A Blue Springs woman whose book tells the story of her husband’s significant medical struggles offered a message of hope and perseverance at Thursday’s Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity prayer breakfast.
“Do you reflect the hope that God has given you every single, precious day?” asked Christy Burns, author of “Forced Pause: Living Under God’s Intensive Care.”
This is the second year that the Truman Heritage chapter has held a breakfast on the National Day of Prayer.
“Faith with works is what we strive to do,” said Executive Director Pat Turner.
Burns stressed the uniqueness of all people and God’s plans for them.
“No one else can fit the spot that God has designed for you to fill,” she said.
She also related the story of her husband Kent, with whom she sang the opening and closing songs on Thursday.
The medical trouble started nine years ago. Several significant symptoms led to the removal of his gallbladder, but the symptoms persisted. Doctors went in to get more gallstones, but there were complications. Instead of just undergoing a routine procedure, he was in the intensive-care unit.
Doctors said it was pancreatitis, which was causing several grave issues, including respiratory failure and partial liver failure.
“And the doctor looked at me and said, ‘Kent’s gonna die. There’s nothing we can do,’” she said.
For the Burnses, raising three boys, that wasn’t an acceptable answer.
“These boys needed their dad, and I did too,” she said.
Having no guarantee that Kent could even survive the flight, he and Christy went to the Indiana University Medical Center for advanced care. They were gone for weeks, while members of their church – Timothy Lutheran in Blue Springs – took care of their boys and even made improvements to their house. Pastors there called colleagues in Indianapolis, asking them to provide spiritual care for the Burnses.
Christy was struck by seeing the ICU.
“All I could think was that each of those rooms housed somebody’s loved one that was fighting for their life, including Kent,” she said.
For weeks, the waiting room was the place where she sat, read, slept overnight and got to know the families of others in the ICU. It was really a neighborhood, she said. Of eight families she grew close to, two patients ended up in long-term care facilities, and Kent eventually got to come home. The other patients did not make it.
“That’s the reality of an ICU waiting room,” she said.
There also were the nurses they grew close to, including the one who would take Christy’s laundry home every Friday.
“I know that was not in her job description,” she said.
Kent had a rough time, including seven weeks in a coma while in the Indianapolis hospital. Then extended care for three weeks. Then several surgeries in several hospitals since then.
“He needed some really significant care for a really long time,” she said.
This March, he hit a milestone: one year without being in a hospital.
“And we’re real proud of that,” she said.
She also related an astonishing moment in the middle of that ordeal. One day, five weeks into the seven-week coma, Kent woke up briefly, looked at her, and said this: “Sometimes God allows us to go through bad things because he wants to make more of us than we can see of ourselves.”
Suffering isn’t the whole story, she said.
“We need to be careful not to (define) what we believe by what we are experiencing,” she said.
Turner said the Truman Heartland chapter of Habitat for Humanity is an example of “God’s love in action” and it continues to grow. In addition to building homes, it now has a program to make minor home repairs. It’s in the first phase of a capital campaign for restoration of the old Hiram Young School next to the Independence ReStore on Dodgion Street. It will be used for offices and other uses.
Next week it opens a second ReStore, this one in Blue Springs. The popular stores sell donated goods such as building supplies and old items such as sinks or doors reclaimed from demolition projects. Proceeds go to Habitat’s overall work of building and repairing homes.
“We can build homes, communities and hope,” Turner said.