On January 19, 2020 I got up and got dressed and came down stairs to have breakfast before going to church. As my wife came into the dinning room she found me sitting on a chair breathing heavily. She asked me if I wanted to go to the emergency room. I said, “No”. I then collapsed off my chair and she dialed 911. Thirty-six hours later I became aware that I was lying in a hospital bed. My wife and most of my children were standing around the bed with tears in their eyes and I found my own emotions overwhelm me as I looked up at them.

I found out then that the reason I had collapsed was that I had a blood clot in my leg. Part of that clot broke loose and went to my heart and then to my lungs. While the rescue squad got me to Froedtert Hospital the doctors in the emergency department diagnosed the clot, administered TPA and a heparin drip and began to dissolve the clot. This allowed my heart and lungs to regain the ability to breathe and beat on its own. Three times my heart stopped during this time and the doctors worked tirelessly to revive me and keep me going. Later that day they were able to transfer me to SICU and after a day there I was moved to a regular floor where I woke up.

Once the doctors had me stabilized and determined that my heart and lungs had sustained minimal damage they wanted to do more testing to determine what had caused the blood clot. The usual suspects of air travel allowing blood to pool in the legs, recent surgery, cancerous tumors throwing off clots, someone hitting me in the leg and causing a bruise, all were eliminated . The doctors don’t like this but had to conclude that the cause of this clot was no explanation could be determined. I must admit for myself that I also like explanations. I can’t help but wonder was it something in my diet? Was it too much exercise? Too little? A person can go on and on wondering and never knowing so I am gradually coming to realize that this happened and I survived and I must try to go on with a renewed appreciation for life so I can make the most of the days that remain.

As the doctors and my family told me what had happened I realized that it was a miracle that I survived all of this. I found myself feeling incredibly grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to be able to spend more time with my family. And as I have continued to feel this gratefulness I have also begun to ponder what does all of this mean. If I had slipped away on January 19th I would have been able to say that I had been richly blessed. I had a career that spanned over fifty years of ministry. I had a wonderful wife and four beautiful children and two wonderful sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law and four fantastic grandchildren. Who could have asked for more. And yet I have now been given more time.

So I am pondering is there something else that i still need to do? Is there some new thing that I am being led to or should I just keep doing what I have been doing for all these years and that is talking and listening to people as they try to find their way through difficult things. Those of you who read this blog who know me have some of your own thoughts about the meaning of this. If so I would appreciate your comments and feedback. Humor and honesty are always welcome.

Steve

5 Comments

Bill Callies
February 18, 2020

Chaplain Steve,

Sandy and I read your posting today, and we thank and praise God for bringing you through this frightful trial. Indeed, your recovery is a miracle, and God deserves the glory. Nearly ten years ago, Sandy and I met you as you ministered to us during my first cancer journey. Even then, we sensed that God had given you a special anointing for your ministry. We remember the peace of God coming into our room along with you. We were comforted as the Holy Spirit worked through you to calm the uneasiness of our spirit.

Another gift you possess is that of being a good listener. This is critical attribute for anyone ministering to hospital patients. Few people understand the importance of having somebody there who is willing to simply listen to you. It gives an ailing person an opportunity to unload some of their burden, and, consequently, ease their anxiety.

Thank you for sharing your testimony about the near-death experience. By sharing your testimony, you are giving God glory. We hope that you will continue in your ministry, and we pray that the healing power of Jesus Christ continues to keep you healthy.

God’s blessings,

Bill & Sandy Callies

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Joan Miller
February 18, 2020

Pastor. I met you about 25 years ago when my husband, Jerry was in Doyne Hospital. You won him over, especially when you said you knew where Markesan was. You weren’t able to officiate at Jerry’s funeral, but you did for my mom and are to do so for me.

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Steve Stern
February 18, 2020

I was trying to remember the other day how long ago it was that I met you and Jerry. It is always interesting to me how relationships get started and what opens the door. Sometimes it is that both of you have a connection to a certain place as it was with Jerry and I both knowing Markesan but then from there it goes into deeper things and so God leads us to find our way.

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Lilah Farrell
February 18, 2020

Wow, that is quite the adventure. I did not know until reading this just now. I hope all is turning in a better direction for you now. Many blessings to you and your family.

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Steve Stern
February 18, 2020

Hi Lilah,
Thanks for your reply. It has been a long road since January 19th. The blood clot did some damage to my left leg so I have been doing physical therapy and walking to get my strength back. I am going back to work on May 1st at Froedtert Hospital so looking forward to that. Over all it has been a miracle and I am grateful. I don’t know if you remember when I was at Markesan that Jean had you pain a picture for me for my birthday of Jesus walking on the water and He is about to rescue Peter from sinking beneath the waves. I am looking at that picture now as it hangs above my mantle and it has even more meaning for me after my narrow escape from death. Thanks again for your artistic ability and how amazing it is that it still can touch people all these years later. I continue to enjoy hearing about you and your children and grandchildren also.

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