Archive for Medical Adventures

Double-Knee Replacement-1 Year Anniversary

Last week I had my one year checkup, to the day from my surgery. What a difference one year makes! As I pulled up to the medical complex at St. Francis Hospital where my doctor’s office and physical therapy is located, lots of memories flooded back. I remember struggling to get in and out of the car, being let out at the front door so I didn’t have so far to walk and shuffling in with my walker and wondering if life would ever be normal again. Today there was no chauffeur driving me to my appointment, no handicap sticker dangling from the mirror and no looking for the closest possible handicap parking spot. Instead of riding the elevator to the second floor, I smiled as I walked over to the two flights of stairs, and confidently without stopping or holding onto the hand rail walked up to my appointment-simply because I could! I came down the same way-because I could.

This was a tough year for me but each week, each month, there was improvement and I am now living a normal, pain-free life. My knees are doing well, the tell-tell knee scar is very faint and I walk without limping. I still know that I have knees, but think about them less and less.

My biggest challenge is the bend of my left knee. I don’t have the bend I have in the right. That knee has been my challenge from day one. I actually lost a little of the bend I had at the end of therapy. I can’t get down on my knees and I have a little fear of sometime falling and not being able to get back up.

Dr. Kerr did x-rays and both knees look like they are suppose to look. He doesn’t know why I struggle so much with bend in that knee. I have mostly learned to adapt and sometimes I remind myself that I am much better than I was before surgery. I need to work again on some therapy exercises because at two years, what I have, is what I have. There is no more changing the situation.

Would I recommend doing the surgery? Absolutely.

Would I want to do both knees at the same time? Absolutely.

I will tell you, it was tough. Tougher than I anticipated or was prepared for. But, it is done, over, and all behind me. The end result is a huge improvement for me. I can walk so much better and am pain-free.

Before surgery
Now
Before surgery
Now

Inhale-Exhale

I am so sore tonight I can hardly wiggle!

I am still doing water therapy at the recommendation of my surgeon after my double knee replacement surgery. There is a physician approved therapy center called ACAC that I go to. They have lots of classes you can participate in or you can do your own thing in the heated salt water pool and Jacuzzi. When I started, I met with a therapist who went over the program and took all my vital signs. He was going to work with me. I haven’t seen him since.

Several weeks ago, I decided to do the arthritic session but was not impressed. There wee only “older” people in the class and it didn’t seem like there was much to it. I prefer to do the exercises that were given to me from my physical therapist. Today I decided to take the p.r.e.p session which is part of my therapy program. After all, that is why I am going.

It wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected to have one on one time with a therapist who would check my progress so that he could report it back to my doctor. Instead, it was basically a breathing class. Inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3. Most of the movements were standing still or almost still, keeping your eyes on a focal point while doing such movements as opening and closing your fist, turning your head, and squeezing your butt cheeks together, tighter, tighter, tighter. Now inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3 . One exercise included two steps forward-inhale-1-2-3, two steps back-exhale-1-2-3. That was the most active one!!! Another one was making sure you were standing up straight, looking straight ahead; inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3.  Now all my organs are lined up in their proper positions and my blood is flowing properly!

I left frustrated and determined I would just continue to do my own thing–real exercises. Several hours later I am complaining of being sore. Not just a little sore, big time sore; my ankles, knees, back, legs, arms, and neck, all the places where there are no organs.

Who knew breathing; inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3 for forty-five minutes could make a person sore! I thought I’ve been inhaling and exhaling for 67 years!!! Maybe my organs were out of line and I just didn’t know it. It is a three Advil night!

Bilateral Knee Replacement-Part 2: Recovery and Therapy

For two months before surgery, my number one focus was therapy; to strengthen my muscles to get me ready for recovery after surgery.

For three months after surgery, my number one focus has been therapy; to get me moving, bending and restoring full use of my knees and legs.

I do not like therapy or exercises. It is hard work, takes intense dedication and hurts! But, it is the difference between healing and getting better and becoming a fully functioning human being again.

I think therapists are on speed dial from the surgeon: “Patient is out of surgery, go, RUN!” Their preference is for you to meet with therapy the day of surgery. However, my first therapy session was postponed until the following morning as it was too late in the day when I got out of recovery and my spinal had not worn off yet.

The first week in the hospital is detailed in Part 1. When I left the hospital on Friday, four days after surgery, they asked if I wanted Home Health to come in. That sounded like a great idea-to let them come to me. The thought of having to leave the house to go one mile to therapy sounded like a big deal.

The morning after I was home, Home Health called and by mid-morning they were knocking on my door to do the paperwork, take my vitals and pictures of my knees. I was informed that I was only scheduled for three visits in two weeks. That was all they were allowed to do. That should have raised a flag but I wasn’t processing information very well at this point.

Later in the afternoon, the first therapist, came for the first visit. She was helpful and encouraging and assured me that what I was experiencing was normal but she pushed me to my limits. She was determined that I would get a 90 degree bend in my knees the first session. The most we could squeeze out was 75 degrees on the right and 55 on the left. The left knee just did not want to bend as well as the right. She suggested I cut the ice treatments back and decrease the pain meds.  I was exhausted when she left and took a long nap. It didn’t take long to find out that cut cutting ice or meds in the first week was not a good idea.

By the time the second therapist arrived five days later, I was eleven days past surgery and just getting my second “real” therapy session. I was worried about the length of time between sessions.  My left leg was really stiff, felt like a wooden post, and just would not bend as much as the right.  She wasted no time telling me that she is hard on her joint patients. She looked at my list of ten exercises  that I came home from the hospital with and said, “I want you do three sets of ten twice a day”.  My doctor instructions were to do ten of each exercise twice a day. That meant each exercise that I did ten times, I was now to do a total of thirty times, twice a day.  Physically, mentally and emotionally I could not do it.  I wrote in my journal. “My legs feel terribly tight, and are horribly sore. I can barely walk.” Her next visit was scheduled for eight days later.

The next morning I called my doctor and told him what was happening. I asked him if this is what he wanted in therapy. He said, “Absolutely not.”  He said Home Health is an independent company and they do their own thing. They do not communicate with the doctor, they don’t know what he recommends or wants for his patients.  He suggested that I use Ortho Therapy as it is in the same building as his office.

The Ortho therapist has access to the doctor and my medical records when needed and the doctor has input into the amount and type of therapy.  Ortho couldn’t start me until the beginning of the week which meant it would be sixteen days post surgery before I got on a good therapy schedule and program.  I was impressed with their program and they were very helpful and encouraging and committed to get me going. There was immediate concern about my left knee and we talked about the issue. The therapist mentioned that they can “manual manipulation” if it doesn’t respond to therapy but it is a last option.  Therapy was scheduled for three times a week plus they put me on an exercise program to do twice daily at home.  For the next ten weeks therapy and exercises consumed my days.

As I began to write this blog, I started to notice the post surgery milestones I had posted in my journal:

  • Twelve days: Was able to shower by myself without sitting or using the walker for stability.
  • Fifteen days:  Can leave walker outside of bathroom door.  Much easier to get in and out of bed and chairs.
  • Seventeen days: Started walking in the atrium at our church for exercise. The swelling in the legs is decreasing.
  • Nineteen days: Went out to our feed store for the first time (about an hour) and put in a feed order.  Started doing light office work every couple of days.
  • 3 weeks: At therapy my right leg bends 90 degrees and the  left 55. That is a big difference. The goal is 90 degrees at 2 weeks so I am running behind on the left.  I am now up and moving around most of the day. and cutting back on pain meds.
  • 4 weeks: Started going to church and more comfortable going out.  My legs hurt if I stand still or they “dangle” too long when sitting. I have to choose my chairs and length of time sitting and standing carefully. My legs still hurt at night and keep me awake but during the day, it is not bad. I now have 95 degrees on right knee an 82 on left. I have no trouble cooking and doing laundry as long as Gene helps me with carrying the laundry basket and getting pans out of the lower cabinets. I am now going steps to the office and laundry. I can now put my foot up on the edge of the coffee table to tie my shoes and trim my toe nails!
  • 32 days:  Had an appointment with Dr. Kerr and he is recommending water therapy.  Next week he wants to do a manual manipulation on my left knee. This scares me too death, sounds awful. They said it sounds like Velcro being pulled apart.
    • Started going to a neighbor’s pool to do exercises several times a week.
    • Incisions are healed and started using Coconut Oil and Coca Butter on them.
  • 37 days: Started driving. As long as I was on the strong pain meds I wasn’t allowed to drive.
  • 38 days:  Parked the walker and started using the cane full time.  My left knee cap would give out on me periodically and until we had those muscles strengthen I was suppose to use the walker.

  • 6 weeks: Manual manipulation.  Under sedation, Dr. Kerr was able to get 140 degree bend but when I left the hospital, I could only move it as before. I expected immediate results but discovered I was still going to have to work for it! I was very nervous about this procedure and how bad it would hurt. I knew I would be asleep for it but what about afterwards??? It turned out I was sore for about one day. I had a pool of blood just under the skin to the left of the knee cap that was tender for several weeks until my body absorbed it.

Picture given to me by my surgeon, taken during the manipulation.

    • Several things are affecting my movement. It is not the joints-they are artificial. There is still swelling and some fluid on the knee.  The healed incisions are tight-the skin around them does not move. I have to start massaging the incisions. Because of my poor posture in the months and years leading up to surgery the ligaments in my legs affecting movement have tighten and shorten.  I have to work hard with stretch exercises.
    • Ordered a portable pedal “mini bike” that sits on the floor in front of a chair. The therapist says pedaling is crucial to getting my knees to bend and the ligaments stretched.

    • They started me on a pedal bike in therapy. Man is that tough! The first time I could not do a full petal cycle. The therapist gave my left foot a little push to help it make a full cycle and it made me yelp! By the second session, I could do it.
    • Got rid of the potty “hi-rise seat”. I was waiting until after the manipulation as I didn’t know how things would be.
  • 7 weeks: I am seeing a definite improvement in my gait but still have a slight limp and a slight drag to the left leg.  I have had to relearn how to walk properly. I have to think; lift my knee like a march, come down, heel first then rock to toe. Repeat. Sounds easy, right!!!!!
    • I am working hard with leg extension exercises. My left knee, yes, the bad one, is doing great, but it is my good, right knee that does not want to extend properly so that the back of the knee touches the bed when fully extended. To walk properly and get rid of that drag, it has to happen.  After surgery my measurement was a 12. That is the gap between the back of the knee and a flat surface. That is not good. It needs to be a zero. Right now I am at 3.  After the therapist works on my knee, she can get zero, but I am not able to do it yet on my own.
    • I started making cakes to sell in the store again.
    • Got 96 degree bend on the left leg and 112 on the right. We hi-fived and cheered.
  • 8 weeks: I had my eight week appointment with Dr. Kerr. He was very encouraging and keeps telling me it will come, but it will take some time. He likened it to someone losing weight and stepping on the scales every morning expecting to see results. I said, “That is so me! That is exactly what I do.” I guess I am just impatient, I want instant results.
    • I am working on steps. I can not go fluidly up and down steps. It is one foot up (or down) and then the other foot like a baby learning to walk. I am working on the proper sequence. My left knee is lacking enough strength yet to bear my weight as I step up. I have to do exercises to strengthen the “step” muscles. It will come.
    • I have stopped using the cane in the house.  When practicing steps or going outside on uneven ground, I still use the cane for safety.  They do not want me to fall.

    • We went to the airport to pick up our daughter and family who had been on vacation. Their flight was delayed so we went upstairs where we could sit and watch people coming and going. I had taken my cane but when we came to the escalator, I stopped. I could not figure out how or which foot to put first on the moving steps. The steps looked like they were flying!!!! I didn’t long for me to decide we needed to take the elevator. It is funny what stops you in your tracks. It makes me realize the difficulty and inconvenience handicap people face. I have also faced this at Food Lion and Walmart. At this point I use the motorized carts as the stores are large and there is a lot of walking. If I want something on the top shelf I either have to stand up or use my handy cane; the hook is a “slick trick” for pulling items off the shelf as long as they aren’t glass.
  • 9 weeks: Today at therapy I got 105 degree bend on my left leg and 119 on the right and two days later it was 110 and 120.  The right knee has reached the anticipated goal for therapy and I am almost there on left.  The therapist and I cheered and hi-fived like excited school kids on the accomplishment. It is worth celebrating!!!
    • I am now going to church, therapy and to our store without the cane.
    • I am totally off all pain meds except for Advil and Tylenol on an as needed basis.

At my 8 week appointment, Dr. Kerr again pushed ACAC water therapy. When I questioned him about the difference between the YMCA and my friend’s pool, he said they have a heated salt water pool, medical staff on hand to work with you and the option of group classes in the pool.  They also report back to him on progress.

I finally decided that I was being stubborn like Naaman in the Old Testament (II Kings 5). Naaman had leprosy and his little Jewish slave girl told him that the prophet in her home land could heal him. Naaman went in search of the prophet Samuel and when he was told to go and dip seven times in the Jordan River he refused. He had his own rivers back home he preferred to use, they were cleaner.  But when he relented and obeyed, he was healed. I decided if I want to get better I need to listen to the advice of my doctor.  I signed up for two months at ACAC. The warm 95 degree water is wonderful and so is the huge Jacuzzi!!!!

I am now two days from the 10 week mark.  Today at therapy I got 113 degrees in my left knee and 124 in my right. They changed the way I am to walk. Instead of bending my knee as in a step or  march, I am to keep my leg extended, then heel down, rock to toe. That is to help my leg extension and prevent my “crouching” again. I knew before going to therapy I was improving on my bend. One of my exercises is to sit in a chair and slide my foot back towards the chair as far as I can, using the other leg to help push it back. The blue tape on the floor marks my achievements-where I can get my heel. My left foot almost touches the rung of the chair. I have made amazing progress.

 

Going up and down stairs is greatly improving. Going up is easier than down. On shallow steps I have the up conquered and the down is getting there. Steeper stairs is still a work in progress.  I can now put on panty hose which means I can wear my nicer flats to church.

As I read through my daily journal, I realize the huge progress I have made; little steps almost daily. It helps to look back and see where I came from so that I can keep my eye on the anticipated goal. They say It will take 1-2 years for full recovery.  I also realize that almost every day I write in my journal how bad I hurt during the night. I have trouble getting to sleep, my knees ache and my feet are restless.  During the day I am active and busy and not as aware of the ache.  Every step I take, I am still aware that I have knees. There is a tight band across the knee caps but it is gradually lessening with time.  I am now only going to physical therapy twice a week and  hopefully will done in a few weeks.

Many, many people have prayed for me. God is the ultimate healer and I give Him praise and thanks for what He has done in my life and how he has used the advances of modern medicine to help me. I look forward to complete healing and a new lease on life in the weeks and months ahead.

August 21: I am now between my tenth and eleventh week. I graduated from therapy today!!!!!!! My right knee has a 124 degree bend and my left 115. Because I am doing my home exercises, going to ACAC water therapy, my right leg extension has improved and I basically have full range of motion, the therapist is turning me loose. I will go back in two weeks for a final check-in.  It has been a long road and it feels so good to be moving on to the next phase. Hopefully, no more therapy-ever!!!!

 

Other blog posts about my surgery:

Bilateral Double Knee Replacement-Part 1: Surgery

Rahab and Ruth

Ready or Not, Here I Go

Domino Effect

Highly Motivated

I Can Help You!

 

Bilateral Double Knee Replacement-Part 1: Surgery

A lot of you have been following me on facebook but I wanted to document my experience as a help and reference to others anticipating the same procedure. One thing that I am being told over and over and am learning the hard way is that everyone is different, each knee is different even if done at the same time by the same doctor. There is no standard, only guidelines which makes the law of averages. It is easy to overlook the stories of those who struggle and only hear the voices of those who got along exceptionally well and then set that bar for yourself.  Before surgery I asked lots of questions, talked to others in the “knee club” and it was very helpful but it also set my expectations very high and I assumed I would be one of the “wonder” persons. It  did give me an idea of what to expect but somehow I missed how hard and painful it would be. For me, my journey became filled with struggles and several setbacks as you will see as my story unfolds.

Day of surgery: Day 1 (Monday)

Prepped and ready for surgery.

Our pastor came, prayed for me and sat with Gene and Jill as I headed off to surgery.

My two and a half hour surgery went well. I awoke in recovery with my family standing around my bed laughing. They were laughing at me! I knew they were asking me questions and I knew they were laughing at my responses but I could not control my answers. At least I provided good entertainment for them and at that point I didn’t care!

Jill took a selfie with me during my silly spell!

After I was awake and settled in my room (5 p.m.), my family left. It had been a long day and they were tired and hungry and I was sleepy, in no pain and had the most wonderful nurse, Barbie Adams, as my night nurse. She is a neighbor and I have known the family for forty plus years.  They put foot pumps on my feet to prevent blood clots and ice-wraps on my knees for swelling. They had me wiggle my numb toes and brought me a light supper. In the middle of the night I craved party mix. I finally asked Mrs. Adams if they, by chance, had any crackers I could eat. She brought me orange juice, saltine crackers, peanut butter and two cups of Hershey’s Chocolate Ice-Cream. It was a feast and tasted so good. I had a good night and they let me sleep with almost no interruption.

Day after surgery: Day 2 (Tuesday)

I awoke at 3 a.m. and was wide awake. I decided it was a good time for my devotions as everything was quiet and dark in the hospital.  I still had no pain, my knees did not hurt, and I could now feel my toes.  A one point I pulled my knees up and said to the nurse, “look at what I can do!” I felt like wonder woman. Two different nurses said they had not seen anyone do what I could do at that point.

 

At 8 a.m. my doctor made his rounds and took the large band-aid looking bandages off my knees. Now I could see my battle scars. There were no stitches or staples on the outside, the wound was super glued together.

Because my surgery was in the middle of the day and it was late until I got to my room, they did not get me up to walk yesterday  I was still too numb. But by 9 a.m. this morning, physical therapy was in my room and it was time to get out of bed, take a few steps and learn to take care of my personal needs. They let me sit in a chair for half an hour. Jill was in early and stayed with me all day. We had a good morning with lots of laughter and conversation.

In the afternoon they decided to give me 5 mg of Oxycodone as my knees were starting to ache and to prepare me for the afternoon physical therapy session. The spinal and nerve blocks in my legs was wearing off. They wanted me to sit in a chair and have a sponge bath before therapy. I sat on the edge of the bed and they took my blood pressure.  The top number was 166.

They moved me to the chair and I immediately started feeling bad-really bad. I turned very pale, started sweating and became nauseated.  They said I yawned, asked to get back in bed and slumped over. They took my blood pressure and buzzed for help. The top number was 77. I was in and out of consciousness as they lifted me back in bed. Fortunately we don’t have a picture of this! They restarted my IV and put ice on my head until they could get my blood pressure settled. We finally decided I had reacted to the Oxycodone. They switched the pain medicine to Tramadol and that worked well for me.  During the afternoon my level of pain started increasing as my legs were starting to swell and became very, very tight. It was a rough night and I was not allowed to get up to go to the bathroom as I was still too woozy.

Day 3: (Wednesday)

Physical therapy couldn’t do much with me today as my blood pressure was still unstable and I felt dizzy. Later they did get me out of bed and I walked 20-30 feet down the hall and then sat in a chair for about 45 minutes. I was so sleepy and at one point went to sleep in mid-sentence. My ankles and knees were so tight and swollen and very tender to the touch. They had me do a few exercises but my knees were so painful. It was a rough day. Usually they keep their bilateral patients two nights but there will be no going home for me yet.

My night nurse was not very helpful and acted like she didn’t want to be there. The rule is you have to ask for pain meds. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I was on four different pain medications; one was twice a day, one every six hours, two I could have in between. My brain absolutely could not keep it straight. I could not remember the names of the meds, what I could have when or when I took what. I quickly learned the value of a family caregiver who watches out for your needs.

I asked the night nurse to please give me my meds during the night whenever I was allowed to have them. She was a follower of “the letter of the law”, insisting I had to ask, in spite of my pleading. It was very frustrating. I had ice packs on my legs around the clock and the ice packs needed to be changed every 2-3 hours. I had to ask for them to be changed regularly also. Sometimes I would sleep through the time when I could have meds and then would hurt so bad as it took a while for the meds to catch up. When the night nurse would come in, she would call someone else to come help me to the bathroom, take off the foot pumps, change my ice. She did only the basic. I was very glad when the night shift change and I did not see her again.

Day 4: (Thursday)

Therapy got me up and we walked down the hall and then I sat in a chair again for about 45 minutes. My blood pressure is still fluctuating but not as bad. I felt a little more encouraged today and walking with the walker is going better. My knees hurt and because they are so swollen and tight, they do not want to bend. It is hard to stay focused on the anticipated goal and stay upbeat when you hurt. However, today I began to think about going home and when Dr. Kerr came in for the night rounds he said that in the morning, I could go home.

Day 5: (Friday)

Today is the day and it is time to go home. It feels a little bit overwhelming and intimidating. In the hospital they are set up to handle me and there are medical people to answer my questions. I wondered, can I really do this? Am I ready? Can I handle my home set up? I know I can walk with the walker but I haven’t had a shower yet. How will I handle that?

In preparation for going home, therapy consisted of learning to do a 4″ and 6″ step so that I can get into the house. Oh the little things we take for granted!!! The therapist had not been able to do all that she wanted to do with me in the hospital because of my blood pressure episode and asked if I wanted In-Home Care therapy. That sounded like a wonderful idea and she signed me up for two weeks.  This soon proved to be a mistake-it will be written about in part 2. By 11:30 the paperwork was signed, I was released, and ready to go home.

The night nurse did not do a good job keeping my legs iced and by morning my knees were extra swollen and so tight they could hardly bend. The first issue in getting me home started when they brought a transport chair to take me down to our vehicle.  The seat on a transport chair tilts slightly backwards which means your knees have to bend more than normal to reach the very narrow rests for your feet. It hurt so bad I could not stand it. They insisted that was my only option. I reminded them that they had me in a wheelchair earlier and I knew that would work, to please let me use that. They finally consented and even provided pillows to help support my legs. The second issue was that I was now signed out of the hospital and no longer were they allowed to help me.  The strapping young transport fella that was to wheel me down to the main entrance to our vehicle could do only that-wheel me down.  He was not allowed to help get me into the vehicle.

Our daughter, Jill, came in to get me as we decided her vehicle had more leg room in the front to get my legs in and out. Getting me in the vehicle proved to be very difficult. I could not bend my legs enough to get in regardless of how I tried twisting and turning. The young fella just stood there and stared. Finally, we decided to have me sit on the edge of the back seat and scoot across with my legs straight out in front of me on the seat. Without a finger lifted from the strapping young fella, Jill finally maneuvered me into place and off we went on the twenty minute ride home.

By the time we got home, I was really hurting and exhausted.  I went straight to bed. While I slept, Jill got my prescriptions filled and organized. Now we began the process of figuring out how to function at home. The white wicker chair seemed to be my best sitting chair (arm rests on a chair are very useful in getting up!) and I instantly knew I had to have a high rise seat for the potty. Our bathroom is narrow but fortunately we had remodeled it several years ago making it more functional.  I had to go in the door with the walker sideways, park my chariot by the sink and hold onto the sink to shuffle to the toilet.

Gene and Jill took turns getting up during the night to give me my meds and change my ice. The long awaited surgery week was over. It was good to be home.

Other blog posts about my surgery:

Bilateral Knee Replacement-Part 2: Recovery and Therapy

Rahab and Ruth

Ready or Not, Here I Go

Domino Effect

Highly Motivated

I Can Help You!

 

Rahab and Ruth

 

I was lying in bed the day after surgery thinking as I gently rubbing my swollen, sore, stiff knees when I had the idea of naming my legs Rahab and Ruth. I am sure your first thought is, “how did you come up with those names?” Both were Old Testament women with fascinating stories. The struggles and decisions of life had been hard and bruising on both women but when God got a hold of them and changed their hearts, they had new purpose in living. The results were life changing with New Testament implications.

So, with that introduction, meet Rahab (left) and Ruth (right)….

My legs: Rahab and Ruth:

Each leg is so different. Ruth is more flexible and responding to therapy but Rahab is more stiff and swollen. Both of my knees had severe osteoarthritis, bone spurs and was bone on bone. The surgery on Rehab was a little more intense.  When I got to my room after recovery, full of drugs, spinal and nerve blocks, I lifted and bent my knees and exclaimed to the nurse, “Look what I can do”! That was a short-lived wonder woman proclamation!

I had several setbacks along the way and very quickly “wonder woman” became “I wonder if woman”! At two weeks, the  therapist is looking to see a 90 degree bend in the knee and at three weeks, 110. At three weeks, I am just getting to 90 on Ruth and 55 on Rahab. This is very concerning to me as I am not sure what has gone wrong. What have I not done right? Everyone says everyone is different and even legs on the same person are different. I have done my exercises faithfully, before and after surgery. I think Rahab is holding Ruth back because some exercises such as the squats, you can’t do with a “straight wooden leg”.

Therapy is working hard with me and talking to my surgeon to break up the scar tissue and get more movement. Yesterday was a rough therapy day but we got 10-15 more degrees in each leg. If we still can’t get what I need, they will put me to sleep (as it is very painful) and manipulate the knees to break the adhesions.

Biblical Rahab.

Rahab first appears in the Old Testament in Joshua 2. The Israelites were poised to enter the promised land. Joshua sent out two spies to survey the walled city of Jericho and the surrounding area. Before the city gates were closed for the night, the two spies slipped into the city and went to a house built on the wall, the home of a prostitute, Rahab. This was a perfect place to stay because “visitors” were always coming and going. It wasn’t long until the king was notified that strangers were in the city. After a thorough search of the city, the men were not found because Rahab had cleverly hidden them under piles of flax drying on her roof. Rahab had heard about the Israelites and revealed to the spies the great fear of the people for them because they had heard how their God had done mighty things. After assuring Rahab that she and her family would be saved when they conquered the city if she followed the guidelines laid out, she let them down with a cord out of her window and the spies escaped to the mountains until it was safe to return to Joshua. A very short time later the Israelities marched silently around the city once a day for six days and on the seventh day seven times. At the designated time they blew their trumpets and shouted and the walls fell in a heap of rubble except for Rahab’s house. She and her family was rescued. The detailed story is in Joshua 2. Hebrews 11:31 records that Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe because she received the spies in peace.

Her next appearance in scripture is Matthew 1:5 in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Salmon and Rahab begot Boaz.  Wouldn’t you like to know the love story of Salmon and Rahab?

Biblical Ruth.

The next line in the genealogy states that Boaz and Ruth begat Obed , Obed begat Jesse the father of King David. Twenty-eight generations later the family line ends with the birth of Jesus Christ.

The whole book of Ruth in the Old Testament is given to the story of Ruth.  This also is an amazing story. Elimelech and Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, lived in Bethlehem during the time of the judges. There was a severe famine and they moved to the land of Moab where the sons eventually married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpal. After ten years, Elimelech and both of his sons died leaving three grieving widows. Noami decided it was time to go back to her homeland and her people.  The two daughter-in-laws started out with her but Naomi begged them to stay with their families as she was too old to produce more sons for them to marry. Orpal turned back but Ruth refused to leave her beloved mother-in-law.

Ruth’s heartfelt response to Naomi has gone down in history as a beloved commitment which is frequently used in Christian weddings.

“Entreat me not to leave you or to turn back from following after you.

For where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge.

Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.

The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth 1:16-17

 

It was harvest time when they arrived in Bethlehem. Ruth asked permission of her mother-in-law to go and gleam grain behind the reapers in the field. She “happened” in the field of Boaz who was close kin of Elimelech. Boaz noticed Ruth and inquired who she was. He had already heard her story and knew of her loyalty to Naomi.  Boaz invited her to only gleam behind his reapers, provided her with food and water, gave her extra grain to take along home, and admonished his workers to watch out for her and not harm her.

The culture in those times was very different from what we know and understand. It was the responsibility of the closest kin to marry a widowed woman to produce a son to carry on the dead man’s family name. The details of the story can be read in the book of Ruth. There was one man closer kin but he declined to marry Ruth so Boaz willingly took her as his wife. Rahab is now the mother-in-law of Ruth.

Two women: a prostitute and a Moabite. Two women who knew heartbreak, sorrow, disappointment and the bruising rigors of life. Two women who met God and married into the Israelite tribe which was strictly forbidden by God. Two women whose lives were given new purpose and from whom our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born.

I kind of like the symbolism of their stories. My worn out knees need new life and purpose.

Other blog post relating to my surgery:

I Can Help You!

Highly Motivated

Domino Effect

Ready or Not, Here I Go

 

Ready or Not, Here I Go

The appointed time is at hand; I get new knees (Bilateral Knee Replacement) and the promise of straight legs and a new gait.  I can hardly wait but at the same time I dread the unknown of what I have to go through to get there.

I talked to one lady who is my age and lives in Powhatan. She had the very same procedure with the same doctor within the last six months. She has gotten along very well and was a great encourager. I have also talked to numerous others and I feel like I kind of understand what to expect.  Everyone I have talked to has done very well and are so glad they had it done.

It is quite the ordeal to get ready:  pre-op physical therapy, doctor appointments, preadmissions testing, class on procedure, CT scan, EKG, paperwork to fill out, release forms to sign, and pre-surgery cleansing routine. My post-operative care is lined up and a walker and cane have been borrowed.  The house is cleaned, flower beds are  weeded, the laundry done and my duffel bag is packed. A thousand last minute instructions about everything I could think of have been given. You would think I was going away on a long vacation and they can’t do it without me!!!

I am very grateful to my many friends, family and church family for their expressions and promises of care and prayers.

So now, ready or not, here I go. It is now time to git’er done!

Other blog posts about my knee replacement surgery:

 

 

Domino Effect

What we do affects others, often in ways we have no idea. This hit home really hard late Monday afternoon when I got a call from my surgeon’s office saying my Wednesday knee replacement surgery needed to be rescheduled.  I like to think I can be understanding and flexible but sometimes you find out it is hardier than you think. It would have been easier to take if the doctor was sick or an emergency in the family. But no, this was a mistake between the surgery and clinical scheduling offices.  I had caught wind that this might be the case a week ago, but was assured by the scheduler that my surgery was on.  Now I have to accept the fact that someone made a mistake and it affected me.

It was a big deal for me to get ready and everything scheduled for  this surgery.  I am a busy, active, working person.  After surgery I need a caregiver for a week, time off from work, and employees to cover for me and a hundred other details to attend to and delegate.

Before surgery you have lab work that has to be done within the month prior to surgery.  I only had a week to spare or all the labs would have to be redone. Seven days before surgery you have to go off all your vitamins and meds. Three days before, you start a cleansing route with surgical scrubs. The bed linens have to be washed twice in the three day process and I can only put on all clean clothes each day and night.  All of this was already in process.

On Sunday my knees became swollen, tight and very painful.  I was having difficulty doing steps and walking. It suddenly dawned on me that it was probably because I had been off the anti-inflammatory medicine in preparation for surgery.  Now I have to start all over on this process and more surgical scrub has to be sent to me.

My caregiver (daughter) is a business manager for two dental offices. Between work, home, church and teenage kids it is a big deal for her to take off and come help me for a week.  Her family is willingly making big sacrifices for me to have help. Now all her plans have to be changed which affects two business and numerous persons.

Gene had a root canal scheduled on my new surgery date. That had to be changed.  Feed delivery schedules were altered to help with me being out of the store. The list goes on and on.

We worked through it and all is well. There was even some positive in the midst of it that works out for the better.  Sometimes we forget so it is a good reminder that our mistakes or decisions can have far reaching implications, complications and inconveniences for other people. It is like a line of dominoes; when one falls, the whole line crashes. I also know that sometimes things are delayed for unseen reasons and it is for our good or protection.  I may never know what or if God had a reason it needed to be delayed.  I have prayed over this surgery and the surgeon and am trusting God to be the ultimate healer and know that His timing is perfect.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Other posts related to my surgery:

I Can Help You!

Even with prescription inserts, my feet have hurt for years. I have blamed it on genetics and my lot in life. An everyday pair of shoes last me about six months. By that time, the sides are blown out and it is obvious that I walk on the outsides of my feet. In the last number of years, I have become more and more aware that I am getting very knock-kneed and have wondered if maybe my feet issue are a result of a larger “structure” problem. When I am sitting in the lazy boy chair with my feet straight out, it is startling how crooked my legs have become. I have developed an unnatural gait that is uncomfortable and frankly very unbecoming. Try knocking your knees together and roll your feet to the outside as you walk.

I finally went to see an orthopedic specialist last week that looked at my feet, knees and hips.  One of the first things I said to Dr. Kerr was, “I’m not sure you can help me but this is what i am dealing with.” After listening to me and looking at my x-rays he said, “I can help you!”  I had prepared myself for the worse; that there was nothing they could do. How do you fix such a mess?

I was ecstatic.  He. Can. Help. Me! There is actually something that can be done.

My Problems:

  • The tendons in my feet burn, especially in the arch area.
  • My feet always hurt. I can’t go barefoot and have to wear good shoes with prescription inserts. I am always aware I have feet. I only have one style of shoe that is comfortable for me to wear– my “granny shoes”!
  • Knees are larger than they should be and it often feels like my knee cap could give out.
  • When I get down on my knees,  I have a very difficult time getting up.
  • It is very difficult to stand for long periods of time such as waiting in line, standing at the kitchen stove or standing in church for singing.  I need to sit. It is much easier to keep moving. Long walks, particularly on concrete or uneven ground kill my feet. Running is out of the question.
  • My hips ache and often my lower back bothers me.
  • Coming down stairs, I like to use the handrail and it is right foot down, then left foot; not a continuous stepping action.

Diagnosis: Osteoarthritis.

I have severe arthritis in both knees, a bone spur, and the knee caps have gotten off center. It is bone on bone. I knew there was probably some arthritis in my knees, my little fingers show “Uncle Arthur’s” presence,  but I had no idea my knees were in that bad of shape!  It is truly amazing but I do not have pain in my knees. They ache and bother me, but no pain. My lower back actually bothers me worse than my knees.

He asked me if my knees clicked. I said, “no”, but as he moved them around you could hear, “click, click, click!” When I left the office and walked down the hall I could feel my knees clicking away! I simply had not picked up on it. He also noted that I have developed a little bit of a “squat” stance. When standing straight, my knees bend slightly forward so I am not really standing straight.

The good news is that it is not rheumatoid arthritis.  Dr. Kerr looked at my hands and said, “See how the end joints of your little fingers are affected. That is arthritis.  If it is the first joint on your finger and goes back into your knuckle, it is rheumatoid arthritis. That is worse”

I Can Help You:  Robotic Double Knee Replacement.

I was stunned as I had never even considered the knee replacement option in my brain.  The first thing I have to do is six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen the leg and knee muscles. The middle of April he will see me again and we will talk.  One thing he did say was that he needed to do both knees at the same time; it is the only way to get my knees and legs straight.  He said, “When I am done, I am going to walk out to the waiting area and tell your family that you legs are straight!”

How Do I Feel?

I have been doing lots of reading online and talking to a few people trying to gather information so that I know what I am facing. It is daunting to think of doing both knees at once and not having a good leg to stand on. I will admit, it is a little scary, but I am also very excited. I have to get through the busy spring months in the store before I can schedule this ordeal. It is a bit overwhelming to think about and at this point I have lots of unanswered questions. I feel this is something I have to do while I am still healthy and “young enough” to prevent more severe and untreatable structure problems later on.  After all, I have a surgeon who says, “I can help you” and I know a “Great Physician” who can help the surgeon.

It is very distressing to me to see pictures of how I actually look and how far I have slipped.  I think, this can’t be me.  I want you to see why I am so excited for surgery! The video is a very short “now” picture of me walking. In a few months I hope I can post another one that I can title, “Look at me now. He helped me!”

I will be writing my journey as it unfolds; I am hoping for surgery in June. I would love to hear from others who have had the same experience.

Other blog posts about my knee replacement surgery:

It Was My Bald Spot

A bald spot on a man can look very dignified and stylish, but for a woman, it is a cosmetic nightmare! As I kept tabs on the thinning spot on the back of my head, I decided it was time to take action and try something, anything!

My friend, google, guided me to numerous web sites and after reading the information, I decided on Keranique.com. It proclaims itself as the hair regrowth system for women with thicker, longer, stronger and healthier hair. And, it is clinical proven! After looking at pictures, reading testimonials and seeing the claim that 1,000,000 women have been helped, I decided to give it a try. After all, what did I have to lose except more hair.

The products are rather pricey, but if I had gone to a doctor and gotten a prescription, that would have also been expensive also. With anticipation, I ordered the kit; Scalp Stimulating Shampoo,  Volumizing Keratin Conditioner, Hair Regrowth Treatment, Lift and Repair Treatment Spray along with their super duper vitamins for hair regrowth.

I have been using it since January 2017 (1-1/2 years) and the results are very noticeable, I am very pleased. I don’t have the luscious, silky, flowing hair of the women on the ad, I never have. I admit I have always been a tad bit jealous of women with thick hair but for me the results are a huge improvement. My hair is still thin, but there is no longer a bald spot.

Now, I just look at another bald spot that I don’t have to have a mirror to see it. Shhhh, I took this picture while he was sleeping. I think he ought to start using my magic potion, it might even make him feel younger! What do you think?

Our Testimony of God’s Faithfulness and Victory in the Fight.

 

 

Over the Thanksgiving season, our Pastor asked three couples to share their testimonies: Thankfulness in the Ordinary, Thankfulness in the Fight and Thankfulness in the Victory. We were asked to share about the lost of our two children for the later. Here it is, written as we shared it or you may listen to it on the church web site.  http://www.pmchurch.net/multimedia-archive/testimony-thankfulness-victory/  (Note it takes 24 seconds for the tape to start playing).

Gene:

40 years ago, we were in the midst of starting our family. We wanted four children and God blessed us with four. Two, Keith and Jill, are living and here today with their spouses and children (our grandchildren). Two other children, Karla and Greg, died at the tender age of 5 and 7 months from a genetic disease (SMA or at that time was called Werdnig Hoffman Disease). SMA is a cruel disease. The nerves that join the spinal cord die and whatever movement they control the muscle deteriorates. Their arms and legs are limp and it affects their swallowing and breathing. Because we carried the most acute stage, the symptoms appear at or shortly after birth and their lifespan is one year.

Pat:

Our first child, a son, was born kicking and making his presence known in the world with gusto. Keith was a very energetic young fellow with unlimited energy. Fifteen months later Karla was born. She was a very contented, thumb sucking, little angel who would lie in her bassinet or sit in an infant seat for hours just sucking her thumb and watching me work. She rarely cried.

 

When Karla was about 3 months old, we started becoming concerned about the lack of development and movement. We shared it with the pediatrician and he monitored her for the next several weeks. He decided we needed to go see a neurologist. A week before the appointment to the specialist, we ran into a medical crisis when Karla developed pneumonia and a lung collapsed at home. I well remember that drive to St. Mary’s Hospital. We decided it was quicker to just go than wait on an ambulance. Gene drove very fast and we ran red lights (of course the traffic was different then) and got to the hospital in record time. Gene dropped me off at the emergency room door as he parked and when I blurted to the receptionist that Karla was having breathing problems things happened NOW. Amazingly, the specialist on call that night was the same specialist from MCV that we had an appointment with the following week-Mr. Myers. Before the evening was over our world was rocked. We were dealing with a fatal, no-survivor, no-cure disease with a life sentence of less than a year. They transferred her to MCV where she was in intensive care for the next three weeks before passing away.

 

Gene:

We were taught and believed that God does not allow more in our life than we can handle. At the age of 27 that belief was tested with Karla’s diagnosis and the difficult journey we faced was full of unknowns. But as our families, friends and church family learned the shocking news, they offered comfort and support.

I remember Art and Phoebe Ranck were especially dear to us. They too had buried an infant daughter under difficult circumstances. They understood and cared for us with love. We remember one verse that they shared with us during that time from Deuteronomy 33:27, “And underneath are the everlasting arms.” Even in the midst of deep testing and difficulty, more than we can handle, we find God’s presence and strength, His arms were there to hold us tight.

At that time PMC was still a young church-12 years old. There was no cemetery. The church came together to build a cemetery knowing that the first to be buried would be their youngest, a baby.

During this time my prayer was simple, I asked for grace, God’s grace to make it through each day. God provided. I believed in healing but I also wanted to be able to accept the outcome whatever it might be. Our difficulty would not magically disappear, we had to walk the dark path of sorrow and grief, but God was with us just as the Psalmist exclaimed, “Yea, though I walk through the valley, you are with me.” (Psalms 23:4)

Pat:

Looking back it is so beautiful to us how God provided the people we needed at the time we needed. Doris Ranck was especially dear to me with daily phone calls. Sheila Schaefer and Janis Ranck babysat many hours.

At one point during Karla’s illness, MCV was doing what medical facilities do, prepare the family for taking their loved one home. This was a big deal. Karla literally needed round the clock care; suctioning equipment, heart monitor, oxygen, and feeding tube. I am not a nurse, but they started teaching me to do all those things. It was overwhelming. Doris helped us work through what all that meant and what it was going to look like. I had an energetic little boy that needed a mommy. This was a time of almost overwhelming pressure and hopelessness. In the midst of this, our local family doctor here in Powhatan, Dr. Bradley called. You have to know that Powhatan was very different in those days. People in the community knew each other. There was one doctor and we all knew him as a friend. He was not Karla’s doctor, she had a pediatrician, but he was ours and he had heard about what we were going through and one evening called to chat and offer his comfort and encouragement. I poured (actually, cried out my heart) to him. He listened and then he said, “Karla needs a nurse, Keith needs a mommy. You and Gene must take care of yourselves and Keith.” That call was God sent. It was words of hope and care and offered the wisdom we needed. The next day we informed the hospital that we could not bring her home. The weight that lifted from our shoulders was huge. We were so grateful for God’s care.

Karla spent three weeks in intensive care at MCV. The bill was $5000.00 total and we did not have insurance. It looked overwhelming to us. Someone “mysterious” paid our funeral expenses and Crippled Children’s Hospital wrote off the bill. I had a friend in Harrisonburg who during revival meeting at her church during this time felt God impress on her heart to give us her quarter collection. It weighed 8 lbs.  It was almost more than we could bear to accept even in our time of need. You see, she was a “widow” living alone because her husband had deserted her on the mission field for another woman and had also turned her four children against her. God taught us humility in receiving in a most precious way.  Before I was married, I had helped them in their move back to the states.

 Gene:

The Sunday Karla died, Pat and I were at the hospital all day and needed to come home to do some chores and touch base with Keith. He had been at the Rancks all day. Art and Phoebe decided to take us back into MCV. We knew Karla was quickly going downhill but when we saw her several hours later we realized Karla was in big trouble and the end was near. We debated and wrestled with whether to stay the night. I needed to be home to milk in the morning and we had a young toddler at home. The hospital insisted we go home that she probably would not die that night. When we got home and walked in the house, Doris, who was here with Keith, was on the phone with MCV and they were telling us to come back. We headed back to Richmond. Just as we passed Flatrock a car came racing up behind us with lights flashing. It was Art. He pulled alongside and flagged us over. As we were going out the lane, MCV had called again. Art brought us the news. Our Karla was gone.

After Karla’s death, we were faced with the difficult decision about future children, remember we wanted four children. There was a 1 in 4 chance on each pregnancy that this could show up again. We decided to take the risk and leave it in God’s hands. We had found His grace to be sufficient and trusted Him with our future. A year later God blessed us with a healthy baby girl, Jill.

Pat:

I dealt with a lot of fear during the pregnancy, at times almost more than I could bear. You see, I analyzed every movement in the womb  and compared to the previous pregnancies even though the movements felt strong. We didn’t know to have that worry with Karla. We didn’t know we had a genetic issue. When Jill was born and the nurse lifted her onto the scales, Gene pronounced her healthy. He said, “There is nothing wrong with this baby.” She was healthy, and we never worried after that.

After a healthy daughter, we decided to try again. Again, it was so hard not to worry, analyze and fear the unknown. When Greg was born, Gene was silent. I noticed. The doctor pronounced him healthy but the next few days I was consumed with fear. I watched and analyzed Greg’s every movement. We just didn’t think there was enough strength in his legs and by the time we left the hospital we were very concerned even though the doctor assured us differently. We struggled…..Was God preparing us for what was ahead or the devil binding us to fear. In the midst of the battle, you can’t tell. Stress and fear became boulders in our path. It was a real battle we were fighting. I put verses in the kitchen window and played uplifting hymns. We prayed. We knew God’s love, experienced His care and trusted His faithfulness.  We had to go through it and no one could walk it for us. But we pulled into ourselves. We could not bring ourselves to share with the church what we were fearing we knew.  The Rancks, Pastor Steve and our families knew but beyond that we chose to suffer in silence.

I remember one Sunday standing in the library doorway out in the hallway with Greg and listening to the lively chatter of visiting people. A feeling of overwhelming loneliness swept over me. Pastor Steve began working with us on how to share it with you, our church family. When Greg was six weeks old we dedicated him to the Lord and then Pastor Steve shared with you, the church. I remember the church gathering around, laying hands and praying for us. I cannot begin to tell you the relief we felt that morning. I cried buckets-all day. My family was also here that Sunday. Now, you knew. The burden was shared. The overwhelming load that crushed us was gone. We had brothers and sisters who loved us and were now standing in the gap for us. Even though the road ahead would be extremely difficult, and it was going to be our personal journey to walk, we had supporters, encouragers to help carry the load.

Gene:

Once again, I found myself asking for grace to survive this journey. We knew what was ahead, but we didn’t know how it would all play out. There were many doctors’ visits and medical decisions. This ordeal was very different from Karla. From the time we knew she was ill it was three weeks and she then was in the hospital. But with Greg, it was nine months of pregnancy plus seven months of living, most of which was at home under our care.

He became very attached to Pat and if someone else tried to hold him or he became stressed, he instantly developed respiratory distress. Four times he stopped breathing and we thought he was gone and too many times to count he went into serious respiratory distress.

Pat:

One time he stopped breathing while I was in the house alone with Keith and Jill. He would get mucus plugs. I yelled out the door for Gene (this was before the time of cell phones) and fortunately Gene was nearby. He immediately came to the house. Greg’s breathing had stopped, his eyes had glassed over and set. There was no pulse. Gene went to the phone to make the call and Greg started spluttering and breathing again. Another time Gene was combining on Rocky Ford Rd. at Watt Flippo’s. Again, I thought I had lost him. I called Doris and said, “He’s gone. I need Ed to go get Gene.” Ed quickly brought Doris over and went to find Gene. Again, he revived.

Another time Dorcas Schaefer took me to the pediatrician’s as it was not safe for me to take Greg by myself. Doris also went along as she had an appointment for Jon Michael who was sick. As we were walking out the door of the doctors after his appointment, Greg coded again. The entire office rushed to my aid and this time the doctors got to see the reality of what we were dealing with.

Several weeks later he ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. At the time, Ed and Doris were going through a lot of medical issues with their baby and they ended up in the same hospital several days before Greg. We had the same pediatrician and he knew we were close friends. When Greg was admitted, we were put on the same floor two doors from the Rancks. Dr. Abernathy went to Doris and said, I was going to let you go home today but can we just keep you here another day? I want you here for Pat. We knew we had a good doctor, but God showed us he had also provided us with a doctor with compassion. While in the hospital he coded again.

I had to learn to tube feed and suction. Remember, I was not a nurse and it is not much fun learning on your own child. When I got home and had to stand in front of my child and actually stick the tube I was holding up his nose and guide it into his stomach and not his lungs was daunting. I could not do it. Betty Hertzler came and help me change his tube. After a few times I did learn to do what I thought I could not do. God gave me strength.

Gene:

I lived with a huge knot in my stomach. There were times when I was physically sick because of the mental stress. There were many times when we put Greg to bed not knowing if he would be alive in the morning. We didn’t know when a mucus plug would be the one that would cause his death.

People cared for us in so many ways. Rosalie came one day just to be with Pat. Many babysat Keith and Jill. One day Bob Hertzler came over when I was plowing and said, “When you can’t go anymore, call me. I know someone who will come and finish. At 11 a.m. Bobbie came.

Another time Ron Moyer, Dave Moyer, Bill Schaefer and Ed Ranck showed up with their tractors and helped me do some field work. Pat’s folks came numerous times to help on the farm and with the children.

Pat:

One day when Greg was about three months old, Six-year old Keith was watching as I dressed Greg. Keith said, “Why does Greg’s chest look like that? Is that why he doesn’t breathe right?” I realized the time had come, Keith had to be told. We were waiting on him to ask questions. I explained that Greg was sick and couldn’t breathe right. Keith asked a lot of questions; would he get better, couldn’t we just push his chest back out with our hands, would he get to be a big man and still not be able to move? I quietly and honestly answered each question. Then he said, “that makes me so sad I could cry”. I told him it made me sad also and hugged him tight as he sobbed and sobbed. Then he had many more questions: Couldn’t the doctors give him a shot to make him better, when will he die, does he have the same thing as Karla, will he (Keith) die, how will Greg get to heaven, will Jesus take him to heaven, can he move in heaven. It was a teachable moment and God gave me the words.

Another time I overheard Keith and Jill playing. Keith made comment of someplace he wanted to go and three-year old Jill said, “we can’t, not until Greg dies.”

Our children were also suffering, hurting and observing. They learned at a tender age that life is not fair. They learned about the fragility of life and the reality of heaven.

 I had a friend who kept pushing God can heal-if we just have enough faith. This is a difficult thing to discern. It became a test of my faith in God. I knew that Greg’s disease was fatal and there were no survivors. I also believed that God can and does heal. It is a difficult spiritual quandary.

One day I laid Greg on the kitchen table and took Keith and Jill with me to the barn to get a gallon of milk. I was gone maybe 5 mins. Now what you need to understand is, Greg was four months old and he could not move. He could not turn his head from side to side when laying on his back. He had never lifted his head or even attempted to roll over. He could not kick his feet. He was basically a floppy rag doll. The table had a vinyl tablecloth on it, so it was not slippery. When I got back to the kitchen, Greg was on the floor, crying and gasping for breath. The chair was pulled out in an angle from the table as if he fell onto the chair first. I picked him up. There were no cuts, bruises or broken bones. The tablecloth us undisturbed. There was no humanly way possible for what just happened to have happened. In that instant, I felt God say to my heart. “Now, can you have that kind of faith in me?” I did. I knew that God could heal and I began praying for a miracle for him to heal my baby, if it was his will. I did not know if God would choose to heal Greg. The important thing was that I had knew he COULD. I do not know how Greg got on the floor, but you will never convince me it was by earthly means.

Gene:

Greg died on a Sunday morning. We knew when we got him up that he was in serious trouble. This time was different. Pat called Dr. Abernathy and asked what we should do. He said, “If you bring him in to the office, I will have to admit him to the hospital. If you want to keep at home, I have calls I need to make at the hospital, but I am available to the phone if you need to talk.” He told us what to expect and talked to us about heaven. We called Pastor Steve and he came over on his way to church. When he saw our situation, he made a quick call to Sam Powell Sr. who was church council chairman and told him to make other arrangements for the service. Sam nabbed Louie Burkholder as he came in the church. Louie was to teach the men’ s class so Wally Schaefer took his place. Louie went into the pastor’s study and by the end of Sunday School came out with a sermon on prophecy and it was said he even went 10 minutes overtime! Around 9:30 a.m. I was holding Greg in the rocking chair when he stopped breathing in my arms.

We were worried that death would be a frantic and scary experience. But as we together held Greg and each other, it was a holy moment. It is a moment when heaven touches earth.

The day after the funeral, the huge knot in my stomach went way.

Pat:

When Pastor Bill asked us to share several weeks ago, our first thought was, this happened 40+ years ago. This past week I pulled out my journal-I had written in it every day. I became totally absorbed in our story almost as if it was a new story. I could not lay it down. Each day I had written of the struggle, questions, fears, and stress. But each day woven like gold threads on a tapestry were verses and testimony of God’s provision, love and care through people.  There was so much I had forgotten but it all came flooding back.  This was our story and it deeply affects who we are today.

There is so much more we could share. So many more stories we could tell.  And although 40 years old, it is a part of our present story. We have never forgotten the faithfulness of God, we still walk in it. We have never forgotten the peace that passes all understanding. We have never forgotten the meaning of “love, support and care” from others. We have never forgotten what it means to stand on our faith in God even when we didn’t know the answers, the going was tough, the next day looked insurmountable and we didn’t know the future. And yet we could trust that it would be ok even if it did not work out like we dreamed or desired. Jude challenges us “to contend earnestly for the faith”. (Jude 3) An enduring faith comes through challenge and severe testing.

Sometimes it pays to look around. Look at what others are dealing with. We discovered we were so grateful we didn’t have to walk some other paths. We found God’s grace was sufficient for what we needed, every day. We found great comfort in knowing our children could only live a year. If we had stage 4 of the disease instead of stage 1 we could have two wheelchairs sitting here in the sanctuary today with two severely handicapped children. Our lives would have been so different. We are so grateful that is not the case.

Through the years God has brought numerous people into our lives that were ours to help, ours to love, ours to stand with in difficult circumstances and ours to comfort through the deaths of their children.

The Worship Team lead a song, “Victory in Jesus”. I love that song. Our victory is in Jesus. It doesn’t matter what you are going through; sickness, marriage tensions, job lost, financial difficulties, depression, disappointments, or infertility. These are all earthly trials and they are real. The struggle and fight are the same. Our earthly struggle is ongoing. We want to close with the words of a song that passionately proclaims the victory in the midst of the fight. I pray that each of you will experience that God is faithful, that Jesus heals our broken spirits, and there is victory in the fight.

 

Does Jesus Care

By Frank E. Graeff

Pat:

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained, too deeply for mirth and song.

As the burdens press, and the cares distress and the way grows weary and long.

Gene:

Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear?

As the daylight fades into deep night shades, does He care enough to be near?

Pat:

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed to resist some temptation strong;

When for my deep grief, I find not relief, tho’ my tears flow all the night long?

Gene:

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “good-bye” to the dearest on earth to me,

And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks-Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Pat:

Oh, yes, He cares, we know He cares! His heart was touched with our grief.

Gene:

When the days were weary, the long nights dreary,

Together:

We knew our Savior cared.

 

Today…..we are so blessed and grateful for His loving kindness to our family.

 

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