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Misdiagnosed Ailment Dooms Treatment Possibilities

“While I was talking to the doctor, my face paralyzed from the corner of this eyebrow all the way almost on a diagonal over to the bottom corner of the right side of my face,” says Pastor David. “And so I was unable to speak or control my face. My eye could not close.”

A week earlier, on Father’s Day, 2013, David began to experience severe pain in his ear. “I went to bed that night and I had excruciating pain all up and down my left side and I began to sweat profusely. I sweat through four pairs of pajamas that night. Someone asked me what it was on a scale of one to ten, what was it, and I said 11.”            

When David visited a walk-in clinic the next morning, the doctor told him it was an infected mosquito bite and prescribed antibiotics, but the following morning, new symptoms appeared. “I was shaving and my wife came into the bathroom and she noticed there was a red ring underneath my left ear,” he says. “And then she came back in a minute or two later and noticed that the ring had expanded, in 5-6 minute increments it was getting considerably larger.”

His wife Elizabeth recalls, “It was quite frightening for us and he was very ill. And someone over the age of 50 is never supposed to recover.”

Elizabeth drove him to the emergency room, where doctors started a new round of antibiotics. David showed some improvement, but the following Sunday, things took a turn for the worse. “I had had a piece of toast,” he recalls. “And instead of it tasting like a piece of toast, it tasted like sugar. That was strange. I thought, ‘something odd is going on here. Something’s not right neurologically.’ My lip began to paralyze. I couldn’t feel it. It was like I had been to the dentist. And I called my wife and she looked at me and the paralysis was expanding out across my face on the left side in particular.”

David was rushed to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with Ramsay-Hunt syndrome, a severe neurological disorder caused by a Shingles outbreak that affects the facial nerves. “The doctor said, ‘You are now at eight days. The treatment window is usually two or three days when you discover you have a shingles infection,’ David says. “I had a 40% chance of getting some of my face back.”

His wife and his church began to pray. “Our congregation at that point in time, about 1200 people, many many people in that group were praying, plus our friends from other congregations we’ve served,” she says.  

David was admitted to the hospital for a round of steroid treatments, though doctors had little hope they would help. While there, he opened up a Bible. “I was reading John 5,’ David says, “and the question of Jesus to the man 38 years sick--he says this magnificent statement: ‘You have been made well.’ And I know I was talking to the Lord, and not just reading a passage.”

David left the hospital ten days later with no change in his condition. His doctor recommended he find another vocation. “He said, ‘You’re probably not going to speak again, and I thought ‘Oh, what a terrible thing,’” David says. “I was sleeping 16 hours a day, unable to get energy. It was scary. But the strange thing was, the solution when I became terrified, every single time that I would say John 5:14, ‘you have been made well,’ the gift of faith would rise inside my soul. I would know I was going to be well even though all the evidence said that I wasn’t going to be.”

His church granted him a leave of absence, and friends and family continued to pray. “Then this woman, Gail said, ‘I have prayed for you,” says David. “And what has come to me is the story of Paul the Apostle when the shipwreck happened at the end of Acts of the Apostles. They’re building a fire and he picks up a piece of wood to throw it in the fire and a viper lands on his wrist. And he shakes the viper off into the fire,” David says. “So this woman says ‘The enemy has taken advantage. And the enemy tried to stop you and create this awful thing. You are to shake this off in the same way as the Apostle Paul shook this off. And then when you have become well, the Lord will use this as a platform.”

The following Sunday, David went to a neighboring church to hear his cousin preach. “A strange thing happened,” David remembers. “At the back of the church, there was a lady that walked in. She got up and she said, ‘The enemy has taken advantage. But you must shake this off. And when you do, the Lord will use this as a platform for the proclamation of the Gospel.’ She said exactly what my friend had said just a few days before! The small hairs rose on the back of my neck.”

David began to notice a change. “I felt a tingling in the corner of the upper eyebrow, and that night I was able to move and open and close my eyelid,” he says. “So I called my wife again and she came and she saw it and she said, ‘Something’s happening. The Lord is beginning the healing.’ And over the course of that week, all of it came back.”

When David returned to his doctor, he walked in the door, smiled, and winked.

David says, “The doctor’s reaction was ‘That’s medically impossible.’ And I said ‘I know it’s medically impossible.’ He said ‘but you have Ramsey Hunt--you can’t do that. And I was going to talk to you about pain management and tinnitus in your ear going deaf.’  He said ‘This doesn’t happen like this.’ I said well, ‘I believe that the Lord has made me well.’

Since then, David has shown no signs of illness and is back to ministering full time. “Jesus is the Healer,” he proclaims. ”And it is very clear in the Gospel that he came to heal. He came to love. He came to save. He came to deliver. It’s a delight to be the recipient of it as well as to watch other people receive it, and I’m just thankful for the opportunity to testify that it’s absolutely true.”

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