May-June, 2011 -When Thou Walkest Through...I will be with Thee!
So much has happened these past two months, that I can't possibly cover the details here. If you'd like more details, see the pages I've written on the website that start with Dealing with Change.
When we closed our last prayer letter, we were planning a late spring trip to Mayaguez to install a needed fire alarm system, so they could get permission to begin using the building. The tickets were bought, and we were within five days of leaving when Dennis was diagnosed with pneumonia!
We'd both had upper respiratory tract infections, but we seemed to be on the mend. Good Friday night, about ten at night, Dennis suddenly started chilling and within fifteen minutes his temperature went up to about 102. We had just returned from watching our grandson play baseball, and we were both tired, so we went to bed, hoping he'd be better in the morning.
When he wasn't, we went to a walk in clinic about twenty minutes away, since the Saturday before Easter there were no other choices except the emergency room. At the Ambucare Clinic they did a chest x-ray and diagnosed him with pneumonia. The doctor prescribed a powerful antibiotic, and ordered a couple more tests at a near-by hospital. Before the doctor left, we asked him about our upcoming trip. He said,
"I can't tell you what to do, but I would strongly advise against traveling for at least four to six weeks until you have time to get over this."
So just that quickly, our plans were changed once more, and the trip to Puerto Rico was postponed until further notice.
May-June, 2011 When it Rains, it Pours
Two days later the clinic called back and wanted Dennis to have a Cat Scan to check out a "spot" the doctor had seen on the x-ray. Two days after the Cat Scan they called to tell us they wanted him to see a pulmonary specialist. They had scheduled the appointment for the first week of July, but the Lord enabled us to find an excellent specialist who saw him the following Friday.
When the pulmonary specialist looked at the Cat Scan, he recommended a Bronchoscopy because the mass was located around the bronchial tubes so a needle biopsy would have collapsed his lung. During that visit he also did a breathing test and an echo-cardiogram. They scheduled a sleep clinic study to check and see if he had sleep apnea at the same time.
He passed the breathing test and echo-cardiogram with no problems, but the sleep study did show that he suffered from sleep apnea.
The doctor thought the bronchoscopy would clarify the situation and give us an accurate diagnosis of the mass. However, when he did the study, he was unable to insert the instrument in the affected bronchial tube because it had been narrowed so much by the mass. So he immediately scheduled a follow-up visit the following Tuesday, along with a visit to a surgeon, and a PET scan.
To make this long story slightly shorter, Dennis had surgery on May 27th. The surgeon removed the upper two lobes of his right lung after diagnosing him with lung cancer. The cancer has been staged at an early stage. He was able to come home from the hospital on June 1st with one drain still in his lung, but when we went to get that drain removed the following Monday, the doctor hospitalized him again because the drain was infected with MRSA (Methycillan Resistant Staff Infection).
If you're unfamiliar with this, it is an antibiotic resistant infection that is becoming too prevalent in hospitals. The doctor hospitalized him so they could give him very high powered antibiotics by IV, since the infection was between the chest wall and his lung on the right side.
They finally let us come home from the hospital at around 10:20 p.m. on June 10th, with another ten days of antibiotics and some very powerful pain medicine.
Dennis was still very sick all through last week-end, but he seemed to turn a corner the first part of last week. He was actually able to be in Sunday services on Father's day for the first time since the surgery.
Obviously the future is very uncertain right now, but we are thankful to know the God who holds the future. He has promised "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass throught he rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." In another place he said "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you...", and I could go on and on. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. We have found these truths to be a rock solid foundation during these present difficulties.
Only God Gives Hope in Crisis
The surgeon says he got a clear margin around the tumor, and they tell us there is a fifty-fifty chance he will have no further problems. We are thankful to remember that our times are in God's hands and we are immortal until he is through with us.
We are also thankful that the church in Puerto Rico was able to get a continuance on their usage permit that will enable them to begin using the building with the stipulation that the remaining work be completed within the coming year.
Please pray with us that the Lord will enable Dennis to recover his health, strength, and breathing capacity so he can finish this job. We are tentatively planning to go back this fall.
In addition to postponing our mission trip, we also postponed our annual trip to family camp until the first week of August.
Other Changes to Previous Plans
The surgeon had told us Dennis should be able to go the second week of June, but we thought he'd need more time to recover. Considering the post-operative infection, we can see the Lord's providence in our decision to put that trip off.
We are glad we still have that trip to look forward to, since it is always a highlight of our year.
First, we are thankful for God's faithfulness, love, and never ending grace.
We are Thankful
Secondly, we are thankful for the wonderful people he uses to communicate those attributes to us. We know there were at least eight churches praying for Dennis before his surgery, and probably many more. We received many cards from those who've heard about his sickness and wanted to encourage him. They have definitely been an encouragement to us. One of our neighbors has faithfully mowed the lawn for several weeks while he wasn't able to. People at church have filled in for both of us during the weeks we were in the hospital.
It is a privilege to serve, but it is also a privilege and a blessing to be served, when the service is needed, as it has been for us this past couple of months. But, as you can imagine, we are thankful the waiting, and the surgery is over.
We trust you'll continue to pray for us as you have been doing, and that by God's grace Dennis will be able to make a full recovery. His biggest challenge now is adjusting to a diminished breathing capacity due to the loss of the two lobes of his lung.
However, we know God gives our bodies tremendous ability to adjust, and we trust He will improve Dennis's breathing capabilities as he continues to recover.
Although Dennis usually writes these letters, he hasn't quite been up to it this time, so I (Sherilyn) have written to keep you informed. Hopefully by our next edition he'll be able to write, and give you his perspective on these experiences and our summer.
We'll be in Touch
Electrifying for Eternity,
Dennis & Sherilyn (Nutting) Thompson
Central Baptist Church
2422 N. Thompson Drive
Sullivan, IN 47882
They accept tax deductible contributions for us.