The door opens.
I rush to the hospital bed. I look at Vince’s face. It’s pale a little. I see beads of sweat across his forehead. I sing. His eyelids are puffed up because of the anesthesia. We are in the intensive recovery room after his spine surgery. The doctors replaced the two support bars next to his spine. The whole room is empty. Apart from us, only the doctor on duty is still there. Vince’s values are fine, the monitor ticks regularly. I sing. He still gets a minimal amount of oxygen, but there is no phlegm or restlessness. The machine gradually pumps air into the oxygen mask. I sing, but my voice is a little hoarse. There is a lump in my throat. His heart rate is high. I ask the doctor to help me turn Vince’s body a little to the side, as he never sleeps on his back. The heart rate begins to approach the normal value. I sing. He is over it. There is no emergency. He isn’t suffocating. There is no phlegm. Can I be happy now? I sing. I take his hand. The doctor asks if I see anything unusual about Vince. I’m still surprised to be asked for my opinion… ‘No,’ I say. ‘Everything is perfectly fine.’ The doctor tells us that in ten minutes we can go back to our normal hospital room. My lips curl at the edges into a small smile. I sing. I sing. I sing.
This was his eleventh surgery.
The last time we visited the children’s clinic in Hamburg, we parted knowing that although they had taken out the tracheostomy tube, they didn’t consider Vince’s life safe that way. We were released at our own risk, signing all the necessary papers. Three years have passed since then. Vince still can’t cough. We take good care of him, watch him like a hawk. He was sick twice in three years. Of course, a lot of tools help this life. Coughing machine, inhaler, BIPAP for sleeping at night, a salt nook under the stairs, and of course a thousand practices that help. For example, we use a Croatian salt spray in his mouth if the phlegm gets stuck in his throat. He always starts sleeping on his left side, but if he is sick and has secretions, it is forbidden to lie on his left side, only the right side allows the air to travel safely. If his nose is blocked, we need to spray salvus water (a special mineral water found in Hungary), because it washes everything out. If he gets sick, we mustn’t sit with him too long, he needs to lie down, because that way the air can fill his lungs much better. It is not enough to inhale with plain salt water from a pharmacy, only the salvus water gets results, and we have to inhale for at least 15 minutes, so that the cough machine can bring out the phlegm. And so on…
Why do I write this all down?
Because I want you to know that we do everything that is humanly possible, but still, there can be a thousand pitfalls to such a life. But God always has a perfect plan! After the last operation, Vince got an infection and couldn’t push out the discharge. It blocked the air flow and only the doctors could help him. This spinal surgery was a milestone for him, because it was the first surgery without a tracheostomy tube, and post-surgery discharge could have been life-threatening. I was scared. I thought many times about what could happen. But, when we were there on the day of the surgery, somehow a sense of security got a hold of me. I felt like we were heading for the precipice, but I knew we weren’t going to fall. God’s peace washed over me. I couldn’t pray before the operation, because my thoughts were rushing back and forth. But I knew that many people were praying for us. I knew that there was no point in forcing a prayer out of me when I did not have the strength to do it. I knew that at least two people were praying for us from the bottom of their hearts, and that was exactly enough!
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20
The power of prayer
After the surgery we stayed close to the hospital for another week and a half. We wanted to be on the safe side, because we had gone through a lot of difficulties. One night, when I was giving thanks to God for everything, the problems of the world just seemed so small. I worry about a lot of everyday things, but after a surgery everything gets very clear. The important things fall back into place, my value system is in balance again. I was reading chapter 19 in the Acts of the Apostles, when two things became very clear in me:
– One is that Paul taught in Ephesus for two years in the school of a man named Tyrannus. Many people were listening to his words. There was a sick person there, who couldn’t go and listen to Paul, so his handkerchief was taken to this person, and he was healed. As I read this, I understood something. Other people’s prayer for us was like Paul’s handkerchief. We didn’t need to be in the same place with people praying for us, it didn’t even have to happen at the same time. This imaginary handkerchief shrouded us, and we were blessed. The heartfelt prayer said for others has great power!
“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Acts 19: 11-12.
– The other thing that the Holy Spirit made clear in me is that worrying about everyday things pushes me away from God. If I burn my imaginary idols and my worries the same way the sorcerers burned their books, the power of God will be strengthened in me.
“A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” Acts 19:19-20
A ray of sunshine, when waking up cheerfully,
comes in through the window
With a cloudless clean face,
smiling on my bed
Good morning, he says
and looks into my eyes, laughing
Come on quickly, jump out of bed
be careful not to be late