Surgery #3 How the Day Panned Out

How the day panned out: Short version: Surgery went well, and Chelsea’s feeling a lot better already. Long version: Keep reading…

We arrived at the hospital a little before 6:30 this morning. Chelsea was still in her room and the lights were out, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was turned over on her side and moaning in obvious pain.

“We’re here,” I announced.

“I know,” she answered.

We didn’t talk too much before her surgery because clearly she didn’t feel like talking. Joseph, her night nurse, came in to check her vitals, trying to be quiet, and she told him, “It’s okay; I’m not asleep.”

She mentioned to him that she was in a lot of pain, and he said, “Since you’re getting ready for your surgery, I’m not sure what I can give you.”

Before long the transport nurse was in her room, unhooking all her machines and getting her ready for the long trek down to pre-op. She said she was just going to take her in her own bed; that would be much easier on Chelsea than to transfer her to another one.

Chelsea said, “Take it easy on the corners.” The nurse said something like “Don’t worry. We won’t run you into any walls,” but Chelsea meant that she was feeling sick and was afraid the trip downstairs would make her throw up. The nurse asked if Chelsea would like to take a bag (vomit bag) with her just in case and grabbed one on the way out the door.

The nurse was a little gal, and I had to help her maneuver the bed through the door, into the hallway and through a couple more tight spots on the way down to the first floor.

When we got to pre-op, the pre-op nurse introduced herself as Cathy, and I asked her if we had spoken on the phone before maybe. It seemed to me that someone named Cathy had been Chelsea’s post-op nurse after one of her recent surgeries.

I saw a chair on the other side of Chelsea’s bed and sat down in it so that I could see her and she could see me. The nurse was busy doing all the things she was supposed to be doing to get Chelsea ready for surgery.

Before I knew it Chelsea’s eyes got very wide and she put the bag up to her mouth and started throwing up. “Get out,” she said.

Then she threw up again and repeated, “Get out.”

I quickly got up and left the room with Chuck in tow. Immediately I realized I had left my crochet bag with our books and stuff in it beside the chair. I hurried back in and said, “I forgot my bag.”

“I’m sorry,” Chelsea said weakly.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” I said. The nurse escorted us out to the waiting room and said she would try to get us back in before Chelsea went to surgery.

We signed in at the same-day surgery desk, and the attendant gave us a slip of paper with Chelsea’s patient ID number on it and the name of the surgeon. Up on the wall was a flat screen with patient numbers, doctors’ last names and which stage of surgery the patients were in. At any time we could find out what was going on by looking at the big screen.

The pre-op nurse came out at 7:31 and said they had already taken her back and she was sorry she didn’t get us back in to see her first. She said, “We gave her something for her nausea, and then they gave her something else for her anxiety. She’s feeling pretty comfortable right now. As they were wheeling her into OR she raised her fist up in the air and said, ‘Woo hoo!'”

We laughed. It sounded just like Chelsea. She was relieved to finally not be in pain or throwing up.

The big screen told us that the procedure began at 7:51. The nurse had told us that we had an hour and a half to go get something to eat if we wanted.

We went to Corner Cafe and were back in plenty of time. It was nine or after when Dr. James sent for us. He told us the bowel had indeed been twisted and that she should be seeing immediate results as far as pain goes. Of course, she would have the post-operative pain, but the other pain from the twisted bowel would be gone. He went over the other standard stuff with us, and we went back out to wait for Chelsea.

She was in recovery for quite a while, an hour or so, and then they called and said she was put into the system for transport back to her room and should be back in her room in thirty minutes or so.

After that call, Pastor Jeremy called and said he was ten minutes away from Centerpoint and asked if we were still in the lobby. I said we were, and he said he would see us in a few.

He had been there probably fifteen or twenty minutes when the post-op nurse called and said Chelsea would be up to her room in a few minutes and that we could go on up to wait if we wanted.

She looked a little loopy, of course, from the anesthesia, but, on the whole, she looked much better than she looked before she went into surgery. She said she already felt better than she felt this morning. She said her anxiety level was less than it had been the previous two surgeries. “No tears this time!” she said.

Chuck and Pastor stepped out as the nurses were all scurrying around her, checking her blood pressure, hooking up her machines, and getting her situated in her bed with pillows, etc. I asked one of them to get her some ice water for her mouth swabs, and then I started offering them to Chelsea when she motioned for them.

I was so happy to see her face and so happy that she was feeling better. There will be the post-surgery pain to deal with, but I think she welcomes that after what she has been experiencing, particularly in the past few days.

It will be a couple of days before she can eat, but she’s already thinking about food. When I gave her the second or third mouth swab, she mentioned, “See, that tastes good. Before, everything I put in my mouth tasted awful. Last night I wanted to eat my Arby’s so bad, and I tried.”

“I bet that orange pop tasted good to you, didn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, “until this morning. Then I wished I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything.”

We left her at about 12:25. I wanted to get back to Higginsville to at least drive my afternoon route–because, surgery or no surgery, bills still need to be paid. Chuck was able to take a paid vacation day for today, but to bus drivers vacation days only come in July and August and the only pay they get comes in the form of unemployment.

We were talking briefly after her surgery about all the thoughts that come into one’s head before surgery. I told her I could relate because when I had my first C-section I had never had anesthesia before, so I had that nagging thought that, what if I never woke back up?

Chelsea added, “Right, because you never know.” Then she said that before every surgery she always thinks about that horror story that my sister told us about some guy who went into surgery and woke up half way through and could feel everything they were doing to him, but couldn’t speak or move.

I said, “Yes! That is a horrible story to tell anyone who has to have a lot of surgeries!” I think that would go through my head, too. I shudder to think about it!

This morning the peace kicked in and I was so thankful to God for it and grateful to those who were praying for peace for me, but last night was hard for me. I was thinking, “Okay, I trust God, but bad stuff still happens. Godly men and women still have to go through terrible things. Look at Job. He was a godly man and he lost, not only one child, but ten, all at the same time. And there was this one guy we knew, a wonderful husband and father to three daughters, if I remember, a very godly man, and he got stomach cancer and died. And all kinds of people were praying for him.”

I surmised that trusting God did not mean that something horrible was not going to happen, and I was grappling to reconcile the meaning of trust through pain and trial. So it became a question of whether I was trusting God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen or trusting that God would pull me through it if it did. I decided it was easier to trust God that something horrible wasn’t going to happen, but realized we don’t get a choice which kind of “trusting God” we get. And I didn’t want to think about the other kind of “trusting God” before the fact.

It’s easy (and marvelous) when God gives us a glimpse of how He was working things out even during the “bad” moments of our lives (when those events are already in the past), but I catch myself thinking up scenarios of why God WOULD (hypothetically) allow this or that–when it hasn’t even happened, yet. And I started thinking about how God allowing me to think about stuff that MAY happen before it actually happens would be kind of like “breaking my fall,” as in falling out of a window and hitting a tree or something before you hit the ground.

Too much thinking and too much rambling, I know.

Chelsea just called. She is feeling a lot better and sounds a lot better. She also said, “Guess what! I have ‘output’!” So things are “moving along” even better than we expected. I suspect Dr. James will be very happy to hear about that tonight or tomorrow when he comes in.

Thank you again, everyone, for your prayers. It has meant so much.

January 8? 9? 10?

I got a phone call from my sweet daughter earlier today. She sounds a lot better than she has sounded the past couple of days. Yesterday she slept most of the day, but she woke up at nine today and she feels pretty good.

The x-ray she had a couple of days ago showed nothing out of the ordinary. Dr. James asked if he could push on her colostomy, but there was nothing there. Still no bowel activity. She’s on liquids still, too. She said every time they bring the cart around and knock on her door, she calls out, “No, thank you” because she knows what’s on there for her and she is so sick of apple juice and jello.

She said she is craving Red Robin so bad she can’t stand it. I bet we haven’t eaten there in a couple of years or so, but I promised her as soon as I can spring her out of that joint (actually I guess it will be the rehab joint) she and I are going to Red Robin. I may have to bring her a Whiskey River BBQ burger as soon as she’s allowed to have solid food.

Our house just isn’t the same without her here. Cameron says all the time “I miss Chelsea.” I do, too.

I trust that everything is going fine. It concerns me that she hasn’t had food for a week, but she said Dr. James said it’s normal. I just pray that her bowels will start working soon. I know it has to be frustrating for her.

She called me back a few minutes after she hung up the first time and said the nurse told her she could have some chocolate ice cream–so she wasted no time in ordering some. She was almost giddy. Her nurse had told her before that she could suck the chocolate off the Dove dark chocolate with almond pieces that sweet LouAnna Wrisinger had brought to her, but then the nurse looked at them and said, “No, sorry, I can’t let you have those. I didn’t realize the almonds were all crushed up in there.” Chelsea is looking forward to the day she CAN have those! lol

The physical therapists were there again today, and Chelsea felt like she did pretty well. She said she sat on the edge of the bed and shampooed her hair with one of those magic shampoo caps. I have no idea how those work. They may not work great nor the results last very long, but it’s better than nothing.

The last time Chelsea was able to have her hair thoroughly shampooed was the day after Christmas in the hotel Chuck booked in Branson. It had the best wheelchair accessible bathroom I had seen so far with a giant shower with a drain in the floor that Chelsea was able to roll right into. I put the plastic shower curtain under her hair and behind her chair and draped it over her left shoulder. She leaned back as far as she could and I washed her hair the best I could with the hotel shampoo. It looked great after it dried, but I was dubious, to say the least, as I was washing it because I wasn’t able to work up m̶u̶c̶h̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶ any lather. If I had known how great the shower was going to be, I would have brought my own shampoo! Anyway, that gives you an idea of how ready Chelsea was to be able to wash her hair! Poor girl!

Her creatinine is down to a 2.7. More great news.

It was so good to hear her voice. She said one of the guys who comes into her room to ask her if she needs anything was able to round up a word-search book for her.

Just keep praying specifically that her bowels will start working so we can move on to the next phase in her healing. Thank you! ♥

Post Surgery #2

Quick Chelsea update: She was able to tolerate twenty minutes of sitting on the edge of her bed today, brushing her hair and washing her face. That’s ten or fifteen minutes more of balancing herself than she did yesterday.

Dr. James took her off the continual drip of pain medication. Her bowel still hasn’t woken up from the surgery, and he thinks maybe the pain medication may be partly to blame.

She has to hold a pillow on her abdomen when she coughs because of her staples. It’s also probably difficult to roll over from side to side for the same reason.

Dr. James said she’ll only need the wound vac for two months; after that she should be healed. I hope he’s right. He said she should heal a lot more quickly from this than she does, say, from a pressure sore. She’s been battling the one on her heel for three years.

After she is discharged from Centerpoint, they are moving her to Kindred, a long-term Acute Care facility, so that she can still receive IV antibiotics and physical therapy to build up her strength. I don’t know how long she’ll have to stay there or even when she will be discharged from Centerpoint. She won’t be going anywhere until the bowel kicks in.

The hole in her back is the fistula, he told me. He didn’t close it up. It’s still open, but will heal from the inside out.

She has been plagued with indigestion, so I asked Dr. James if she could have her chewable Tums. He said yes, that that shouldn’t hurt her–just not to eat the whole bag. lol

She is still not allowed to have any solid foods, and she has no appetite to eat anything, anyway. Before we left today, I talked her into at least trying some chicken broth and the nurse ordered her two, just in case. I forgot to ask her how that worked out for her.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Just talked to Chelsea. She sounds very chipper. She said she has hardly had to push her pain button at all (she pushed it once when we were there this afternoon), but that she can’t cough because of her stomach. She said she’s doing well, that she’s been sleeping off and on all night.

She said she called the nurse’s station at a few minutes before midnight and told them she was watching the ball drop on TV if any of them wanted to come in and watch with her. Three or four of them did.

She told her nurse, “I have an Oreo ball over here. Can I eat that?” Her nurse said no. I had to laugh. I said, “What, were you trying to catch her in a “Happy New Year” mood?” She laughed and said, “Yeah, Oreo balls for everyone! But, don’t worry; I didn’t touch it.”

Back-to-Back Surgeries and Now Rest

Chelsea had her two-hour surgery today. It may have been longer; we don’t know. The surgeon left the room at 12:19, and we’re not sure if the surgery was at 10 or 10:30. Everything went fine. We walked up to the same-day surgery desk at 12:30 and they paged Dr. James on the overhead. I have met a LOT of doctors over the years, and let me just say, Kelly James is one of my favorites so far. Chuck and I liked him a lot, and you could tell he really cared for Chelsea. He told us he had met her in the wound clinic and that Dr. Rizzi was a personal friend of his.

Chelsea was in recovery for another two hours, so we didn’t see her until about 2:30. We missed seeing Cliff and Marge Swanson, but found the card they left for her on her bed table. Marge also left her a Chicken Soup for the Christian Family’s Soul book.

She didn’t vomit at all today after surgery, so that was a vast improvement over yesterday. They weren’t giving her anything by mouth except for mouth swabs. Her nurse told her she may be able to have some ice chips later this evening. When we first got there Chelsea was very groggy and her eyelids fluttered a lot. She said she was tired.

Dr. James had talked to her about the very things he mentioned to us. The colostomy bag surgery is reversible, but the procedure would take as long as the one today did. It will be up to her whether she wants to reverse it or not, but the day she gets to decide is a long time coming. She has lots of healing to do first. He said her incision is six to eight inches long and very deep.

She will need a wound vac and to be seen in the wound clinic for a while.

She’s been through a lot and started to cry once while we were there today. She apologized and said she didn’t know why she was so emotional. She told us that she had cried twice before her surgery, and she has no clue why.

Dr. James said he ordered her some physical therapy, but added that “this young woman has had two surgeries in two days” and he’s just letting her rest for a while before putting anything else on her.

If this sounds jumbled or if there are errors, I’m sorry. It’s still early, but I can hardly hold my eyes open. Thank you for praying for our daughter! We appreciate it so much. She is doing very well, but I know even better days are ahead–especially when she gets to eat and drink again!

Surgery #1

Update on sweet Chelsea: Her surgery took an hour or maybe a tad more. Dr. Wise spoke to us afterward and told us he took off the bottom of her tailbone. He said she has a lot of issues back there and will require further surgery by Dr. James. (Dr. James is doing surgery tomorrow.) He said that an abscess (fistula) developed in the wall of the rectum and she will have to have a temporary colostomy until that clears up or it will never heal.

Chelsea’s bedside nurse, Susie, called me on my cell about an hour after the operation, telling me Chelsea was a delightful young woman (I already knew that! lol) and saying Chelsea had experienced quite a lot of post-surgery vomiting. She said to make sure they give her more anti-nausea stuff before her next surgery so maybe it won’t be so bad for her afterward.

Chuck and I waited an additional half hour or more for her to be transferred back to her room. She was still in kind of an anesthetic fog and spoke very faintly. She said she was very hungry and that her mouth was dry and asked the nurse if she could have anything to eat or drink. She hadn’t had anything by mouth since 10:00 last night. The nurse checked and said Dr. Wise still had her on nothing to eat or drink because he didn’t know when Dr. James would be performing the other surgery. Chelsea asked me to retrieve some Moisture Therapy out of her purse for her mouth, and the nurse said she would try to track down Dr. James to ask about maybe some apple juice and Jello.

Chuck and I headed home around five or so, and Chelsea called before we got home and said that Dr. James had come to see her. He is going to talk to a urologist and see if they can get her catheter set up like the colostomy to reroute everything away from her surgery site until she heals. When I asked if she was going to get anything to eat or drink she kind of laughed and said, “I ordered DINNER!” She won’t be able to have anything by mouth after midnight.

That’s all the update for now. More surgery tomorrow. Thanks for the prayers!

Surgery #1: Dr. Wise, Orthopedic Guy

Chelsea has been delivered to Centerpoint. When we first arrived a male nurse came up to us and said Chelsea had no orders to be admitted today. Chelsea assured him that Dr. James had told her she could be admitted today and that she wasn’t going back home. Chuck and I agreed that her nurse, Frank, had told us to be back on Sunday because it would be less busy than Monday morning.

The nurse said he would have to talk to Dr. James. He came back twenty minutes or so later and said they were just waiting for a room recently vacated to be cleaned so that she could be moved up there.

Chuck and I took her up to her room when it was ready, kissed her goodbye and headed home. Then I called her to make sure her room phone was working with the number I assumed it would be. She said that Dr. James had popped in for a short visit when her cell phone started ringing in her purse. He apologized for the mix-up and told her with Christmas and the busyness of the hospital things got a little crazy.

Anyway, she’s there, safe and sound, and relieved that she doesn’t have to be lifted out of her chair and the car anymore. Dr. James told her he was going to order up some physical therapy so she could get her strength back.

Tomorrow is surgery day. Dr. Wise will be her surgeon. Contrary to what one of the doctors had told Chelsea, it will be an orthopedic surgeon performing the operation and not a neurosurgeon. Dr. James told her not to worry; they would not be operating anywhere close to her spine. It will just be her tailbone. Prayers, please, for a successful surgery and quick recovery.

Christmas 2013

It has been a wonderful Christmas Eve! The Visiting Nurse Association was here this evening to teach Chelsea how to do her Central Power Line. She said it was okay if we decided to go to Branson. Chelsea needs her antibiotics once every 24 hours. We’re leaving it up to Chelsea whether we go or not. Right now her legs are weak from being in bed for a week. She’s a little worried all the transferring to the car will be too much for Chuck to help with, and then, of course, she doesn’t want to fall.

She has some undesirable side effects, too, due to the antibiotics she’s on, that would make this venture less than idyllic. We’ll just have to weigh everything out tomorrow night and see where we stand. It’s a day trip and one overnight stay, nothing too extreme; maybe we can do this.

Chuck tried to order our tickets for “The Miracle of Christmas,” but it’s Christmas Eve and no one was answering the phone. He also can’t find the web site for the Festival of Lights. I suppose we’ll just have to get up early Thursday and get our tickets once we get to Branson.

I restrung lights on our small tabletop tree, and Chelsea decorated it while I made deviled eggs for tomorrow’s dinner and made a new favorite holiday treat (recipe courtesy of a friend).

We got last-minute wrapping finished. I put some stuff off because–well, I was pretty sure we would have more time since, in all likelihood, we would be postponing the opening of the gifts, and, with Chelsea in the hospital, I haven’t devoted as much time to my project as I needed to. Now it turns out that I will be crocheting into the night, just to have enough finished for a good presentation tomorrow morning (and then I’ll finish it in the next few days).

With Cameron working the graveyard shift, we don’t have to worry about his waking up at the crack of dawn to open gifts, anymore. We can all sleep in! I can get up about seven to start the noodles and rolls, and Cameron should be home around eight.

Anyway, for now I’m grabbing my hook and burning some midnight oil. Merry Christmas, everyone (seventeen minutes early)! May we all take the time to reflect tomorrow on the Light that came into the world so that everyone who puts their trust in Him might repent of their sins and be named among the redeemed. He was born, He died, and He lives forevermore to intercede for those who bear His name. Hallelujah! What a King! What006 a Savior!

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Coming Home for Christmas!

Dear friends, I want to thank each of you personally for this amazing onslaught of prayer! Good news: our daughter is coming home for Christmas! Dr. James came in and said, “We’re sending you home.” Even the kidney doctors said she should be fine. She just needs to stay away from potassium and take it easy on the mashed potatoes, noodles, etc.

We are completely surprised, actually more like blown away. We didn’t know this was even possible after talking with the nephrologist yesterday.

Dr. James, the general doctor involved with her case, told her that after her surgery she would probably be in the hospital for ten days. He asked, “Do you really want to be here for the next six days and then ten more days after your surgery?”

Chelsea said, “No!”

He said, “I didn’t think so.”

Branson is out. They’re getting her set up with home-health and Walgreen’s (for her Central Power Line medicine), and she has to have blood drawn on Friday morning to have reported back to the hospital, BUT she is coming HOME!!!!

First she has to get her blood infusion, and that should take another five or six hours. But she is coming home for Christmas! We will have to take her back to the hospital on Sunday so that she can have her surgery on Monday. We are so happy right now. Cameron will be, too. He’s already asleep from having to work all night, but I can’t wait to tell him when he gets up!

Thanks again, friends, for all the prayers! Praise God for this wonderful answer to prayer! It has made all the difference. When she called to tell us, the difference in her mood was like the difference between night and day. She sounded so pitiful and sad earlier, and now she is perky and jubilant. And I know she will feel even better after she gets blood. Oh, our baby girl is coming home for Christmas! Hallelujah!

A Close Call

Thankful, thankful, thankful to be home. We narrowly missed being dead. We headed off early this morning to visit Chelsea in the hospital before the roads turned bad.

We needed a few things at Super Center and did a little shopping before getting Burger King for lunch.

Deciding to eat on the way home so that we could get home while the roads were still decent, we were on our way back to Higginsville, with Chuck driving about sixty miles an hour.

I was just finishing the last bite of my sandwich on the other side of Odessa, on eastbound I-70, when all of a sudden a royal blue hatchback-looking car spun almost 180 degrees in the lane next to us and darted back into our lane, crossing in the direct path of our Taurus.

It happened in an instant, and we had no opportunity to do anything but think, “This is how we die.” I will never forget the look of sheer terror on the woman’s face in the passenger seat immediately before we hit them in the passenger side of their car. They continued off the road, flipping their car and rolling into the grass between I-70 and the outer road.

We were both praising the Lord that we were still alive, though a long way from being safe, as other cars started going off the road all around us. We got out of our car to speak to the highway patrolman (after he finally arrived; my hands were shaking so badly I had a hard time dialing star fifty-five on my cell phone). He told us the people were alive and then said the safest place for us to be was back in our vehicle.

Eventually he came up to ask us to drive to the next on-ramp so that we would be as far away from the highway as possible. Meanwhile Chuck was frantically searching our owner’s manual to find out where in the world our hazard-light switch was. It was no where to be found on our steering column. The manual told us it was above our radio.

The state patrolman eventually caught up with us at the on ramp and told us the investigating trooper would be with us shortly to get our information. He said, “Cars are going off the road right and left, and I have other places to go.”

I still can’t believe we’re alive. Additionally, our car received only minimal damage. The last we heard both occupants of the other car were going to the hospital. One had a gash on their head, and both were in bad shape mentally. That’s understandable. It took me a while to stop shaking, and I wasn’t upside down in the median! It could have been so much worse. Every one of those semis that whizzed by us going at least seventy miles an hour should have received a citation. Even though we were spared sudden death when we hit that car, each semi that roared past us put our hearts up in our throats. We don’t know how we managed to keep from leaving the roadway ourselves or how the whole ordeal didn’t turn into a seventeen-car pileup. I’m not kidding; those cars and semis were driving way too fast for the road conditions.

Update on Chelsea: she’s still not being cleared to come home. Her nephrologist (kidney doctor) came in this morning while we were there and said her kidney numbers are still not where they need to be. He said she came into the hospital with normally functioning kidneys, but the triple whammy of having the bone infection, the strong antibiotics and the Tylenol/Advil to control her fever did a pretty bad number on her kidneys. Her urine output is pretty good, but the toxin levels in her blood are still concerning.

She is in no pain, but she has had a pretty stressful few days. Now she has a PICC line instead of an IV. She can’t move her head because of the tape on her neck, but she said she’s really not suffering any discomfort other than that.

While the nurses came in to clean her up after the orthopedic team came in to examine her tailbone, Chuck and I took that opportunity to run a few errands in Independence.

I was feeling horrible that our daughter was in a sterile, plain hospital room when she should be home basking in the glow of Christmas lights. We brought her back a soft teddy bear with a red snowflake scarf and hat. I told her whenever she feels stressed just to hug her bear and know how much we love her and that we are praying for her.

I told Chuck I wanted to order a poinsettia or something for her room to make it seem more like Christmas in there, but we just got the bear. Who knows, we may be spending Christmas in her hospital room.

Branson may be out of the question this year. That’s okay: we’re all still alive, and even if we have to spend Christmas in a hospital room at least we can all be together.

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(December 22, 2013) As far as we can tell this is the only damage our car sustained yesterday in our near brush with death. Truly we are blessed and amazed.

In just one fleeting moment, with no warning whatsoever, at least four people’s lives could have had devastating consequences to a chance encounter on a freeway (that’s just the four people in our cars; that’s not even taking into consideration our children and other family members).

In that one fleeting moment, I was fairly confident there was no way of escaping death. How much does it hurt to die? Would we be killed instantly? Would we die five minutes later while waiting for the ambulance?

Chuck said afterward he was pretty sure that image was going to be replayed over and over again in his mind. Ditto.

I will never forget the absolute horror on the face of that poor woman who was on her way to being flipped upside down in her car at the side of I-70. I know she and I were sharing the same thoughts at that moment: “This is it.” Well, MAYBE we were sharing the same thoughts. I mean, people look at death differently sometimes. I was thinking about the pain of dying. She may have been thinking of her destination in the afterlife. I would have been with the Lord. I don’t know where she would have been.

Whenever someone dies, whether a celebrity or just a regular person that we read about in the newspaper, my son’s first question is always, “Was he a Christian?” That determines everything, doesn’t it? That’s the only thing that’s important. It doesn’t matter how old the person is or how he died. Those elements are secondary and, in essence, they certainly pale in comparison.

I usually tell him, “I don’t know.” Sometimes I add, “I think so.” But sometimes I have to add, “I’ve not seen evidence of any kind of saving faith in his life, and I’ve not ever read where he talked about being in a relationship with Jesus at all, so based on that, probably not.”

Can you truly know the Lord and go on drinking and joking coarsely and using the Lord’s name as a curse word?

Anybody can be baptized. Baptism does not equal salvation. Anybody can go to church every single Sunday (or, as in some people’s case, lots of hit-and-miss Sundays). But you will see a difference in the life of a person who really knows the Lord. He will have a different way of talking, a different way of thinking, a different way of being entertained; he will seem different than others you know. In fact, if you are familiar with the believer (if he is a friend or a family member) one thing you will not have to ask is “Was he a Christian?” His life will speak volumes.

I think yesterday’s episode has ruined Chuck even more for chancing road conditions. It was almost a year ago to the very date when Chuck had a similar scare on icy roads, and on that day it was he who received a gash in his head. (It was on that day that we also lost Chuck’s dad. It was an awful day that will haunt our memory for a very long time. I shudder when I think that Chuck’s mom could have very easily lost both her husband and her firstborn son on the same day. How horrific that would have been.)

The fact is, we can be excellent drivers in snow and ice, but what about everyone else we encounter on the road? Chuck had reduced his speed by ten miles an hour and was driving responsibly; as far as we could tell the roads were wet, but not necessarily slick. The next thing we knew we were being passed by someone in a bigger hurry (or less responsible) than Chuck, and it almost ended in catastrophe.

Actually, it was semi-catastrophic for the other couple. They ended up in the hospital and were pretty badly shaken, but it could have been much, much worse; yesterday could have been the day they met their Maker, and only they know if they were ready to do that. This may have been God’s way of showing them their need for a Savior. He gave them a second chance. Not everyone gets one of those.