Everything inside me was on hyper-alert as I sat in the hospital’s surgical waiting room. When someone stood to get a cup of coffee, my gaze reflexively followed them. When someone signed in or out at the waiting room desk, my head jerked up. When a name was called over the speaker, my mind did a double take to ensure it wasn’t mine. And every time a surgeon walked through the doors to confer with a family member, I started to rise, even though I knew it would still be hours before I would hear a word.
Surgery was required to resect a very rare form of abdominal cancer from my husband, and then what his surgeon referred to as a “shake and bake” procedure in which they removed all his vital organs, bathed them in a hot chemotherapy bath, re-inserted them in his body, and rotated his body to coat the inside of his body in the chemotherapy solution.
We had been warned the surgery could last up to 24 hours, and it wasn’t much shy of that before the surgeon walked through the doors, pulling the cap off his head and meeting my gaze. I searched his eyes, trying to ascertain what he would say before he ever uttered a word, trying to prepare myself for the worst. Warned that one in four patients die on the operating table, we approached the procedure with caution and seriousness. Now, I was left wondering if he was the one, or among the three.
“The surgery was about as successful as it could be. He will need to be in ICU for at least the next week, but this kind of surgery will take several months for him to recover before we can begin his chemotherapy regime. You can go in and see him now for a few minutes, and then the nurses will announce when you can go in for about ten minutes every six hours. I’d suggest you go home and rest.”
Suddenly I couldn’t think. I thought of nothing and everything all at once. He survived—at least for the time being. Thank you, God. But now what? I had to see him for it to be real. I had waited the better part of 24 hours to see him, to touch him, to talk to him.
The nurse led me into his ICU room but had not prepared me for what I would experience. Waiting in the surgical waiting room, I had lost all sense of time. I was too nervous to eat, and I couldn’t sleep, afraid I would miss the surgeon and his report. So I was surprised when a stream of sunlight came through the pinhole in the window blinds. Daylight. It was daylight. He had survived another day. The last time I saw him, we held hands, we prayed, we praised God for a competent medical team. And then I watched as they wheeled him out of the room and I was left holding his belongings.
The various beeps and whirs of machines monitoring his vital signs jerked me back to the present. But there was no preparing me for what I saw next. For whatever reason, my eyes were drawn to the floor. The hospital floor was a sharp bleached white floor, but I gasped as I saw a large pool of his blood growing larger by the moment against the stark white tile of the floor. In shock I looked up to see the body of my husband, nearly unrecognizable. He seemed small compared to the bed. Pale. Covered in wires and tubes.
“Oh God, no. Please no. He doesn’t deserve this. He’s been through so much. Don’t make him go through any more…” I sobbed, as I sank down to my knees beside his bed.
Within moments a nurse came and escorted me out to an ICU waiting room chair where I would basically live for the next 10 days, save for 10 minutes every six hours when I was permitted to see him, hold his hand, pray with him.
My tears and my prayers continued. “God, he didn’t do anything to deserve this. He’s been through so much already. Please don’t let him die. And please don’t let him hurt any more. Please let me take this pain and torture for him…”
As I prayed, I sensed God whisper to my heart, “That’s what My Son did. He took the pain and torture that would have been yours and went through it on the cross for you. He shed His blood for you, so you didn’t have to. It’s what love does.”
In that moment, the blood that I’d seen on the floor, I now pictured as the blood at the foot of the cross. It was His sacrifice. He didn’t deserve to be tortured, or to die. He did it willingly, as a gift. It’s what love does.
Do you know His love?
Because of Him and His love, #HopePrevails!
You can also find out more about the book, “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” below.
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
I pray you and your husband are both fully recovered, stand on Isaiah 53. I write a lot about His sacrififce, we just can’t comprehend it. As bad as what what go through that was so much worse, the idea of shake and bake surgery got me after having that for dinner a couple of days ago. Have blessed Holy Week.
Beautiful! I cannot imagine how difficult your husband’s treatments have been for you. Thanks for being a shining light reflecting God’s love through it all! XO
Wow, Michelle. ((Hug)) I can’t imagine how that must have been for you…for him. Thank you for sharing this beautiful object lesson that God whispered to you in your pain. So grateful for a savior who thought it worthwhile to do what love does and rescue us. Prayers for you and your husband. ((hug))
What an incredible testimony! We can get so used to hearing the story of what Jesus has done for us that we become numb to it. You have been given the gift of a precious moment where it became very real to you. I pray that you and your husband are doing well.
This has me in tears. Watching loved ones suffer is never easy, but what a powerful reminder of what God willingly endured for us.
Michelle, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to walk through that. Thank you so much for so openly sharing about such a painful time in your life. It was a powerful picture of what Jesus has done for me.
No words, Dr. B; just prayers. Thank you for sharing your story and encouraging others even through your pain. Lifting you, your husband and your family up to God right now.
What a powerful testimony. You and your husband have been through so much. Thank you for sharing that no matter what Hope Prevails and HIs love is real.
Goodness, you and your husband have been through so much, Michelle. I pray that God strengthens you as you walk this road. I can say for sure that I’m grateful for the hope you continue to offer in spite of your many trials.
May you be blessed this Easter, my friend.
Oh my friend, what a powerful, heartfelt, moving true picture of what you have been going through! I love your testimony and your words — it’s what love does! So very true. I too would have lived in that chair for the 5 hours and 50 minutes in between the 10 minutes I could see my husband. When we love, we do whatever it takes to be there for the ones who need us.
Thank you for linking up with #TuneInThursday this week and sharing such a powerful and moving true testimony from your own life! Blessings and Enjoy Resurrection Weekend to you and yours.
Michelle, I can’t imagine how hard those hours and days were for you. God has given you grace and allowed you to minister to others even in your pain. Thank you for your love for God and for others.
Such an intense time for you all! I haven’t been through that with my husband so I can only imagine the agony, and the way it had to wear you out over time. 🙁 Thanks for sharing your experience with us and for encouraging us that we CAN get through even the hard things.
Wow. Anyone who didn’t know Jesus would fall apart, but I can see Jesus shining through you so brightly. That’s quite a testimony, Michelle. Pausing to say prayers for you and your husband.
Oh dear – you’ve got me sitting right there in the waiting room with you. Unimaginable pain. So glad you can write and process and find Jesus in the midst of the storm!
What a beautiful and moving testimony. I am looking forward to reading your book Michelle! Thanks for sharing your post at the Family Joy Blog Link Party this week!
I can’t even imagine how hard that must of been. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
Thanks for sharing at LMM Link up to see you again this week.
This message brought back memories of 5 years ago when my husband was in the hospital with a brain bleed that had pushed his brain over 14% and causing him to totally forget a day and a half, lost forever in his moy and I sat in that surgery waiting room waiting for the doctor to come tell me how he was doing and if he would be alright. In the cab of the ambulance whizzing to the main hospital in our area for surgery, the ambulance driver touched my arm and said, You know he is going to be OK. I said I know and I did because the Lord had already told me this was not an illness unto death. So her suffered during the night and when the morning came, they took him to surgery and removed all the pressure and miraculously his brain rose and filled his skull and within one month the surgeon said he had a ‘textbook brain’, perfect!! Only God!! It is what LOVE Does! Jesus died that we might live and He lives and reigns today!! Thank You Jesus!!! Thank you Dr. Michelle for sharing this very special message!! I love YOU!!
I love that you, too, have seen God’s faithfulness in the darkest times, Karen.
I can’t add much more to what I wrote last year but I do know that I keep learning more and more about what LOVE does. LOVE will do whatever we can to make another person’s load a bit lighter. LOVE is being willing to stay up all night as prayer and encouragement support for some in great need of healing. LOVE is looking through God’s eyes at a situation and desiring His insight and perspective on it over what you WANT to happen that you KNOW would make things all better. Yes, I’m still learning and won’t stop till I go to be with Jesus. Love you, Michelle!! Thanks for sharing this!!!