The Priceless Messenger
“Procedure went well. The mass in your husband’s bladder was a large blood clot. Unfortunately, the kidney is bleeding so badly, I’m unable to examine the mass in there. I’ve placed a stent in the kidney, hopefully that’ll stop the bleeding. I’ll be back to check on him tomorrow.”
Exhaustion washes over me as I try to understand what the surgeon is saying. Thirty-six hours with no sleep is taking its toll.
I thank the doctor and make my way to the hospital room to wait on my husband. Sitting alone in the room I pray for strength. Lord, I know you’re in control. Help us trust you every step of this process. Give us strength and courage. Please heal Carey and give the doctors wisdom.”
After the nurse hooks Carey up to the monitoring devices and fluids, my stomach rumbles from hunger.
“Hey, if you don’t mind, I’m going down to the cafeteria to get some dinner.” Kissing my husband on the forehead as I leave.
I make my way to the first floor but finding the cafeteria feels like navigating a maze. A sign seems to indicate it’s downstairs on the basement level, so I press the elevator button. As I ride down, fatigue seeps into every cell of my body. While taking a deep breath, I rebuke the fatigue — Stop. Stay alert, the day’s not over yet.
When the doors open, storage bins and machines line the halls. No cafeteria. I return to the elevator and go back to where I started. Stepping off, I’m greeted by a smiling young man.
“Hello, ma’am. God wanted me to tell you that He’s going to turn this around. Trust Him.”
For some reason, I’m not startled by his directness, so I reply, "I'm learning to trust Him hour by hour. And I know He’s already gone before me."
"Well, God can do anything but fail. He's turning this around right now!" His confidence is reassuring.
“Thank you. I really needed to hear that.”
“My pleasure ma’am.”
Not knowing what else to say, I ask, “Can you point me to the cafeteria?”
“It’s right there, ma’am.” Pointing to an area I had passed earlier on my way to the elevators.
“Oh goodness. I walked right by it. I took the elevator thinking it was below us.”
I select my food and start back to the room. As I round a corner, the young man is standing behind a cart next to the restrooms.
“Excuse me. Thank you again for those encouraging words. My husband is really going through a rough time right now. It’s difficult on both of us. My name is Kathy; my husband’s name is Carey. We would appreciate your prayers.”
“No problem. I’m Tony. God told me to find you. I told him I didn’t know you, but He promised to take me to the right person. You see, my normal routine got all messed up. I was sent to clean Surgery One, but somebody had already cleaned it. Went to the restrooms on the east side, but somebody was in there. The Lord told me to walk around the corner and you’d be there. And there you were stepping off the elevator.”
“So, I wasn’t really lost after all.”
“No ma’am. We were supposed to meet. I’ve worked for housekeeping over 12 years. Encouraging people is my ministry. May I pray with you now?”
We bow our heads together, not caring who sees us — a gray-haired White woman and a young Black man. Two thankful children of God.
As soon as I enter Carey’s room, I exclaim, “You won’t believe what just happened!” The stress on Carey’s face seems to soften as I recount my experience with Tony.
Except for the soft beeping of monitors, the hospital wing grows quiet as evening settles in. Carey has dozed off, so I sit quietly listening to his breathing. I’m at peace.
Reaching for my journal to note what happened today, I wonder what the name Tony means. My heart sings with praise when the meaning appears on my phone — Tony means priceless in Latin.
Lord, thank you for using Tony as Your priceless messenger today.
On Monday morning, the urologist seems pleased, “Looking good. The hospitalist will keep an eye on you tomorrow. If the bleeding stops, I’ll be able to get in there and biopsy the mass Wednesday or Thursday.”
“Thank you, Doctor. Praying this stops the bleeding,” Carey replies.
Tuesday morning, the head nurse is troubled by Carey’s blood count. “I’m calling the doctor about another transfusion.”
Carey receives two blood transfusions. But there’s discussion among some of the doctors about discharging Carey by the end of the week. Carey and I are both stunned and frustrated. He’s not stable. Why would they be discussing his discharge?
By late Wednesday, the bleeding is worse. I call the urologist’s office to give him an update. His response is not encouraging.
“We may have to take the kidney out, but prior to that, I want to try something. I’ve scheduled a procedure for Carey on Friday with the Chief Radiologist. This procedure will cut blood flow to half of the kidney. If this works, I’ll be able to biopsy the mass. But he will need another transfusion Thursday evening.”
After the procedure, Carey returns to the room in severe pain, and the pain medication isn’t working. Seeing him like this really hurts.
Carey wakes Saturday morning with non-stop hiccups, which exacerbate his abdominal pain. Yesterday’s procedure had no effect on the bleeding. Blood and clots continue to fill the catheter bag.
Entering the room this afternoon, Dr. N. announces, “We’re going to take the kidney, so I’m going to put in an order to have you transferred to the hospital where I perform surgeries.”
“Doctor, I prefer to stay here. We’re concerned about complications if I’m moved.”
“I can understand that, but my equipment and staff are at the other hospital. I feel more comfortable performing the nephrectomy there.”
“Okay, let us pray about it.”
Later that day, a hospitalist visits. “We’re aware that Dr. U. wants to transfer you, but we cannot authorize the transfer. There’s too much risk to you and the hospital.”
On Monday, March 7, Dr. N. transfers Carey to Dr. W., another urologist surgeon. That evening, Dr. W. enters the room full of energy and smiles. He details his experience and training and discusses the nephrectomy. Carey’s surgery is scheduled for Tuesday evening, March 8. About an hour before going to the operating room, the surgery is rescheduled for the next day. He receives two more transfusions overnight.
On Wednesday, March 9, as Carey goes back for surgery, Dr. W. takes me aside. “I just wanted to let you know that my 14-year-old daughter is praying for you and your husband.” He takes a minute to share his faith with me.
As I walk away praying silently, the Lord infuses me with an inner peace I cannot explain (Phil.4:6-7).
After more than five hours, Dr. W. calls me back to recovery. “He did great. Other than dealing with a river of blood from that kidney, the surgery went well. We’re going to keep him in ICU for a couple of days.”
We spend our 32nd anniversary in ICU.
After eighteen days, three procedures, and six blood transfusions, Carey is discharged home.
Looking back weeks later, I realize God was working behind the scenes to make sure the best surgeon and medical staff were available to take care of Carey (Romans 8:28). This was noticeably clear at a follow up visit with Dr. W. a few weeks after discharge.
“Hey man. It’s good to see ya!”
Dr. W. smiles as he rolls forward in a chair, his and Carey’s knees almost touching.
“I’m going to be honest with you. I was scared to death to perform surgery on you. Not because of the surgery; I’ve done that hundreds of times. I was afraid of losing you on the table because of the bleeding. In all my 12 years of practice, I’ve never seen a kidney bleed that bad. The tumor in there was like kudzu — unreal. Now, the tumor was cancer. But by taking the kidney, I think we got it all. We’ll monitor you every few months to make sure you stay cancer free.”
“Doctor, thank you so much for all you’ve done,” Carey and I reply in unison.
“Let me just tell you, I had no control — you had no control — only God was in control. And I am so incredibly thankful He was!”
And so are we!
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever . . . But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do” (Psalm 73:26, 28 NLT).
Have you ever experienced an encounter with a messenger similar to Tony?
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Have you ever looked back on a challenging time in your life and realized that God was lining up people and circumstances for your good?
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Kathy Garrett McInnis