How we got here

– Written by Stan Key on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 –

William Cowper wrote the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”. How I love these words:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

The past 72 hours have been like none I’ve ever lived. Providence did indeed seem to be frowning. For about 48 hours, it felt like we were falling off a cliff, hitting on rocky ledge after another in our descent. Where would it end? But even as the wheels were falling off and life was spinning out of control, we caught glimpses, and at times, a glorious vision of the “smiling face” behind the turbulence.

On Monday morning, Katy and I faced one of the greatest challenges of our life as she underwent surgery to remove a spiculated nodule from her left lung. All signs had seemed to indicate cancer so when the doctor said it was benign, we erupted in praise and sent a letter to all of you saying that the battle was over and thanks for the prayers. Little did we know that the battle had only begun!

On Monday afternoon about 4:00, Katy had a “large stroke”. A blood clot lodged in her right brain leaving her left side paralyzed. Our surgeon said that in all his life he had never experienced anything like this and is struggling to account for the clot. Over the next 24 hours a series of CT scans showed that the brain was swelling. Not good. We noticed that Katy was more and more non-responsive and by late Tuesday afternoon a neurosurgeon had been called in. He explained that if he did not do immediate surgery to relieve the pressure, Katy would probably die.

In shock, we signed the papers and again watched as Katy was wheeled away behind closed doors for two hours of more surgery. A craniotomy was performed, removing bone from the right side of her skull so the brain could thus expand as it adjusted to the damage caused from the stroke. Last night about 8:00, the neurosurgeon announced that the surgery had gone smoothly and Katy’s vital signs looked good. But he stressed that there would still be about 48-72 hours of recovery in neuro-ICU which would be critical.

We are in that period of waiting now. Katy is responsive and her mental capacities and personality seem to be present. She cannot talk well and can barely keep her eyes open. This morning she indicated she wanted a pen and paper and with eyes unable to open, wrote out in perfect script instructions about who we were to call to inform about her condition! We laughed as we realized that beneath all the bandages and tubes and medication and trauma of two surgeries, Katy was still thinking of others and THEIR well being! As you know, I am married to a saint.

It is far too early to predict the future but if recovery over these next few days goes well, I think we will be looking at a lengthy rehabilitation. The medical staff has been very helpful and have worked to keep our expectations realistic. Of course, we are asking God for full recovery but know that it will likely be a long and challenging journey.

I cannot begin to say how much the notes and prayers and verses and visits have meant. We are incredibly blessed by a family of people who have enriched our lives and blessed us in ways that make us feel like we are swimming in an ocean of grace. The “frowning providence” is still a reality and we recognize that this journey may still have difficult challenges and pain and loss. But today…. I’m thanking God for his smiling face, that we see so clearly through you! The worlds of FAS, LCC, PAACS, OMS, WGM, Asbury, and Mt. Zion, continue to buoy us along in a great current of grace!

A friend from LCC gave Katy and me a Bible verse that has helped to hold us steady during the past few days: “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand (that is Katy’s workable hand!); it is I who say to you ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'”(Isa, 41:13).

All three daughters are with us: Anna from Germany, Sarah and Adam from Michigan, and Elisabeth and Ben from Chicago. Needless to say, their presence is better than any pharmaceutical concoction the doctors can order.