I joined Christian Healthcare Ministries in June 2013 because I had no health insurance.
The following June I decided I could no longer tolerate the pain caused by my “bone-on-bone” arthritis and scheduled hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, some unrelated medical challenges made it necessary to postpone the operation, which finally took place on October 10, 2014.
I didn’t realize that the fact I’d experienced symptoms before joining CHM meant the condition was pre-existing.* At first, I was frightened because I had already undergone surgery and incurred over $100,000 in medical bills that weren’t eligible under CHM’s regular sharing program. (Though, thankfully, I eventually received discounts of nearly $20,000.)
I thought, “How will this work?” and resigned myself to the idea of paying all of the bills myself. A call to CHM, however, encouraged me. One of the staff members said not to worry because my name would appear on the monthly newsletter’s Prayer Page and my need would be met, albeit in a different manner. Instead of receiving a few large checks at the same time, I’d receive a check at the same time each month reflecting donations other CHM members sent that month to help with bills for pre-existing conditions.
Sure enough, the checks started coming in the mail. Each envelope I opened brought tears of gratitude and humility. I also received cards and notes of encouragement from fellow Christians, which always came when I needed them the most. To think that people I didn’t know would take the time to write overwhelmed me with thanksgiving. I saved each piece of correspondence.
In time, arthritis made it necessary to replace my right hip as well and I had another surgery on Feb. 3, 2016. My first surgery had been expensive but uncomplicated—and sending the medical bills to CHM was simple. This time, however, everything that could go wrong happened.
I was released from the hospital on Feb. 5, but just three days later the hip dislocated and I had to take an ambulance ride to the hospital. By 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, I was once again in the operating room getting a new hip.
The next two months were a blur. My incision became infected and caused me to return the hospital again for seven days, during which I underwent surgery several times to clean the incision. I also had vacuum-assisted closure (wound VAC) and a blood transfusion.
I was sent home with the VAC device and a PICC line (catheter) to administer antibiotics intravenously. However, I developed a blood clot and had to go to the emergency room for the PICC line to be removed and inserted into my other arm. I had the VAC device for a month and the new PICC line for six weeks. Furthermore, I developed a blood clot in my lung.
During this incredibly difficult time of testing, I spent a lot of time reading the book of Job. What I came away with is the conviction that God will provide. He gives strength and wisdom and He always knows when we need them the most.
It was more challenging to submit bills to CHM after my right hip replacement because I was so ill. I have thus far received over $250,000 from my brothers and sisters in Christ and I have $123,000 in outstanding medical bills.
With so much debt still remaining, it’s easy to let fear have a foothold. However, I’m able to make my monthly hospital payments and I know God’s grace and the generosity of CHM members will see me through.
At this writing, I’m still undergoing physical therapy. I’ve progressed from a wheelchair to a walker and now, finally, am walking only with the assistance of a cane. I have an entrapped nerve and foot drop (a gait abnormality) which is slowly improving.
Again, many thanks to my brothers and sisters at CHM. I recommend the ministry to others, though in retrospect, I would have kept in closer contact with CHM before, during and after my medical event. I encourage other members to do the same.
*Editor’s note: According to the CHM Guidelines, a pre-existing condition is any medical condition for which you experience signs, symptoms or treatment before joining Christian Healthcare Ministries. More information is available in Guidelines Z and AA at chministries.org/guidelines.