My spouse and I have a dear friend who is at this moment fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit of a local hospital. Our friend, Dan, sings in our contemporary chorus and is a tireless worker at our church and in our neighborhood. We are neighbors to Dan and his wife and have socialized with them. Over the years, we've become good friends. We were concerned, but not terribly worried, when Dan told us he was to undergo gall bladder sugery a few weeks ago. It was to be a routine surgery, had been scheduled at his convenience, and had not been considered an emergency.
The last night he was with us at chorus practice, Dan said he'd see us on Sunday, which would have been a few days post-surgery. I told him he shouldn't count on that and suggested he might want to stay home a week and rest. He insisted he'd be ok and would be there. My words turned out to be somewhat prophetic, to my disappointment and sadness.
Dan had surgery that week and experienced many complications. His gall bladder and the surrounding tissue had apparently become infected pre-operatively, though no one could have known that. Somehow during the surgery, or very soon afterward, his system became septic (very infected) and it was necessary for his surgeon to perform another operation. To date, Dan has endured three surgeries, will possibly need another soon, and if he recovers sufficiently, he'll need a specialized surgery to repair some of the damage done in the original surgery. He was put on kidney dialysis and a machine which helped him breathe - that in addition to a feeding tube and IV liquids and antibiotics. He was put into a medication-induced coma and though he's now awake, he is not talking and only seems to respond to painful stimuli.
I don't list all these problems in order to frighten anyone who might be facing surgery in the future. Dan's experiences are certainly not the norm. Rather, I share news about about my friend because I think each of us needs a wake-up call now and then, and for me, this is a big one. I take too many things for granted. I take my family and my health for granted. But I've once again been reminded that life holds no real guarantees. To be sure, we receive those reminders all the time, but we only truly pay attention when those lessons hit close to home.
Dan has a very strong family support system and he has loyal friends, but none of us could have predicted that this strong, vibrant man would be in such a situation after what was supposed to be a "routine" surgery. Many of us are still in shock over the recent events and we're looking at our own lives and realizing we are not promised tomorrow. We are appreciating what we have and we're not taking so much for granted right now.
Dan's family was recently approached by his medical staff and told to "expect the worst, but hope for the best". If he survives, Dan may never again be the person we knew. We haven't been able to visit him since he's in ICU. We miss him and we can't imagine our church family without him, but hope is not lost and we'll continue to pray for a complete recovery. We believe that miracles can and do happen.
If you could find it in your heart to do so, I would ask that you please remember our friend Dan (from Miamisburg Ohio) in your prayers. Please put his name on any prayer lists to which you have access , and please - always remember to appreciate your life and family. Things can change in the blink of an eye.