My Vacation Drama

Today is my first day back in the office following my vacation last week.

For the most part, the time away was great. We took the whole family to Seagrove, Florida, where we have vacationed every spring for years. We love the beach. We had four of our five daughters with us, one son-in-law, two granddaughters, and my sister and her family. It was a full house, to be sure.

Two chairs on a beach

I finished two books and got started on a third. Gail and I read Maya Angelou’s, A Song Flung Up to Heaven, which was fascinating. She is a great writer and it was delightful to hear the book read in her own voice. It gave me a whole new appreciation for Black history and the civil rights movement.

I also read a critique we are publishing of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. As you may know, this has been the #1 best selling book in the country for weeks. The critique is written by Ed Gungor and is called There Is More to the Secret. Ed did a great job separating the “wheat from the chaff.” It closely follows the approach Darrell Bock took to Breaking the Da Vinci Code, which was a critique of The Da Vinci Code. It also ended up on the New York Times best sellers list.

Finally, I started Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham. This is his follow-up to his best seller, Now, Discover Your Strengths. Frankly, I was skeptical when I started the book. It looked like a classic “line extension,” and I thought it might just be a re-hash of the previous book. Boy, was I wrong. I’m only a few chapters into it, but, based on what I have read so far, this may be one of the most significant business books I have read in a long time.

I also enjoyed running along the beach. It felt great to be in the sun and feel the wind in my face. The first half of the week was idyllic. Unfortunately, that was about when things got interesting.

On Tuesday, Megan my oldest daughter, who is twenty-six, thought she was coming down with the flu. By Wednesday she was very sick and experiencing acute pain in her abdomen. We took her to the Emergency Room where she spent the better part of four hours. They ran her through all kinds of tests, including CAT scans. They could not find anything conclusive, so they released her with an assortment of medications.

She slept most of the day on Thursday and was running a fever. By the end of the day, however, she could hardly lift her head from the pillow. We took her temperature and, to our surprise, it was 105.3. Neither Gail nor I had ever seen a temperature this high.

Naturally, this alarmed us, so we rushed Megan back to the ER. By the time we got there, her temperature had gone up to 105.9. This alarmed the medical staff as well. She was also severely anemic and dehydrated. The doctors gave her a battery of liquids via IV, a blood transfusion, and several drugs. She also repeated the same round of CAT scans. This time, they could see the infection. They suspected that it was her appendix.

Megan had emergency surgery early on Friday morning. As it turned out, her right fallopian tube and ovary were severely infected. Her appendix, which rests in front of these organs, had a secondary infection. The doctor removed the appendix and cleaned up the infection. He told us, “it was a mess.”

He also scoped Megan’s stomach, believing that the source of her anemia was most likely a bleeding ulcer. However, her stomach was fine. He could not find any bleeding. He now believes that the anemia may be either from the colon—our family has a history of Crohn’s disease—or perhaps just the infection. Evidently, she has had this infection for months, but it all came to a head this past week.

Megan stayed in the hospital overnight. We drove nine hours home on Saturday. All of us are exhausted but encouraged that this happened while we are all together rather than while she was at home in Colorado by herself. If it had happened there, I am not sure she would have made it.

But—thanks be to God—the immediate emergency seems to be over. We are watching her closely, and we still have to find the source of the anemia. She will be seeing gastroenterologist in the next day or two. (And, in case you are wondering, I did get Megan’s permission to share this story before posting it.)

As usual, in every difficult situation there are lessons to be learned. Here’s what I took away from the experience:

  1. Life is fragile. You can never take it for granted. One minute you can be laying out on the beach. The next you can be in an Emergency Room, wondering what went wrong.
  2. No matter how bad things are, they could always be worse. As I mentioned previously, if Megan had been at home by herself, I doubt that she would have made it.
  3. God always seems to show up—sometimes in surprising ways. You don’t expect to find a great hospital in a small Florida tourist town, but we found a great one. From the nurses to the doctors, everyone was warm, empathetic, and competent—a gentle reminder of God’s grace in our lives. It was one of the best healthcare experiences I have ever had.
  4. A family is a wonderful thing. It was so great that we were all together. Everyone pitched in and helped. It reminded be once again of how blessed I am to have such a loving family.
  5. My wife is a saint. Honestly. She never gets rattled. She stays calm and collected. She has a sixth sense when it comes to giving people exactly what they need when they need it. I was in awe.

As Charles Ingalls used to say in Little House on the Prairie, “All’s well that ends well.” It wasn’t exactly the vacation we envisioned, but I am nonetheless refreshed and more grateful than ever for life.

Update: Megan spent last week at home with us. She saw three different doctors and received a battery of tests. She is feeling much better but still weak from the anemia. We are hoping to get her test results back over the course of the next couple of weeks. Thanks to all of you who have prayed for Megan.

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  • Linda

    I’m so glad to hear everything turned out ok. Way to go for staying optimistic!!

  • Bruce

    Thank you for sharing. Life is indeed fragile: I lost my wife five and a half years ago; completely unexpected. It is human nature, though, to take it for granted. What is not human nature, and what should be, is a willingness to learn from situations, as you have clearly done. Thank you for reminding us that something can be learned from every situation.

  • Paul

    Thanks for the update. I will be praying for Megan and your family at my 3pm prayer time everyday this week. I’m glad you ‘unplugged,’ but I must say that I missed the regular posts. Glad to have you back.

  • TesTeq

    What a terrible week. My Mother suffered a huge stroke on Tuesday while I was skiing in Polish mountains. She’s still unconscious and the doctors are rather pessimistic.
    Life is really very fragile.

  • Mark Goodyear

    Thanks for sharing this. It is a good reminder to thank God for the blessings we have. I think I’ll give my kids a special hug tonight.

  • Howard Smith

    Thanks for sharing God’s grace in your life. I own a home in Seaside – adjacent Seagrove – and it pleased me to know that you were able to get the care you needed in ”our little piece of heaven on earth.” I’ll also pray for your daughter’s recovery and continued health. just started following your blog and I’m getting tremendous value/benefit from reading it.

  • Gordon

    Michael, glad everything worked out ok.

    God is merciful!

    Life indeed is fragile, and thanks for the blog work!


  • Jennifer Cogar

    What a refreshing blog entry. I’m so glad your daughter is recovering. My husband sent me this entry as it paralleled our weekend so much with our own daughter who is 22 months today. We were in the ER with her as well, but thankfully just for the fluids. God bless you and your family. I aspire to be like your wife!

  • Rachel Hauck

    Sounds like a great vacation – sun, beach and reading – right up to where your daughter became sick.

    Praise God you all were with her. Isn’t it amazing about these “coinkydinks?” God knew exactly what she needed. And when.

    I pray His grace and healing power to touch her.


  • Neil

    Thank you for the story. Yes, life is fragile and I appreciate what it has to offer to me.