. But I asked him to set things up for me anyway.

Little did I know what a firestorm I commenced by bringing in a doctor from another hospital. My perspective was that I wanted the best I could find and did not comprehend why anyone would do it any other way. I also understood that other doctors in this hospital would agree with their surgeon’s original opinion. I wanted a fresh set of eyes and an open and independent mind, and my family doctor did an excellent job playing the middleman in making this happen. He pulled all the strings required to get the second evaluation set up.

The day that my second opinion was schedule, I was sitting up in bed, and I could hear the nurses and the doctors talking about this outrage in the halls. It seemed that every staff member in the building was talking about it. They were offended that someone from another hospital was coming in to examine me. With all the fuss they were putting up, you would have thought that someone had robbed a bank, and perhaps, that is what it was all about.

In any case, the outside doctor showed up and did an excellent job. He asked me several questions, examined me, reviewed my records, and ordered a second battery of tests, including CAT scans, X-rays, and blood tests. A few weeks later, he reported his findings, and the results were shocking. He said that by comparing the latest CAT scan with the preceding one, he could see that my pseudo-cysts were shrinking! He indicated that they were reabsorbing into my pancreas, and he forecast that they would disappear within three to six months. My body was healing! What great news!

I did not give God any credit at the time, however. I believed that it was my positive attitude, healthy body, and good luck getting me through. It was only much later that I apprehend the truth about Jesus that I understood the healing was all God’s doing.

When I look back at it now, it is as clear as crystal. Something occurred between my first and second series of tests, and that something was that I had sought God’s help by picking up a Bible and reading it. Regardless of how feeble the effort was, God responded with a healing miracle! It did not even matter that I found the experience empty; God honored my attempt to find Him. It was as if God was saying to me, “Okay, son; you took one step in My direction, and you thought that nothing would come of it. But, you have My heart. I am going to show you that I am real. I desire that you live.”

I did not ask for healing but simply reached out to try to find Him. Sweet God in heaven, I praise Your holy and sacred name. I praise You for loving someone unworthy of Your love, who could not have changed the error of his ways without it.

As you can see, God was there again for me. He was watching out for me and taking care of me even when I did not know it. I think about these things now and wonder why the Lord would love me so. He has saved me from the lake of fire and brimstone, the pit of hell and the devil’s savagery. He has given me life even though I stood before Him with the stains of sin on my garments on Judgment Day.

DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT THE GOOD NEWS
When the hospital received the second opinion report, I was not surprised that they disagreed. Nor was I shocked when the hospital surgeon suggested that I would experience severe consequences if I did not have the surgery. I remember thinking at the time, “After all, a surgeon only makes the big money when they operate, right?” But the surgeon was not the only one pressing me to go ahead and have the surgery anyway. Members of my immediate family also tried to persuade me to go forward with the procedure. After all, they were fearful of losing me. I understand.

I knew in my heart that I would live from the very outset. I may have picked up this positive attitude by merely living through the first night. I, therefore, rejected the risky surgery and accepted the path of natural recovery. You see, I had believed in a good report even before there was one to contemplate. I knew that I did not need the operation, and I told my hospital doctors and everyone else of this belief. Many people tried to change my mind, but I declined them all.

The physicians tried several strategies to get me to recant, but my response was always unwavering and to the point. In the end, they pressed me so hard that I had to rudely tell them that this was the end of the line. There would be no more discussions about an operation.

Interestingly enough, by chance, I ran into the surgeon who recommended the operation on an airport shuttle bus several years later. I was in much better health by then, and he may not have know who I was, so I reintroduced myself. Would you believe that he started preaching to me about the operation again? I guess he just did not get the message. He refused to accept the test results that confirmed that the pseudo-cysts had disappeared and that there was nothing left on which to operate! So it is with the unbelieving, they see with their eyes, but their minds don’t comprehend. They hear with their ears, but they don’t understand.

GOING ON HOME CARE
Just as the second opinion foretold, I began to feel much healthier as my body recovered. I still had some difficulties with food digestion and therefore had to stay on aorta IV feedings for quite some time. I no longer had to nap several times a day, and with this added time on my hands, I walked the corridors of the hospital out of boredom.

My family doctors believed that I was now out of severe trouble and suggested that I go on home care. One advantage would be that I could manage my IV feedings without the aid of a nurse. Of course, being home had to be the most important factor. After months in the hospital, going home seemed like a dream come true.

Another advantage of going on home care is the significant cost reduction. Since my healthcare coverage was paying for my entire hospital stay, they had the most to gain by this move, and yet they for some unknown reason balked at funding my home care. Eventually, my family physician had to call the insurance company executives to get home care approved. I was fortunate to have this man in my corner, making things happen for me, time after time. It was a long struggle, but I was pleased to be finally going home.

The home care people came to my home and provided me with everything I required to set up my own IV feedings. They even delivered a miniature refrigerator to keep the IV solutions fresh, and they followed up with additional solutions each week. They instructed me on how to set up the IVs correctly. After that, I became responsible for my home care operation. All I had to do is hook up the IV to my aorta catheter each day at the proper times and visit my doctor frequently for check-ups.

PROBLEMS WITH INFECTION
For the first few weeks, everything worked extremely well. Then one day, for no apparent reason, I suffered what I would describe as severe icy chills and uncontrollable shivering. My body shook for approximately ten minutes, and covering me with blankets did not remedy my symptoms. Eventually, my lips turned blue from the cold. Then, just as quickly as they started, these chills ran their course and abruptly halted. I went directly to the hospital, where they conducted a series of tests. I talked with the physicians, and they were baffled. Being very concerned, I walked them thru the history of my illness and home care. Despite all of this, they told me that it was probably nothing, and I should not worry about it. I remember pondering as I left the hospital that perhaps there was something wrong with my catheter. After all, what else could it be? But then I reasoned that they are well paid to solve people’s health problems. They are doctors! They have studied for years and are competent in figuring this out. They are professionals! They know what they are doing, right?

Approximately ten days later, just when I began thinking that perhaps the doctors were right, the chills hit me again, only this time they were much more acute. I am not sure how long the shivers remained, but when they ended, I was exhausted. In my way of reasoning, this was a drastic reversal to my recovery. Following the episode, I mustered up the energy and returned to the hospital again, where they completed an even more exhaustive set of tests. But the outcomes were the same; they found nothing wrong and sent me home. Yes, I made sure that they knew all of the details of my illness and my current home care treatment. I explicitly asked if my Aortic catheter could be the source of the dilemma. They responded that if they could see me when I was experiencing an episode, they might identify the origin of these mysterious shivers and convulsions. I was starting to question if they believed what I had told them.

A week later, I was at my family doctor’s office for my periodic check-up. I was seated on an exam table while he examined me when the third shivering episode began. When the doctor observed it, he had the nurse cover me with blankets, but they were ineffective. I looked in the office mirror and could see that my lips had turned blue once again. The convulsions became much more violent than before, and my fingers and toes went numb as well. The muscles of my body began cramping from exhaustion. In the midst of all of my thrashing, the doctor checked my heartbeat with his stethoscope, and while he monitored, I could feel the abnormal heart rhythm in my chest, and I knew that he heard it also. I looked at his face, and I watched as it turned white while he monitored my arrhythmia. I looked directly into his wide-open eyes and saw fear in them. I knew that he thought I could die right there in his office. I knew that I was weak enough to expire, but once again, I refused to let negative thoughts into my mind, regardless of the circumstances. Just like before, I knew that I would be okay.

Soon my body started shaking even more violently, and the doctor directed a nurse to lay on me to provide body warmth. An ambulance arrived and wheeled me out on a gurney, right through the patient waiting room. I got to see, first hand, the horror and disgust on the faces of the people as I went past by them. I guessed that they likely presumed that I was dying!

Just as in the other two episodes, the extreme shaking abruptly ended inside the ambulance. My physician must have phoned ahead because they immediately concluded that something was wrong with my catheter and removed it as a precautionary measure. Later, tests on the catheter confirmed their suspicions as a strand of staph infection was found growing at the end of the catheter. According to my doctor, a long chain of infectious material grew as time passed. Once it reached a critical mass, the strand would break and be instantaneously released into my heart.

SIGNIFICANCE TO THE VISION
I did not know it at the time, but all of this was due to spiritual warfare. Satan kept hitting me because I refused to seek the protection of God. God was trying to get my attention, but I was not paying attention. He had something He wanted to tell me.