Saturday, October 30, 2010

The surgery date is set, thanks for caring!

I don't want to overload my blog with my knee woes, but quite honestly, it's a big part of my existence right now. I just wrote an email to friends and family to update them on my situation. I have received a huge outpouring of concern from so many people. On one hand it's just a stupid knee, it's not something serious in the bigger scheme of life and compared to what so many of you have gone through or are going through. On the other hand, it's a real challenge for me. I hope sharing various posts about my knee saga will serve to encourage you in some way. Here's the email I just sent:

Friends and Family,

I just thought I'd send you a little explanation of my knee issue now that surgery has been set for Nov. 17. For those of you who know the story, I won't be offended if you just hit delete and read no farther. I've answered so many questions from loving, concerned people, that I have lost track of who to update, so I thought to send this if you are interested. So read only if you want.

Basically I dislocated my knee playing soccer two weeks ago. I went up for a header and got knocked in the air. I came down fully on my right leg. Needless to say it was the wrong angle. My knee dislocated and the lower part came forward and moved up my thigh bone. It was hideous. If you're a real sicko, I have actual pictures of my leg before they put it back in place, just let me know and I'll email them.

The pain was the worst thing I have ever experienced. It was very helpful to have my good brothers in Christ there literally holding my screwed up leg partially in the air until the EMT's got there. I hate to have traumatized my teammates, but it was a pretty freakish thing. I'm glad the game wasn't an hour early or all of our kids would have been there to enjoy the view. I've been on the field or coaching several times when nasty injuries occurred, it felt weird to be the one gawked at by the teams and spectators. Did I mention how much it hurt? The EMT's got there and gave me some morphine which helped less than I had hoped for, but it did take the "edge" of the acute pain, as they say. Once in the ER the doctor acted pretty fast to get me x-rayed and ready to "reduce" the joint, which simply means to pull the leg straight and back in to place. They gave me the "Michael Jackson" drug to put me out for a minute or less. When I awoke, my leg was reduced and in an immobilizing splint. I then went through a series of tests to be sure my vascular system was OK and that my nerve wasn't damaged. Apparently there is a high percentage of vascular injury with such trauma to the knee. I stayed over night at the hospital and was released late the next day with no apparent vascular or nerve damage- for which I am thankful to God.

The hardest thing that happened in the hospital after the initial trauma in the ER was hearing the orthopedic doctor tell me my soccer playing days were effectively over. Many would say (and some have said point blank) I was probably too old to be playing in a league with twenty-somethings at the level of intensity I was. In retrospect they are probably right, how could I really argue that it was at some level foolish jumping up and over guys to head a ball in to a net in a game that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things? 39 is too old to be playing like that, etc. etc. I think that's probably right, looking back. At the same time I would be at total liar to say-that if given the chance again to score a goal by way of a diving header, I would pass it up...heck, I'd do it again in a heart beat. In the words of Nacho Libre- "don't you want a taste of da glory Stephen?" I just love playing and competing that much. Am I a loser? Yes. A total loser. I came to terms with that a long time ago. Soccer has been fun to play and I love playing with the guys I play with, many of them are Redeemer brothers. So, when the doc told me I was done, it hurt. It still hurts and makes me sad. In reality, I have seriously injured my knee in a way that will never leave me no matter how good of a job the surgeon does reconstructing it. Right now I am praying I can return to running and biking and kicking a ball around with my sons. I love coaching, I guess scrimmaging with the guys is probably out going forward, but I hope I can still do a little to demonstrate this or that? I'm not sure. The recovery is 9-12 months on this injury. That's a long time. I'll be over 40 before I can jog with AJ again. So, I may have lost the ability to play soccer competitively, but the competition will now shift to rehabbing this knee and being able to do another triathlon some day? Only God knows and only by His grace...then again, that's always the way it really is, we just don't often acknowledge it. It's all by grace. Everything we do is by His grace.

So, after the swelling went down, I saw a sports medicine/orthopedic doc and worked through a plan to treat my knee. I got an MRI and it showed that I had damage across the board. I have a totally torn ACL and PCL. I have damage to my Postlateral Corner and meniscus. My MCL is sprained and I have a bone bruise on the top of my lower leg. Surgery includes reconstructing my ACL/PCL/PLC and fixing my torn cartilage. The severity of some of this isn't fully known until the doc gets in there, so hopefully some of it isn't as bad as it seems? For those interested, here's a web page that outlines the basics of a knee dislocation and how it's treated:

The surgery is a bit delayed because I have to do some pre-operation range of motion improvement to get my knee to bend a little better, so the surgery date is November 17. The recovery and rehab is quite long as stated above. I am grateful for an understanding and patient church and faithful, capable fellow pastors to help out- especially Nathan who preached two weeks in a row on relatively short notice. Thankfully, however, I don't anticipate this hindering ministry too much as I will preach with a nice, comfortable bar stool for 4-6 weeks after surgery, maybe longer. Otherwise I have found this injury to keep me in a chair longer so I have been catching up on emails and calls in addition to preaching/teaching prep. I am praying for God to guide me to make good use of my time so I actually improve as a pastor teacher through this trial. The most obvious question many of you- who know me- will ask is- "what about hunting"? It's true, my bow hunting season has been abruptly altered and inevitably shortened for 2010. Nevertheless the doctor told me to be walking on this leg often to get it loose and regain as much range of motion as possible before surgery. So, in compliance with doctors orders, I have already hobbled to two different hunting spots- saw a bunch of does, no big bucks yet, however. I'll get out several mornings before surgery...don't worry- I'll go to "safe" spots and will be realistic about my chances. I just love to be in the woods during November. I might call one of you to help me drag a deer...that would be cool.

Hey, this is nothing compared to what so many of you have gone through. I know that. For me it is a pretty big challenge and trial. I thank God for it, despite getting blue about it at times. He really is so very gracious to all of us. I have every anticipation that His grace will be sufficient, though I fully anticipate my sin to be seriously exposed through this recovery process. I do want to mature spiritually, but I really? Well, He wants me to grow in Christ and loves me enough to send this my way.

So, I very much appreciate your prayers. My wife and kids are the greatest. They already have humbled me with their cooperative and servant-like spirits. Mom and Dad are living close and a total blessing. It was great having Dad drive me to various appointments on Monday. I do pray for God's grace to be sufficient for them while I am a considerable burden to them these past weeks and months to come. I serve a great church with loving and patient elders, deacons and congregation. The Heritage school community has always been a wonderful encouragement to me. as well. I coach the HCA varsity soccer team, a great group of young men (and my two old assistant soccer coaches aren't bad to work with either). We're in the league championship game tomorrow. All this stuff makes me smile. All in all, things are very good, just wanted to share.

Finally, and providentially, I am close to finishing my exposition of Phillippians Sunday mornings. Check out the verse I will be preaching on the first Sunday back on 11/7-

Phillippians 4:10-13 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

1 comment:

Woody Woodward said...

Wow brother, what a joy to have the honor to throw some up on your behalf. I don’t take lightly the peace of knowing the prayers you have thrown up for me. I will be glad to drag a dear. Anytime, anywhere. You need to share the great quote of yours and my favorite preacher of passion, the late Dr EV Hill. Dr EV Hill thoughts on surgery.