Mountaintops and Valleys: Kevin & Faith’s Story
“My recent health journey began with me experiencing chills. In the beginning, I really didn’t think much of it. Out of the blue, I’d experience these chills, so much so I could not get warmed up, and they’d get increasingly colder and colder. My muscles would tense up; I would be shivering. After a long soak in the hot tub, I finally had enough warmth to get out and then sleep for several hours due to extreme fatigue. After several hours of sleep, I would feel back to normal again.
These ‘episodes’ started in August 2022 and have been getting progressively worse and more frequent.
I had another one of these attacks on Tuesday, February 7. As we never understood why I was experiencing this, my wife, Faith, encouraged me to call the doctor’s office and explain my situation. But there was a problem…I had no family doctor! I had scheduled a ‘meet and greet’ appointment with a potential new doctor but that wasn’t set to happen until April.
I decided to call that doctor’s office on Wednesday, February 8, and see if there was any chance I could get in to see him earlier.
It just so happened that my ‘potential new family doctor’ was taking walk-ins that very same day, so away I went. When I met the doctor and explained my symptoms, he was puzzled. He said the best place to start was with lab work. So, with lab requisitions in hand, I was able to go to a walk-in lab that same day and get all the lab work done.
The next day, Thursday, February 9, I got a call from my ‘potential new family doctor’ to review the lab results and discuss the next steps. He strongly recommended that I go to the Foothills Medical Centre Emergency Department. So, that evening, we headed to emergency. After a few hours of waiting, I was able to see the ER doctor, who performed a CT scan. The results showed that there was either bile sludge or some other blockage in the bile duct. Her recommendation was to go for an endoscopy and the appointment was scheduled for that Monday, February 13.
The endoscopy confirmed that there was a mass … where the bile duct, pancreas, and duodenum meet. They said that I would require quite an extensive surgery and they had already contacted the surgeon who would perform the surgery.
By the end of that day, I had a call from the surgeon’s office and by Thursday, February 16, I had my consultation meeting with the surgeon. He explained in great detail the procedure that needed to happen to correct everything inside of me. He told me that within a month I would have the surgery.
During this month-long waiting period, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness. There were several times I heard God say to me, ‘I’ve got this!’.
I remember the last service we attended prior to my surgery, we sang the lyrics, ‘The battle belongs to the Lord’ and again, God spoke so clearly: ‘I’ve got this!’.
I knew from that the only thing I could do was worship and praise HIM, He who fights for us and deals with the battles in our lives. This was no longer ‘MY journey’ but ‘OUR journey’.“
“Every time Kevin would experience these attacks, these chills, I felt anxious because I knew something was just not right. I knew he didn’t have a doctor. There was just so much uncertainty about what was next.
The weekend following Kevin’s meeting with the surgeon, I broke down. I said to Kevin, ‘I think my faith is failing. I haven’t had time to think. I haven’t had time to process it all. Now the fact that they’re suggesting that it could be pancreatic cancer…it just all hit me. I was so drained from the speed at which everything was happening, having house guests at the same time, and Kevin was continuing to have these ‘health episodes’, which were now coming once or twice a day. I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
That night, Kevin and I sat together and we prayed for each other. We prayed that God’s will be done and that we would draw our strength from Him. Kevin’s confidence that ‘God’s got this!’ helped me immensely.
Our Small Group had just finished studying the book of Hebrews, and the last few chapters detailed the walks of faith of key individuals in Old Testament history. We were challenged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and to lay aside all those things that hinder our walk with Him.
The studies in our Small Group reminded us that we have a Great High Priest and that we can come boldly into His throne room to receive grace and mercy. It was like God had planned a long time ago for us to study this book, at this particular time, because He knew we would need this!
I then came to a point where I could pray for a miracle. And I realized that a miracle could be one of three things:
- God could completely heal him
- God could provide for and sustain him through surgery
- Or the miracle could be that He would carry us through the dark days of us having to say goodbye to one another
Any one of those would be a miracle.”
“My surgery was set at 7:35 am, March 9. I felt a total and unusual sense of peace about going into the procedure. My mindset was ‘I don’t know why, Lord, but You do. And I am going to cling to Your promises. I’m totally submissive to Your will. If it means someone finds Jesus through my story, so be it’.
By His grace, the surgery was a success.
I had been told to expect immense amounts of pain, but miraculously, I didn’t experience this excruciating pain. My overall care was exceptional, from the doctors, nursing staff, and health care workers, right down to the facilities team…all contributed to making my stay, from procedure to recovery, as comfortable as possible.”
“God has been good on so many fronts, starting with the miraculous way Kev was able to get a new family doctor, who started the process that ended with a quick diagnosis and a meeting with the surgeon, all within the space of 8 days!
And from there to the successful removal of a ‘mass’, and then on to good nights sleep and pain-managed days! And after 6 days of pain meds, Kevin needed no further pain medication — not even Tylenol. And so many other miracles that we’re probably not even aware of! We give Him our praise and thanksgiving!”
“The last 9 days in the hospital have seen many mountaintops as well as numerous valleys — and everywhere in between.
- New family Doctor
- The speed at which everything happened
- Top-level care
- When the tubes started leaving my body and my body started to slowly function properly
- Seeing my own progress, learning to get out of bed, walking with help to being fully independent
- Low pain in and around the surgery site
- No pain medication after the second day of the epidural being removed
- Setbacks like needing to have the catheter reinserted, as the bladder did not want to work
- Body exhaustion on several occasions due to adjusting to new normals
- The body trying to process food, as smaller meals, more often, is another one of my new normals!
When we go through both types of experiences, both the mountaintops and valleys, we need to look at what God wants to teach us. We should not just rush through the mountaintops and valleys, but take time to reflect.
The hardest part for me (and I think for all of us) is doing this during the valley experiences, as they can be painful and uncomfortable. But, if we only have mountaintops, we can easily forget to see and celebrate what God just did for us in the valleys!
On Saturday, March 18, I was discharged from the hospital…another mountaintop experience. Now true recovery could happen — proper rest and sleep and food; all the things that aid to a full and complete recovery.
I cannot imagine doing this in my own strength! It would have been extremely lonely and somewhat scary. But with God and all the prayers, love, and support from family and friends, this journey has been a life-changing experience for me.
I am so thankful for my life partner, Faith, who I get to do life with! This has been a tough journey for her, as she has had to do everything on her own, plus come up to the hospital for visits every day (not her favourite thing to do), but she faithfully endured the valleys and celebrated the mountaintops right by my side.
So, in closing, I again want to thank you for your many prayers, notes of encouragement and just the willingness to help in so many tangible ways. I have a new sense of my frailty and God’s sufficiency. All the glory goes to Him.
And our heart posture remains: ‘Our hands are open. What do you want to do, Lord?’“
Thank you, Kevin and Faith, for courageously sharing the mountaintops and valleys during your recent health journey and what God was teaching you, every step of the way. We love doing life together at FAC. If you’d like to get connected, join a Small Group.