I was lying on an ultrasound exam table when the mood in the room noticeably shifted. The older doctor smearing gel around my stomach suddenly became serious and called over her shoulder in Hungarian, asking her assistant to run and ask the other doctor to join us.
As they both stared at the screen, which I couldn’t make anything out of, I listened to their conversation, hoping to catch a few words that might give away the sudden concern. The main doctor looked at me and said, “We’ll discuss the results in my office.” I wiped off the goop with a handful of paper towels, fired off a quick text message to my wife asking her to say a prayer for me, and headed down the hallway to the doctor’s office.
The diagnosis was intussusception, a condition where the intestine buckles in on itself. It’s very rare in adults, and can be quite dangerous. The next thing I knew, I was heading to meet my wife at St. Imre Hospital in Budapest, armed with a handful of documents and a diagnosis, one that turned out to be, thankfully, wrong.
A second ultrasound in the hospital left the doctors scratching their heads, but a quick blood test showed a strong infection, so they decided to admit me into the hospital. A short time later, I was lying in the dark staring at the ceiling from my hospital bed. I could barely make out various lamps, now dark, and could see the outline of my retired roommate laying on his side across the small gap between our beds.
I closed my eyes. I prayed. I wasn’t the only one.
Corinne had hopped quickly onto various social media platforms and begun to connect with family, friends, my boss, and my boss’ boss, to let them know I was in the hospital in increasing pain. Almost immediately, I began to receive notes from around the world. A deluge of messages started to come and well-wishes and prayers poured in.
Immediately, my team-members sprang into action, taking shifts watching the kids and running items to the hospital. Later on, they just came to the hospital to spend some time with me to help me pass the time, as there were no forms of entertainment in the hospital at all.
Finally, the techs came and took me for another ultrasound, my third in this saga, and it was during this time that the tech spotted the culprit. He and the other tech were talking about how the last ultrasound didn’t spot anything, when he suddenly stopped mid-sentence and said, “There it is.” He leaned over and in good English said, “Your appendix is twice the normal size.”
So, there we had it. My appendix had decided that 39 years was enough. The surgeon came to my room shortly after and talked to me about the surgery. He seemed young, really young, but spoke great English and this put Corinne at ease. I’ve had surgery before, but I must say that I was a bit nervous about this one, as it was my first in Hungary. Sometimes stories circulate among the missionary and expat communities, and I wasn’t excited to find out.
The next day, a man was suddenly wheeling a gurney into my room and off I went. I hadn’t eaten for four days, and was feeling tired and weak. The cold air rushed over me as he wheeled me down the hallway, and I was thinking about the surgery.
Then I thought about all of those comments I had received, the notes on Facebook and WhatsApp, the visits from team members and friends. The thought of all of the prayers on my behalf sent a tremendous peace through my soul. Being moved onto the operating table, I spent a few minutes chatting with the OR nurse as they got ready to knock me out, and my nerves had gone. Then an injection. Then black.
Looking back now, it’s funny how you don’t see sometimes how much people care about you until you’re in a bad way. Seeing so many people expressing their prayers and concerns and sending notes, was encouraging and affirming. The love and support of my local friends and my One Mission Hungary team meant more to me then they realize.
This experience wasn’t without its quirks, but I’m so thankful for the community around me, locally and globally, and I hope that it doesn’t take another experience like this one to remind me that I’ve got an amazing prayer network, team, and wife.