I had the most amazing, invaluable time with my father in the ICU the other night.
Two weeks ago, my father experienced complications from routine surgery and almost died. After a second surgery to fix complications of the first surgery, his blood pressure was dangerously low to undetectable, and no amount of fluid, blood, or pressors (medicine to keep the blood pressure up) was enough to fix it. My family and faithful members of my beloved church stood around his bed, warring and praying for about 5 hours. Many times I didn’t think my father would live, but we kept speaking life over him. Declaring his destiny and the fact that God still had much to do through him.
Turns out that he was bleeding out after the second surgery and had to go for a third surgery about six hours later to stop the bleed. After 5 hours of intense prayer, my faith wavered. I just knew the doctors would come back to the room with those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but your father didn’t make it.” Instead, they came back smiling and telling us the surgery went well and he would return to the room shortly. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. It was a miracle that he lived through all of that and I’ll be ever grateful to God for it.
He returned, 10 units of blood and liters of fluid later, swollen to what seemed to be twice his normal size. Even the white of his eyes were swollen. He stayed on the ventilator for 9 days, most of the time completely sedated. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gone 9 days without talking to my father before. Even during college. Every day I became more and more anxious for him to wake up. I wanted to see the love in his eyes when he looked at me. I wanted to hear his voice. For him to crack a silly joke or give me some of his invaluable wisdom.
He woke up confused. To the point where I wondered if permanent brain damage occurred during that 5 hour period of low blood pressure. The nurses assured us it was just from being sleep for so long on powerful sedative drugs and that he would come back to his full mental capacity. He was also very weak. My dad used to walk 7-8 miles a day, but could barely lift his legs. Putting his hand to his face completely tired him out. Sitting up on the side of the bed with full assistance wiped him out after 10 seconds.
But God is daily restoring his strength and his mind. The other day, my dad called my mom and each of his three daughters to his bedside for a talk. He addressed his concerns for what was going on in our lives and pledged to pray. He pledged to be a better husband to my mom and to rise as the spiritual head of his household and to war in prayer over each of our lives. He committed to fully giving His life to God and doing whatever God desires for him to do. In spite of the severity of his illness, he said he’d be willing to go through it again to become the husband, father, and man of God he’s now going to be.
He blew me away when he began talking about my trip to Africa. He looked into my eyes and said that if the rest of his money was spent on ministry, it would be okay with him. He said that whatever I needed for life and ministry, he would always be there to support me in spreading the gospel. I could hardly speak. I always talk about how my dad pushed me to go into medicine and caused me to pursue a career I didn’t want and not live my dreams. Now he was not only pushing me to go after purpose and destiny, but pledging to support me with whatever I needed.
We spent the rest of the evening talking about life, love, relationships, family, ministry and all sorts of other stuff. He kept asking me if there was anything else I wanted to talk to him about. He was sleepy and weak, but wanted me to know that he was fully available. For every heart issue I brought up, he was full of love and wisdom.
Then I sat there and held his hand while he fell asleep. Every so often he would squeeze my hand. His hand was so warm and full of life. I could feel his pulse beating away, reminding me of the miracles God has done this last two weeks. I sat for a long time watching him sleep. Watching his chest rise and fall, thanking God for every single breath. Thanking God for life and love and the new man my father is becoming.
Thanking God for more time with my father.