On Friday June 7th 2019, I went to bed feeling totally normal other than I had a slight chill. The next morning, I woke up and I could barely move. It was like all the energy got sucked right out of my body. Being that I’m extremely healthy and take very good care of myself, I didn’t suspect that it could be anything that serious. I figured I just had a bug.
I pushed myself to do whatever I could do that day but EVERYTHING was a struggle. Even talking was exhausting. It was such a humbling experience for someone who plays full court basketball, has boundless energy and who hasn’t missed a day of work because of sickness in over 10 years. The next day was my birthday and I was planning to have a party with a bunch of my friends. However, when I woke up that morning feeling worse than the previous day, I cancelled the party immediately.
At that point my goal was just to get better by Monday so I wouldn’t have to cancel all my clients. Unfortunately by Sunday evening I knew that my 10+ year streak was going to have to come to an end. Monday morning I was still holding out hope that I could get over this thing by the next day, but by 2 o’clock my fever had shot up to 104.4. At that point, my mom (whom I was staying with while I was sick), insisted that I go to the doctor.
I went to the urgent care center near her house and thankfully there was no line. We went right in, saw the doctor and after listening to my lungs he immediately ordered a chest x-ray. The image came back quickly and I’ll never forget the look on his face when he saw it. His eyes opened wide and he said “Wow! That’s the worst case of pneumonia I’ve seen in 6 years.” Boy was that a surprise! He sent me home with prescriptions for an antibiotic and an inhaler and he told me to plan on taking at least two weeks off of work. He also said that if my fever didn’t subside within a few days, I would have to be put in the hospital.
I immediately emailed all my clients and explained the situation. Thankfully they were very understanding. As I pondered what could have caused this, something that happened a few days before my symptoms started came to mind. For the previous four months I had been living with some friends in a huge house that belongs to a buddy of mine. The room that I was staying in was on the second floor below the air handler. On Thursday June 6th, two days before I became the walking dead, my son was in the room and he heard a rumble in the ceiling. As he turned towards it, suddenly a large portion of the ceiling collapsed right onto my bed. Drywall debris was everywhere.
Thankfully my son was not hit by the debris, but the experience definitely shook him up. Since I was at work, he quickly video called me and showed me the hole and the mess. I was shocked. My suspicion is that the leak may have caused bacteria to be in the air that caused the pneumonia to form. One doctor I saw said this theory was plausible, yet nobody knows for sure.
At that point, not knowing the exact causation of the pneumonia, I decided that I didn’t want to do the recovery at my friends house. In fact, since my parents own a nice condo that was just about to come available for rent (perfect timing!), I decided to move out of the mansion, stay with my parents and move to their condo when it was ready.
After taking the first dose of antibiotics, I began to dramatically increase my water intake. For the first few days I drank nearly 3 gallons of water a day, but my body was so dehydrated, that I barely had to use the restroom. On top of that, my heart rate stayed consistently over 100 even at total rest. Since my lungs couldn’t take in as much oxygen, my heart had to pump about twice as much blood to properly oxygenate my cells. Thank God my heart was strong enough for this!
Now, you’d think that since I had the worst case of pneumonia this doctor had seen in 6 years, I would have continued to feel terrible right? Well, actually it was quite the opposite. As I prayed the first night, I felt this feeling that is hard to describe so I’ll do the best I can. It was like someone pushed a button on the base of my neck. Weird right? After this happened, no exaggeration, my entire body became so relaxed that I felt like a wet noodle. I couldn’t even feel tension if I tried. It was like the feeling you get after a great massage, and it literally lasted for an entire week!
As I laid in bed all those hours, I felt this amazing sense of contentment and pleasure. It was like I couldn’t possibly be in a more enjoyable place at that moment. This totally took me off guard because I’d never felt anything like this for more than brief periods. Minute by minute as I kept experiencing this, I became so grateful.
At one point as I laid there in this state of bliss, the Lord spoke to me and said “this is a little taste of what heaven is like.” His explanation to me was that when I get there, I will be in such a state of tranquility, peace and contentment that I will never once have the thought that something other than what I’m doing would be more enjoyable than what I’m doing. Does that make sense? Like I said, it’s hard to put these feelings into words because I’d never experienced anything like that before.
By the third day, not only was I enjoying these amazing times of rest and refreshing, but when I did get up, I was also able to take longer walks without nearly as much fatigue. In fact, later that day I was feeling so good that I went back to urgent care for another x ray just to see if I’d been miraculously healed! I wasn’t, but at least I felt like I was!
As the days went on I began to realize how valuable this time of rest was for me. I had been going hard for years and never liked taking time off. Heck, the longest vacation I’ve ever taken only had me off work for 9 days and this “staycation” lasted for twice as long. It really was a blessing in disguise.
Now as great as all this was for me, the greatest part of the entire experience was what happened to my mom.
Before I share what happened, let me start by saying that Diane Vercelli is an amazing woman. I’ve been so blessed throughout my life by her kindness, her warmth and her selfless love. Sadly though, my mom (and all the rest of my family, immediate and extended) had not yet asked Jesus Christ to be her Lord and Savior. Why does that matter to me? Well, like all of us she has committed sins and according to the bible (which I would give my life defending if I had to) without accepting what Christ did for her on the cross, she cannot be forgiven for those sins.
On the fifth day of my sickness, her and I had a discussion about this. We have had these before but this was different. This time I shared EVERYTHING with her. I shared the key bible truths about who Jesus was and what He did for us in the hopes that she would be receptive. Sadly she wasn’t. In fact she actually got kind of offended by it all, which left me confused and sad.
That night I prayed and asked the Lord what to do and He told me exactly what to say to her. The next morning, I brought up our conversation and after a short discussion I told her what God had told me to tell her and her attitude completely changed. All of a sudden, God moved on her heart and she began to believe what the bible says- that Jesus is the Son of God, that He loves her, and that He truly wants to forgive her sin and give her the gift of eternal life in heaven. After this she did exactly what the bible says to do- she confessed her sins to God, asked for forgiveness, confessed Jesus as her Lord and Savior and asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In other words, she got born again.
“Jesus answered and said to him ‘truly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”
That day, I finally got to see a member of my own family receive the free gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven. I was ecstatic! Ever since I gave my life to Christ in 2006, I have prayed for all my family to accept Christ. Now, finally, one of them did. My precious mother!!
After this, the whole experience took on another look. I started to see it through God’s eyes. I could see how He used this “bad thing” to accomplish many very good things in my life and in my moms life. In fact, Romans 8:28 promises us that “all things work together for good for those that love God and are called according to His purposes.” I’ve seen this promise come true time and time again and I have no doubt that God will always fulfill it no matter what situation I find myself in.
As for the rest of my recovery, aside from a few unexpected things it was smooth. I went back to work the same week the doctor told me I would, and it’s now a month later and I’m already able to work out hard and run short sprints. What a far cry from being the walking dead!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my story. Hopefully it will inspire you to see your own difficult situations in a new light. Maybe it will inspire you to trust God more. Maybe it will even inspire you to call out to Him for the first time and make the same decision my mom did. Maybe it won’t do any of that because you find it offensive. Whatever it is, thank you for taking the time to read it and may God richly bless every area of your life, in Jesus Name!