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This Life of Faith
26 minutes | 7 years ago
TLOF003: This Life Of Faith “Steven’s Story Completed” or “So Much For Which To Be Thankful!”
As I record this, it’s Thanksgiving Eve, and this is without a doubt, the most special Thanksgiving my family has ever had. I’ve been telling you about what happened to my son, Steven. Today I will finish the story and talk a bit more about this life of faith. So today I’m just going to pick up where we left off last week. My Son’s Story Concludes It’s now Steven’s twelfth day in the hospital, January 20th. His fevers have not gone away, and the tube that was inserted through his ribs into the area around his right lung has produced very little fluid. Also his red blood count keeps dropping. The three different antibiotics are still running twenty-four hours a day, and the picc line is still giving him his only nourishment. Now it looks like the incision, which runs from just below his sternum to just above his pubic bone, has become infected. Dr. Ha has had to remove all the staples, except for a few around his navel, so that the wound can be cleaned. This means that it will have to heal from the bottom up, or put another way, from the inside out. The staples were removed without anesthesia, and once the wound was opened, it was, is at the widest part, about 3 1/2” wide and 2” deep. There were areas of dead tissue and infection, and a couple of places where the bowel was very close to coming out, or eviscerating. As Steven’s dad, watching the doctor poke and prod the wound to evaluate the situation was almost more than I could take. It was obvious that every time the doctor touched the wound it shot pain through Steven, but I knew it had to be done. The wound is packed with gauze, and four times a day the gauze is changed out. Of course, the gauze adheres to the tissue as it absorbs the fluids that seep from the wound, and when it is removed it causes a great deal of pain. At this point, Steven is truly my hero, because he is beyond brave as he endures all of this. Only one time during this entire ordeal have I heard him say, “Why am I going through this, God?” His faith has remained steadfast. And I have begun to feel a bit like Job. But I’ll talk about more after I complete Steven’s story. On this day, after working on the wound, Dr. Ha said that Steven might be able to go home in a couple of days if Steven begins to improve. He really wants to get him out of the hospital. It’s easier to get really bad infections in a hospital that at home, and he knows that Steven will get better rest at home. But the next day, Steven’s fever goes back up to 103, and he has a rash all over his body. And of course, the packing on the incision is changed four times a day. Steven is becoming really discouraged at this point. It’s obvious that he won’t be released tomorrow. Two days later, after looking really good in the morning, by the afternoon his fever again spikes to 101, and a chest X-ray shows fluid around his lung again. I posted on my Facebook timeline “As for me and my house… We. Will. Serve. The Lord!” By now I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that this entire episode is an attack from the enemy. I know that my commitment to the Lord is being tested, and I am determined now more than ever, to cling to my Creator. More on that later. Also on this day, it’s now January 23rd, the wound treatment was changed. Instead of doing the gauze thing four times a day, an apparatus called a “Wound Vac” was brought in. Without going into all the details, I’ll just say that a special type of foam rubber is fitted into the wound, and then a vacuum is applied. What this does is help draw out any infection, but more than that, it stimulates blood circulation to the area, speeding up the healing process. Also, the dressing only has to be changed three times a week. The process of changing is extremely painful, however, so three different pain killers are necessary, including morphine. He’s pretty much asleep during the procedure. Steven’s Out of the Hospital! On the morning of Saturday the 26th, it looked like we would be taking Steven home. He was more than ready to get out of the hospital. He was tired of nurses coming in every two hours to take his vitals, he was tired of seeing people check into the bed next to him and then be released before him, some of whom were loud and/or out of their minds, and most of all, tired of being told he would be going home in the next day or so only to be disappointed with a setback. But in the afternoon, we were yet again told, “Not today.” This time it was because of red tape. Seems they couldn’t find a home care group who were willing to take on Steven’s case. I have to confess that We pretty much went ballistic on our case worker. It seems that she hadn’t even tried to set up the home care arrangements until that day, when it had been known now for three days that this would be necessary. And she waits until Saturday to try to set this up? A weekend? We were livid, and Steven finally boiled over. Pretty much the entire floor heard his reaction. He felt as if he was in prison, and he was so sick and tired of seeing the same four walls of his room, of laying in the same uncomfortable bed, of being poked and prodded every two hours, of the noise of the hospital, of getting no fresh air, of hearing “You’ll be home soon.” I didn’t blame him a bit. But later, he apologized for his outburst. All along the way, we were posting Facebook updates and letting our church community know what was going on with Steven, and I know that the prayers that went up for us definitely helped us through, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Steven’s fevers have not gone away, they still spike to 101, 102 and even 103, but the consensus of the doctors seems to be that if they keep the heavy-duty antibiotic IVs going and treat the fevers with Motrin, eventually whatever is causing the fevers will give up. The infectious disease doctor does insist on a final test before releasing Steven, but finally the tests are complete and home care arrangements are made, and on Tuesday, January 29th, Steven is released from the hospital. It’s been 21 days since we nearly lost him, but our boy is home. He still has an open wound, he still has IVs running 24 hours a day, he’s 40 pounds lighter than he was when he got sick, he’s barely able to walk, he has an ileostomy that needs care, but he’s alive and on the mend. LeeAnn and I are trained by the visiting nurses how to change Steven’s IVs. The longest time between changes is five hours, with most changes taking place at two hour intervals, so we’re on duty pretty much 24/7 for the month that the IVs are needed. The wound vac is a part of Steven’s life for a total of nearly three months. Slowly, the procedure becomes less painful and fewer drugs are needed to dull the pain. Finally, Dr. Ha tells us that the wound vac has done all that it can, and just like that, it’s gone. The wound is now only about five inches long and only a few millimeters deep. And now it’s time to talk about the next surgical steps. Steven can live with the ileostomy for the rest of his life, if he wants. Many people live nearly normal lives with them. The bag, or appliance, just becomes a part of their daily routine. But Steven is only 21 years old, and there is a procedure that can be done that will restore him to being able to eliminate waste normally. In layman’s terms, part of the small intestine can be made into what is called a J-pouch, which will sort of take the place of the now absent colon. And here is where my respect and admiration for Dr. Ha went from an already high level, right up to the stratosphere. He told us that he could do the procedure, but that he had not yet done one, and it was very complex. He didn’t want to make a mistake on Steven, especially since he was so young. He suggested we find a specialist, and he gave us some recommendations. Now, being a young surgeon, I’m sure that there was a part of him that would have loved to do the surgery so that he could have it for his resume’, and of course, surgeons in general have a very high opinion of themselves. But Dr. Ha put all of this aside in order to give Steven the very best chance of living a normal life. I love Dr. Ha, and I thank God that he was Steven’s doctor. So the surgical process actually involves two surgeries. The first procedure is to build the J-pouch and connect it to the anus. Then about six weeks is needed for the tissues to heal, before allowing the waste to go through. So the ileostomy is still functioning during this healing time. Then, six weeks after that surgery, all the plumbing is hooked up, the ileostomy is closed up, and you’re done. God led us to UCI Medical Center’s Dr. Steven Mills, who is the chief of the Colon & Rectal Division of their school of medicine. He, too is a young doctor at only 40 years of age, but after doing our due diligence, I believe him to be one of the best specialists in the country in this field. So Steven had two more hospital stints in 2013, but they went without a hitch. Obviously, Steven was much healthier, because he wasn’t fighting ulcerative colitis any longer, and his insides had not just been bathed in poisons from his perforated colon. Dr. Mills and the staff at UCI Medical center were awesome. The surgeries that Dr. Ha rightfully described as complex, were routine for Dr. Mills and the gang at UCI. They do them many times per week. It felt so good to be in their care. Steven’s recovery ended up being faster than we expected. When this chapter began, Dr. Ha told us that the entire process, with all the surgeries and recovery times, would probably take ten months. That would have meant that Steven would be able to return to normal life in about November. As it turned out, his first day back to work was on September 21, and at his last checkup, a week after his last surgery, Dr. Mills told Steven, “I’ll see you in a year.” As I record this,
16 minutes | 7 years ago
TLOF002: This Life Of Faith “Where Does Faith Come From?”
A Correction 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 Steven lost over 40 pounds during his illness. Look at how thin his arms are. 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.
15 minutes | 7 years ago
TLOF001: This Life Of Faith “What’s This All About?”
Hi, and welcome to the debut episode of This Life Of Faith (TLOF). My name is Steve Webb, and I am your host. In case you don’t know who I am, I wrote an “About Steve Webb” post over at LifespringMedia.com a few years back, which needs to be updated, but does give some good info about me, in case you’re interested. You can find it at LifespringMedia.com/about-steve-webb. Very quickly, I’ll tell you that I am first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. Everything I’ll say on this show will come from that background. I believe that having a close and meaningful relationship with Him is the most important thing you can do to achieve peace and happiness in your life. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can begin one today. If you want more info on that, you can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be glad to answer any questions you may have. TLOF has been brewing in my head for about a year. I’m not sure when the idea first came to me, but I do know that the idea really began to grow in January of this year. My middle son, Steven, who had just turned 21, nearly died. He had been diagnosed with an extreme case of ulcerative colitis (UC) just a few weeks before, and on January 8th, 2013, his colon perforated in the very early hours of the morning, causing the contents of his colon to spill out into his abdomen. For several weeks the UC had been causing Steven terrible pain, but when his colon perforated, the pain was excruciating. His mother and I rushed him to the hospital, and we could see that he was slipping away from us. He had already lost about 40 pounds since he first got sick, so he was weak. But now we could see that things were much more serious. At this point we didn’t know that the colon had perforated, only that Steven could not stay awake, that he had a very high fever, and that he was suffering. It was about 2 o’clock in the morning. After what seemed like an eternity in the Emergency Room waiting area, they processed Steven in and put him in an ER bed. Thankfully, the triage was good that night, and a doctor came to look at Steven pretty quickly. After running several tests, he told us that Steven needed surgery, and he needed it now. Of course, this scared us to death, but we trusted the doctor’s word. There was a young surgeon on call that morning by the name of Dr. Rick Ha, and I know that he was there as a part of God’s plan for Steven. We didn’t know it then, but Dr. Ha would become one of the most important people in our son’s life for the next three months. Dr. Ha is bright, he’s talented and he saved Steven’s life that day. In surgery, when Dr. Ha opened Steven’s abdomen, he found that Steven’s entire colon was riddled with disease, and all of his organs had been covered with bile and waste that spilled from the hole in the colon that was caused by the UC. There was no hope of saving any of the colon, so at the age of just barely 21, my son lost his entire colon. If I remember right, the surgery lasted about four excruciating hours. My wife, LeeAnn and I could only pray that God would spare our son, and wait. Finally, Dr. Ha came to tell us that the surgery was over, and Steven was in the recovery room. He told us that Steven was very sick, that he had had to remove the colon, that an ileostomy had been done, but that Steven would recover. I had never heard of an ileostomy, but had heard of a colostomy and colostomy bag. We quickly learned that the two are very similar. Steven would not be eliminating waste normally. He would now have an appliance (as is the more polite term) that would we would need to learn to care for. When LeeAnn and I (that’s my wife), were finally able to see our boy, he had tubes everywhere. There was a tube going down his nose into his stomach, he had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth, there were about six I.V. bags draining into him, he had drainage tubes coming from both sides of his abdomen, there was this plastic bag attached to his side (the ileostomy appliance), and of course he had a catheter. The incision on his stomach went from just below his sternum to just above his pubic bone. Of course, Steven was unconscious when we first saw him, and I think that was a good thing. LeeAnn and I just fell into each others arms with relief that we still had our son, but also with grief for what had happened to him. There is much, much more to this story. Initially, Steven was expected to be in the hospital for just a week to ten days. It stretched to over two months. I’ll tell you more about it in the next episode. I have much more to say on the other side of this song. It’s sung by my precious friend, Cat Jahnke. Be Not Afraid – Cat Jahnke Listen to me closely, please. It is our faith in a loving God, who is not surprised by anything, and who holds our lives in his hands, that carried us through even as we looked at the very real possibility of losing Steven. We were never promised that This Life of Faith would be easy. As a matter of fact, in the New Testament book of 1 Peter, chapter 1 we read, “… now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” There are many places in the Bible where good people went through terrible circumstances. In the same book of the Bible, we read,”…These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” There is a good purpose for the pain we experience in life. A *good* purpose. I trust God with everything in my life. I have faith in Him. He has proven to me over the many years I have been a believer, that He is much more faithful than I am. I became a follower of Jesus, a Christian, if you will, when I was sixteen. Over the years there have been times where I seemed to have have been living in lock step with Him, and others….no so much. But even when I strayed from Him, He waited for me to come back to Him. And just as He promised in the Bible, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God has shown His love and patience and faithfulness so many times in my life that there is no doubt in my mind that He is real, He is loving, He is kind, and He wants only good things for me and for everyone who calls out to him. My friend, This Life Of Faith is for you. Over the coming weeks and months I want to encourage you and help your faith to grow. I’ll be continuing Steven’s story, and tell you many others where my faith was tested, and God proved Himself able to bring me through. And I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have a perfect life now, without troubles. I’ll tell you more about that, too, as we go on together. Every Wednesday, I’ll bring a new episode. You can count on that. 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. Thanks. And thanks for joining me on the maiden voyage of TLOF! Please come on back next week, when I’ll continue the story about Steven. Why was he in the hospital for two months, when he should have been out in no more than ten days? Before we go, it’s my pleasure tell you that the song I played for you today was “Be Not Afraid” as arranged by Cat Jahnke. I’ve been a fan of Cat for many years. having first played her music on probably the Lifespring Weekend Music show, I’m guessing in late 2004 or early 2005. Over the years, we’ve become internet friends, and this week I would say that even though we have not yet met face to face, I think we’ve crossed over into genuine friendship. Sometime I’ll tell you the story of the significance of this song and how it came to be on TLOF. But suffice it to say, I believe it’s a God thing. Do yourself a favor and check out the rest of Cat’s music at CatJahnke.com. That’s spelled “Cat” as in the furry little animal, Jahnke- j-a-h-n-k-e. CatJahnke.com. Her music is mostly fun and quirky, and always uniquely Cat. Thanks, Cat, for sharing your music here, and over the years with the Lifespring audience. I’ll see you next time. Until then, may God bless you richly. I’m Steve Webb.
2 minutes | 7 years ago
This Life of Faith Prelaunch Show!
Welcome to the prelaunch episode of This Life of Faith. My name is Steve Webb, and I am your host. This Life of Faith is a show that is meant to encourage you in your faith. Let’s face it, life can be really hard sometimes. If someone told you that life was going to be easy once you became a follower of Jesus, they lied to you. Life is hard. But it is also a marvelous gift from God. And the hard times are necessary for you to become the man or woman that He wants you to be. There are no shortcuts. But you are not alone. God does not intend for you to figure it out, all by yourself. On TLOF, I’ll be telling you about some things I have discovered that have enabled me to survive some incredibly difficult times. And not only survive, but actually grow stronger in my faith, in the face of situations that, without my faith in God, would have caused me to throw in the towel and, frankly, check out. I hope you’ll join me in this weekly podcast, and I hope you will tell a friend that is going through hard times right now. I’ll be publishing a new show every Wednesday, with each episode being about fifteen minutes long. You’ll get an honest, unvarnished look into the struggles that I have faced and am currently facing, and I’ll let you know how God is helping me through. Subscribe to the show free, at ThisLifeOfFaith.com, in iTunes, Stitcher, and wherever fine podcasts are found. So until next time, may God bless you richly. I’m Steve Webb.
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