Facing the Horror: How Disease Nearly Took My Life But Grace Saved Me
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
My trip to Los Angeles the weekend of August 16th was wonderful. I saw several friends. I spoke at a rally for media fairness. I played the part of an Obama rodeo clown chasing a cow across the stage. It was great fun.
It wasn’t until late Saturday night that I started feeling ill. And I brought what I thought was a cold virus back home with me to St. Louis.
The next week I felt horrible and took cold medicine to try to shake this late summer “virus.” It wasn’t until Thursday when I woke up with no sight in my left eye that I knew something was terribly wrong.
That is when I checked into the hospital and my life changed forever.
My twin brother, who works and lives in Hong Kong, was trying his best to capture what was going on with my health crisis in St. Louis. His beautiful daughter, Candice, came and stayed with me my first few nights in the hospital.
Much of late August through September was blurry for me. I was very, very sick. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, but was not sure if I was going to make it. It was such a dark, lonely place. But in the end, prayer won.
Since my memory is not clear, I’ve relied on friends and family to help tell this story.
The initial diagnosis was that I had a bacterial infection, so I was treated with antibiotics. My temperature continued to run high, reaching 103.5, an incredible number.
After more tests, my cousin, Dan, a top doctor at a nearby university hospital, came on the scene. He determined that I had an infection in my knee, in my bloodstream, and that it had affected the aortic valve of my heart, creating an abscess. Due to the complexity of the case, I was transferred from the community hospital to St. Louis University Hospital.
Before they could fix my heart, my badly infected knee had to be removed. This was done and I recovered over the Labor Day weekend, resting up for the most harrowing of all surgeries: open heart.
When the surgeons
looked at my heart, they found the infection was more extensive than they had thought. During a twelve hour surgery, that was supposed to last only five hours, they removed the infection, replaced my aortic valve, took out a portion of the aorta near my heart, and put in a new artery that leads to the brain. They patched up a small hole I have had since birth and another hole the size of a dime, which was caused by the infection. The lead surgeon said this was within the top 1% of complicated cases in his career. Later, my cousin, Dr. Dan, said it was a unique case with several features that will make it a case study for years. But, the surgery did not go without complications. The heart machine broke down , and one artery they used became so brittle it broke apart during the surgery. But, God’s healing grace was there every step of the way.
I recovered miraculously in the immediate days following the surgery, cared for by wonderful nurses, friends, and family members, including my twin brother, who flew in from Hong Kong.
But there was more to come. Due to fluid buildup around my heart, I underwent surgery again a week later. Then a week after that, I underwent another surgery to remove fluid from around my lungs. After that last procedure, I had my best night’s sleep in more than a month.
In late September, I had a pacemaker placed under
my skin, near my heart. The surgery went well, and I was moved to a skilled nursing facility.
There have been several other procedures and operations, but I am on the mend. I still don’t have vision in my left eye, I won’t have a new knee for many weeks,
and the pain can be horrible.
But through it all – reading your tweets, knowing you called meant the world to me. And knowing that there were people out there praying for my good health I believe is the reason I can sit here at my computer today and thank each and every one of you.
Andrea, Rachel and the Gang–
On my way to the hospital in late August my second call was to Andrea Ryan, my friend who has been contributing and helping me with TGP for the past two years. I told her my situation. Her immediate response was not to worry about the blog but to focus on getting well. Andrea took over as Chief Editor and contributor and has been running the blog since late August. I can’t thank her enough.
Rachel has been writing for TGP for several years. Her mother, Ruth, was a contributor before her. Rachel has never complained but just asks what she could do to help. And she has more than helped. She has been Andrea’s greatest support during the past six weeks. Thank you, Rachel.
Ed, Mara, Andrew, and James – thanks so much for helping Andrea keep the blog humming along!
Andrew’s spirit lives on.
It was during these very early dark days that Mike Flynn from Big Goverment and Breitbart.com reached out to Gateway Pundit Editor, Andrea Ryan, and offered to supply content to TGP while I was recovering. I’m touched by all they did, most especially, the moving Tribute written about me and their promotion of it on the Internet and XM Radio. They were just amazing.
Later, several other top bloggers joined them, including John Hawkins of Right Wing News, and William Teach from Pirate’s Cove, who have come every day to help without fail. Also, thank you to Duane Lester, Dana Loesch, Doug Ross, Melissa Clouthier, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, Andrea Shea King, Sister Toldjah, Robert Stacy McCain, Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Bookworm, Kristinn Taylor, Steve Schippert, Adam Andrzejewski, Marinka Peschmann, Ken Pittman, The P/Oed Patriot, and Dr. Mark Christian.
This is what makes me so proud to be a conservative blogger.
I am forever grateful for your generosity!
My brothers and sister–
My younger brother drove up from Texas when he found out I was sick. He stayed on a cot in the hospital with me those first terrifying days. I have the best little brother in the world.
Joe, my twin, flew back from Hong Kong and stayed several days with me in the hospital. I was so glad to see my twin. Before he came I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again.
My older brother, Tim, has been a consistent pillar of support. The ice cream he snuck in was a treat. He’s helped out in so many ways.
My sister, Becky, came from Iowa for a week and was a great help. She’s become such a good friend over the years.
I, also, want to thank all of the friends and visitors who called and offered their support in many ways. Especially, my dear friend Bridget and my niece Andrea. – Thank you so much! Thank you Fred, Jill, Andrea R., Chris, Ryan, Alyena, Cece, Sophia, Mia and everyone for your visits.
Thank you Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Marcus. Andrew came down from Illinois three times to see me during my darkest hours. Thank you dear friend. Your presence lifted my spirit.
Thank you Dana Loesch for taking time to sit with me. You lifted me in prayer. You took the time to visit me during my suffering and pain. I will never forget your generosity and cherish your friendship.
Thank you Doctors and Staff – You saved my life…
I knew the heart surgury was difficult, but two weeks after the procedure Dr. Lee came in and told my sister and me, “You know, you were dead.” I truly believe this great surgeon saved my life.
When my cousin, Dr. Dan, heard about my situation he immediately made a bed available at his hospital. He dropped by every day. He spoke with the other doctors and followed my progress. I can’t thank you enough, Dan. Thank you for your support and friendship.
To Gateway Pundit readers and supporters–
Thank you for all your support and prayers during this extremely difficult time. It has meant more than you can possibly know. I truly believe your prayers lifted me through the dark days.
Finally, I may not be the same man I was two months ago. I may not have all my sight. I temporarily may not walk. I may have patches all over my chest. I may have a machine telling my heart to beat… But I want you to know that I am willing and able to continue on the mission to save this great nation. Thank you, Lord, for this second chance.
The fight goes on.