Late Summer Prevette Update – August 2015
I have started to write this newsletter two or three times over the past weeks and each time our situation has undergone a major change. Normally we try to provide a report of our ministry activities, but given our circumstances over the summer we thought we would offer a short reflection on ‘Pain, Puzzlement, Patience and Purpose.’ These words are most appropriate since our last update.
In early May, Ky’s mother, Fran Harrington, passed away peacefully after a long battle with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Ky made a number of trips to California in order to help her brother care for their mom during 2014 and early 2015 and a timely call from hospice enabled her to be home as Fran died. I flew back to the USA for a very simple and fitting memorial among the Morro Bay eucalyptus. After the memorial, we drove north to see Ky’s father who lives in Sierra Nevada. We stopped at Donner Summit and took this picture at the memorial for those who died during the failed Donner Expedition attempting to cross the Sierra in the winter of 1846-1847. The inscription on the stone reads: “No one knows the strength of kindred love until it is tried”. We had no idea the day we took this photo how meaningful this inscription would be for us in the coming months.
We returned to Oxford in early June. I was scheduled to have a surgical revision on my left knee as the knee replacement from July 2014 had never healed correctly. Unfortunately, before I could have the knee surgery, I began to experience severe, sporadic upper abdominal pain. After seeing our GP and getting an ultra sound, the doctors became concerned that I might have some sort of liver problem. This meant postponing the knee surgery and focusing on my innards! More tests showed a gallstone lodged in my main bile duct and this was surgically removed on July 3rd. The endoscopic procedure brought quick relief and I was looking forward to the ‘minor knee surgery’ to relieve my chronic knee pain. Little did we know that I was headed from the ‘frying pan into the fire.’
On August 5th, I went in for what we thought would be a one-hour revision of the ‘patella implant’, a relatively straightforward procedure. I woke up in recovery a number of hours later in severe pain with my surgeon leaning over me saying, “We had to remove your entire knee joint (femur, tibia and patella implants). You are in a leg brace now and you will need to keep the knee completely immobile for the next six weeks. You had an infection in the joint and we have to treat you with strong IV antibiotics for the duration. We hope to put your knee joint back in 6-8 weeks.” I was in state of shock for the first 24 hours! I had known removing the joint was a very remote possibility, but had never thought it ‘could happen to me’.
I was hospitalized for nine days and began to receive IV antibiotics twice a day via a PICC line (the photo was made after they tried to place the PICC line in my inner bicep).
Thought to be tolerating the antibiotic infusions, I was sent home from the hospital on August 14th. We made daily trips back to the hospital for the IV infusions but within four days, I developed a violent reaction to the antibiotics with severe headaches, fever and tremors. I was readmitted to the Bone Infection Unit at the Nuffield Orthopedic Hospital here in Oxford on August 20th. By this time, 70 percent of my body was covered in hives. I spent another week in Nuffield as the doctors reevaluated my antibiotic regimen and sought to find drugs that would kill the infection in my knee but not kill me!
I have been home again since last Wednesday and haven’t had any more violent reactions to the antibiotics.
My left leg is still in the ‘stiff splint’ and I can put very little weight on it as there is nothing in the joint but a cement ‘spacer’ to keep the tendons and muscles from shrinking over the six weeks I have to be on this intense oral antibiotic regimen. God willing and with no more complications, I am scheduled to go back in for surgery on September 16th to have the femur, tibia and patella implants re-inserted in the bones, hopefully all the infection will be clear by that point. Then there will be another 6-7 weeks of rehab and physiotherapy before I am mobile in the normal sense of the word. Ky has been taking care of me through this ordeal and she is now due some sort of ‘OBE’ or something to recognize her service in the line of fire (in this case, great stress and steep stairs!) Our home is a maze of pillows, props, crutches, walkers and a wheelchair.
During the worst of the pain, I was praying and asking God to help me make sense of what was happening. I wrote this short reflection on Facebook (thanks to the our many friends and family who have been praying for us each day on social media):
“Yea though we walk through the valley…thy staff and rod comfort me…’ I have never been in any valley as painful as this one. I have probably read at least a hundred books on pain, suffering and when God is Silent. This is season He has chosen for me. In this experience, I am learning that ‘comfort’ may have nothing to do with physical relief from pain, rather it has been an invitation to better know Christ in His suffering. This has been an invitation to enter into something in God that is indeed deeply disturbing, where one falls through the floor, knowing at some point we meet the crucified one.’
I think we will remember the summer of 2015 as one of ‘pain, puzzlement, patience and purpose’. Ky and I know there is a ‘purpose’ in what we have been through and we are still trying to fully discern that purpose as we navigate the situation. We have learned that God often remains silent and hidden, but we also know He is always present to us in our trials. We believe that God is working in our lives.
Thank you for your love, support and faithfulness to us in this season.