Pirate’s Pain: The Story

Roger Rock Climbing

This guy reminds me of Job! Check out my friend Roger’s story of perseverance in the face of trials. (Originally posted at Pirate’s Pain — used with permission)

In 1969 I received a little award plaque at church that said, “Trust and Obey. -1 John 4:8″ I was 10 years old at the time. Of course, back then, I didn’t realize how that would apply to my life, in a most challenging way, over the next 40 years.

On May 30, 2003, I woke up and went to the gym as usual. It was a leg (workout) day. I used the leg press machine and stacked 1100 pounds, I managed 3 sets of 10. On the last 3 reps I had the steroid monkeys yelling at me, encouraging me to push. I walked out of that gym on top of the world because 1100 lbs., for that many reps, was a goal of mine. I had lost 75 lbs. over that last year using exercise and diet.

I headed home, had a great lunch with my family, then went off to start my shift as a police officer. Within an hour, I became involved in a pursuit. I got ahead of the suspect and attempted to throw down spike strips, but by then, the pursuit had escalated to higher speeds: 70+ mph. I didn’t anticipate the additional speed, and thought I had enough time to deploy the spike strips, but suddenly, I looked up, and there he was. The young guy driving made eye contact with me as he jerked his steering wheel to the right. He intentionally swerved into my patrol car. I was standing just outside my vehicle so I tried to slam my door shut, and turned to run away. But as I pushed off to run, I heard a deafening bang, and felt extreme pain in my leg as my driver’s side door careened out and struck me just below my right calf muscle. I fell, or more accurately, flew, as I was launched into a nearby ditch. At that moment I realized, my world had changed.

They took me off to the hospital but the doctors misdiagnosed my injury. Over the next 3 months I had difficulty walking and the pain became progressively worse. I finally met a doctor who figured out the problem was a ruptured Achilles. Although my age almost precluded it, he was able to repair my Achilles tendon.

The only thing was, after the Achilles repair, the pain continued. I discovered I also had nerve damage in my right foot and was doing something the doctors call the monkey claw, which means it was curling in. Because of this I was unable to maintain my balance. So they broke my calcaneus, my heel bone, and moved it toward the outside of my body to try and stabilize my foot and help my balance. It didn’t work very well.

The joints weren’t working properly in my ankle. The pain continued for several more years. So they decided to fuse my ankle — they locked it into a fixed 90 degree position but even that didn’t help. I could barely walk if I used a cane. Meanwhile the pain kept increasing. So my doc and I began to discuss the idea of amputating my foot.

Then in November, 2007, I was riding my motorcycle, and managed to find some oil on a damp road in a construction zone. When I hit the brake the bike skidded, resulting in my foot hitting the ground and swinging outwards, then landing back on the floorboard. I looked down and saw a bulge the size of my fist showing out the side of the right leg of my leather pants. I thought (no kidding) “That’s gonna hurt.” I was losing control and had to lay the bike down. At that moment, it sunk in that my 15 year old daughter was on the back. I started to panic! My bike was crashing with my daughter on board! As I laid the bike down, I reached back and grabbed her. I threw her to the side of the road as hard as I could. Thank the Lord, she did a karate roll and landed on her feet. Somehow she was fine!

But they transported me to the hospital. I met with an orthopedic surgeon who told me my knee was crushed and that he wanted to put in an artificial knee. I asked him to contact the doctor I had been discussing amputation with. I begged him to amputate above the knee. I wanted to just be done with it — done with this life of pain. He told me I was on morphine and was making a poor decision. He spent 11 hrs., not installing an artificial knee, but preparing my leg bones for a future artificial knee operation.

Also, because of this accident, my pancreas shut down, causing me to become an insulin dependent diabetic. I just didn’t think that was fair because I had been eating very healthy food (although I later learned I was eating enough healthy food for a family of four).

The next problem presented itself when the surgical site became infected. I was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, and over the next two years, I had several surgeries to clean out the infection. On a couple of occasions I almost died. Several rounds of antibiotics were administered, some requiring a picc line that dropped the vancomiacin directly into my heart. Unfortunately, a side of effect of vancomiacin is hearing loss which is why I wear hearing aids today.

In 2009 the doctors and I made the decision to amputate my right foot because I couldn’t walk. Originally, the plan was to put in the artificial knee at this time but because I couldn’t walk, they wanted me to learn to walk on a prosthetic device for a year before they’d put in the artificial knee.

In 2010 they installed the artificial knee even though I was still in pain from the bone infection. I begged the doc to amputate above my knee if he found any damage to the bone from the infection, but he made the call to put in the artificial knee anyway. After several more surgeries to clean up infections, my prosthetic was remade, and I learned to walk without crutches! Hallelujah! Freedom, for the first time in years. Though it was very very painful, I could walk. Thirteen months later, I wound up in the hospital with a terrible infection in the stump of my right leg. This was from the deep seated bone infection I had been battling all this time. It was so bad I could no longer use my prosthetic. I was condemned to crutches or the wheel chair.

In December of 2011 I revisited my knee doc and asked, for the sixth time, for him to amputate above the knee. I’ll never forget our discussion. He looked like old Jimmy Stewart, he was very sincere, but he wouldn’t budge. He would not do the amputation. Though he didn’t know what was wrong, he wouldn’t remove the knee as we had agreed to do earlier.

Instead he sent me to another doc for a second opinion. The new doc read my file and found all the classic symptoms of residual osteomyelitis bone infection. He agreed to amputate above the knee. He gives me a great chance of beating the osteomyelitis by removing the infected part of my bone which includes the total knee and everything below.

My hope is for a new start on life, a life free from pain. Today, I’m just a few weeks away from surgery, and believing God is going to heal me.

Along with the medical hardships during this time of my life, my stepdaughter died of cancer, I lost my ability to work, my marriage was in trouble, and I experienced a variety of other serious problems. I was at the bottom. But one thing I realized: I still had a relationship with God. And I made a choice — to continue to follow Christ.

Here’s the weird thing about all I’ve gone through: I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have a new understanding of God’s love for me. In fact I’ve never felt so loved by God as when He helped me through all these trials. I see provision that I never thought possible. I have a new appreciation for relationships, and what’s truly valuable in life. The timing of these problems was such that I caught my daughter at a crossroads, and because I was available, God used me to make an impact on her life in way that may not have happened otherwise. I’ve watched her walk with a mature faith in Christ in a way she may not have, had I not become available as a result of my injuries.

I’ve been stretched so greatly, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.

But I’m excited for life.

He died for me — I’ll live for Him.

Maybe you’re going through a trial yourself right now.

Bottom line: Trust in the Lord.

Whatever you’re going through.

Trust.

But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; In You I take refuge; Do not leave my soul destitute.

Psalm 141:8