Archive for February, 2009


Praise the Lord that I am making good progress with my back.  I have had a few times where I was experiencing pain (like last night at church), but that was probably because I overdid it that day or the day before.  I plan on taking it easy the rest of the week, and by Thurs I should be ready to start my travels again.  Thanks so much for your prayers!

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Hitting the Ground Running

On the basis of the doctor’s advice and the progress that I have been making (due to God’s answering of people’s prayers), I decided to jump back into my deputation schedule.  I knew that my first ‘assignment’ would be two missions conferences in southwestern PA.   I knew that it would have been difficult for those churches to find another missionary to do these two missions conferences on such short notice.  But after talking to the two churches, I’ve come to realize that the only way I can do what they are asking of me is if my friends continue to pray.  I definitely need to make more progress over the next week and a half if I’m going to fulfill my responsibilities at these missions conferences. 

I’ll be going back and forth between two churches that are closely located to one another.  On Sunday I will speak in all three slots–arguably, the most difficult day since it will be my first.  Then I have a light day where I speak once on Monday evening.  But Tues will be quite busy with chapel, a Bible class, and an evening service.  Wed will be a little less busy with another Bible class and another evening service.  Thankfully, Thu and Fri will bring the conferences to an easy ending with only one speaking responsibility each evening.  I’m looking forward to the opportunities of ministry, but I am desperately needing the Lord’s grace and strength to do all that’s required of me. 

I also need the Lord’s help as I’ll have to drive 7.5 hours from Grand Rapids to SW PA.  I do plan on splitting the trip into two up into two parts to make it easier for me.

In conclusion, I just want to praise the Lord again for how He has answered prayers.  I am almost completely free of any medication, and the pain is getting lesser and lesser each day.  I’m still trying to rest as much as possible, but I’m thankful for how I can start resuming some of my normal activities.  Thanks for all your prayers!

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I couldn’t have asked for better results from my visit with the specialist.  And it’s such a blessing that the Lord led me to this lady.  She had been highly recommended by a family physician in my Greenville church and by my chiropractor.  The latter said that she is one of the best in the field.  The specialist said that she gained tons of experience with back trauma during her residency.  She also had the advantage in my situation of having an MRI to examine my back.  

She noted that I have a burst fracture, not a compression fracture.  The T12 vertebrae was squeezed like a marshmallow such that the height is lessened and the sides are bulging.  But she said that since I am young, there is no reason to do the balloon kyphoplasty.  My vertebrae will harden if I will just give it time and wear the back brace.  Though it will not return to its normal size, I shouldn’t have posture problems.  In fact, I can stand straight up right now with no problem; it’s the bending over that causes pain.  

She also noticed a herniated disk in the lower part of my back.  She said that it will never heal back to 100%, but it should return to 95%.  She did not see any ligament damage, so there’s no need to worry about posture issues or lifting restrictions in the future.  She does want to monitor my back to make sure that everything heals as it should.  She will get an x-ray in 4 weeks and then see me again in 6 weeks after that.  So, I need to wear this back brace for a total of 3 months—i.e., until around the beginning of May.  Praise the Lord that I had this injury in the cool months!  

She said that this type of injury is not incapacitating, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to ease back into my normal routine.  I just need to avoid lifting things that weigh over 10 lbs and bending over.  So my plan is to take it easy for these next two weeks in Greenville, return to Grand Rapids at the end of next week, and then pick up again with my normal deputation schedule.  Praise the Lord that I had to cancel only 1 deputation meeting!

Thank you so much for your prayers.  It appears that things have turned out much better than the original diagnoses.  It’s such a blessing to see the Lord’s hand throughout this whole ordeal!  

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Is It Really True?

I had a terrible time getting down to Greenville.  Because of the bad weather in Detroit on Wed night, we had to sit on the runway in Grand Rapids for one hour, causing me to miss my plane to Greenville.  Thankfully, NWA put me up in a very nice hotel, but it was a short night since I had to get up at 3am to get back to the airport.  I had to take two more planes, but finally made it to Greenville at 10am on Thurs, though without my luggage (which I got this morning).  That gave me just enough time to get some lunch and get to the hospital for the MRI. 

The surgeon looked at the MRI later in the afternoon, and her office called to give the good news–NO SURGERY NEEDED!  I’m still having a hard time believing it.  The surgeon said that I have a herniated disc.  She prescribed a back brace for me that is tailor-made for my body.  I got it today and will be wearing it for a while.  I’ll see the surgeon on Monday to find out more, but I’m praising God that surgery is no longer in my future… at least, I don’t think it is.  I’ll keep my blog updated.

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A Definite Answer

We prayed for definite direction from the Lord, and we got it.  The neurosurgeon made it quite clear that my situation is urgent and dangerous.  In fact, he said that if he would have seen me in ER, he would have checked me into the hospital to do surgery right away.  The longer I wait, the greater chance there is of stuff moving around, possibly resulting in paralysis.  He strongly encouraged me to move as little as possible.  

Thankfully, he did say that I can make the trip to Greenville, SC, so that’s what I’ll do either today or tomorrow.  But there’s no doubt in his mind that I need to have the surgery.  He said that the surgery is quite expensive, so that settled the issue of whether or not I should switch over to BMM insurance.  And because I will be switching to their insurance, I can now use the doctors in Greenville.  My current insurance has no network providers in SC. 

I’m so thankful for how the Lord answered our prayers to give me a definite answer about these various issues.  I’m quite relieved that the path forward has been made very clear to me.  Now I need to get some plane tickets and get to Greenville safely.  Please pray for that. 

The doctor also said that I need to plan on ‘checking out of life’ for the next month, so I will need to reschedule some deputation meetings.  We’ll see in a month how I’m progressing in the recovery. 

Though this news is quite disturbing, I’m so thankful for the peace that the Lord has given me.  I am resting in His sovereign control over this whole situation.  I know that He will protect me.  I just need to do my part by being very careful.  Please keep praying.  I can tell that you are praying, and I am very thankful.

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Doctor’s Appointment Tomorrow

I’ve been doing some checking on my insurance situation.  It turns out that my current insurance has no network providers in SC, NC, GA, or TN.  So if I wanted to have the surgery done in the south, I would need to switch to BMM insurance.  But the problem with that is that I would have to start paying a premium that is significantly more than what I currently pay.  If I stay with my current insurance, I would need to have the surgery done here in MI, but I wouldn’t have the benefit of getting care at home.

I meet with the second surgeon tomorrow at 9am.  I’m really looking to the Lord to guide me through this appointment.  Please pray for wisdom in the many decisions that need to be made.  Pray that the Lord would continue to teach me all that He wants me to learn from this experience.  I was just medidating on Psalm 103 this morning: how precious are the Lord’s thoughts toward me. 

I am thankful for how the Lord is answering prayers.  I can now get out of bed and walk on my own.  I’ve also been able to lessen the amount of medications that I take, because the pain has decreased some.  Praise the Lord!

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Surgery or No Surgery

I had my appointment with the neurosurgeon this morning.  As my family physician expected, the surgeon recommended surgery.   He would insert a balloon where the fractured vertebrae is and then fill it with a bone-like substance.  Then he would screw a plate into the vertebae above and below the fractured one to help give  the support that my torn ligaments can’t give any more.  The recovery time would be very short–only a week or so.  But of course, there are possible risks and long-term side effects, and there’s always the chance that the surgery isn’t successful. 

If I decide not to have surgery, it’s going to take around a full year for complete recovery.  I could probably do my normal activities after about a month.  But it’s seems quite possible that I will have posture problems and lifting restrictions for the rest of my life.  

Either way, I’m probably going to have to start cancelling some meetings that are only 3-4 weeks away.  Hopefully I will not have to cancel too many.

I talked to my family physician again and he suggested that I get a second opinion.  So I’m not going to make any decisions until after I see him.  Please pray for the Lord to give me wisdom through this second doctor.  Pray also as I have many decisions in regards to housing, care, and finances.  It’s a difficult time for me to be going through such health issues, since I don’t have a place of my own up here and have no family in the area.  Plus, I have only basic, temporary insurance.  But I’m so thankful for how the BI family and my church family are coming alongside to help. 

I’m also resting in the fact that God knows about all these issues in my life and will guide me in His perfect will.  “As for God His way is perfect.”  His timing is perfect, and He will give me the guidance I need.  Thank you for your prayers.

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