This is going to be quite lengthy so if you get bored before the end, feel free to give it up. Its
just something I've got to do. Or...if after being so warned you aren't interested, feel free to move on. For those who aren't aware, Last year at this time I was in the 8th
week of a 13 week stay between 3 hospitals and a nursing home for rehab. My wife sent out daily texts
to selective friends to update them on my condition. Mike Wilson, my oldest friend since 1st grade in
1964 posted copies of the texts on Facebook asking for prayers and letting old classmates aware of my
condition. A couple folks from JPF who are my friends on FB picked up the feed and our great friend,
Ben Willis posted about it here on JPF. I discovered it a few months later when I checked in here
after finally feeling like getting back on the computer. I posted a response to let folks who
genuinely seemed concerned that I was home and doing much better although the full healing process
would be long and difficult. This all started in June of 2017. 14 months later I can report that I'm
doing pretty well except for still getting fatigued easily, not good stamina. I had what would be the
last visit with any of the many doctors who saw me during my illness a month ago, my lung doctor.
After checking my lung function he said I didn't need to see him anymore, shook my hand and said, "You
my friend are a miracle." I thanked him and as he walked out he said "God does the healing, we just
send the bill." I had similar responses from several of the other doctors and nurses who saw me back
When I wrote my original post here back in the fall last year I made mention of what I referred to
as"God things" that occured, mainly to my wife Sherri during that 13 week period. When I posted that,
our JPF friend Everett Adams asked if I would fill him in about these "God things" when I got a
chance. So that's what I'll address now along with giving a repeat of the overall story but in more
detail as I have become aware of a lot that I didn't know back then. I was quite aware that I was a
hair width from not surviving but since then I've been made aware that it was a whole lot worse than I
origenally thought. As I stated above, this is a long story so if anyone doesn't want to wade through
it that is completely understandable. So this is my reply to Everett made public for anyone who also
would like to hear my full story
The full story is that Sherri and I took a trip last June originally planned for Glacier National Park
in Montana. The week before we left she had a bad feeling about the trip she couldn't define or
shake. Something bad was going to happen and we shouldn't go. I convinced her we'd be fine so she
prayed a lot about it and felt something telling her that if we went, we'd have to make it quick. We
had 13 days all planned out. We drove the motorhome 21 hours straight on the way out West, stopping
for The Badlands of South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore.
When we got into Wyoming, at Devil's Tower Sherri asked if we could just stay in Wyoming and cut some
miles off the trip. We both agreed so we ended up going to Yellowstone instead. Saw what we wanted to
see and both had a weird feeling we should go on and head home early. We rested a day in Southern
Montana, then headed back. Stopped near Indy for the night and the next day I could not stay awake so
Sherri had to drive all the way home by herself, about 12 hours. Got home in the late afternoon and I
went straight to bed. Had we not left when we did we would have been stranded in the middle of
Nowhere, North Dakota with me in a hospital for 13 weeks...if I had the proper care to live. Many have
counted this the first of many miracles that occured. I'm not sure if they would actually be
considered authentic miracles or not by definition (ie.the suspension of natural laws) but let's call
them at least divine providence, as in the fog at Normandy on D-Day.. There were too many of these
events that occured to just write them off as coincidence, to my mind anyway. But more on that later.
So count that as Coincidence #1
Felt good the next day and that evening we went out to eat. Around 7:00 pm I started getting chills
like I'd never experienced before. They were uncontrollable, more like convulsions. The clinical term
we learned is rigors. I ended up taking a ride via ambulance to the ER and they have me on oxygen..
Dr, tells me it's probably a virus and sends me home instructing us to go see my family Dr. if not
better. This is on July 3rd so we have to wait till the 5th to see my Dr. he says it's probably a UTI
and sends us home. This is Wednesday and around 4:00 am Thursday I wake up Sherri complaining that I'm
having trouble breathing. She wants me to try breathing into a plastic bag thinking I'm
hyperventilating. I told her when I breathed hard it burned so she whisks me back to the ER at Frye
Medical Center in our home of Hickory, NC.
We get to the ER and can you believe it? There is not a single person in the waiting room and a nurse
is waiting for me with a wheelchair like they knew we were coming. The ER waiting room is always full
and chaotic at Frye. Tonight it's completely empty and the lights aren't even on. Strange. Anyway,they
wheel me into a room and after a couple of minutes a Dr. comes in.
Count that Coincidence #2
Doctor says a couple of sentences I can't remember and the next thing I know, it's 5 weeks later and
I'm in a hospital in Charlotte, NC. I'm so weak I can't move a muscle hardly and... Where the heck is
my voice? I try to talk but nothing comes out.
Sherri tells me I've been really sick and I can't talk because besides the ventilator, they've put in
a trach. Then, according to the story she asks me if I have any questions and I mouthed the question,
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" That made her feel somewhat better.
So what actually happened? They, at Frye put me in a regular room for a couple of days where I had
visitors and was talking, joking, etc. I remember none of this. Then I had a breathing crisis on the
third day and they sent me to ICU and had to put me on a ventilator. They said I'd be off of it in
just a few day at most. Apparently I kept pulling out the vent so they put me in a medically induced
coma which ended up lasting 4 weeks. Sherri said they had to have me on four different very potent
tranquilizers to keep me under, or as one Dr. said, enough to keep a small elephant down.
Every once in a while they had to bring me out of the coma to check my brain function but I never made
it more than 30 seconds before they had to put me back under because the shock would cause my lungs to
go into trauma. Same thing when they would try to rearrange my position to prevent bed sores. None of
the nurses wanted that job because they were afraid they would kill me. All these details are what
Sherri has since told me.
What brought us to this point? I had a bad bout of pancreatitis which quickly turned into a sizable
and fast growing mass. They think I had an abscess in the duct work of the pancreas that broke loose
and went to my liver, which made my liver turn into "Swiss cheese" with abscesses as they put it. From
there it went into my blood stream and I became septic. Then it went to my lungs where I got ARDS
(Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and then Pneumonia on top of that. One time my lungs went into
crisis where my left lung was moving up and down but the right lung was motionless. One of the nurses
told Sherri that it didn't look like this was going to have a good outcome and asked her if she was
prepared. She told him that it was completely in God's hands whether I lived or died and there wasn't
anything more the Drs. or anyone else could do. I'm convinced due to her faithful and prayerful
attitude toward God during the worst days of her life, that is why I'm able to write this to you
today, plus other incredible acts of faith, not only to God but to me as well.
One day as sherri was driving to the hospital to sit with me, she was crying out to God to give her a
sign whether I was going to live or die, something to show her He was there. This is one of those
moments where it gets interesting.
There is, in the town near us of Lenoir, NC. an African American pastor named James Wilfong. James for
years has been seen on a grassy spot by the busy intersection called Smith Cross Roads. He sets up,
dressed as Jesus with banners sporting Bible verses and a cross he often carries through town. James
doesn't yell at passing motorists, telling them they're going to hell. In fact he says nothing. He's
just there serving as a reminder of what his Savior and Lord has done in his life (which is a dramatic
testimony in itself) and what he offers each of us by his substitutionary death and resurrection for
our rebellion against our creator. Okay, I had to slip that bit in. If it offends anyone, too bad.
Anyway, at that moment Sherri sees James, all set up and dressed as Jesus. But wait a minute. We've
never seen him in Hickory before. Just in Lenoir, about 25 minutes drive away. She pulls off the road
and circles around to where he is set up. She walks to him, apparently quite a mess by this time and
tells him, "You don't know this but you're here for me today." She tells James about me and how dire
the prognosis. She leaves and proceeds to the ICU. They're doing something with me so she has to wait
a few minutes before she can go in to see me. No more than 10 minutes later, here enters Pastor James
Wilfong, still dressed as Jesus. Apparently he immediatey packed up all his props into his van or
whatever he drives and rushed to the hospital ICU, still dressed as Jesus to be with Sherri. Up to
that moment James Wilfong didn't know either of us existed. They told Sherri she could go in and James
asks if it would be alright for him to go in and pray over me. Sherri said she would like that.
Now remember, I'm in a medically induced coma and bound hand and foot with straps because I kept
trying to pull out the ventilator tubes and such. James starts to pray over me and Sherri says I
reacted to his voice, almost coming off the bed. She starts to panic thinking I'm going to wake up and
be staring up at Jesus, except he won't be European, with blue eyes. When she later told me about this
I joked, "Oh my gosh. I would have been thinking my whole life has been a lie!" Then we both realized
there might have been others, possibly as sick as I was who were left thinking, "Jesus just prayed
over that other guy, then walked right past me without as much as a glance." Here is a video of James Wilfong on The 700 Club a couple years ago. The testimony he tells is compelling but his full story is even more dramatic.http://www1.cbn.com/content/song-saved-man-death
Count Coincidence #3
Fast forward for a moment to about 10 weeks later when I'm at my last stop, in a nursing home for
rehab. I wake up from a nap and the room is somewhat dark, So I wake up only to see "Black Jesus"
standing across the room. All I could think to say was, "Oh...Hi." Pastor James Wilfong came again to
pray over me.
Now what happened was this. Sherri's workplace is a sponsor of a 5k race for Susan G. Coleman, which
is a charity to raise money for breast cancer research. Sherri was one of the company volunteers. But
on the way there she decides she needs to have a little something on her stomach so she stops into a
McDonalds like she never does, at a location she never goes to. She walks inside and who does she see?
None other than James Wilfong, dressed as Jesus, inside McDonalds, again in Hickory, not Lenoir. She
goes over to him and asks if he remembers her and mentions that she must have looked quite a mess that
day as she'd been crying and all, He says he certainly does remember her and yes, she was quite a
mess. He asks her how I was doing and she tells him that I'm now back locally in a nursing home for
rehab. He says "Sherri, you're not going to believe this but God told me to come here this morning and
that I would run into you."
Count another really bizarre Coincidence #4
Back to the story...When they found out the condition of my pancreas and liver during a CT Scan and by
that point my kidneys were failing and my bowels quit working all together, it scared the living crap
out of the Drs. in Hickory and they told Sherri that this was now way beyond their pay grade. An
ambulance was already on the way and she had 5 minutes to make a decision whether to transfer me to
Baptist hospital in Winston-Salem or Charlotte. She chose Charlotte.
I was in Charlotte for 3 weeks after being in the coma in Hickory for 4 weeks. I don't remember my
first week in Charlotte either so I'm totally missing 5 weeks of my life. Charlotte was a fiasco. They
had 6 different teams of specialists on my case with 3 or 4 Drs. on each team. They didn't have a clue
how to treat me themselves and after 3 days they told Sherri they were going to transfer me to a long
term care hospital, basically to die. Sherri said "Oh hell no you're not!!! They just sent us here and
you WILL find out what's wrong and you WILL figure out how to treat my husband."
Sherri spent hours on the Internet researching all the pertinent medical stuff, learned from the Drs.
and medical staff, plus my sister-in-law who has a Phd in Pharmacy and was very helpful as a
translator on medical terms and what they were talking about. She learned to speak the language and
was with the Drs. every morning when they made their rounds, discussing my case. She knew enough to
carry on an intelligent conversation with them medically as well as challenging them on some matters.
She also jerked a knot in their collective hind ends to get together and start making some decisions.
She saved my life on more than a few occasions when she caught nurses getting ready to do procedures
that were posted on the white board on the wall not to do. One might have killed me instantly had she
not been there and so aware of what was going on.
Well, I was aware that I was conscious by this time and they did an MRI of my pancreas, liver and my
bowels. The mass on my pancreas had tripled in size, the liver was no better and they couldn't agree
if I had a hernia in my bowels or what. Shortly after the MRI, I started throwing up violently. Scared
the two male nurses who were with me to death. Although I had been taken off the feeding tube for
eight days due to the bowel blockage, which they called an ileus, I was throwing up what looked like
a green lava flow of pure bile according to Sherri because I repeated it a half hour later and then
the next day while she was there. The reason it was so scary was because I had the trach in my throat
and was in danger of aspirating this foul crud.
So the next night they decide to do a colonoscopy on me to determine what the story was with the
bowel blockage. One of the gastro doctors, who Sherri really liked came in to check on me. Sherri
thanked him for scheduling the colonoscopy and he said "I didn't schedule a colonoscopy." He looks at
the order and it was a doctor who had never physically seen me who ordered it and had directions for
the nurses to prep me orally. For 8 days they had not been able to give me any kind of nourishment at
all, even through a feeding tube and this clown has directed the nurses to give me oral liquids in
copious quantities. He got on the phone with the other doctor and was literally screaming at him.
Well, that night my kids, Nicole and Danny, along with all the grandkids came to see me . They were
going to have to prep me by enemas, (Mike Wilson can tell you an amusing story about a speech I once
gave at Ashland Community College on the proper way to administer an enema, a caper I was legendary
for years for. Mike was my prop.) Anywho, they were going to prep me the old fashioned way, with
enemas and then the colonoscopy. I didn't know till recently that they had told Sherri the colonoscopy
was a mere formality . There was a 95% chance that it was colon cancer and that she should start
thinking about getting my affairs in order because I wouldn't have long. That's why the family was all
called in, although I wasn't privy at the time. Fortunately they didn't find a thing, not even a
single polyp. I didn't learn about this till recently.
The bowel started working again and I was back on the feeding tube. One thing the Drs. were somewhat
incredulous about was as bad as my pancreas was and the pancreatitis, I never had a moment of pain at
any time throughout the whole ordeal. Not even mild discomfort. They said my pain from it should have
had me screaming in a fetal position.
Coincidence...what are we up to now...#5?
By the third week in Charlotte they were able to get me off the ventilator finally, although I was
still getting oxygen through the trach. But they were finally able to put a pass muir valve in the
trach so I could speak. They never did address the liver abscesses or mass on the pancreas although I
had been on two powerful antibiotics for weeks via IV. I was starting to work with physical therapy
and occupational therapy. I was so weak I couldn't turn over on my side by myself. One day when I
could reach my right hand almost to my nose to scratch it, Sherri had to help with the last few
inches, it was call for a real celebration. Plus I passed the swallowing test and could finally eat
real food. But best of all, after 7 weeks of not having a single drop of water, I could finally have
ice water. This was the biggest cause for celebration of all. I actually had dreams of drinking gallon
jugs of ice water for weeks, I believe even when I was in the coma. I had them bringing me ice water
contantly for weeks. I still drink tons of it which I never did before.
I eventually got to where I could get up to sit on the side of the bed with help but that alone made
me exhausted and light headed. Learning to stand from a sitting position on the side of the bed, even
with a belt around me and 3 people helping me was the most difficult, agonizing thing I've ever done.
After a few days I was able to stand with help and do two side steps toward the head of my bed and
then lie back down, completely spent till the next day. Then I could side step holding onto the bed
over to a recliner. They wanted me to sit up for two hours but I couldn't make it past one hour and
then they had to put me in a lift like hoisting and then lowering a horse onto a cargo ship to get me
back in bed.
After the third week I was transferred to a long term care hospital in Kings Mountain, NC. There my
lungs got stronger but I still couldn't breathe on room air for long before they had to bring the
oxygen back up, I continued with physical and occupational therapy during the 3 weeks I was there. The
first day they got me up into a sitting position on the side of the bed and helped me stand, only two
people helping now. With the aid of a walker I was able to take 4 short steps forward to the wall and
then 4 steps backward to the bed. Another cause for celebration. I slept till the next day I was so
exhausted. Soon I was walking out the door and across the hall, then down the hall 25 feet and back,
having to sit and rest several times along the way, hooked to an oxygen bottle mounted to the
wheelchair following close behind me. But every day was a little better. They did another CT scan
along with several daily x-rays like they had done all during the previous eight or nine weeks,. I had
lost all track of time. The mass on my pancreas was getting smaller and the larger abscesses on my
liver were getting smaller as well. After 10 weeks I was moved to a nursing home just 5 miles from
home for 3 weeks of rehab. then hopefully home again, finally.
But there was one more "coincidence" that happened to Sherri while I was at Kings Mountain, which is a
little over an hour away from home. Sherri wanted to take out our tub shower and make it into a walk
in shower for when I got home which I would pretty much have to have. When she had it measured she
found out that the tub and shower was an odd size being built in 1961. It would have to be custom
made, which they estimated would cost about $5,000. Sherri, on a whim I guess started looking up some
stuff on Youtube. She found a video where they showed how to do what they called a "tub cut", where
they would cut about 24 inches out of the side of the tub, leaving a 3 inch lip at the bottom to keep
water from running onto the bathroom floor. Doing some more searching she found a company, an hour
away in Charlotte. She wrote down the name of the company and their phone number to call the next day
which would be Thursday.
Sherri drove to Gastonia, NC. where she always stops at a QT convenience store to get their rasberry
ice tea when she realized she had forgotten to bring the piece of paper she wrote the number on. As
she was leaving the QT she was kicking herself for forgetting to put the paper in her purse. She pulls
up to a red light to get back on the main hwy and what pulls up next to her but a truck of the company
that does the tub cut who's number she forgot to bring. Folks, this all really happened. She rolled
down the passenger side window and gets the driver's attention. He rolls down his window and she asks
if they still do the tub cut. The guy says yes. His coworker gets out of the truck, still waiting for
the green light and gives Sherri their business card. She tells him she lives in Hickory and the
driver says they have an intallation in Hickory the next day, Friday. He tells her to call to give
them the address and they'll stop by for an estimate. They show up the next day, give her an estimate
which saves us $4,000. They come back Monday, do the tub cut, put in hand rails in two locations of
the tub and have to take off the glass doors because of the cut. With the door removed they find the
original color of the tub shower was white but we always thought it was light green. Well, it had
changed color over the previous 55 years. They proceeded to repaint the whole thing white and didn't
charge anything for it.
Coincidence #6 I'll let other folks decide for themselves what to make of these interesting events
I still was wearing the trach coller and on oxygen but was recovering more and more rapidly every day
with physical and occupational therapy. It was really hard work but I made it a challenge, I guess
falling back on memories of when I was an amateur boxer back in the 70s and the training involved. One
of the nurses told me everyone on staff was talking about me and how fast I was recovering considering
how sick I had been and actually still was. She told me I was a rock star around the place. That felt
flattering to hear.
The last week at rehab Sherri could get me out for a couple of hours with oxygen and wheelchair. We
went out to eat a few times. I was to be discharged on Thursday and on Tuesday I got to go back home
for a few hours. The whole family was there and we grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. I was sitting in
my wheelchair in the living room, near the hallway. One of the grandkids said they were glad I was
home and all the others said Yay!!! I lost it and wheeled myself down the hall and into my new
bedroom, sobbing uncontrollably all the way. Sherri ran down after me telling me it was okay. I had
been very sick for a long time and it was just now starting to become real for me emotionally. I felt
like I would imagine a soldier coming home from war with PTSD would feel. Sherri later told me from
research she had done that for patients following long extended stays in intensive care to suffer from
PTSD was quite common. I'm still dealing with the effects to some degree even now, 11 months later.
But I finally came home for good that Thursday, still with the trach collar, oxygen and wheelchair but
home. I was supplied with a fifty foot long oxygen tube so I could go anywhere in the house without
having to carry an oxygen bottle. I'm now able to walk with no aid except for long walks when I go for
half a mile, up to a mile. Then or when I'm walking at the mall I use the aid of a Rollator, a walker
with four wheels, a seat for when I have to rest and handbrakes for going downhill. I wanted a stick
shift but they don't offer one.
Sorry for the long story but I wanted, first to tell the whole story as it seems to have inspired a
lot of people. Second and most importantly I have wanted for so long to thank everyone everywhere who
prayed daily for me to live and recover from my illness, especially those friends of friends of
friends who interceded for me although they didn't know I even existed prior to this.
I'll close it off for now like this: Sherri is my and a lot of other people's hero. She was there with
me every day without fail for 91 straight days besides the following months of taking care of me since
I've been home. She still does a few things for me that I can't do for myself some 11 months after
coming home. For a good part of that time she went into work 2 hours early, at 6:00 am, getting off at
3 o'clock. She then drove over an hour to stay with me till 9 o'clock that night. Then she drove back
home over an hour, often working as late as 2:00 am on getting the house ready for when I was finally
able to get home, starting all over again after just a few hours of sleep every single day. I told her
many times she didn't have to come everyday, though from the time she left each night I slowly counted
the hours till she'd return the next night. But she wouldn't have it. A couple nights she was just too
tired to stay till 9 o'clock and felt like she was deserting me despite my pleas to stay home and get
some rest. And in addition to all of this, she took care of all those little daily details life throws
our way. And most impressive, she never faltered in her faith in God or stopped praying for me. She
even texted a daily progress report to all my friends around the country, you good folks. Not sure how
she found all their cell phone numbers but she did and kept it up daily for 13 weeks. As a result,
friends and friends of friends sharing the updates on Facebook resulted in daily prayers from people I
don't know or will ever know all around the world.
I am in awe of her. I always loved her dearly but I never ever imagined the possibility of being loved
like she has loved me through all of this. Apart from the love of our savior, which I really come up
short fathoming, it is still incomprehensible to me. Before Christmas Sherri took me back to my
hometown in Kentucky to visit with my oldest and best friends from back as far as 1st grade. You know
them as Mike (Dude) Wilson and Tom Wilson, my oldest and still dearest friends on the planet. That's
over half a century ago. It was good psychological therapy for me to be with my two oldest friends, in
a familiar location that held no relation to my illness. One of my friends said," You know, I think
I've got a good wife. You've got a great wife." I'll tell you what, Buddy. Life gets no better than
Hope you're all doing well,
P.S. For those who are familiar with me here at JPF, you know that I used to write some tongue in
cheek, dry delivery comedy songs. I also have a lot of what I just call Folk Rock tunes, 60s-70s
style. The last few years I've been writing nothing but what I'll call Gospel Folk Rock for lack of a
better description. Some liked it and to be truthful some probably didn't at all In 2016 I released
a CD called "ONE MAN'S SPIRITUAL JOURNEY" which was the culmination of a one man musical I started in
2002. It was autobiographical and just meant as a cathartic exercise for no one but me. I had to let
it lie for a few years but was always called back to it for some reason except it morphed finally into
a concept album which chronicled my own spiritual journey to where I am today, based on what I
consider to be robustly based on compelling evidence and reason. Anyway, I was performing it live as
a one man musical up until the illness. As of now I still can't play guitar or bass nor have I cared.
But what I have decided to do is organize all of my songs into albums (yes I date myself) and am
offering a location where whosoever will can go to listen and download them for free especially my
Gospel oriented albums. I'm doing this as a ministry because I know the songs didn't come from me by
my own efforts.I add this just to let folks know that anyone interested, if any can PM me and I'll
send you a link to them. There are several songs I wrote and produced in the few months leading up to my illness that I have never posted here or anywhere. Out of consideration for Brian and everyone here I won't post them in this
or any other forum. Also, because of my own spiritual journey and the way it came together over
decades I've began another ministry based on Christian apologetics. For those who aren't familiar
with the term, apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia which simply means to give a rational
defense, in this case evidence based on reason for the truth of Christianity as a worldview. In the last couple years I've had the good fortune to get to know and study under some the world's top scholars in the area of apologetics coming from many different disciplines such as historians, astronomers, textual criticism of ancient documents, biology, philosophy and more. I'll not
preach a sermon here, again out of respect for those of differing views but again, if anyone would
like to know more about that they can PM me as well. As I said, the evidence is robust from all those areas just mentioned. That's why I'm still here.
Thanks to those who cared and especially the prayers.