No Time to Fear

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I asked God to give me a new heart, and he gave me two. I was baptised on 5th March 2011, and 6 days later underwent major open-heart surgery, and praise God, He was with me on both occasions, and both were a success.

My experience starts from when I was born, so dad helped compile part of this article.

I was born on an autumn day, 11th April 1989, to a lovely young couple, Danny and Suzi Boje. Along with my older brother Adam, we had great fun, troubles, and more on the farm. As I was growing, I discovered that my body couldn’t always do as much as I wanted to do. During a physical exercise (exhaustion) session at school, our sport instructor advised me to see a doctor about it, and my parents finally convinced me to go.

After a few doctors’ trips and check-ups, they discovered that the heart murmur I’d been born with had worsened, and my bicuspid valve was causing problems. Surgery to repair it took place in November 2004, but it still required a follow-up surgery to fix the leaking valve. Later this also included the need to replace a section of the aorta with a Dacron tube, and the date was set for March 11, 2011.

In the weeks leading up to surgery, I was very busy renovating my house, and enjoyed jet-skiing and other recreations, and thus was too busy to worry about the operation soon to take place.

On the day prior to surgery I had my final check-up to ensure that I was healthy for the operation, and met with the surgeon and his assistant for the final time before the ‘big day’. Literally it was a big day, and in the weeks prior the nurse-coordinator advised me that my surgeon would need ‘all day to work on you’ due to how major this particular surgery is, and what they intended to do. It was only during this final meeting that I realised that my body would be cooled to 15-18 degrees for 15-20 minutes to perform the first part of the operation; replacing the aorta up to the arch, then connecting it to the heart/lung bypass machine. I got a bit concerned, but knew that I would only need to trust in God even more.

The big day arrived. I woke up (got awoken) and was ready for the day. I said goodbye to my best friend, Johnny, and we embraced for a short while.

Dad drove me to the hospital, and Adam K, who wished to be there for the day, accompanied us.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 am, and made our way to level two – the heart level. After final confirmations to ensure I was getting the correct procedure done, I was given two gowns, and instructed to wear them (and nothing else). It is then that I realise what Job meant when he said, “naked I came into this world, and naked I return”…(Job 1:21)

After saying goodbye, I was wheeled on the bed to the pre-op room; I felt fine, and I talked with the nurses as they came by. I was soon taken to theatre, and transferred to the operating table, where I was to spend the next 7 hours. After an IV line was put in my arm, then a larger one in my neck, I was still very much awake and alert. I could have wondered, “Could this be it for me?” But I didn’t worry or stress because I knew my life was in God’s hands.

When it was my time to go under the anaesthetic, I fully relied on God to guide the surgeon’s hands, and to be with me. I wasn’t certain how the operation would go, or even if they’d do the procedure that was best suited, but I trusted in Him who knows even the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). I prayed that His will would be done, and trusted Him.

The drugs to put me to sleep were administered, and I was then unconscious, while the surgeons and the rest of the team performed the operation. I knew nothing, which probably was a good thing.

I was asleep the whole day (thanks to the anaesthetist), and unaware of how the operation was progressing. Before I had woken, I was transferred to the ICU in the Private Department of the hospital. My closest family members came and saw me; however, I was still asleep.

When I awoke late in the evening, I was first glad and relieved that I had awoken; but at the same time I was quite uncomfortable. I had a restrictive tube (for assisting breathing) down my throat and couldn’t talk. I don’t remember seeing properly, and after trying to talk (and failing miserably), I tried to write something in the air. My wonderful nurse understood, and quickly brought some paper with a pen.

I was happy; now I could ‘talk’! I asked if I could have visitors, and the answer was ‘no’. I asked if I could make a phone call, and the answer was again ‘no’. I then asked if the tube down my throat could be removed, and I received the same answer, ‘no’.

At the time, all these responses were quite discouraging, but now I know the nurse was doing what was best for me; it was late at night, and I NEEDED the tube to assist my breathing. Eventually, somehow, I managed to doze off to sleep.

In the morning I awoke, and after some time, overheard a nurse asking a fellow patient if he knew where he was. He replied he was in the ‘Royal Melbourne Hospital, Private Division’. I knew he was mistaken, and wished to correct him, but held my peace. Later on my nurse advised me that I TOO was in fact in the ‘Private Division’ due to a lack of beds in the public ICU the previous evening. I learnt NOT to be too confident and sure of myself, even if I knew I was right. As the Apostle Paul brings out in Romans 12:3, a man is “Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think”. So I was still learning valuable lessons on relying on God and not on myself.

Soon I spoke with some family members on the phone. A little while later, I spoke with the nurse, and she told me what procedure had been performed. Until then I knew the surgery was a success (as I was alive), but I didn’t know if the operation was a success, and which procedure was performed. She explained that they’d done the Ross Procedure, with the Dacron aorta replacement. This was what I had been hoping for, and was the best possible outcome for my situation. I was overjoyed, and didn’t feel pain for the next few minutes due to being so happy. God truly does work miracles, even today, and after the long operation the surgeon told my father that “It was a pleasure to work on him”.

The hardest part of the surgery, for me at least, was ‘letting go’. I knew what I was about to go through, and yet having no power or control over the situation was the most difficult part. But once I relied on Jesus as my personal Saviour, and trusted my life to Him, it was easy. I went into the theatre confident, somehow knowing that I would be ‘ok’. It was so much easier relying on “the rock of our Salvation.”(Psalms 95:1) Later I found out about the terrible tragedy that occurred in Japan at the very time I was in surgery. So many people died due to the earthquakes and tsunami, and yet God and His angels were watching over me. I’m so glad to be a child of God!

After spending one week in hospital, I was due to be released. But God had other plans. Early on the morning of my ‘release’, I developed fever-like symptoms. I felt extremely unwell, and phoned some friends by 6am.

I explained to them how I felt, and asked for some ‘natural remedies’ as I knew I was unwell, and I also wished to leave the hospital ASAP. The sisters that I called both advised doing a hot & cold footbath, and as I had been feeling extremely cold, I sat on the shower bench and ‘self-treated’ myself with hot water/cold water showers on my feet.

It made me feel better and I managed to rest a little. When the doctors came to do their morning rounds, my surgeon joined them, to check that I was fine, and then release me. I didn’t mention that just a few hours ago I had been extremely unwell, but they knew, as something in my latest blood test showed that my white blood-cell count had risen dramatically.

Then I admitted to how I had been feeling, and the surgeon advised that I would need to stay until they ‘cleared up this issue’. A few days later, on Sunday, they advised me that I had acquired a serious infection whilst recovering in the ward.

That afternoon, when I realised that I needed to stay in hospital, I decided to take action. I knew about the ‘Eight laws of health’, and decided that my body needed fresh air and sunshine. I had just been put into a separate room, in isolation from the other patients (due to my infection), and wasn’t too impressed with the idea.

So I sent a quick prayer up to Heaven, as Nehemiah did before he answered the king (Nehemiah 2:4), and asked that the nurses/doctors would not stop me. I took decisive action and went for a proper walk. I knew the importance of exercise, but hadn’t gotten any proper ‘exercise’ in the previous week. So I walked to the end of the hall, and then down the stairs to ground level, then finally out the exit. I decided to walk ‘around the block’, and did so. Yes, I was tired by the end of the walk, and it was quite probably against the doctors’ orders, but I knew it was for my best, especially if I was to leave hospital soon. I arrived back and felt much better. God’s natural remedies DO work!

The following week was spent in an isolated room, not knowing when I would be released, or how serious the infection really was. But praise the Lord, I had quite a few visitors who kept me occupied, and a continuous stream of healthy food!

Once I was finally ‘released’ it was a great feeling. Not only that so many friends had visited and encouraged me, but that I was finally out and ‘on the way home’.

Praise God that there was only one complication following the hospital release, when I was taken by ambulance to clear up a possible blood clot, and only spent three more nights at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In total I spent 17 nights in hospital,  had my ascending aorta replaced with Dacron, my aortic valve replaced with my pulmonary valve, and received a homograft valve to function for the pulmonary valve.

I’m really grateful and thankful for everyone who fasted and prayed for me, and especially for those who visited me and encouraged me through this time. It means so much to me to have so many people supporting me, and I know that they surely helped my recovery.

Now it’s been a couple of months since the surgery, and praise God, I’m doing very well. God really helped me recover, and I now know, through experience,(two major operations), that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). And I strongly encourage other believers, especially the youth, to FULLY rely on Christ, because He can and WILL help those who ask and believe in Him, as brought out in Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

I’m really glad that things worked out for the best, and the praise all goes to God, for “All things work together for good to them that love God”(Romans 8:28).

We are truly to appreciate life and the opportunities that we have, and to make the most of them. And as 2 Timothy 1:7 brings out, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear…”, so we are not to fear when we are walking with Him.