Y HUSBAND JESSE AND I have always tried to
live our lives in a straightforward, righteous manner. Jesse, a
truck driver, thought Sundays should be devoted to attending Mass
and spending quality time with his family. Rarely sick, Jesse was
surprised when he became ill and discovered he was unable to shake
off what appeared to be a common cold. Jesse decided to go to the
doctor, which began a nightmare of tests. That’s when he was diagnosed
with cirrhosis of the liver. How could that be? He never even drank
Jesse’s symptoms became worse almost immediately, and he was
soon unable to drive his truck or sleep in his own bed because of
abdominal fluid. One morning at around 2 a.m. he woke me, falling
to the floor and vomiting blood. Jesse’s father drove us through
three miles of flood waters to Natchitoches Parish Hospital. The
doctors and nurses in the emergency room quickly realized that Jesse
needed to be transported by ambulance to Shreveport because his
doctor was there and thÓey were familiar with his medical
ambulance drivers knew we might not make it, and they reminded me
to place my trust in God. I prayed for strength to accept whatever
challenges lay ahead.
Over the next few days, Jesse was twice placed in the hospital’s
medical intensive care unit as the doctors tried to no avail to
stop the fluid and bleeding. Hours in the waiting room turned into
days, with only 15-minute intervals of visitation. Every time someone
walked into the waiting room and asked if we needed prayer, we all
grabbed each other’s hands and prayed.
Eventually, Jesse became too tired to breathe and was placed on
a respirator. When he woke, he asked for two things: our son, Cody,
and his afghan from home. This was my answer from God that He was
hanging on to Jesse for me. I prepared our son for what he was about
to see. Cody asked me if his dad was going to die. I could not lie.
I just said that we were hanging on to him as tightly as we could
and that during this time, God was holding us in His arms.
God sent people from everywhere with gifts of kindness, as well
as money to live on. Our friends, our church and our family from
Natchitoches reached out and made it possible for us to stay by
Jesse’s side. Two weeks passed. When it was discovered Jesse’s first
surgery had failed, the surgeons tried a second time to place a
stent through his liver to prevent fluid from leaking into his abdomen.
On the Tuesday evening before Ash Wednesday, Jesse was transported
to yet another hospital, where a revision was done on the implant.
Ash Wednesday services were held in the small chapel next to the
waiting room, and I was reminded of God’s suffering so that
we might live. Following the surgery, the doctors said it would
take time before we knew if the procedure had been a success, but
they also said Jesse was so weak he would probably never get out
of bed. To this, Jessie responded, “You don’t know what
I’m made of.”
The next day, he asked the nurses if he could get up and take a
shower and they were quick to decline his request. Frustrated, Jesse
insisted on trying. Reluctantly, they agreed to allow Jessie to
sit up and shower. This began his time of miracles.
One step at a time moved to one day at a time and Jessie walked
a little further each day.
After bringing Jesse home, a young church friend named Rebecca came
to visit. She took my hand, and explained that she had walked out
to her car one morning after working the night shift, to discover
an envelope filled with money beside her car. She had taken the
envelope to the security office, and when no one claimed it after
a designated waiting period, was told she could keep the money.
Rebecca handed me an envelope containing $500 and told me she knew
we could really use it. She also said our church was planning a
fund raiser to help us pay bills.
It has been one year now and recently, the doctors at the liver
transplant clinic believed another biopsy was needed to see if Jesse’s
cirrhosis had progressed. He was admitted to the hospital, and that
evening, the doctor came in to tell us they had located a liver
for Jesse. We were speechless. In about an hour, the doctor returned
to Jesse’s room and said he had good news and bad news. The bad
news was that Jesse would not be getting a liver transplant that
night. The good news was that he no longer seemed to need one! Jesse’s
liver had begun to regenerate. Our hearts were filled with praise
and thanksgiving because we knew we had truly been blessed.
The 33 days of Jesse’s hospitalization made me realize just how
wonderful it is to be a part of the medical profession. Our friends
stood by us during this time and made sure we knew they were there
if we needed to call on them for help. Many times, I received envelopes
filled with money and notes reminding us that everyone at home was
aware of our needs and sent their support. These unselfish acts
were never considered charity, but signs of God’s love speaking
through His people.
Natchitoches Parish Hospital