What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Copyright 2020 by Carl Winderl
'this one,' the end is always so much better than the
And this piece, in four parts, will prove no exception -- by far.
this past June
23rd, my wife, Ronda and I were in Corning, NY, helping our son and
his family move into their new home (an olde Victorian actually),
along with a move-crew from their church. All day long it had
been raining heavily on and off, and in a lull I was directing
traffic on the front steps as the old washer and dryer were brought
down from the 2nd floor and the new ones were taken upstairs.
traffic directions, I stood alone on the front steps, then stepping
down, both my feet flew out from under me, and I
down the steps landing hard several times on the back
of my right
shoulder, especially my back upper rib cage.
caught my breath,
struggled to stand up, embarrassed, happy no one I knew saw me, and
limped around to the backyard, where Zach's family and move-crew
stood in the drizzle. I joked around to them about how clumsy
I'd been, but felt okay.
the next 2 days
though I wasn't.
up: I couldn't stand, sit, or walk very well. Even
down was torture. Finally, Sunday after church Ronda drove me
to an emergency room, where I was thoroughly x-rayed: but
nothing was broken, cracked, fragmented, splintered, even
Just a lot of deep tissue bruising.
and a spot.
the upper third
of my right lung a white nodule appeared.
that out of the ordinary, I was assured, not that big, the doctor
said she saw them once in a while. I was given some pain
copies of the x-rays, and told to check in
with my primary
care physician in San Diego and have another set of x-rays taken.
so I did,
two weeks later I made an appointment, had a 2nd set taken two days
later, then needed yet another set done as back-up two days after
I was told to
schedule an appointment with the pulmonary department for Kaiser
Permanente. The soonest I could meet with the head doctor was
almost a week, and when I did she said she was
CAT/Scan right away.
was concerned --
but would wait for those to be returned before she levelled with me.
was not that
concerned because I figured, "God's got this."
mean if I had not
fallen on those silly slippery front steps I wouldn't know there was
a spot there at all to be confirmed.
came back, I met with the Head Doctor of Pulmonary, and she was
showed up was a
.22 mm suspicious spot (a little bigger than dime-sized) and "active"
lymph nodes right next to it.
on the history
of lots of cancer in my family, the size of the node,
its placement, adjacent to the main bronchial passageway to the upper
third of my right lung, the doctor announced I had a
chance of cancer.
-- not bad, I thought -- not even half, not a majority, I figured I'd
be in the clear. No, she said -- 5 to 10 per cent is not a
concern. Thirty-five is.
have it taken out immediately.
said. "I leave on July 25th to go live and teach for the
fall semester in London."
have to cancel the program," she said. "This can't wait."
told her that was
not an option -- that Ronda and I teach a fall semester in London
with a cohort of Point Loma Nazarene University students; we start on
August 1st; room and board, play and train tickets, etc. have all
been paid in advance.
So, my doctor,
the Head of the KP Pulmonary Department, scheduled me for a PET/Scan
-- a CAT/Scan on steroids, no, a type of CAT/Scan where radiated
pharmaceuticals are injected into my body and 20
later I'm MRI-like scanned and any "problem" areas light up
like a Christmas Tree.
‘lit up’? Only the two previously noted "spots.”
then was a
Bronchoscopy scheduled for 7:30 on July 19th -- the clock was
ticking. A relatively 'simple' procedure: once
general anesthesia I received a mouth/throat tube down
through my esophagus so that a video camera could
explore my upper lung and the 'problem areas'; once
identified another probe would be sent down to biopsy a dozen samples
of the mass for analysis. The result: technically a
non-conclusive/we're not sure, but it looks like it needs to come
lobectomy: because of the mass and lymph node's locations the
upper third of my right lung was to be removed; that
one of my three right lung lobes.
I was like,
okay. "God's still got this," because if I hadn't
fallen, hadn't done all the scan work and gone on to London until
December 1st, who knows how much more and where else these suspicious
spots might show up. I had no real x-ray record from the
So this was all one big unknown.
asked the head
pulmonary physician if this were her lung what would she do:
she said I'd have it done ASAP.
I asked who
would she have perform the surgery: she didn't hesitate at
-- Dr. Vincent Perricone, Chief Thoracic Surgeon for KP and Chief
Teaching Surgeon for the UCSD Med School.
me up I said.
soonest he could perform the surgery would be Friday, August
supposed to be in London one month to the day before that.
were both to fly
to London on Monday, July 25th, but I
changed my flight to
Friday, the 29th, so that I could do a bunch of breathing, lung
capacity tests, EKG's, blood work, etc., etc., etc., in preparation
for the surgery one month later. They wanted an established
baseline for what I was like 'normally' to compare to me after the
also met with the
surgeon on Thursday before I left for London, and he walked me
through the surgery and the complicated but necessary month-long
I asked him,
if he were me what would he do. His reply, he'd have the
surgery next week. He made it sound urgent. It's
he was looking for work. Every Friday he performs this
on 4 - 6 patients; I was to be his first at 5:30 a.m. on Friday,
here was the
surgery I was to looking at: it's called VATS --
thoracic surgery. A 5" incision was to be made
between my ribs for the camera and robotic arm with
various "utensils"; 2 more holes/incisions would be made
under my rib cage near the bottom lobe -- one for the
laporopscopy and the other for 'drainage.' A chest tube would
be inserted for accidental lung collapse (they were going to collapse
it, when they were
ready); a spinal tap, an epidural for my chest cavity
thoracic area, plus a breathing tube down my throat
into my lungs, a morphine drip, and a very cool
shunt inside my left wrist that would monitor and
every breath I took, measuring its effectiveness, etc.
of course a
urinary catheter and maybe some other minor doo-dads I've now
That was what I had
to look forward to when basically they were going to
amputate my lung: fully one-third of it.
I still felt,
"God's got this."
flew to London on
July 29th, started my classes on an accelerated
that I could ideally have my one-month recuperation
Diego and when I returned October 1st I'd pick up where I left off,
albeit perhaps a little more careful about not catching cold nor any
other upper respiratory issues.
I did all my condensed
teaching in London for three and a half weeks, and then Ronda and I
flew back to San Diego on Tuesday, August 22nd, so that on Wednesday
I could have more last-minute bloodwork, etc., do
all my pre-admit
paperwork in-person, and on-line, pay my share of the
hospital fees, meet with the anesthesiologist for an hour and 15
minutes to walk step-by-step through the procedure, and at the end of
the day I had one last CAT/Scan so that the surgical team would have
an up-to-the-minute picture of what they were going after.
morning at 11 Ronda and I had an appointment with the surgeon who was
going to head up the team removing that part
of my lung.
was a long and
busy day for me: plus I had fasted all day in prep for the
the end of the
day we celebrated by dining at the 1st eating establishment we came
to after leaving the hospital: Carl's Jr.
went to bed on
Wednesday night, thinking, praying, knowing: God's got this.
think I maybe felt a little like Isaac the night before he and his
dad were to go up on the mountain. I felt real peace and
awoke, did my usual writing, reading
morning activities, and at 9 a.m. I was sitting on the stairs putting
on my shoes getting ready to head for our appointment
the surgeon, when lo & behold my Iphone rang,
was him. Why was he calling me?
was calling to
cancel my surgery.
had seen the
previous day's CAT/Scan images and said: "Your spot has
reduced to a snowflake. I'm cancelling your surgery
your slot to somebody else."
Ronda had overheard our conversation and starting jumping up 'n' down
on the steps.
teary-eyed at the thought of those moments, even as I type this.
we kept our
appointment with him because we still had that hour slot. So,
in his office, he put up on his huge flat screen the previous day's
CAT/Scan images and the ones from a month prior. He actually
beamed as he pointed out the difference, saying, "Here's the
mass -- here's the snowflake." To me it looked like a
pinpoint, but I wasn't going to debate him. I asked him how
would explain it; he shrugged and said, "It evaporated."
He truly was as happy as we were, because not often in his office
does he share in such good news.
the 'kicker': "you couldn't bribe me to do surgery now!"
said, "I know
what happened. I've been healed." Then I proceeded
to tell him the long list of people who'd been praying for
family, friends, colleagues, even the students in London formed a
circle around me the day before I flew back to San Diego, laid hands
on me, and Ronda prayed down the fire.
forward in his church in Corning, NY, on a Sunday morning to
be my "stand-in," so that the pastor could anoint
him in my place, while he knelt at the altar and the
and his and Jordan's friends came forward to lay hands on him, --
again, in place of me.
In my previous
meeting with the surgeon I had shared my faith, told
of my calling as a Christian professor, and of our
plans to be missionaries in Zagreb, Croatia, starting March 1st,
he encouraged me to keep having people pray for me, and if the spot
node don't return let those prayers be used for something else.
he told me
to be sure and have a follow-up CAT/Scan in 4 to 6 months to keep
track of my lung.
Ronda and I
drove home on clouds of delight, wonder, and awe.
soon as we walked
into the house she made phone calls to her mom, then Zach, and Allie.
her calls, I
came down stairs, told her to come sit beside me on the couch, and
revealed to her what had happened to me on Thursday, August 10th, at
8:45 a.m. in a chapel service held daily in the Christian residence
which was our home away from home while we and the students were
living in London.
had a poetry book
in my hands (I always have one with me, especially in
church services, in case I feel 'inspired' to write something) and I
showed her what I had written on a blank page: "It's Your
breath in our lungs, So we pour out our praise, pour out our praise
-- Great Are You Lord!" and beneath that, "Lee Abbey
Chapel, 8:45 a.m., 8/10/17."
I told her when
I 1st sang those words that morning I felt a warm tingle start
in my chest and spread
throughout my body:
I felt warm and peaceful all over. That's the best I can do
explain it. And tears fell and flowed, throughout the rest of
the song, and even after I sat down, as John Wesley himself once
said, "I felt my heart strangely warmed."
And that is what I felt.
course, the two
of us had a little shouting spell, embracing and rejoicing, in front
of our cat and everything.
asked me why I
hadn't said something before? I shrugged, I don't know -- I
just didn't want to cry, "Wolf!" if I was just experiencing
a normal run-of-the-mill out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.
Really, I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up -- especially mine --
if I wasn't having my own little Aldersgate
the rest of the
day was pretty much of a blur.
the next day
Ronda composed a general e-mail (much briefer and concise than this)
to our prayer family, friends, and warriors letting them
And she of course included it to our students in London and the Lee
Abbey community in the residence there.
we had a free
weekend, basically, to relax and exult and extol before flying back
to London on Tuesday, August 29th -- instead of being in ICU for 24
to 48 hours before I'd've been released to my own
germ-free room for 3 to 5 days with no visitors allowed -- just
hospital staff and Ronda, for fear of contracting any kind of
respiratory infection. And Zach wouldn't have to fly in for
weeks of 24/7 dad duty, and Allie wouldn't have to do her week or so
of the same.
and I flew to London; Wednesday only slightly jet lagged I was out
and about in the residence when the rector's wife, Flora, came up to
me, hugged me, and welcomed me 'home.' She and her husband,
sharing the Chapel & Spiritual Life duties, had given me a card
before I left to go home for the surgery, and in it she had written
out Philippians 4:6-7 -- and told me they and so many others would be
praying for me.
then laid her
hand on my arm and said, "Carl, I was in that Chapel
Service, when you were healed. I was behind you and off to
side, and when we were singing that song I saw you: you were
crying, big tears were running down your cheeks, but what I saw, what
I really saw, was that you were different from everybody else
standing around you -- it's like there was this glow about you, like
you were shining. And there was happiness on your
That's when God touched you, didn't He?"
now you know
I did on my summer vacation.
now you know
too, when I say, "God's got this" -- you'll know I mean it,
and I so believe it.
you know I
experienced some supernatural healing on Thursday, August 10th, 2017,
at 8:45 a.m., in a chapel service at Lee Abbey London.
from then to Monday, December 4th, back in San Diego, after
finishing our fall semester in London: I had the follow-up
CAT/Scan, ordered by the KP thoracic department: just to see
what my upper lung lobe looked like.
Wednesday, again no word on the results. Thursday, still no
To know for sure.
still got this."
those who might
be wondering, once you've been dramatically healed or been told your
condition's in remission, you still "wonder." A
little. From time to time. And I did.
again, I didn't
mid-morning, my surgeon contacted me, and
so did the
Head Doctor for the Thoracic Department for Kaiser-Permanente for San
entire suspicious area was "clear and clean as a whistle."
cloudiness. No Nothing.
re-named it -- the "Praise-a-lujah Chorus"!!!
of course, it
in the 10 o'clock service at the Rock Church, San
along with 3000+ other worshipers Ronda & I both "rocked"
out on a very rousing rendition of: "Great Are You Lord"!
Christmas!" my surgeon had communicated to
"Happy Holidays!" the thoracic department head wished for
Christ-mas" -- "Happy Holy-Days" indeed.
so. I'm to
check back in next year again in December for a follow-up to the
the past several months I feel as if I've been to the Graduate
School of Healing, because of what I've been reading, talking about,
and thinking about.
of my most
oft-repeated questions and thoughts
in my head: one,
why me? two, why not someone else? three, what do I
now with this experiential information?
with two of the many comments I've received so far: 1)
"obviously, God's not done with you"; 2 "they're
probably not ready yet for someone like you up there."
taking both of
those as compliments.
and just this
too: what makes all this incredibly special is I was
cleared to leave on March 2nd,
2018, for Zagreb, Croatia, where Ronda and I began a 2-year
commitment to serve as teaching missionaries in a Nazarene Mission
there headed up by 2 of our former students.
cool is that.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Carl's story list
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