I needed to have my ankle operated on, so early the next morning Iona drove me to the Royal University Hospital to begin the process. We were at the hospital for around 6 hours, waiting and waiting. Finally saw an orthopedic surgeon who said he would schedule me for surgery the next day at City Hospital. Dutifully we went to City the next morning only to be told that our surgery had been postponed because of a surgical emergency that took precedence. Back the next day and I wasn’t feeling well. You guessed it – I began to show the symptoms of SARS as described on the ominous yellow card. As we sat in the waiting room, Iona went to the front desk and showed them the card. I had the symptoms she told the nurse. Everything went into overdrive. I was immediately transported by ambulance to the Royal University Hospital – they had the only hospital room in the city that was vented directly outside. The air from my room wouldn’t be recirculated in the hospital. Every time someone came to visit me, they were gowned and masked. Looked like they were dealing with a dangerous space alien. Kind of frightened me.

As I lay in that hospital room, I began to ask myself some questions. My father had died when he was 57 and I was just a few months short of my 57th birthday. I had always thought that I would live longer than my dad had, but now I was faced with the possibility of dying. Was I ready to die? The question wasn’t did I want to die? I certainly didn’t. We had our first grandchild and I wanted to see more. In fact, I wanted to be around long enough to see great grandchildren, but was I ready to die if that was what God had in store for me? Through questions I began to review the basics of my relationship with Jesus. Was I a sinner? The Bible says we are all sinners, and any review of my life would confirm that I was indeed a sinner. Did I believe that Jesus was God and that He came to earth in human form? Yes, I did. Did I believe that His death on the cross was the penalty needed to purchase my forgiveness? Yes, I did. Had I confessed my sins and repented of them, and had I asked Jesus to forgive me? Yes, I had. Did I believe that as a result that I was forgiven and promised an eternity in heaven? Yes, I did. So, the answer to my question was that yes, I was ready to die. For whatever reason God chose not to take me home but the SARS adventure hadn’t come to an end just yet.

The doctors kept postponing my surgery because no one wanted to operate on someone who might have SARS. The small window of time for my surgery to take place was closing and a decision had to be made. Finally, the surgeon decided to believe that I didn’t have SARS and I was prepped for surgery. They didn’t think it was safe for me to have a general anesthetic and gave me a spinal. They also gave me something that kept me from being fully awake during the surgery. I have vague memories of hearing what sounded like power tools being used, but my surgery was completed, and a small plate was inserted in my ankle. I could hardly wait to get the cast off and see if I could make fridge magnets stick to my leg. I thought I could come up with a really interesting story to go along with that, but no magnets stuck to my leg. It probably had to do with the metal that was used in the plate, but I preferred my own explanation – I had been a pastor for so long that I had developed very thick skin. The magnetic attraction couldn’t make it through that thick hide I had grown.

In the background another story was playing itself out. I was asked whom I’d seen since we returned to Canada. Just Iona and my brother Grant. Each of them had to take their temperature every day and phone it in. If they spiked a fever, they might have SARS. This would have to be done for 10 days. Grant was a high school teacher and the implications of him contracting SARS were enormous. For 9 days they each phoned in their temperatures. No fevers, then on the 10th day Grant told the nurse on the other end of the line that he had a fever. Panic began to set in. Before it became a wildfire, Grant calmly asked the nurse what the date was. Why was that important? She told him it was April 1. Grant had pulled a fantastic April Fools joke. I’m sure that poor woman at the end of the line was ready to inflict great pain and suffering on my brother but she was also more than a little relieved that a threat had been averted.

I was declared to be SARS free and allowed to go home. Then my symptoms began to recur. I was fevered and had a very severe cough. Back to the hospital for more tests. In their great relief that I didn’t have SARS, the doctors missed the fact that I actually had pneumonia. I was given a prescription for antibiotics and within a few days I was feeling better. Iona has said that I never do anything in small measures, and it certainly was the case here. I was given a cast and told not to put any weight on my foot. I had to use my crutches all the time. I could do virtually nothing on my own. Try this – take a pair of crutches and as you are using them without putting any weight on your foot try and carry a glass of water. You can’t do it!

Providentially it was my left ankle that had been broken and my right leg was fine. I could still drive. During my convalescence I had to set up a display of Bibles and other Christian books at a district conference of the Pentecostal Assemblies in Saskatchewan. I met some marvelous people that bent over backwards to help me set up and take down my display. I was learning what it meant to keep the Son in my eyes as we weathered this little storm.

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