Miracle in Montreal – Part 6

written by Tim Knapp on Monday, October 12, 2009 at 9:44pm

Waiting in a hallway, somewhere in the basement

In my last note I mentioned that I had another miraculous detail about Lisa’s surgery, and then I forgot to tell it to you! So before I continue with today’s update, here it is:

Back in February when we first saw the surgeon, he examined Lisa’s belly. Feeling around the perimeter of her hernia, he exclaimed at how large the hole her abdominal wall was, demonstrating that it was about the size of a large cantaloupe. It was at this point that he explained that because the hole was so large, he did not know if he would be able to close it without first cutting the muscles of the abdomen where they attach to the ribcage to allow for more length. After the surgery I sent out an update (Miracle in Montreal – part three), telling how it was not necessary to make any extra cuts in Lisa’s muscle tissue (filleting muscle) in order to close the hole. My friend Steve (who has a PhD in Exercise Physiology) sent me an email that read like this:

“Tim, I just read your message and I am bawling – I can’t believe how wonderful this news is of how Lisa’s surgery went. I prayed specifically on Sunday (before her operation) that God would activate the satellite cells in Lisa’s muscles in her abdomen. These are cells that respond with new tissue growth when they are activated. Skeletal muscle is a very unique type of tissue that is multinucleted and has these satellite cells that produce muscle growth and hypertrophy.”

A couple days after the surgery the doctor visited us in Lisa’s room. He began to talk about the surgery and told us that he was quite surprised to find that the hole was much smaller than he had determined beforehand. He held up his hands to show us that the hole was about the size of a tennis ball. It was (relatively) easy for him to close it without having to take any drastic measures. Thanks Steve.

As I have contemplated how to write this update today, I struggled to know how to ‘spin’ things. You see, things have not gone entirely how I envisioned them. Following such a miraculous surgery, I was expecting the recovery to be record-setting with Lisa skipping out of here in a week. Today is the end of that week, and her recovery has stalled. She isn’t allowed out of bed and she isn’t allowed to eat or drink (except small sips of water). A few days ago a friend suggested that I just continue to ‘tell it like it is’. Today as I was waiting in a hallway while Lisa had a CT scan I felt God say to me, “You’re not writing this story. I am. You just tell it.” So I’ll do that, and try to let Him speak for Himself.

The last few days have been tough. Lisa’s blood pressure has been very high (179/115 at its highest), her temperature has been like a yoyo (up as high as 39.9) and she still needs oxygen to keep her blood oxygen level up. Her breathing is very shallow, partially the result of a blood clot that has developed in her right lung and partly because her diaphragm is in sleep mode (likely another aftershock of the surgery).

Her intestines have still not properly kicked in, so yesterday they inserted an NG tube (what an awful procedure that is) to drain her stomach and keep it empty.

On a good note, her blood pressure is stable now, and her pain is fairly well under control.

Lisa’s attitude through all of this is, well… Lisa. She is teaching me so much. While she has experienced moments of frustration, confusion and even anxiety, she is often more concerned about what kind of day the nurse is having. She even had one nurse fighting back tears tonight when she touched her hand and stopped her in her busyness to express appreciation for how she was caring for her.

Earlier today Lisa said to me, “I feel so blessed.” Repressing my amusement at the comment coming from one in her position, I asked her why. She said, “I am just surrounded by the incredible love of God. It is tangible.” What do you say to that?

Probably the most poignant moment in her recovery so far was a couple nights ago. Lisa had an absolutely horrible day. All of her vitals were a mess. At that point her breathing had gotten so bad that she was hyperventilating in short gasps. The cardiology unit had been called and were on their way. As she tightly gripped my hand and with eyes wide (and a little scared) she looked at me and quietly said, “Tim, my heart hurts.” (It took all the strength I had not to burst into tears.) Just before this I had received a text message from a friend who was going through a particularly difficult time. Partly because I knew Lisa would want to know, but mostly because I thought it might help to distract her from her pain for a moment, I read her the text. Lisa began to pray. A few words at a time, between gasps, she began to call on God with all her strength. She held nothing back. She went to war on her friend’s behalf. You shoulda seen her. Never have I seen such a powerful expression of faith from such a frail vessel.

While waiting in that hallway during Lisa’s CT scan today, I was thinking about all this and trying to figure out what it is about Lisa that is so different. (I had to laugh today when her surgeon called her an enigma. He was speaking medically, but I thought, “If you only knew!”) I am happy to spend the rest of my life unsuccessfully trying to figure out how Lisa works, but I did come up with something in that hallway. Two sentences resounded in my head:

“Don’t tell me about God’s love, show me.”

“Don’t talk to me about His promises, live them.”

And that’s what she does. Lisa is not a great philosopher. She will never be a nationally renowned speaker and she will likely never write best-sellers. But she knows how to love. And she knows how to walk out the promises of God. People are genuinely inspired by her faith and they are rocked by her selfless compassion.

I know I am.


Continue to Miracle in Montreal – Part 7


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