For Edwin J. Nyberg, a church and neighborhood celebration marked seven years of unexpected living.

For Edwin J. Nyberg, a church and neighborhood celebration marked seven years of unexpected living.

For this recent event, 64 friends celebrated “7 years later and I am still here to eat pizza” with Ed, his wife Brenda and their family and friends.

In 1988, Ed was diagnosed with pulmonary fibroses and was successfully treated with prednisome for about a year.

Then in March of 2007, their family life severely changed when Ed was diagnosed with Basculitis Microscopic Polyangitis, an auto immune disease that affected his lungs and kidneys. What followed was respiratory distress, life on a ventilator, lung damage, lung surgery, kidney failure and muscle deconditioning-atrophy. When he finally woke up, he had lost all muscle strength, he couldn’t swallow or even move his arms or legs.

After 87 days of hospitalization, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center, where he was treated for two weeks. He was released, but suffered a staph infection, gall stones, gall bladder surgery and blood clots in his legs, resulting in several more hospital stays.

After months of physical therapy to learn to walk and regain his balance, doctors prescribed chemo therapy for about a year.

He can now walk without assistance, but still has balance problems, neuropathy in his feet and legs, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and shortness of breath. He uses a cane for walking long distances or when he gets fatigued and will never regain full lung function. His weakened immune system brings several hospital stays a year, with pneumonia a major problem because of the condition of his lungs. He uses oxygen at night and when he exerts, such as walking.

What brought Ed and Brenda and other family members and friends through this time?

“We were so blessed by the many ways our church family blessed us. I’m sure that I can’t even remember all the ways—but starting with lots of prayers and support from everyone,” Brenda recalls.

The pastoral staff at First Baptist Church in El Dorado were frequent visitors to the hospital. Wes Hiebert, a neighbor and church family member stopped by after work several times a week to sit with Ed, so Brenda could eat, take a walk or just get away. Her family occasionally came to sit with Ed, so Brenda could go to her job.

“Our church family assisted us financially when we realized we had radon in the basement and the hot water heater went out. Just a few other ways were when a Sunday school class finished painting our bathroom and the outside of the house that we had started in the fall,” Brenda said.

“Then there were meals in our freezer and food added to our pantry, leftovers delivered from our Wednesday night suppers, volunteers to take Ed to doctor appointments and keep him company,” she added.

The pizza party was organized to reminisce Ed’s homecoming seven years ago when the Nyberg’s were greeted by many church members for a pizza party.

“This party was to thank everyone for being with us on this journey for the past seven years,” Brenda commented.

For Ed, the hardest part of his illness was realizing he could not go back to work.

Brenda is quick to point out “that for the last seven years, we have been overwhelmed with blessings: Ed was able to walk our daughter down the aisle for her wedding, we have two granddaughters, our son graduated from K-State and got married, and other family events. We were so thrilled he didn’t have to miss them.”

“Sometimes, we still wonder what God has planned for Ed,” Brenda emphasized. “Maybe it’s just showing us how great our church family is and how important faith and hope are in our lives. God has always been faithful, even when we doubted.”

As the folks – young and old – came to the party, filled up the garage with food and the lawn with lawn chairs, Ed was so responsive and welcoming, sharing with individuals his story, always being positive and grateful for his faith and friends. His attitude is positive and he always expressed his gratitude for the continued prayers and support for his years of on-going health issues.