His wife was in extreme pain after a routine surgery, but the doctors had no answers. Then a mysterious, elderly patient offered advice.
Posted in , May 26, 2020
“Colt, I think I’m going to die.”
My wife, Krystyna, struggled to get the words out. I had to lean in to hear her. Her voice was weak. She looked small in the hospital bed, her skin pale and shining with sweat.
“No, honey,” I said. “Don’t say that. You can’t lose hope.”
I couldn’t blame her, though. It had been two weeks since what was supposed to be a routine appendectomy, and she was getting worse, not better. The doctors didn’t have any answers. It was hard not to feel hopeless.
It had all started on Mother’s Day. We’d loaded the kids into the car and driven to a campsite we’d rented with some friends for the weekend. It was the perfect spot, nestled between cedar trees and close to a river. We pitched tents and built a large fire. Everyone was having a great time. Except Krystyna. After dinner, she complained of stomach pains. She retreated to her sleeping bag early that night, hoping to sleep it off, but in the morning felt terrible. Something was definitely wrong.
We left the kids with our friends, and I drove Krystyna to the nearest hospital. Within a half hour, she was being wheeled into the OR. Though it wasn’t how we’d envisioned our weekend going, we were both grateful that she could be treated before her appendix ruptured. The doctor explained that the procedure was done laparoscopically and that Krystyna should recover quickly.
From there, things started to go downhill. A few days post-op, Krystyna’s stomach was still hurting. She could barely get out of bed. “Just post-surgery lethargy,” we were told by her doctors. But by Tuesday, Krystyna was throwing up. She struggled to walk to the bathroom on her own, her legs shaking. We went back to the hospital, and she was readmitted. The doctors ran some tests. Did a CT scan of Krystyna’s abdomen. They couldn’t find anything wrong.
Now, watching her cry in the hospital bed, I felt so helpless. I sat with her until she calmed down and drifted off to sleep, then crept out of the room. I needed some air. Making my way down the empty hall, my vision started to blur with tears. The fears and doubts I’d held back in front of Krystyna came rushing forth. Her words rang out in my head on repeat: I think I’m going to die. Colt, I’m going to die.
I squeezed my eyes shut and let out a shuddering breath. I hoped against hope that somehow we’d catch a break.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted someone. An old man, walking down the hallway toward me. He was probably in his eighties or nineties, draped in a hospital gown two sizes too big. It hung on his frail frame. He was sporting a large gash across his head and using a walker. The stark black row of stitches seemed recent. Surely, in his state, he shouldn’t be able to walk around on his own. I looked around for an accompanying nurse or doctor. There was no one. He moved steadily toward me. His gaze was clear with intent.
“It’s your wife’s intestines,” he said. “There’s a blockage.”
“What?” I asked, surprised.
“I’ve been working for God for more than 40 years!” He said. “He told me about your wife. But don’t worry. She’s going to be okay.”
“Thank you,” I said, stunned. Looking over my shoulder, I got one last glimpse of the man before I turned the corner. I never saw him again.
I could have written off the whole encounter as the ramblings of a confused patient. Yet as I prayed in the hospital parking lot, his words kept repeating in my head.
Once I gathered my composure, I went back to Krystyna’s room. When she woke up, I told her about the strange man and his message.
“You see,” I said, squeezing her hand tight. “You’re going to be fine. We can’t give up just yet.”
A few hours later, during morning rounds, the doctor told us Krystyna was being transferred. They’d found…something. They’d need to perform another surgery.
Her original surgeon was on vacation, so Krystyna had to go to another hospital. There a different surgeon carried out the operation—and quickly found the problem.
“Your wife’s intestines were stapled together,” the surgeon informed me, after the procedure.
He went on to explain that, during her appendectomy, the other surgeon had accidentally stapled two sections of Krystyna’s bowels together, causing toxic fluids to seep into her body. She was just days, maybe hours, from going into septic shock. That meant dangerously low blood pressure, organ damage and, eventually, death. The new surgeon and his staff had begun flushing out Krystyna’s system. Had they not found the problem, he said, Krystyna would have been dead within the next 48 hours.
Our ordeal wasn’t over. Krystyna was in the hospital on IV drips for two more weeks. But unlike the first surgery, this time Krystyna actually improved. Color quickly returned to her cheeks. She could sit up and talk. The pain was subsiding. She would make a full recovery—and it was all foretold by a mysterious stranger, whose words gave us the hope and strength to go on.
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