Judy Falvo, Sierra Vista, AZ

Total eligible bills
$345,397
Provider discounts
$220,397
Total bills shared
$125,000

My husband, Jared, and I heard about Christian Healthcare Ministries in spring 2009. We are both self-employed and decided CHM would be a good thing for us. We joined at the Gold level.

On April 20, 2013 I was in Tucson for a ladies’ conference. When the conference ended, I and two other women took one of the speakers out for lunch before heading home to Sierra Vista. I started feeling sick before the food was served and excused myself to the restroom where I began vomiting violently. This was especially disturbing because, after gastric bypass surgery in 2006, I was told that vomiting would be physically impossible for the rest of my life.

I was in agony the entire 70-mile trip home. That evening I went to the emergency room, was told I had the stomach flu and was sent home to rest. I crawled into bed early that morning and by night, I still felt weak. A little voice inside told me I needed to go back to the hospital.

Thank God I listened. If not, I would not have survived the night.

Doctors ran more tests and found that I had an intestinal blockage and would probably need surgery. I remember calling my mother and brother-in-law, but for a while after that I was completely unaware of anything.

I woke up to nurses frantically bustling around me, trying to get a peripherally inserted central catheter (PIC) line started. I heard the doctor say, “Don’t worry about the line. Just get an IV started. We have to get her to surgery now. We’re losing her.”

I believe God allowed me to wake up at just the right moment to hear those words. My first thought was, “I don’t feel like I’m dying.” Then, all I could do was pray. “Lord, You are in control. I belong to You. May Your will be done.” And I had peace.

My organs began shutting down. I had difficulty breathing and I was rushed into surgery. Doctors discovered that my small intestine had twisted and cut off the blood supply. One section had become necrotic—meaning the tissue had died—and was poisoning me.

They removed part of my small intestine and told my husband that I was alive but probably wouldn’t make it. My chance of survival was less than 20 percent. I was put on life support for several days and even when I “woke up” I wasn’t really all there.

Meanwhile, my doctors were trying to find a surgeon who had the appropriate skills and equipment to help me.

In May I was transferred and underwent a second surgery to reconnect my esophagus to the part of my stomach that had been disconnected during gastric bypass surgery. I remained in the hospital one month and four days, after which I was released for recovery and rehab.

My husband found that working with CHM was easier than we anticipated. I had always been a little skeptical. “How would CHM come through for us if something major did happen?” I thought.

Nevertheless, we were blown away at how fast CHM mailed the first checks to share our costs. I remember getting a voicemail saying that CHM had already negotiated a $5,000 bill down to $1,000 and that the check was in the mail. That happened just in the first two weeks, and the rest of the process reflected the same pattern: a ministry staff member called to notify us, we received a discount and the check was in the mail.

I don’t remember ever being worried about how we would pay the medical bills we were racking up. CHM stepped in and took care of things financially before we even had a chance sit down and sort everything out. My bills amounted to nearly $350,000. The total was discounted to $131,000, of which CHM shared $125,000 (we did not have the Brother’s Keeper program for catastrophic bills, but we plan to sign up soon).

God was there during every step of my experience. My pastor recently went through a triple bypass surgery and spoke about God giving “dying grace” when you need it. I found that the Lord did the same thing for me. I believe He allowed me to wake at just the right moment to show me how powerful and almighty He is. He is in control. God gets all the glory.

I lived to celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary on November 1, 2013. I was here for my son’s 15th birthday on November 21. We were once again able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together as a family. I am so thankful for CHM’s financial help. The ministry really came through for us.

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