Miracles do happen. One happened to me recently. I do not say this lightly. I have not gone “off the deep end”. But I know, for sure, that a miracle happened to me on March 14th – the day my dear friend Carol Ekholm died.
I need to back up a bit in order for you to understand this story. As many of you know, I contracted a disease from a bug bite when I was in Peru in 2004 on a mission trip with Somerset Hills Lutheran Church.
I came back from that trip and shortly afterwards I developed a terrible skin rash all over my legs, and it started to spread to my back and my face. I had multiple biopsies before the diagnosis came back – pityriasis lichenoides chronica. This is a common children’s disease in Peru. I was put on prednisone and the rash slowly went away.
However, several months later I started having stabbing pain in my esophagus when I swallowed, and swallowing became very difficult. I lost 40 pounds and felt terrible. I functioned. I went to work. But my health was not good and I was given a fairly high dose of prednisone. After many endoscopies, I asked to have a biopsy taken to test for the pityriasis. The doctor told me that was pointless because that was an external skin disease. I insisted and yes, indeed, the results were verified that the disease had started to attack my subcutaneous linings. My doctor sent me to Mayo Clinic for further tests and hopefully a cure or at least a treatment.
After 10 days at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, I was told that the diagnosis was correct, but I was the only documented case in the world of this external skin disease attacking a person internally. They had no cure and no real treatment to recommend. They could only tell me to continue on steroids.
My daughter took charge and placed me on an anti-inflammatory “diet” and my symptoms improved, although my swallowing continued to be difficult and twice I choked and needed the Heimlich maneuver. Eating became a chore and, in fact, scary.
Carol Ekholm, my dear, dear friend, supported me emotionally throughout this period of time. She and I shared many of our concerns and health issues and were always “there for each other”. Even two days before her death, she asked how I was feeling when I visited her for the last time. We also talked about heaven, and I have to admit that I prayed for assurance that day after my visit that heaven exists and that Carol would find peace and wholeness there.
The day before she died, I received a phone call from my doctor to give me the results of a recent esophagram. He said it looked terrible and he encouraged me to return to Mayo Clinic. I was distraught.
Carol died on March 14th at 9:45 in the morning. At lunchtime that day, as I was eating, I realized that my swallowing had improved noticeably. By that evening it was even better. As the week went on, my swallowing improved. I now swallow with almost no difficulty. No one can truly grasp the joy that brings unless they have had to take tiny bites, chew those little bites of food to a pulp and then forceably swallow every single little time.
I believe that when Carol arrived in heaven, she interceded on my behalf and asked Jesus to heal me. The entire day I had a series of chills running through my body – the same chills my mother described 45 years ago when she was miraculous healed of uterine cancer. The only thing I could think at lunchtime that day was…’Carol asked Jesus to heal me!’ Somehow I just knew it.
Heaven exists. Miracles happen. Thanks be to God!