God’s Power After Knee Replacement Surgery – Part 2

Knee ReplacementAs the title says, this is Part 2 of this post. So if you haven’t seen Part 1 yet, make sure you read it first. Then you will be up to speed with the whole story. This is about my knee replacement surgery, which took place on April 6, 2011. God gave me a medical miracle rather than a supernatural healing and He showed me His presence and power in a very special way through my recovery. 

Last time we left off at day two in the hospital. It ended much like day one. I was pretty comfortable, in a great mood, but I could not sleep at all. Of course having someone come in to check your vital signs every hour does not really create an atmosphere for sleep. It made for some great fellowship with the staff though and the time didn’t drag on too much.

Day 3 – On My Feet

As day three dawned upon the hospital I was visited by a physical therapist. She wanted me to sit on the edge of the bed and dangle those legs over the side. No problem with that. It just took a little bit of wiggle power to get there. It felt good to be in a different position. After a few minutes of doing that, she wanted me to get out of the bed and stand on those Oxinium knees (Oxidized Zirconium – amazing technology). Surprisingly, that was very easy to do. No real pain, just stiffness. The therapist had me sit in a wheel chair and I stayed there about 3 hours. I liked that. It was great being out of the bed. I pushed myself around my private room, looked out the window, sat by the door to see what was going on on the floor and just had a good old time.

When the therapist returned she wanted me to try walking. I got up, but the muscles in those legs didn’t really want to move so I had to push past that. I had a nurse on each side of me for stability and my hands on a walker. I took a step, then another, and one more.  I was impressed. The staff was too, so they asked me to try a few more. We were soon at the door of my room and out in the hall. Then we turned around and came back to the bed. I had walked about 35 feet.

Speedy Recovery Attracts Attention

Everyone was blown away by my ability to accomplish all this on day three. Rumors of my success began to spread throughout the surgical wing of the hospital and sometimes staff would comment on that when there was a shift change. God was all over me, granting me a speedy recovery. I was overwhelmed with a sense of His goodness and strength. I still didn’t get any sleep really, but I watched a lot of reality TV and eagerly anticipated what lay ahead. What was really cool was the fact that I got to give Him all the credit publicly for my progress and people were interested in what was happening.

Day four had me walking a lot in the hallway. That was challenging but fun. When I wasn’t walking I was rolling myself around in the wheelchair just so I could keep up with activity on the floor and see some people. The therapists were coming twice a day now and were teaching me exercises I could do in bed. I  was even inventing some on my own to help increase my flexibility. Every passing hour was bringing more progress.

What I discovered about dealing with the knee replacement was that if I bent them to the point of some pain and then bent them a little more past it, it stretched everything out and made it easier to do that movement next time. There’s a spiritual lesson in that, too. Sometimes life has pain. It is so much better to face it, use your faith to push past it by doing what you need to do (even though you don’t feel like it). Then you can keep track of all the progress you are making by dealing with the pain instead of complaining about it.

Later that evening I had a really funny experience with one of the nurses. She was really pretty and quite young. She had to give me a shot in my stomach to administer a medicine that was to prevent nausea that could be caused from the other meds I was getting. As she jabbed the needle into my belly she told me, “You have such beautiful eyes. I bet you get told that a lot!” I told her that she was correct, I do get told that a lot.  I never understood that either, because I always thought my eyes looked weird because they don’t open all the way. It turned out she was very jealous of my long eye lashes. The next day two other nurses made a similar comment. So now I was the guy with the new knees and the beautiful eyes that was accomplishing amazing things. The lesson is, don’t always believe your negative opinions about yourself, especially when others compliment you for those things.

Great Progress Continues

Day five was much the same: great progress, minor discomfort, eat, walk, wheelchair trips, TV, visitors, no sleep. Day six was my very first ambulance ride. I was transferred to an inpatient rehab facility. That was a fun trip. No siren or lights (rats – I was hoping for that), but the crew was so friendly. We kept each other laughing all the way up the hill. Then they wheeled me into my room. I was given the best room (it was private too, just like I had at the hospital), with the best view (the beautiful hills of the Mohawk Valley), and the farthest distance from the dining hall (which I had to walk to every day – great exercise). It was perfect. God was working out everything for my good (Romans 8:28). I was quite impressed.

On day seven I had my first 45 minute intensive therapy session. There were 4 of those every day. Before the day was out I climbed 20 stairs, went down an elevator, walked outside, and staff supervision of activities I did in my room was lifted. I was now independent. The only assistance I had was walking in the halls. The staff was amazed. One of the therapists said that they only get a knee patient that can do what I was doing about once a year.

The next day I was walking with no walker or cane. The day after that I was reclassified as totally independent, needing no supervision anywhere and no assisting devices. Therapy sessions went  extremely well and I exceeded all expectations. I climbed four flights of stairs, toured the halls, went back outside and had some great interactions with staff and some of the patients at meal times. I was getting very specific questions about my life as a Christian and a minister and had multiple opportunities to share about God’s greatness and love during my time at inpatient therapy.

The Happy Patient

In less than 24 hours I would be on my way home, a few days earlier than most who have double knee replacement, or even single replacement. This verse applies so well to my experience with this surgery:

Proverbs 15:30 NIV  A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

I was a happy patient. I looked good because of His joy in my heart. People noticed and commented on it. I felt good because He was with me and blessing me and people were praying for me. My leg bones and oxinium knees were very healthy as good news surrounded me every day. God was good to me. No doubt about it. Was it an awesome healing? Oh yeah. Was it supernatural? I would say so, just differently than I expected. Nurses and therapists were amazed. I was amazed. Sure, it would have been easier to have gotten healed in a prayer line at some church, but I’m telling you, this was an awesome experience for me. And I love it that I got to share HIM so much and meet some really wonderful people.

Seven more weeks of outpatient therapy were yet to come (3 times per week). More challenges and goals to achieve. I was released last Friday from all that. They couldn’t justify my need to come anymore because I was doing so good. My knee replacement made history there, too. My success and rapid recovery also made me very popular with the other patients. They asked me a lot of questions about what I went through. Many of them were facing knee replacement as well and they were very concerned about it. 

Reach Out to God in Faith

So let me close with this. When you have a physical need in your body reach out to God through the power of the name of His Son Jesus. Expect results (that’s faith), but don’t dictate to God how He should meet your need. He may do a supernatural, immediate work. He may touch you through a short medical process like He did me. He may work in you over a long period of time. You may experience your release through death and enjoy ultimate healing in the eternal Kingdom. You ask in faith for healing and trust Him for the results. As He works out the answer to your prayer, remember this: keep your mind fixed on HIM.

Isaiah 26:3-4 NLT  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!  (4)  Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.

He is your ROCK. You can build your life securely on Him no matter what you are going through.

 

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God’s Power After Knee Replacement Surgery – Part 1

Knee ReplacementKnee replacement surgery! Something I needed desperately. The joints were shot and it hurt to walk and climb. 

I decided to get both of them done at the same time so I only had to recover once. The surgery  took place on April 6th. It was quite a fascinating procedure and it began a two month journey that brought me to an even more dramatic awareness of the awesomeness of God.

I went to an orthopedic specialist 6 years ago complaining of problems with my knees. He has just performed the carpal tunnel release surgery on both my hands and asked if I had any other issues. After an X-ray he said, “Ooooooh! Plastic knees!” indicating he was willing and ready and I was definitely in need of knee replacement. I told him I would get back to him.

On my next visit to my primary care physician, I told him what the ortho doc wanted to do and he told me to wait. He thought I was too young (51). He said, “Keep the knees God gave you as long as you can.” So I decided to follow that advice and moved on with my life. What I moved on with was increasing pain and a gradual decrease in mobility. It became difficult to walk any distance, even go shopping. Climbing stairs was horrible and I became such a couch potato that I started thinking I would never do anything again. All the inactivity caused me to gain even more weight and increased my blood pressure so by the time I got into the winter of 2010, I wanted relief. I made an appointment and a surgery date was set.

Apprehension Sets In

I was pretty apprehensive about the situation. How much pain would I have? How long would it last? How long would it take me to walk again? Would there be any real improvement? I wasn’t afraid of surgery or the hospital, I just had these nagging questions.

I also wondered why God didn’t just heal me from the whole thing. I’ve seen some genuine miracles in my 37 plus years of serving Him. I’ve even prayed for some people who got healed (and some who didn’t). So how about me? Is there a miracle for me so I don’t have to go through all that? I wasn’t angry about it, I just wanted something cool to happen to me. I wanted a testimony to share about His power and grace. Some of my knee problems were related to being overweight, but, according to the doc, it was mostly genetics. Without a miracle you can’t do anything about that! Six years was long enough to wait. I was now looking for a medical healing. What I got was a medical healing with God all over it! He was with me.

April 6th started very early. I was at the hospital by 6:15 AM. I was excited and also wondering how I was going to feel around 11:00, after it was all over. The anesthesiologist came in to chat. I told him how on my last surgery (nasal polyp removal a couple years earlier) they had trouble putting a tube down my throat to administer oxygen. I also have sleep apnea which causes my airway to close up sometimes, so I sleep with a machine that pumps air into my nose and keeps it open.  He decided to give me a spinal to numb me from the waist down. I would be awake, but wouldn’t feel anything. He asked it that made me nervous. I told him I watched the Discovery Health channel all the time and was fascinated by surgery. I even watched some knee replacement surgeries on YouTube a couple weeks earlier so I could get an idea of what they were going to do to me. He liked that answer, so I was wheeled into the operating room, slid onto the table and got my spinal. “So that’s what a mom feels like who delivers a baby if she gets one of these,” I mused.

I Knew What They Were Doing to Me

It was cold in there. It felt weird to have my legs numb and be unable to move them. They put up a sheet so I couldn’t see what they were doing, but I heard lots of sounds. Drills, saws, hammers, clamps, doctors and nurses talking and music. It was really interesting. I knew exactly what they were doing based on the sounds because of the YouTube videos I had seen. They did the left leg first. 45 minutes later they were done. Then they started on the right leg. Now I started feeling weird. No pain really, but this weird crampy feeling like my whole leg was being squeezed from top to bottom, like in a vise or a trash compactor. Strange! I told the drug doc I was getting uncomfortable and didn’t think I could do this for a whole hour. He put something in my IV line and the next thing I knew, I was being asked to slide onto the gurney for the ride to the recovery room. It was all over.

Then drug doc asked if I wanted a pain block for my legs to help when the meds wore off. I accepted, not knowing what it would feel like later. I did just have part of my leg bones sawed off and removed so I thought, why not, it might hurt really bad.

They put my legs on top of a triangle shaped pillow to help prevent clotting. I had to stay on that for 2 hours. That caused very sharp pain just under the left knee because my hamstring was all knotted up. I had pampered that leg the last few years because it had always hurt the worst, so I used it the least. Well, that was the longest two hours of my life.That pillow dug into that hamstring and nothing helped relieve the pain. Finally they took me to my room and removed the pillow. It helped a lot to stretch out the leg.

A Spiritual Experience

As for surgery pain, it was minimal, even after the pain block wore off. They had me hooked up to a morphine dispenser, but I didn’t use it. I was quite comfortable until the next morning when that hamstring started throbbing again. I hit the morphine once and that did nothing to help. After a few hours I asked for heat to be put on it. Eventually the heat allowed that knot to release and by late evening I was pretty comfortable. I think if I had never had the triangle pillow jammed under my legs I would not have had a problem, but preventing blood clots was more important. Everything else was great and the nurses started making comments about how I was doing unusually well for someone who just had both knees replaced. I told them I had lots of people praying for me. God was not only answering prayers for my recovery, He was also surrounding me with peace and love. It was both a physical and a spiritual experience.

To be continued in the next blog post.


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A Heart for Learning

Here’s an interesting verse I came across today:

Proverbs 17:16 NLT  It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool, since he has no heart for learning.

When you have no heart to learn things, that is an indication of foolishness. The book of Proverbs was originally written in Hebrew and translated into English for us today. The Hebrew word for fool literally means: one who is destitute of reason or the common powers of understanding. Simply put, it’s someone who acts contrary to wisdom.

Now I have been in the “people business” (ministry) for over 30 years and one thing I have seen a lot of  is foolishness. There are many people who choose to act without wisdom. I’ve seen “wise deficient” people from all walks of life, all age groups, many nationalities and income levels. You don’t have to have a psychological (mental) or physiological (physical) problem to act foolish. You can have a healthy brain and be totally destitute of reason. Some people don’t take time to think things through, some people never learned how to do that, and some people choose not to  because of laziness, distractions, or habit. Those are all typical symptoms of foolishness but the root cause of these behaviors is a heart problem. One who acts this way has no heart for learning.  It’s just not in him. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to learn.

When you don’t want something, chances are you won’t exert any effort to try and get it. Learning is like that. You have to want it to truly get it. My wife will verify that. She has been a school teacher for over 25 years. She can teach the children thoroughly in her class day after day, month after month, but if they don’t have a heart to learn, they won’t! I have experienced the same thing working with people in the church. Some people just won’t absorb truth and act wisely on it because their heart does not really want it.

Learning is a lifelong necessity. Our world is changing rapidly because of incredible, continuous, mind numbing advances in technology. If you want to stay relevant you have to keep learning new things. If you don’t, you will find yourself  seriously disadvantaged in many ways. You will be unable to adequately compete in the job market or even keep the job you have. You will be socially disconnected because most people relate in so many high tech ways now. You will be unable to connect to the unlimited information resources that are available in this, the information age. You will probably even come up short in your relationship with your children or grandchildren because you won’t be able to understand or participate in a lot of the things they enjoy.

I continue to force myself to keep learning all the new technology, even when I don’t really want to. I’m looking at the end of my fifth decade and I am slowing down, forgetting some things, and struggling to stay current. I have to learn new software and develop new skills all the time so I can keep the computers running and fulfill the mission God has given me which, right now, revolves around the internet. Last night I even posted on my Facebook status (a necessary tool for this ministry) “Why do I have to work so hard to be a geek  when it comes so easy for others????” It’s hard work. It’s a challenge. I learn some things very slowly. I make a lot of mistakes. I have no one to help me, I’m using my own resources and sometimes I want to quit.  But that heart for learning is still deep inside me so I press on  and trust God for the results.

When it comes to spiritual things, the need to learn never stops either. There are always new levels of understanding to achieve, new dimensions of relationship with God, new insights on how to become all that God has called you to be. That’s what got me interested in God in the first place! In 1970 I was a just a bored high school graduate who struggled with periods of depression and emptiness. I didn’t know why I was on planet earth or why I was sucking up the oxygen somebody else could be using. I actually thought I was going to die at the age of 21. I don’t know why. I wasn’t living a risky lifestyle, I just had no sense of purpose. There was nothing meaningful to live for. I thought about death a lot.

Then I began to wonder if any of the “God stuff” I learned as a child was real or not so I started looking to church for answers. A new minister had come in recent years that was younger and much easier to relate to. I started taking some adult classes and things began happening inside me. As I developed a heart to learn the truth about God and His Word (the Bible) I began to understand it. That understanding caused me to abandon some of my foolish behaviors and I started to walk in truth and wisdom.

I also discovered something really cool as the months went by. The more I learned the more I realized how much more there is to learn. You can never get it all.  Truth is like God, it’s limitless. So all I needed to tap into that was a heart for learning. God, in His love and awesome grace, even gave that to me. He changed my heart.

This formerly bored kid found himself addicted to learning. I was visiting churches all around the Kansas City area. I went to every Christian conference I could find. I moved to Minnesota and went to school to learn all I could about God and how to serve Him. That school didn’t offer enough so I went to a school near St. Louis to learn some more. I bought Christian books and tapes of messages from some of the greatest teachers of that era. I got married and my wife and I spent the first week of our life together at an abundant living seminar in Kansas City learning new things about  the life Jesus wanted us to live. I wasn’t bored anymore. I had purpose and a reason to live.

This love for learning has been resident in me since those early days. But there have been periods in my life when I pushed His Word aside and got distracted.   Jesus warned us about this in one of His parables (Mark 4:19).  He said that the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. So yes, I have messed up from time to time. There have been seasons of temporary unfruitfulness,  but eventually I learned that  there is a way to get out of that mess and back to Jesus.   Jesus shared the solution, which is recorded in Matthew 11:28-30, and I love the way the Message Bible translation presents it:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  (29)  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  (30)  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

He showed me that the answer is to come to Him. When I do, I will recover my life and He will show me how to take a real rest. My responsibility is to walk with Him, watch how He does things, and learn from Him. He promises not to lay anything too heavy on me as I hang out with Him, I will learn to live free and light. That is so totally amazing and it really does work. It will work for you, too! Come to Him, learn, rest and be free.

So ask God to give you a heart for learning and you will find yourself growing in your relationship with Him. Foolishness will fall away and you find yourself making wise decisions, wise choices and wise responses in your daily life. It’s a great way to live!

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