My name is Jesse Dunn and this is my story about the MIRACLE Jesus gave to me!
In April 1994 I injured my back at work. I thought I had pulled a muscle in the small of my back. I went to see my doctor who sent me to physical therapy and it caused pain across my pelvis into my left hip joint and down my leg to my knee. I should not have been painful. So he sent me to an orthopedic doctor to see if there was a pinched nerve. His tests did not show a pinched nerve, but they did show other symptoms that we did not understand, so he passed me on to a neurologist.
Dr. Huddlestone tested me and sent me for two MRIís. They showed nothing wrong. After a couple of months of testing to eliminate other neurological diseases, he sent me the U of W to see Dr. Sumi for a second opinion. Dr. Sumi confirmed ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) better known as Lou Gehrigís disease.
There is not cure. Doctors can only treat the symptoms as they appear. It is hard to describe the difference in your life after two minutes of unrelenting information, especially if the information concerns you and you are totally helpless. No information about this degenerative neurological disease held any promise of recovery. So I was looking death right in the face. I cried a lot after receiving this news. I thing it would be impossible for anyone not to cry.
The doctors told me that I would get progressively worse. My muscles would stop working, breathing would get harder, and swallowing would get harder until it would be impossible. I would eventually have to get a feeding tube in my side and receive milkshakes. I would enjoy the taste of food no longer and would no longer be able to speak. If I would be lucky enough to have the use of my hands, I would be able to use a machine to communicate with people. It is a small typewriter with a little screen so that one can watch the words as they are typed. When you push a button, a voice speaks the words that you have typed. I know a man that is in a wheelchair and he drives it with his chin, his speech is fine, but he has lost the use of his arms and legs.
With each visit to the clinic I had breathing and strength tests. Each month I was a little worse. They wanted to keep a good record of how fast I was dying. Your best hope is that the disease progresses quickly so that you donít linger in a hopelessly pain-filled condition. For some, there is no pain. Each person reacts differently to the disease.
The average life after diagnosis is 3 1/2 years. Some go just after a few months while others linger 9 years or more. Those are never good years. I knew two people, a man and a woman, that died less than a year after diagnosis. That is why the news of ALS is so devastating to hear. IT IS A DEATH SENTENCE!
By May 1994, I had spasms in my legs and arms, which meant that I had to stop driving. I felt as if my muscles had been ground up in little pieces and each piece had a mind of its own, moving constantly. So I slept, but had no rest. I felt totally exhausted all the time. My ability to walk was getting shorter and weaker. The muscles built during a lifetime of hard physical labor almost disappeared in just a few weeks. I remember trying to pour a cup of coffee, but my arm and hand were too weak. They shook from the weight of the pot and I couldnít pour myself a cup of coffee. I couldnít open jars nor carry a gallon of milk. By this time I was using a cane for balance, even in the house.
By June I was taking handfuls of medication for pain, muscle spasms, and to help me sleep. I even took one medication to help the others work better.
By July 1994, I could walk short distances only. I couldn't use stairs since my legs were too weak to step up or down. I had to use a wheelchair any time I needed to be places like a mall or airport. I had a hard time signing my name. I had to aim the pen and had great difficulty getting it to the starting point. Then my signature was illegible. The nerve that allows you to write instead of print is one that had a mind of its own. My wife says this was the hardest thing for her to watch. At some point Ernestine asked me if I ever asked myself, "Why did this happen to me?" That shocked me, because the thought had never entered my mind. I had accepted the fact that I was dying and that there was no medical help available. Even though I was getting weaker each day, I felt at peace. I did not understand at that time why I felt at peace. Now I know that JESUS had His hand on me.
I started going to see Dr. Kimpel for the monthly tests. He works at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic for ALS patients at Mary Bridge Health Center in Tacoma. My wife and I went to a few of the monthly support group meetings as well, but the support I needed was not there.
I was living with ALS and all the discomfort and hopelessness that it brings. That was all I had. I was not living the Christian life at the time. My sister-in-law gave me a devotional to read. So I started to read the Bible. There were lots of people praying for me, family, friends and people I did not know. In mid-1995, I decided I needed forgiveness for the sins I committed. I wanted to live my life to bring HONOR and GLORY to JESUS CHRIST my LORD. I asked JESUS to forgive my sins and we started going to church. I was not living only with ALS I was also living with God. There is such a difference when you know He is with you, being filled with HIS LOVE, JOY and PEACE!
I was reading the Hebrews chapter 11 about the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Gideon and the things they did by faith. That night I was talking to Jesus. I said, "JESUS, by faith I do not believe you are going to take my life with this disease. I do not know what will take my life, but not this disease." There was no doubt in my mind about it. We started going to church at Life Center, attending Motivators Bible Class.
In June of 1997 when I was facing prostate cancer surgery, I asked the class to pray that the surgery would be successful. Then Barney Barnhardt jumped up and said, "Letís pray for Jesse right now, folks!" He and other men laid their hands on me and prayed. After that prayer I knew that I had been touched. My wife had to insist that I use my cane to walk out to the car, but I knew that I felt stronger.
The surgery was successful, but I came out of it with pneumonia. I was sent home, but it got worse and I had to go back into the hospital. During all that time I felt strength coming back into my legs. Even with two bouts of pneumonia, I felt my legs getting stronger each day. The ALS was being taken away by the Healing Hand of JESUS CHRIST my LORD and being replaced by HIS strength.
By the time that I was well from pneumonia, I did not use a cane to walk, and never again sat in a wheelchair. The strength came back slowly, a little more each day. I walked one block for several days, and then two blocks. Increasing constantly, and in three months I was walking two miles a day. My last appointment with Dr. Kimpel was on Dec. 10, 1997. At this time he saw the change in me. I told him that I was taking less medication and he gave me a schedule to slowly stop taking it. He was surprised, but he could see that I was stronger and asked me what I had done.
I said, "I did nothing myself. JESUS has touched me." He tested me completely and said, "Jesse, as far as I can tell, you really have had a miracle. There is no need for you to come back here. I hope to see you in the grocery store some day to say Ďhello.'" He said to me, "This is going to drive Dr. Huddlestone nuts. He is a scientist. He will go through your file with a fine tooth comb to see if we made an error." I said, "You did not make an error, JESUS touched me."
Beginning in the early part of 1998, I started walking from my house down to Gig Harbor. It is about 6 miles round trip. Now I walk to Gig Harbor and it takes me about an hour and a half. I then spend and hour or so talking to anyone who will let me, giving them my testimony. I am away from home between four and five hours, sometimes longer.
I got my Driverís License in August 1998. I let the old one expire in 1995. I will not give up my walking. I walk to give glory to JESUS CHRIST my LORD for the MIRACLE HE has given me. It is HIS strength that is in my legs and body now. It allows me to walk and gave me my muscles back. I thank Him every day. I have no symptoms now and I take no medication. The MIRACLE is complete. I now walk 9 miles, three times a week.
Now I would like to share with you the many Hands of JESUS that touched me.
Then He puts His Loving Arms around me and gives me a big hug and I feel His wonderful Love engulfing me like a cloud. I try to share His hugs and His Love with others. Without the touch of His many hands I would not be here today. With His many hands He touches all. Everything we have has been given to us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I canít thank Him enough for what He has given me and done for me.
It doesnít matter where we are or what we are doing; He is always there to touch us in the way we need it the most.
My phone number is 253-851-9002; my address is 9111 66th Ave. NW #110, Gig Harbor, WA 98332
Reprinted from the Keeping in Touch, SW WA MDA Newsletter, April 1998:
Miracles Still Happen!
By Cheryl A. Adams, MA, MHC MDA Group Facilitator
At risk of creating false hope, I want to share this wonderful story. Jesse Dunn, 65, of Gig Harbor was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrigís disease) in July 1994. I first met Jesse and Ernestine when they joined our Tacoma ALS Support Group shortly after he was diagnosed. Here is their story...
Jesse: I originally went to the doctor for my back pain from a job injury. By the time I was seen by an orthopedic doctor, my legs were wobbly and my balance seriously affected. After the diagnoses, I began to go steadily downhill. First I used a cane, then in a few short months I needed a wheelchair. I also had severe spasms in my legs, hands, and arms. And I still wanted the pain out of my back. I spent three years in a wheelchair. I could walk only a few feet and couldnít limb one step without assistance. At this point we decided we needed to look for something bigger than ourselves and started going to church again.
Ernestine: One of the most painful things for me was to watch Jesse try to sign his name. It took great effort to get the pen to the starting point and his signature was almost illegible.
Jesse: Last June when I was facing prostate cancer surgery, our Bible study class began to pray for me. The surgery went fine but afterwards, I got pneumonia twice. Even during that time, I felt strength coming back into my legs like I hadnít felt since Iíd been diagnosed.
Ernestine: In August, Jesse started walking to the mailbox. By Thanksgiving, he was walking more than two miles a day. And, by Christmas, he was up to six miles a day.
Jesse: Before, I was taking 12 tablets of pain medication of 500 milligrams each per day, in addition to ten tablets of other medication. Around Thanksgiving, under my doctorís instruction, I started to reduce the amounts of medication so that today, I take only one half of one pill, once a day. Itís Godís strength that is in my legs now, not mine. God said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Exodus 33:19) I am so thankful that he chose me to show mercy and compassion on.
Ernestine: And he writes his name so easily now!