I have a new friend. Bill has been encouraging me with complete understanding of my emotions, my struggles, my good days and bad. I’m not sure how Bill found me since he’s in Virginia but i am truly thankful he did. I look forward to meeting Bill and his wife someday. I hope he’s a hugger because I’ll hug him and probably cry. Yeah, awkward.
Bill has been a gift to me. I asked him to write his story to share with you. Even if you aren’t into faith stuff, you’re going to be impacted by Bill. So, here you go … meet my new friend Bill:
When God Does a Miracle….
by Bill Pinson
I am only alive today because of a Miracle from God, my Lord and Saviour. There is no other reasons. Here is my story.
My name is Bill, I am just a normal 44 year old guy, nothing about me stands out. I am married to the greatest wife in the world, and I am the father of 2 stepsons, Chris and Adam, 17 and 24 years old respectively. My life has changed a lot more than I could ever imagine over the past 3 1/2 years, it almost doesn’t seem like it is possible.
In June 2008 after being hospitalized suddenly with cellulitis in my left leg and very high ammonia levels, I was diagnosed with a Fatty liver or NAFLD. My wife is a Registered Nurse, and asked a million questions, and we were told it was nothing to worry about just lose weight. I wish it were that simple.
During the next 3 years, our lives were changed in ways that I am still having a difficult time dealing with.. My life went from being a Mid Level IT Manager making nearly 6 figures, to being left unable to work barely clinging to life. Along the way I became a Grandfather 2 times and turned my life over to God in April 2010. That has been the most important thing in my life in ways that I never imagined.
I would be lying if I said the diagnosis of NAFLD inspired me to change my poor eating habits, exercise, and take care of my health better, I ignored it and doubled down on stupid. Stupid only lasts so long. I discovered this after 5 tough weeks spent in Florida working on a project for my employer and putting in insane hours, I ended up in the hospital and faced with the fact that I had End Stage Liver Disease. I was now advised by 2 Doctors to stop working and concentrate on my health. My only chance of survival. I was advised by my Gastrenterologist that I needed a Liver Transplant, but I was too overweight to be referred to a Liver Transplant Center in August 2010. I realized at that time I was in serious trouble. I researched everything on the internet like a madman, and I dropped to my knees every chance and asked for guidance, strength, and a chance.
During my research, I met a man named Bob, he was from Miami, and had a story similar to mine. He was overweight like me, and was told that he was too heavy, but refused to take no. He gave me some advice, and I ended up at The Cleveland Clinic for 2 weeks of testing in October 2010. My first meeting with the Liver Transplant Team on Monday did not start out well. I was diagnosed with a MELD Score of 21, which was higher than most people who have been listed for months or years, and my increasing weight was a problem. I was retaining a tremendous amount of fluid in my abdomen and legs, and I had ballooned to 370 pounds. I was immediately told that I was much too heavy for a transplant, his exact words were: “You are the most obese person we have evaluated, and there is no chance you will be placed on the list.” I still went through the process, and was told in the beginning of December I was not going to be on the list, and I had possibly 2 months to live.
Over the next 3 weeks, my kidneys were taking a hit, I was becoming immobile, and went in the hospital in Congestive Heart Failure on December 30, 2010 at 429 pounds, full of fluid, and dying. I was told I had a few days at best unless we took a chance and tried a cocktail of diuretics around the clock, hoping that I did not have a heart attack or a stroke. At this time, I made my Peace with God, and finally turned it over to him fully. In the meantime, I received word from The University of Pittsburgh I was turned down again. I should have been discouraged, but I found Peace in the Storm. I lost 65 pounds of fluid in the hospital, and was sent home on a Low Sodium, Low Carbohydrate, High Protein diet. In an amazing 6 weeks I went from 429 pounds to 330, and arranged a Second Evaluation at the Cleveland Clinic at the beginning of March 2010, and was turned down again, but I had encouragement. I was told if I could lose enough weight to get to 300 pounds I had a serious chance to get on the list. Despite an abdomen so swollen I was leaking fluid through my stomach, and unable to wear a shoe, but I was able to lose about 40 more pounds, and after many setbacks, and another evaluation at The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida, I was called halfway through the evaluation and advised I was going to be on the list at Cleveland pending a few tests, and I immediately left Florida. I barely remember leaving because I was going downhill fast.
I arrived in Cleveland for the tests, and after testing, I was finally placed on the list on May 12th 2011 at 4:30 PM. My wife and I were told not to leave, because my MELD score had elevated to as high as 33. We were told to not leave, I was Number 1 on the list. In 5 months, I went from being too fat to receive a transplant at 429 pounds to 292 pounds and approved for a transplant, and I was carried through this entire process by My Lord. He never gave up on me, and kept me calm, and heard the prayers of many people on my behalf. At 8 AM Monday morning, our wedding anniversary, I received a call that a liver was available, and in 12 hours, I said goodbye to my wife, and my life changed forever.
We were told not to expect much, I would be in the hospital up to 3 months, and most likely at a Nursing home or rehab facility up to 3 months. The Doctors do not know my God. In 3 short weeks I walked out of Cleveland and went home with my wonderful wife. When God does a Miracle, it is not small, it is HUGE, so there is no denying that it is his work. The surgery saved my life, but more important than my life, this experience saved my SOUL. I am here by the Grace of God, not by anything I did.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.