Derek’s Update: SSCD Surgery

Yesterday was the longest day of my life.

It was the day that didn’t end, for it felt like I never slept. Probably because I didn’t.  Derek’s surgery was a huge success:

NO complications.

And they found the hole and sealed it. It wasn’t just thinning, but a hole.

Derek had holes on both sides of his head.  No wonder he was so miserable for so long. On top of all the damage from previous surgeries, a destroyed balance system from surgeries he shouldn’t have had, it all makes sense now.

We feel like as if we just gave birth to twin plugs.

We are exhausted, overjoyed, overcome with relief, and above all:

Grateful for the miracle of  tiny little pieces of bone that plugged the holes!


It’s ok. I don’t really know what I’m looking at either. Unless you are a neuro surgeon you won’t have a clue looking at this image either. But the rounded little curve by the tip of pen is:


And we shall name it: F R E E D O M

I like to name everything. Why shouldn’t Derek’s plugs have names?

Plugs – Freedom and Liberation (from the last surgery)  are now a part of Derek’s skull.

Who would have thought, that such tiny holes could impact one man’s life. Alter his way of living, forcing him into isolation, living life on a roller coaster of dizziness, constant brain pressure, horrific fatigue, brain fog and debilitating sound sensitivity.

My dear prayer warrior Beth encouraged me to read Psalm 91 and verses 14-16 during Derek’s surgery, and it hit me.

I believe these words were spoken exactly for Derek.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

I read this over and over and over again. My tears have wrinkled this page in my bible.
Dr. Massa reminded me that Jesus was standing next to the surgeons guiding their hands.
That the entire surgical room was standing room only due to all the angels in the rooms.

And then ….  Derek awoke:

I felt every prayer you all prayed. During our weakest moments your prayers carried us.

  We prayed to a mighty God! And over the years we gathered others to pray, who gathered more, until thousands around the world prayed. We didn’t know what we were praying for, because for years we didn’t know what was wrong.

But we relentlessly prayed!

Till the unfolding began: For tiny little holes- to be revealed, plugged, and for the healing to begin.

This is how we birthed twin plugs.

This story isn’t over yet.

Derek has a recovery in front of him. These surgeries aren’t easy. The days, weeks and months to come will reveal the real results.  But so far, even behind the exhaustion, I’m LOVING the results I’m seeing in Derek.

This is the BEST he has been after any of his surgeries.

I shared Derek’s story with other families in the waiting room. For tragedy surrounded us all through their stories. Cancer, car accidents, tumors,

a shattered face from an airbag.

And through Derek’s story, there was one gift of HOPE I could offer:

Don’t quit before the miracle.

To offer hope, faith, and encouragement fueled me to keep my eyes on Jesus.  So many suffer everyday, reminding me that we need to pray a whole lot more for one another.

In the days to come, pray that Derek’s awakening continues. He needs rest now. Allowing his body to heal, to find a new sense of balance. Pray for the swelling to come down, pressure finally to be released from his head, sound sensitivity to be lifted, and for Derek to be 100% whole again. Recovery needs just as many prayers and whatever is yet to come we will praise our heavenly Father giving HIM all the glory.

We can’t thank you enough for the thoughts, prayers, and words that have been covering our entire family. Humbled by the outpouring prayers from around the world, we are in awe!

For what we kept so personal for years – was the behind the scenes that no one ever saw:

 The years of quiet, silence, isolated, painful, heart breaking, tear filled -calloused knees-  in great urgency kind of prayers-

that eventually led us to this moment.

oc12-2The UCLA staff, is like nothing we have ever experienced. Truly a model to the health care system of how to treat patients.  No one is perfect, but perfection is what they strive for here and at the same time keeping human compassion front center. When I walked into the recovery room, the first nurse I saw was Deb! She  remembered me from last time. We LOVE you DEB!

To hear every nurse that we have had – Love  U C L A and love what they do here- is impressive. Our nurses, once again have been outstanding: Thank you nurse Sara for outstanding care and to all the others. My sincere apologizes, I was so exhausted last night, I didn’t get a chance to grab everyone’s name. But you were all angels to us.

Dr. Gopen and Dr. Yang, there are no words that will ever describe what you have done for us. But you took a risk with us, gave us your best, and believed in this unfolding miracle with us.

WE have all learned to not question why, but to just TRUST.

God is working miracles through these two doctors, for patients now come from around the world to have SSCD surgery here at UCLAoct12-2.

Greater the risk, Greater the reward!

Twin Plugs:

Freedom and Liberation,

we welcome you to the HEIN family!

You can live in Derek’s head forever!

Keep the prayers coming.

                                                   Sarah Hein, the Pioneer




5 thoughts on “Derek’s Update: SSCD Surgery”

  1. We prayed and we prayed hard. We prayed all day and all through the night. We weren’t going to stop because God never sleeps. What grateful news! What peaceful news! I love the names of your new family members. Prayers continue for Derek’s recovery. May each day get easier. May God continue to be your guide! Karen Kulow


  2. Sarah,

    I’m so happy to rejoice and pray with you all! I think yours may just be the most resilient family I’ve seen in our days – such a testimony to us all on hanging on to Jesus in these trials we face.

    By the way, if you’ve not already downloaded it, look at the FighterVerse app. I recently memorized Psalm 91, and can hardly believe how much Scripture I’ve learned in past couple of years (even in my menopausal 50’s!). ⚓️ The Word of God is THE anchor for our souls 💗


  3. I have been anxiously checking my email to see how he did. So happy that the surgery went smoothly. Will keep praying for his recovery and healing. Rest now so you can stay healthy.


  4. sarah, what joyous celebration that our powerful, loving, healing, merciful and Mighty God has brought victory through this surgery to Derek and your family. My heart is overwhelmed with joy and gladness and humbled by all the angels, divine intervention that took place to lead you to the doctors at ucla. love to you all!! Praise be to God!! cvd


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