Recovery March 23, 2010

Well, it’s finally hit. Self pity. Depression. Concern. Worry. Pain. All of it seemed to hit today. I’m not really sure why. I’ve been doing everything I can to try and keep my gaze toward Christ, but today I just started doubting EVERYTHING. Not about my walk spiritually, or how I’m trying to focus on learning something through the pain. Now I’m asking stupid questions.

They really are stupid, too. Questions like: What if the surgery didn’t work?  Will I ever be able to bend me knee again? Am I getting a blood clot? Am I doing little enough to give myself a fighting chance when I finally start physical therapy. See?  I told you they were stupid questions.

The day started off bad. I woke up at 6:30 with pain. I didn’t take any medication and I think my foot may have slipped of the pillow, so my knee may be bent a little — no easy task when you’re in a full knee immobilizer. But, it was enough to start my day on a negative note. When you’re in that much pain, you really don’t want to get out of bed. I popped a couple pain pills and waited for them to kick in. I finally got up and manage to turn my day around by reading the Bible. I started in Genesis and plan to read all the way through the Bible. Believe it or not, I did get a lot out of my reading this morning.

Because of the uneasy feelings I was having I decided to put them out of my mind by just going outside and watch the little neighbor kids play in the warm spring weather here in Michigan. I was up on my crutches about 30 minutes. It was good. I felt good. My leg didn’t hurt that much. The interesting thing about my pain is the knee pain isn’t that bad, it’s the associated swelling in my foot and the lack of circulation there that’s causing me the greatest discomfort.

If I’m upright for very long my foot literally turns a unique purple color. I think it’s because the wrap around my knee is pretty tight (compression wrap for the swelling), plus the knee immobilizer is causing a bit of a circulation problem. But, if I move my foot around while I’m hobbling on the crutches, it seems okay.

When I cam in from outside, I was pleased because I didn’t have much pain in my foot. However, I had to go out tonight for a family appointment this afternoon. I sat most of the time, but when I returned, my foot was purple again.

So, my uneasiness is based more on the pain in my foot, than the pain in my knee. Silly isn’t it? I guess I’m battling the fear of more blood clots. So, I’ve placed my trust on something OTHER than Christ.

I know better. Why do I do this? Is it lack of faith? It is a lack of a complete relationship with Him. What is it? Why do I question Him so often? I know God does this for my good. I know He’s not surprised by any of it. (sigh)

It’s almost midnight and I’m sitting here wondering what I’m going to do about it. Ultimately, I’m going to end my writing, pray and ask God to change my attitude and understand that my ways are His ways and the other way around.

Bottom line? Took a step backward today with the way my knee feels. I don’t feel like I made any ‘healing’ progress today. But, perhaps this was a day God wanted to cut me down a couple notches to make sure I ‘hear’ Him. “Lord I’m really trying to listen. Help me listen.”

Greg’s Knee Recovery – Part 1

While I have been home for about four days now, the recovery is just now getting under way. The first doctor’s appointment following the surgery always seems to kick that off. In my mind, it’s now in full swing, even though I can’t do anything to start rehabilitating my knee. The first step is always letting it heal.  So, that’s what I’m doing.

Today, was my first appointment following surgery. The doctor says my knee looks good. There is a little swelling, which should be expected following surgery. However, I’m being told not to put any weight on my right leg. The doctor also told me NOT to do any straight leg lifts. This will be very difficult. My leg is already atrophied. The quadriceps muscle and specifically the vastus medialis is really bad. It’s amazing how fast the muscle has atrophied. It’s hard not to want to start working on it.

During this short time, however, I’ve been amazed at the encouragement I’ve received from friends and just acquaintances. Some have shared the soul with me — telling me about their pains. Others have provided encouragement to me personally. This has been amazing.

When I first got hurt I was feeling sorry for myself. I was coming up with all kinds of  “if I only” to lament the injury. I was constantly thinking about all the things I would miss out on — basketball, motorcycle riding, running, walking, etc. However, now I’m looking at it more as an adventure and opportunity, rather than a hindrance.

While I’m not enjoying the pain and frustration of having to sit still, I am trying to look inward and see what God has in store for me. As he reveals Himself in my life, I promise I will share those details with you as they happen.

In the meantime, here’s the most recent video I made of my last few days of recovery.

Knee Surgery – Post Op

Day two brought me home. It’s what I wanted. However, I wanted that to be a pain free experience. It wasn’t. The pain block gave me incredible relief. However, I had now idea how much pain it was blocking. The nurses told me the pain block typically lasted 12 hours. By 2:00pm Thursday, March 18 I was WELL past the 12 hours and my knee didn’t hurt that much. My mind was telling me, “This isn’t so bad.”  While at the same time it was saying, “If it hurt so bad just out of surgery, why doesn’t it hurt that bad now?”

In just a few hours my mind lost the battle with pain. I started home at about 6pm. By the time I got home the block was just about done doing its work because when I arrived home I couldn’t find a comfortable sitting position and the pain was POUNDING. I couldn’t situate my knee into any position that would give me relief. The enemy — the thing I had been fearing — was now alive and well.

I kept remembering, “Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Are you allowing God to work in your pain?” Then, I knew Satan had won and I had lost. So, at 1:45 in the morning, March 19 I wrote the following email to everybody I could think of to write to:

“Dear Friends:

A few of you may know that I injured myself playing basketball on February 26th. I love the game, actually. I’ve been playing three times a week for years. Yes, even at my age. It’s something that’s help me keep the weight under control and help keeps me healthy. On Wednesday, I went in for surgery to have my knee repaired. The last 36 hours have been interesting.

My knee surgery went well. My doctor did a patellofemoral ligament repair. Basically, he repaired the ligament that kept making my knee cap go out of place, and performed a technique called a lateral release. Immediately after surgery I had incredible pain. It was off the chart painful. So, the doctor gave me a ‘block’ which basically numbed my whole knee. It was amazing how comfortable it made me.

The doctor kept me in the hospital to help manage my pain that was supposed to hit as the block wore off. For 26 hours I couldn’t feel my knee, which was a blessing. On the way home from the hospital, however, the pain block gradually stopped working. Now, I’m home. Flat on my back and the pain is really intense. I am on pain medication. But, it’s not doing much to help give me relief.

However, as I write this I know there are many of you who are going through something so much worse. You’d gladly trade places with me. Perhaps you’re struggling with cancer, or you’re facing another health issue where time is your enemy. When I think about that, my request for prayer seems so selfish. So, while I’d love for you to pray that the pain would go away, could you do something else? Please pray that God would use this time of pain in my life to teach me something and that He would position me in such a way that I can’t help but understand Him a little better so I can serve Him even more. Yes, my knee hurts — but as we all know good things come from our hurts.

I Love you all and thanks for your prayers and support.”

The response I received from that email was almost immediate. First, as I turned off my computer hoping to sleep, my knee pain almost immediately eased to where my body could sleep. Then as I checked my email that morning it was amazing. Here are some excerpts.:

“I’m Yvon, a 41 yrs old french pastor based in the North-Eastern France.  I 10 yrs ago I broke my hip. (I fell down from a 4 meters high ceiling). They screwed my hips, but my dislocated right leg needed an extension and to be stretched during 45 days. I was flat on my back for 2 months… asking God : Why ? It eventually shew me the Love in each christian coming to visit me. How I consider now the grâce of God, showing me how it was important to stop my activity and find the essential : GOD INSIDE PEOPLE, and GOD INSIDE ME. It was really an opportunity for me to find the relief of God and hear his voice thru his word. After 2 months, my surgeon told me, he was not sure about my ability to walk and to carry things. My pastor often praid for me, as my wife and my kids. 1 Months later I had physiotherapy, difficult thing but God was with me. In 1 month I could walk, run, carry my 3 kids. The Lord is our uphold. Let me share these verses that empowered me during the period of my recovery : 2 Cor. 4 : 17-18”

“The Lord has already heard your humble prayer and I’m sure the prayers of many who have received this email.  Perhaps this special teaching from the Lord is already complete; you now have just a touch of the extreme pain the people of this world are experiencing.  May the pain be completely lifted so your mind remains clear to continue sharing His truth through your writing.  May your passion be even greater and may the Lord be given glory through all of our trials.  May His mercy be upon you even this morning.”

There are many others I may share later, but what a blessing it was to see the dozens of people who prayed and even responded to this request. I can only imagine how many people respond to the needs of our broadcast.

Day three at home was a bit easier. I woke up after a few hours of sleep and felt refreshed. I had to go to the doctor for blood work. Then, I came home and managed pain the rest of the day. However, it wasn’t too bad.

There was another bright spot, too. Our little neighbor girl, Ema, came by the house. She’s six and just learning to read. She decided to come over and  read to me, to keep me company. What a joy it was to see her little heart just giving and giving. What six year old would be courageous enough to knock on an old dude’s door and ask if she could read to me to keep me company. I sense God’s going to use this girl for something really cool.

Greg

Knee Surgery – Day One

It’s amazing how God uses people in your life to reveal the reality of your spiritual walk with Him and the need to tackled the ‘issues’ head-on. That’s exactly what happen Sunday. Went to morning worship and then to Bible study hour and that’s where it hit me.

Our Bible study hour teacher in Steve Raemisch. We were talking about the troubles we go through in living for Christ. We went through many verses, including verses in Job. However, this is what hit me between the eyes. Steve was telling us a story about a well known Bible teacher going to visit a young girl who had cancer. He asked how he could pray for her and she said, “Pray that I won’t waste my suffering.”

That scored a direct hit on my walk. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself. I didn’t want the surgery. Why did I have to play basketball that night?  Why couldn’t the knee just heal on its own? Why do I have to give up all my Spring and Summer in rehab? What’s the plan?  Will I have ‘issues’?  Will I make it through the pain?

All those questions went away when I heard those words repeated by that young lady. Now, it’s my prayer. Did it take the fear away? Did it ease the stress?  NO!  But, it’s made it better.

I got to the hospital at about 11:30am. I was greeted by our associate pastor and dear friend, Steve Raemisch. I hooped into registration. Steve followed my wife Ann and me. He came into the surgical prep room. He read Psalm 16 to us and it really hit home.  Psalm 16:11 is great. “you make know to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

That where we need to be!

My Dad came all the way over to the hospital from the east side of the state (three hour drive) to be with me. My mom wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t be here.

While I was praying for healing BEFORE the surgery, God has made the provision of a good surgeon. Dr. Dean did a couple of procedures. He ‘tighten up’ the muscle that attaches to the patella and performed a lateral release, which will free up the tension on the right side of my right knee and keep the patella (knee cap) in place.

Greg in Hospital

Greg in Hospital

The 45 minute surgery went well. There were no surprises. But, the surprise was the pain when I woke up.  I have never had so much pain. They gave me my first does of pain killer. That didn’t do anything. Then, they had to put in a block. From that point to the time of this writing, I haven’t felt pain even close to that.

I had several visitors. Dear friends Brian and Sharon Felten and Joel Hill. We spent some great time together. My wife, Ann, has been by my side and I love her for that.

I got caught up on my email and facebook page.

My nurses have been great. Joyce and Lisa were the first to serve me. They have been wonderful. They’re both believers and it’s been fun to have that kindred spirits.

I tried going to bed around midnight, but I couldn’t sleep. I think I only got a total of three hours of sleep. So, it’s going to be a tough day to stay focused and happy.

I’ll be getting out of bed for the first time today when Physical Therapy gets here. And, I’m hoping to hear the words, “You may go home” when the doctor arrives. Not sure when that will be. I’m guessing it’ll be around noon or shortly after.

Knee Injury, It’s all in the plan

On February 26, 2010 I was injured playing basketball. I know what you’re going to say, “Aren’t you a little old to be playing basketball?” I’ve heard it. Actually, I’m sick of hearing it. But, I’m sure I’ll hear it again.

The fact is, I’ve been playing basketball three times a week for the last three or four years. I played at least once a week during the school year with friends at a local middle school. I enjoyed playing. No, I’m not really that good. I did it for a couple of reasons — stress relief, cardio and competition. It’s been good for me.

Well, February 26 my basketball days took a blow. I was playing ball with men at my church during men’s retreat. I turned to go one direction, but my knee didn’t follow. My knee cap slipped to the outside of my leg. I fell in pain. I tried straightening out my leg to get my knee cap back in, but I had to push it back in. It was so painful.

I iced it down that night and the next morning I went to the hospital to make sure it was back in place. At the hospital they told me my knee cap was fracture and told me to find an orthopedic surgeon.

Monday, March 1 I went to Doctor Michael Dean at Shoreline Orthopaedics. Dr. Dean didn’t think I did any major damage to my ACL or MCL, but scheduled me for an MRI on Tuesday evening anyway and rescheduled for an appointment for Thrusday, March 4.

At that appointment, Dr. Dean told me that there wasn’t any major damage, but my knee cap wasn’t tracking right. He says I have a genetically deficient knee joint which will require surgery to keep my knee cap in place.

So, I’m scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, March 17. I will be blogging about my surgery and recovery. I hope I’ll do more than talk about the pain and recovery. I hope I’ll be able to also post some things that God is doing in my life.

While I know God is doing this for a reason, I’m still frustrated. It’s getting close to motorcycle season, soccer season (I coach that) and just fun outdoor stuff.

The doctor says I’ll be in a knee immobilizer for two weeks, six to eight weeks before I’m pain free and about a year until my knee is somewhat back to normal.

Lots of stuff to think about.

Worship in silence can be moving

I knew today would be difficult. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. Today, I was dreading it.For those of you who know me, I love to sing. Not just to sing, but sing in worship of a Holy God. I really don’t enjoy it otherwise.

But, today was different. Today, I would be worshiping God WITHOUT singing, without talking, without verbally praying and even without whispering. I would be confessing sin, adoring God and praising whoGod is without a voice of any kind.

This is the second time in my life I’ve done this. But, it was a totally different response from my first. 16 years ago I went through a similar situation where I lost my voice and couldn’t participate in worship, but the whole time I kept feeling sorry for myself. Each second was focused on, “What if I never sing again? Will I ever be able to talk with a clear voice? What would happen to my career? God, I don’t understand.”

Today, I only asked that question once. And, the reply I heard was, “Greg, it’s NOT your voice. I gave it to you. I’m the one using it. I’m the one who gave you the idea to sing. I’m the one who gave you that gift. And, I’m the one who CAN and did take it away.” That’s when I said, “You’re right — who am I to say ANYTHING.” So, I spent the remainder of my time in church marveling at how incredible it is that I have a relationship with God at all.

The songs that were selected were ordained by God (as they are every Sunday). But, I sensed they were for me today. Each one made me turn to Christ. Each one reassured me that everything was okay because God is in TOTAL control. He’s not depending and waiting on me. He’s not putting his trust in a doctor’s ability to treat me. In fact, He’s ordained everything.

Then Bible study hour came and I think I may understand why trials come in people’s lives. Let me give you my perspective.

In 2 Peter 1:10 is says, “Therefore, be even more diligent to make your calling (salvation) sure.” In 2 Corinthians 13:5 is says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” While may say it’s a ‘sin’ to question your faith, the New Testament talks about it more than once. It looks like a command to me. The problem for me is, I really don’t WANT to. I don’t want to test my faith and force myself to question the foundation on which I stand. If I don’t want to, wouldn’t you think God is going to do something to FORCE me to do it?

I think so. I think because I like my comfortable world, God shakes it. He wants to see what I’m made of. He wants to test my faith, I’M suppose to be “diligent in making my calling sure.” He wants me to examine myself as to whether I’m in the faith. When He rocks our world with life changing moments we will either fall on our face before HIM (if we’re in the faith), or we’ll cry out with disgust to Him for making our lives miserable. He wants these moments to be precious times we won’t forget because they’re life changing.

When my friend Dan Cummings was struggling with cancer, I couldn’t understand how he could say his cancer was a blessing from God. I just couldn’t wrap my arms around that. NOW I CAN. I finally see that in Dan’s cancer, he was forced to be closer to God than he’d ever been. He understood that this was a test from God, not to be a mean God, but to put Dan in a position of total reliance on Him.

While my voice problem isn’t ANYTHING like cancer, my lack of voice could have a devastating effect on my career. But, for the first time I can honestly say — “this IS a blessing from God.” If it weren’t for my lack of voice, I wouldn’t have been able to witness one of the most incredible worship services ever. While I shed lots of tears, they weren’t self pity tears. They were tears of utter joy that God loves me so much. Why?  It’s only because of His Amazing Grace.

That’s not to say I won’t get frustrated. I’m human. But, now I understand what’s going on.

Health always seems to change you

I was asked by several friends to blog about what’s going on with me the last couple of months. So, I guess I will. I don’t typically like talking about myself, but in light of what’s going on and the fact I CAN’T talk for another day and a half, will will.

I’m going to go back to the end of October, 2008. I got a little tickle in my throat which caused a MAJOR cough. It got progressively worse. I was sick with the cough for six weeks. It affected my voice, but not too badly. However, I just couldn’t stop coughing. It was terrible. I finally got back to work just before Thanksgiving. But, a week after Thanksgiving I was pretty much over it.

Fast forward to January.  In the middle of January I got a little tickle and a cough, which got worse. On February 3, I lost my voice. I couldn’t talk well enough to broadcast. I felt like there was something in there…gunk (sorry to be so graphic). I thought I would be okay. That’s happened before. Typically cold or cough related illness I’m hoarse for a while, then it goes away. This time it hasn’t gone away. I have a terrible sounding voice and it’s lasted for almost a month.

On February 3, I went to the doctor. He put me on antibiotics thinking I had an upper resperatory infection. He also gave me some cough medicine. Unfortunately, it didn’t do anything for me. On February 24, I went back to the doctor to find out what we can do. He told me to take it easy — meaning, don’t over use my voice, and referred me to an Otolaryngologist.

On Friday, I met with my doctor. I told him I have a hiatal hernia, which had caused acid reflux before. I was told it created a voice issue with me before. He used a fiber-optic scope to look at my voice. It went in through my nose and went down into my voice. The doctor said my vocal cords looked red and swollen. He said there was damage, but it wasn’t irreversible. He didn’t seem certain about whether or not it was caused by acid reflux or not. He quickly put me on COMPLETE voice rest — no talking or whispering for three days. He also put me on two kinds of meds. One (Astelin) to get get rid of my congestion. I was also given Omeprazole to protect my esophagus from acid reflux.

It’s day two of no speaking. I cheated a little bit just to see if things were getting better. It’s not any better. If anything, it’s worse. So, I stopped making noise, hoping it will improve by the beginning of the week.

I’m trying to be positive about this. If I didn’t NEED my voice this week, I would settle back and wait for what God has for me. Unfortunately, my producer (and backup voice) is off Tuesday and Wednesday. The question is — will God give me my voice back?  It’s not totally gone. I have a voice. But, it sounds like I have laryngitis. It sounds like I’m on the beginning or tail end of a cold, which I’m not.

I have been praying throughout all this that God would use this to bring me closer to Him. I truly want that. But, I also want my voice back. I’m sure you all understand. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is NOT my timing. It’s not MY way. It’s HIS way. He has me in this situation to bring Him more glory. It’s more of Him. Less of me. I am HIS slave. He chose me, bough me, provides for me, disciplines me, and guides me just as any master does. But, the great thing is that relationship doesn’t end there. He calls me FRIEND. That’s the best relationship to have — a slave with a perfect master. Perhaps I’m going to start talking Monday and my voice is going to be back with no issues. THAT truly would be amazing and totally from God. Or, maybe He’s going to allow me to struggle for months so I’ll seek Him more often.

What ever the case, pray with me that God’s will would be done and that MY will would be overcome.

Mission Network News in Guatemala — last day

Thank you all for praying for me. I found out my problem with my health wasn’t really a ‘health’ problem, it was an elevation problem. We were at almost 12,000 feet and I am susceptible to elevation sickness. However, unaware of the elevation, I wasn’t concerned or even thinking that was an issue. So, all in all I’m very happy to know that’s all it was. I’m feeling great and had a wonderful day today.

I’ve produced another video for our final day in Guatemala.  Today we traveled to an orphanage outside of Guatemala City, near Antigua. It’s called the Casa Alaluya Orphanage and it’s run by Mike and Dottie Clark from Louisianna.  They have an incredible story of following God’s direction to run this orphanage which is home to about 600 kids.

Click here to see the video.

After we left the kids, we did a little shopping and came back to the hotel for our farwell dinner.   I’ll have one more video to post showing everything we saw on the trip.

Thank you for visiting regularly.

Greg Yoder, MNN

Guatemala Day 3 and 4 – October 9-10, 2008

Well, things have gotten a bit hetic here in Guatemala. For those of you who know me, know that I have a blood disorder. It makes my blood clot easily, well. I had to go to the hospital here in Guatemala because I THOUGHT I had a clot had moved into the deep veins, which is a bad thing. Dr. ‘Peppi’ as he wanted me to call him, gave me his card and told me to call any time night or day if I had any trouble.

The group left without me, heading to Panabaj. Carol (one of our interpreters) stay with me because she is a hospital professional. She ran the hospital up until two months ago. She was able to get me right in and see a very well trained vascular surgeon. He took blood, and checked me out with a dopler ultra sound. Fortunately, the clot I currently have is in a superficial vein and everything was good.

Carol and I were driven two or three hours to meet the team just after they had finished lunch. We then got on a boat to travel the rest of the way to Panabaj, which is on the banks Lake Atitlan. Beautiful is an understatement.

After the boat ride, we checked into our hotel rooms. Carol and I ate our lunch (very late) then headed to the Good Shepherd Church where Pastor Diego is the pastor.

For those of you who are regulars to this blog you know back in November I had a ’bout’ with something that the doctors weren’t able to identify. While standing in church in Panabaj I had a MAJOR bout again. Heart pumping, lightheaded, dizzy, feeling like I was going to pass out.

I got out of the church because I didn’t want to create a scene in a church who didn’t know me and decided to go sit down in the nearest room. That would be the room with kids making crafts. I just sat there. Fortunately, someone in our group went and got Lori Koorndyk, who’s a physicians assistant. She suggested we call Dr. Peppi. He told me to stop taking the medication and get back to Guatemala City in the morning so I could see him.

I left the group again, and traveled with Lori, Amy Seale (Orphan Outreach) and Carol back to Guatemala, leaving the group again. I just finished meeting with the Dr. and he doesn’t think it’s anything serious (good news), but wants to to rest today before doing any more traveling. So, I am following his advice. I’m sitting in my hotel room relaxing — writing on this blog.

I don’t feel real great right now, so I would like you all to pray for me.

In the mean time, enjoy this video I put together before I started feeling bad. That will give you a good idea where were are and how we got where we were.

The team is on its way back to Guatemala City, while I rest in my room.

A Day of Fasting — but for a different reason

I have published stories about my health in months past and I’m going to be open about my health today as a way ease my fears and perhaps help someone who’s going through a similar experience.

In November I was experiencing unknown dizziness, light headedness, and other symptoms. I went through at battery of tests. The result? The doctors couldn’t find anything (don’t laugh) (Click here to see my journal about that).

Well, tomorrow starts another chapter on my journey through ‘life’ that a good friend calls ‘A journey to The City.’  Don’t get upset — everybody’s on that journey, some are just closer to The City than others. Others have a better idea of how close they are to The City because of the suffering they experience here on earth whether it’s through cancer, heart issues, or persecution.

Ever since April I’ve been having ‘issues.’  It kind of embarasing, actually.  I’ll just say it — I’ve had a pain in my butt and issues passing ‘stuff’ that should be passed. Being the typical man, I just thought it was another ‘phase’ of getting old and that it would pass (no pun intended).

About 6 weeks ago I had a physical and the doctor asked if there were any ‘issues’ and I described them. Thinking he would just say, “That’s a part of getting older,” he didn’t. He said instead, “Hmmm, that’s not good, let’s get you scheduled for a colonoscopy.” So, that’s what I doing tomorrow.

What are the things going through my mind?  A couple of things:

1. I’m concerned that they’re going to find something — cancer. I have a dear friend going through colin cancer right now and he’s struggling. I hate the thought of dying that way.

2. I’m concerned their going to find nothing — which will probably mean more probing and more questions about what’s going on inside my body.

However, spiritually I’m thinking other things.

1. Is this a season God is going to use to lead me to another level in our relationship?
2. Is this a moment of judgment on my life. His way of dealing with sin in my life.
3. Is God using this in my life to help draw my kids to Him. I have a few that aren’t following Christ at all. Maybe this would be His instrument?

I don’t have answers to ANY of these questions, but they are legitimate concerns.

I am sacred, concerned, and anticipating what God has for me.

I’ll let you know.