Emergency Appendectomies & God’s Providence

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14

“There’s no known reason for the appendix.”  That was what someone mentioned to me the day after emergency surgery to have my ruptured appendix removed.  Whether or not the medical experts have ever figured out what the appendix does, the One who created us knows exactly why he formed us with the tiny vestigial structure at the end of our large intestines.  In my case, it may have been to take me off my feet and get some rest.

Returning last Tuesday from spending the Thanksgiving holiday with my family in Florida, I was ready to get back into the office.  I knew that my staff, particularly my Student Pastor, was equally ready for my return after nine days away.  Despite the length of time I had been gone, Wednesday morning was not too hectic.  Checking emails, getting caught up on all that had transpired during my break (two funerals), and trying to settle back into a “normal” routine, things were by-and-large uneventful.  That is, until Wednesday afternoon.

That’s when the pain began.  At first, a dull ache in my lower abdomen and on the right side of my groin, later turning into something much worse.  As the day wore on, I simply began to wear out.  Perhaps the change in time zones and the recovery from a busy “vacation” in Florida.  Maybe an illness coming on.  Sleeping in my office chair for about an 1 1/2 before our choir’s musical rehearsal later that night (I was to narrate), I made it through and finally got home around 9:00 p.m.  Having not eaten much all day, I should have been hungry.  I wasn’t.  That is always a major sign for me that I am not feeling well.  With a good night’s rest, Thursday would be better.  Or, so I thought.

In bed by 10:00 p.m. (which is very early for me), I dosed off with the dull ache and pain still present.  Tossing and turning throughout the first part of the night, I wasn’t getting much sleep or rest.  That is, until I woke up with an excruciatingly sharp pain on the right side of my groin which lasted about 10 seconds.  So intense was the pain that it knocked me to the floor.  Little did I know that it was at that moment that my appendix probably ruptured.  Even so, I felt better (no more pressure) and was able to get back to sleep.

And, sleep I did.  All night and most of the next morning.  Except when I got out of bed to help get my wife and boys ready for school.  It was then that God’s providence can clearly be seen.  Telling my wife what I had experienced, I fully expected a “get outta here.”  Instead, she told me I needed to get into the doctor immediately — that day.  Like most men, I do not like to go to the doctor’s office.  But, I listened to the voice of reason and made an appointment later that afternoon.

But, before heading to the doctor, I would stop by my office to review Sunday’s bulletin and to reschedule a committee meeting that I was supposed to have later that night.  All the while, I am walking around with a ruptured appendix.  No wonder I was beginning to feel bad.  Describing my symptoms to my staff, they guessed appendicitis.  A few hours later, that diagnosis would be confirmed by my doctor.  However, what both he thought and I had suspected was not just an inflamed appendix, but rather a ruptured appendix.

Once again, God’s providence was at work.  The doctor, wanting to be sure, sent me for blood work and a CT scan at our local hospital.  After drinking two not-so-bad tasting bottles of concoction that would prepare me for the CT imaging, I was in and out of the CT scan room a little after 6:00 p.m. last Thursday.  With an appointment with a surgeon scheduled for Friday afternoon, all I wanted to do was get home and rest.  The rest that night would be short-lived.

Eating about a 1/2 cup of soup (that’s all I felt like), I was resting in bed when my cell phone rang at 7:30 p.m.  “Mr. Scott.  This is the Diagnostic Lab.  We just read your CT scan and you need to come to the ER immediately.  I can’t tell you over the phone what the CT scan shows, but you need to get back up to the hospital right away.  They are already expecting you in the ER.”  And with that, the wheels were set in motion for what would turn out to be emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix.

I didn’t really have time to think about surgery that night.  Everything happened so fast.  In hindsight, I think that was a blessing.  So was the surgeon on call — as it turns out, one of the best in Alamogordo.  Could have been a different surgeon on call that night.  God’s providence on display.  Because my appendix was ruptured, the doctor was not sure he could perform the surgery laparoscopically.  If he could not, there would be a major incision.  With prayers being lifted up for me, the Great Physician saw to it that the improbable became not only possible, but in fact reality.

After my appendix was removed laparoscopically, I was taken to recovery, where I finally awoke with my precious wife at my side.  With no complications from surgery, I was kept in ICU because there were no regular rooms available.  As it turned out, my ICU nurse that night was a church member.  God’s providence.  Transferred to a regular room Friday afternoon, my overnight nurse for the next two nights was also a church member.  Providence.

Released from the hospital on Monday, I have been slowly recovering at home.  Each day I feel better and just a little bit stronger.  Life comes at us fast.  Sometimes, too fast.  We never know what each day will hold.  I certainly didn’t know what last Thursday would hold for me.  But, there is One who knew.  He knew when He formed me — appendix and all — what would transpire in my life on December 1, 2011.  He is the Creator and the One who holds me in His hands.  God’s providence in my life has been a blessing.  Truly, God is good, all the time;  all the time, God is good!


13 comments for “Emergency Appendectomies & God’s Providence

  1. December 8, 2011 at 6:54 AM


    Thanks for your testimony to God’s gracious watchcare over your life, brother. May the Lord continue to bless you with good health, good doctors, and a good, godly, and persuasive wife.

    With that, I am…

    • December 8, 2011 at 9:34 AM


      Thanks for your kind thoughts and well wishes. I do indeed have a good, godly, and very persuasive wife. For that, I am thankful and blessed. Hope you have a wonderful day. God bless,


  2. Sam Morgan
    December 8, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Congrats on the successful results! I had a spleen removed as a kid…You’ve gotta wonder why there are extraneous organs that can kill you if not removed…All part of that “Fallen World” we live in. I have to admit, though, as I read this I kept wondering how it would dovetail into Tim Tebow! Recover well.

    • December 8, 2011 at 4:36 PM


      Thanks. It did cross my mind how I could weave a Tim Tebow reference in, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be 🙂 God bless,


  3. December 8, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Quite a year you’ve had, isn’t it?

    • December 8, 2011 at 4:38 PM


      That is an understatement! First Phoenix, now this. Hopefully this will be it for a while. Hope you have a great Christmas season. God bless,


  4. Milton Robins
    December 9, 2011 at 7:29 AM

    Providence. I love it!

  5. December 9, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Brother Howell,

    Was wondering why I was not seeing something coming out of your keyboard. Good to hear your special testimony.


  6. Dwight McKissic
    December 10, 2011 at 12:15 PM


    To God be the glory, great things He has done.

  7. December 10, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    Tim and Dwight,

    Thanks so much for your words. God always has a plan for our life, even when we don’t understand it. And, He always gets the glory for the great things that He does! God bless,


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