God used one TBC couple's devastating loss to save a life and bring two families together in ways that only He can.
Doug and I have had so much fun parenting two boys – our oldest is Jeff, born in 1980. Mike was born two years and nine months later.
One weekend in 2002 during Mike’s freshman year at K-State, Mike had come home and he asked what he could do to help that weekend. Doug suggested that the lawn needed to be mowed. Mike mowed maybe less than one pass, came back inside, flopped down on the couch, and said something was drastically wrong.
Mike’s doctor ran a number of tests, all of which came back negative. The doctor wanted to run one more test – to check for something called Addison’s disease. I asked whether it was a life-threatening condition, and the doctor said that it was treatable. Because Mike was getting ready for finals, I asked if it was an emergency situation. The doctor said it was okay to wait because and they could work around Mike’s schedule.
It was Mother’s Day weekend and Doug and I had planned to travel to North Dakota to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday. Mike told us he would be fine at home. He would keep in touch with us, stay home and study for finals. We went on to North Dakota. I talked to Mike that Sunday. He wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, told me he loved me, and said he thought he was getting better. Monday morning, we tried to call him again, but got a busy signal. Some friends were keeping an eye on Mike while we were gone. When they went to look in on him, they couldn’t find him. We began our 900-mile trip home, praying that God would spare Mike’s life. When we got home, the police came and looked for him. We told them that we had reason to believe our son was sick. They searched again, but couldn’t find him. They were about ready to leave when I pleaded with them to bring in a K-9 unit. One of the officers shined his light down behind the computer desk where I had been sitting. Then the police asked us to go out on to the driveway. We were there just a couple minutes when they asked us to come back in to sit down on the couch. They said the words that would forever change our lives, “We found your son and he is dead.”
Shortly after Christmas in 2010, we were approaching Mike’s birthday on January 30. I prayed and asked the Lord if he could show me that Mike was still remembered and that somehow that God was able to use his life and death for good. I prayed for a fingerprint from God. Three days later, God answered my prayer with a phone call …
I became a mom for the first time in September of 2009. Like any Mom, I found out what it’s like to be exhausted – all the time! In January of 2011, the tiredness was so overwhelming I felt compelled to switch doctors. My new doctor did a number of tests. Everything came back normal except my cortisol levels. The doctor referred me to an endocrinologist for further testing and to rule out Addison’s disease. As soon as I heard that term, a flag went up in my head and I thought of Mike Masterson. But I was going to have to wait three months to get in to see the endocrinologist.
I thought and prayed about my condition for a couple days. I finally decided I wanted to contact Mike’s parents to see if, looking back, they saw any symptoms in Mike I could look for in myself, just to see if there’s any reason I should even be worried. Doug answered the phone and he and I chatted for awhile. He said he’d have Leoti call me when she got home from work. She called me that evening. We talked a little about Mike and his symptoms. Leoti talked about the last week of Mike’s life, and looking back, what she thought was going on with him. The symptoms sounded similar to some of what I was experiencing. We agreed to talk again a couple days later at TBC’s Intentional Mom group, where Leoti was a mentor mom.
Leoti and I talked a little that day, but we were both busy doing things. Later that night, she called me, with tears in her voice. She said that when she saw me, she saw some similarities to the way Mike looked at the end of his life and she was concerned. She had been praying about it and she felt the Lord was leading her to call me. She thought three months was too long to wait to see the endocrinologist and that I needed to be seen sooner if at all possible. Caring mother that she is, Leoti also called my mom to make sure she was aware of everything going on. My mom got on the job and started calling around. Everyone assured her that Mike’s situation was very rare and that the likeliness that I had Addison’s was extremely rare, but they agreed to see me on Monday.
That Monday, February 7, the endocrinologist said I had every symptom of Addison’s that there was, so more tests were ordered to be sure. It took two days to get the results and confirm that I had the disease. I was started on medication immediately and a week later I had an appointment to learn more about the disease. When we arrived, the doctor said he was so glad to see us that day. We said, “yeah … we’re glad to see you, too.” He said, “no … I mean you almost didn’t make it. A normal person’s cortisol level is 20, yours is about .1” He said that those are very low levels usually seen only in autopsies. I had been very close to death’s door. Chad and I started crying immediately. We told the doctor about Leoti, how she had lost her son to Addison’s, and how she had urged me to take action sooner. February 14 is now not just Valentine’s Day, it’s an anniversary day for me and Leoti!
It was because of the Masterson’s great loss and their obedience to the Holy Spirit that they felt compelled to get involved in my situation. I think only a gracious, loving God would use someone who lost a child to this disease to get involved and spare my parents the pain of knowing what it’s like to lose child themselves and my husband the pain of burying his wife. As a result, we have so much to be thankful for, and I’m thankful that God chose to use Leoti, and the special friendship we have as a result.