Ellen Rizotto–A Great Miracle.
As told by Pastor Jim
In the 1970’s I was travelling in itinerant evangelism from church to church, sometimes speaking in other venues such as Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship Meetings, retreats, conferences and school rallies. I was asked to conduct a series of services at a church in San Marcos, California. As the evening services progressed, there was a call given for prayer for healing and a lady came forward who was married to an entertainer. He worked at a night club in San Diego called the Mickey Finn. The ladies name was Betty and her husband was Owen and they had two sons. Over a period of time I got to know this family well, even staying with them when I was conducting services in that area of Southern California.
Something happened at this service that would change this family forever and forever be emblazoned in my memory. Betty had come forward for prayer for her mother who had so many things wrong with her that it would make a very long list. This was one of the greatest miracles that I have seen personally.
Where does a story like this begin? It was a lifetime in the making. Ellen Rizzoto was a beautiful lady of 68 living with her daughter Betty and her husband Owen after her healing when I first met her. This happened before her subsequent marriage and new life that lasted for another 15 years before the Lord took her to heaven at age 83. I am convinced that if the whole story were told most people would not believe it and yet it is true and factual. Ellen’s grandson now pastors a church in Nevada and he can verify the whole story and I have the original cassette taped on which I interviewed Ellen’s daughter Betty. Ellen had one primary physician during this who was the family doctor but she had many other doctors over the course of her illnesses. She was in and out of numerous hospitals, a few of which I will name. As you hear this story that was told to me by her daughter Betty I want you to know that the same God who healed Ellen is with us today. You need not try to figure out how God does his work for it is only for Him to know. It is His tender love and mercy. We must simply trust in Him.
It would be pointless to go too far back and list all Ellen’s problems. for like you and I, there is in not a human alive who doesn’t have problems. There are probably many factors that led up to Ellen's condition which became one of complete physical deterioration, but we’ll start back in 1944 when she was stricken with the disease called radiculitis. (a) This is a crippling disease that is akin to multiple sclerosis. Ellen was hospitalized in the Navy hospital at Camp Pendleton and spent three months there. She became paralyzed on one side and although she was only thirty six years old at the time, was no stranger to sickness. During her stays in hospitals, in the course of tests she had forty four spinal taps. One day on her way for a certain test, the doctor told her that she would never walk again. She replied “Doctor, when I return from this test I will walk.” I'm sure her diagnosis was a shock to her but her determination was great and when she came back from the test she was walking, possibly by sheer willpower. It wasn't easy however in that she was still partially paralyzed on one side and when she walked she dragged one foot. Gradually over a period of years after she left the hospital the foot and leg improved and normal walking was acquired again. She recalled that she just never felt all right after that. Something was just not the same in her body as before that time.
a. Radicular pain, or radiculitis, is pain "radiated" along the dermatome (sensory distribution) of a nerve due to inflammation or other irritation of the nerve root (radiculopathy) at its connection to the spinal column.
Little did she know that this was the beginning of a lifetime of suffering with seemingly no way out. It was eleven years later in 1955 when Ellen began having pain in her left shoulder. Having previously gone through many physical problems, such as thyroid surgery, surgery on her big toes, having the joints removed, and the paralysis, she was used to having problems. But what was about to happen I'm sure not even Ellen suspected. The pain in her shoulder was diagnosed as bursitis and the pain was becoming more and more intense and it also it went to the other shoulder and hip. At the beginning of the pain, large doses of cortisone were given as well as pain killers. She was not only beginning a new battle in which she would be in and out of hospitals for the next 12 years, but a new problem of addiction to the drugs. Some of the drugs had adverse effects and she went into times of depression. A few years went on and instead of improving Ellen became worse. She was sent to UCLA where she had extensive doses of cortisone and at that time was becoming addicted to Morphine. Her doctors changed her to other pain drugs but never was she without medication. It was now 1959 and Ellen was fifty one years old. She was experiencing something that was very difficult to imagine. Her joints were deteriorating. She had been on medication for many years now and the deterioration was so severe that when she would walk, one could hear her bones grinding together. The problem was so acute and the pain so unbearable that she had to have her left shoulder operated on and a steel joint put in. It was not long after this that her right hip was so badly deteriorated that it also had to be replaced with steel. No one can imagine the pain involved with such deterioration in the joints. The drugs were again having an adverse effect and while Ellen was in the hospital, her bowels and bladder became paralyzed. She was becoming incoherent at times and she was taking not only pain medicine, but tranquilizers and other drugs. Her daughter Betty related some of the incidents to me as Ellen did not remember everything in detail. Betty was so loving and understanding that she never left her mother's side. She too went through much emotional turmoil as she saw these things happening to her mother.
Ellen was given “ trigger” shots which helped her during the time of her paralyzed digestive organs. Betty, who was working at the time, decided that her mother needed her more as she had to have a nurse come twice a week to do the things her husband could not do. Betty quit her job and her mother Ellen came and stayed in her home for about a year. One day while Ellen was walking across the living room her foot just snapped in the middle and broke. This was probably caused by the massive cortisone she had that made her bones brittle.
Ellen was on a downhill road. She went to the doctor in San Diego and had complete x-rays taken of her whole body. The doctor said to her after examining the x-rays, “Ellen, your bones are shot”. The doctor at UCLA, after looking at the same x-rays, said that his teeth were on edge just looking at them. In 1962 she came home from one time in the hospital and had a hospital bed in the living room. Shortly after arriving home having just had surgery she had a massive coronary. After again being taken to the hospital it was discovered that the attack had torn the left ventricle and shortly after that she developed a blood clot in her lung. They were afraid that more blood clots would develop but fortunately they did not. She was in critical condition for three days with one crisis after another. Ellen recovered from the heart attack but with a hangover effect from her damaged heart. She had been smoking most of the time, much to the doctors dismay, and was slowly developing emphysema. This didn't help her at all but just added to the list. She argued with the doctors, “ what else do I have but television and cigarettes.” One time Betty recalled that Ellen was so drugged that she fell off the bed and broke her knee. She went back first and while going through the air turned and landed on her knee. Betty said afterwards that they all laughed about it saying something like “it really takes coordination to fall out of bed and break a knee . She said if there had not been some humor to lighten the situation sometimes they had would have all cracked up. The Bible says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. The Lord was with them even before they really had given their lives to him.
It was during this year that a very great trauma happened. It was probably because of Ellen’s illnesses that her marriage fell apart. She had to go to divorce court in her hospital gown as she had not had street clothes on for a couple of years now. It was a sad experience which for the sake of many I will not go into. The whole picture was looking very dark. I asked her if she ever had given up hope she said “no, I knew that the Lord would someday heal me”. She was reared an Episcopalian and had known about God but she was to have an experience that would change the course of her life forever. The Lord was with Ellen before she really had given her life to him.
1963 was a year of more pain. Ellen was released from the hospital again and went to stay at her sister’s for a period of recuperation. There she broke her wrist. This however was different as she had a cast on it but the wrist just did not seem to heal. She had three casts on all together. During this time she was on her own as far as medicine taking was concerned. She wasn't taking it with regularity as she was supposed to. Her condition was on a downhill course. It seemed as if there would be no turning back to health. She overdosed on her medication and had to be taken back to the hospital.
After three weeks at Mesa Vista, she was transferred to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla for tests. It was there that she found out the bad news. Her diagnosis was something like this: diabetes, emphysema in advanced stages, a damaged heart,, muscle problems and lack of function in the digestive tract. Complete physical deterioration seemed to be her lot in life at this point, but what could she do!
At this time funds were slowly depleted and the money just ran out. It reminds me of the lady with the hemorrhage in the last chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark. She spent all that she had but was not getting better but rather grew worse. The doctors had tried all they could but her case was so extreme there was only so much they could do. Ellen was too young for Medicare so she was forced to go on county aid. This was another step of deterioration for her only in another way. She had been a fairly well-to-do person and then had lost everything because of so much illness. How much more desperate can a situation be? There seemed absolutely no way out. There is an old saying that it is always darkest before the dawn. That seemed to be the case with Ellen. A scripture that has always been dear to me is “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning”.
Scripps Hospital in La Jolla released Ellen to Tri-City Convalescent Hospital in Oceanside. She had been diagnosed as practically helpless. In Oceanside where she was to spend the next six and a half years, she was under 24-hour care. This must have been the hardest time. Having deteriorated dramatically, she had pneumonia several times a year and she was on a Bennett breathing machine several times a day but still puffing away the cigarettes which she just wouldn't let go of. Her weight gradually went down from a hundred pounds until in 1972 she weigh eighty pounds. One thing that was never accurately diagnosed was her stomach. It was so distended at this time that she look nine months pregnant. Her diet consisted mainly of yogurt and very Bland Foods. She had developed diverticulitis which is a diseased colon. It was in January of 1972 that her daughter Betty, who had become a Christian, came to the Convalescent Hospital one day to determine that her mother, if she was going to die, was going to have peace with God. She asked her mother if she would accept Christ as her personal Savior and she said yes. Betty prayed with Ellen and there was a complete reversal in her attitude. She had become very negative but now she just wanted to share with others in the Convalescent Hospital of her new-found friend Jesus Christ. Now she knew him not just as a simple belief but as a person. Her physical condition has not changed however although she was a tremendously determined person.
Her bladder began acting up again and around June or July she had had to have a catheter bag which for the next 3 months she carried with her when she was strong enough to walk. Ellen’s body, going downhill rapidly, had its last great crisis. On Sunday August 6th 1972 Betty attended the first service at our Crusade at the church in San Marcos, California. She returned home after the service and around 10:30 p.m. her neighbor came over and told her that the hospital has been trying to get you all evening. She then called Tri-City and the doctor said “you better come right away as your mother is expiring and there is nothing we can do. She probably won't make it until you get here.” Betty and Owen went immediately after calling a few friends to pray. They arrived and found her mother in a coma and in critical condition. After a while she came out of the coma but was still critical. She had pneumonia again but because of the emphysema and everything else she probably would not last.
The doctors gave antibiotics heavily but nothing seemed to help. During this crisis she had been taken across the street to Tri-City Hospital from the convalescent home. There was nothing they could do. Her condition stabilized but she was still extremely critical for the next two days. Her medication in the last year had increased to 36 pills and 1 shot every 4 hours. Monday night a friend came to the service and requested prayer for Ellen but Betty had remained at the hospital to sit with her. The crisis went on hour by hour and they just waited.
Joy cometh in the morning
Tuesday came and Ellen still remained in critical condition. She was in the dying process, the doctors expecting any minute to be her last. After all who could really live in a state where all of the systems of the body were shutting down. That evening they were desperate for an answer. Betty had seen miracles before, for it was in a Kathryn Kuhlman Miracle Service that she herself had become a Christian. She was still hoping for a miracle for her mother. She had nowhere else to turn because the doctors have done all they could do. She decided to come to the service Tuesday night instead of sitting at the hospital where she could not help in any way. She came to the service in San Marcos and after the sermon has been preached she came forward to stand in prayer for her mother. We prayed that the Holy Spirit of God would go into the hospital room and heal her. After all, nothing is impossible with God. She left the service and went home. The following day I'm sure it was a time of mixed emotions for Betty, Ellen's daughter. After praying the previous night her hope was in God but then things were so desperate that the mind cries out “ there is no hope”. But faith is the spiritual gift that bypasses the doubting of the intellect.
When she went to the hospital that day there had been quite a change. The doctor did not pinpoint the time but the evening before, Tuesday night, there had been a complete reversal in her condition. The pneumonia was gone. That day Ellen got up by herself to go to the bathroom. When the nurse walked in she was frightened at seeing Ellen up she said “you get back in bed.” Ellen answered,
“no, I'm going to the bathroom”. A miracle some could call it. Others might say it was from the antibiotics, but what about the facts. Her emphysema was gone, the distention of her stomach, the cause of which was never fully understood by the doctors, had gone down considerably and she no longer needed the breathing machine. Her diabetes was also gone, her hypothyroidism was gone. The doctor took her off almost every one of the 36 pills every 4 hours except for digitalis. She had no withdrawals. Her pain was gone. In 10 days she was released from Tri-City Convalescent Hospital and was in street clothes soon after for the first time in six and a half years.
A miracle! The facts speak for themselves and Ellen had the same Spirit of joy as a blind man who was healed by Jesus. She doesn't remember a thing that happened when she was healed but can say “ all I know is that once I was dying but now I'm alive”. For the next three months Ellen was in Tri-City Convalescent Hospital in such good condition that she was serving coffee and orange juice to the other patients. Not only was her emphysema gone, but has not had or even desired one cigarette after that. A doctor came to see Ellen in December and after examining her said, “you are too well to be in here” and literally sent her home. Ellen was released from the convalescent hospital the week before Christmas and went Christmas shopping with her daughter for the first time in twelve years.
God gave Ellen a precious gift. The first time I personally saw her was several months later. I walked into the living room of Betty’s house and Betty said, “I want to introduce you to my mother.” I really was overwhelmed with surprise as I could hardly believe it. My first remark was, “You look like a beauty queen!” She was a beautiful lady and very healthy at that point. I actually took a picture of her and Betty gave me a photo of her before her healing in bed in the convalescent hospital.
At the original writing of her story, Ellen was a vibrant sixty eight years old. She live for fifteen more years, had remarried and moved to Parker Dam, California. At the age of eighty three she went to be with her Lord. At the present recounting of Ellen’s story of healing, Ellen, Betty and her husband Owen are all deceased but her grandsons are very much alive who witnessed the whole thing. Ted, her oldest grandson pastors a church in Nevada.