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Sheri Johnson- Surgery Today!

Dear Fellow Saints,

Below is an email in its entirety from Kurt Johnson.  We are so thankful for your faithfulness in prayer, please lift her up in prayer today!  Surgery is scheduled for noon Rocky Mountain Standard Time.  We encourage you to read Kurt's email clear to the end as their faith and divine perspective will edify you. 

Dear Friends & Family,
 
We have an urgent prayer request.  Things have been unbelievably hectic with no downtime.  We have now been at Craig Hospital for more than two months (four months since the accident).  Friday was supposed to be our discharge date.  But other events have intervened.
 
I reported in other updates the extreme pain Sheri has experienced for the last six weeks in her neck, especially when she swallows (and no folks, I'm not the pain in her neck J).  After running numerous tests, seeing five specialists, including ear nose throat, gastro-intestinal and dental, they were willing to assume the pain to be from some irritation in the esophagus.  Give her pain meds and a kind of pepto bismal, and hope she got better.  On Thursday, the day before our discharge, we finally got an MRI of the area and found out Sheri has a serious infection in her neck all around the original surgery site and extending up the right side of her neck to near her carotid artery.
 
Sheri is scheduled for surgery on Monday at noon.  This will be an extensive surgery in the front of her throat at the original incision site.  The two surgeons (one neuro and one cardiac) will go in, remove the hardware on the front of her spine, clean out the infection as best they can, and see if there is a tear in her esophagus.  She had a special swallow test on Saturday that showed no leak, but the surgeon said to wait and see.  If she has a tear, they will sew it up and put in an abdominal feeding tube (to allow her esophagus to recover).
 
The surgery will last for at least three and a half hours.  Lots to pray about there as well as for recovery afterwards.  During the surgery, please pray about the anesthesia, with which Sheri always has trouble.
 
Let's fervently pray there is no tear in Sheri's esophagus.  The recovery would be much longer with a feeding tube, not to mention the additional pain and suffering.  We don't know why this is happening − perhaps it is to get the hardware out of her throat so she can swallow better down the road.  In any case, God has a reason for allowing this at this time.  Anyone who would sacrifice His only Son for the entire world loves us too much to not have a very good purpose for this.  Since our lives are in His hands, we release this to Him.
 
In addition, no matter whether there is a tear or not, Sheri will be on massive intravenous and oral antibiotics for about six weeks.  This will wreak havoc with her already weak digestive system.
 
Some musings
 
My heart's desire is that God touch Sheri and heal her completely.  Yet He has not done so.  As I reflected on this, I thought about Jesus and the power He holds.  While on earth, Jesus was still God.  He simply set aside the voluntary use of His deity (Phil. 2:6).  Even so, by the power of the Spirit, Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead and defied death to validate His claim of who He truly is.  Our Lord has the absolute power to heal Sheri.  He is not powerless.  So there must be another reason why He has allowed this trial.
 
And allowing this trial has nothing to do with our Lord being too busy or not loving.  Jesus paid an infinite price by sacrificing Himself though He was innocent, all so every human could live forever with Him.  Such infinite love would only want the very best for us.  So our Lord is not uncaring.  There must be another reason why He has allowed this trial.
 
God is not a genie where we can perform some rite or just believe - have absolute faith - in something we want done (or think should be done) in order for God to do it.  In fact, the promise that He will fulfill the desires of our heart is linked to delighting ourselves in our Lord, so that His desires become our desires and we no longer seek after our own comfort or prosperity or own rights, but release ourselves to what fulfills His purposes, even if we don't see or understand all of them.
 
Yet, do not mistake our trust in God for us having a carefree attitude and always being bubbly happy.  This is hard!  We are weary and exhausted, constantly in survival mode for the past four months.
 
What God has allowed is unbelievably hard!  Sheri says this is harder than her cancer journey!  We expected that the little miracles God provided early on would continue.  And they have, but not like we thought.  We do not have new movement in her hands or feet.
 
For us right now, a little miracle is if Sheri has a good day (and she has had some).  But even a good day is not like you or I would think of a good day.  Not a single day has gone by where Sheri has felt well.  Not a day without paralysis pressure on her chest. Not a day without blood pressure issues.  Not a day without the struggle to do simple things.  Not a day in the past six weeks without terrible pain in her throat every time she swallows or an upset stomach from the medications. Can you imagine four months of this, with no break?  No, for us, a good day - a little miracle now - is when she can make all of her therapy on time because things went fairly smoothly in the day and we could regulate her blood pressure evenly.
 
Sheri and I do not question why God does what He does or allows what He allows.  As to our Lord's purpose, we have seen some of them through this.  We have seen our daughter impact others through her testimony and reliance on God in these difficult times.  We have opportunities to speak of God's work in our lives.  Sheri has had opportunities to encourage fellow patients.  We especially want others to know that God infinitely loves them and is reaching out to them and is there for them.  He is our strength and hopefully people have seen this in us.  There have been opportunities to be a witness (yet I must confess I am not always a good witness in the middle of the night).  This is our ministry right now.
 
We trust God.  Our Lord is a good God with only our best in mind.  He is a powerful God with a purpose in what He allows.  Some day we will see the whole picture.  Psalm 138:8 says, "The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands."
 
We will keep you posted as we find out additional information and the results of the surgery tomorrow.
 
After Craig
 
When we return to Phoenix, we will be staying at our house and hope to have some modifications done to the house to make it accessible to Sheri.  Primarily, we will rip out all carpet downstairs and replace it with a hard surface.  We plan to rip out the tub and shower in the master bath and replace it with a walk in shower.  Finally, the work will also require painting the downstairs.  We hope to have this work done in July and could use some help to make it more affordable.  I put a posting on Facebook and have two takers so far.
 
Long term, it seems that our adjustment to home life will be incredibly challenging, especially the first six months.  To try to move at the same time and move away from our friends who might be able help does not seem like the right choice yet.  So we will be in Phoenix for a little while still.
 
Some other prayer requests
·                     Power to see opportunities to encourage others with our Lord's love and goodness.
·                     Daily strength in the face of really hard stuff.
·                     Money for a van.  It seems we have to get a newer model minivan because of how tall Sheri is. Cost is approximately ,000.
·                     Money for home modifications. Cost is approximately ,000.
·                     Craig Hospital stay has reached ,000 for us, minus our down payment.
·                     Money for various items to make Sheri's life easier. Insurance is paying for her power wheelchair, but not her manual one. Or for a special shower chair. Or for a cell phone holder for her chair. Or for a nursing assistant for two hours a day to help Sheri in the mornings. Or for various homecare items.  Or for a host of other things.
 
So many thanks
Many of you have encouraged Sheri already in so many ways, contributed to her fund and are praying.  Thank you!  God has brought us this far.  He will see us through!  Praise His name!
 
Love,
 
Kurt

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