On Eagles’ Wings

What a day! December 4, 2018 will go down in my journal as one the longest days of my life.

Unexpectedly, both Derek and my Dad had surgery on the same day. Both made it through their surgeries. Thank you, GOD!

I literally lost my voice and Derek couldn’t hear me. Add spotty cell phone service into the mix, and I was forced into silence. Derek and I looked like a comedy show as we tried to communicate with each other. God definitely has a sense of humor.

But, I could walk. So my day began with my seven-lap Jericho walk around the UCLA hospital. God hears silent prayers, so that’s how I started out the day. And—believe me—we felt the covering of prayers from all of you. Thank you for the outpouring of messages, prayers, and love. It was awesome to see all the pictures and videos of people walking all over the country.




Derek was confident going into surgery. Dr. Gopen knows Derek’s case so well, as does the team that he represents. We don’t have to explain anymore. I could sit back for once and not have to explain a thing. It was incredibly peaceful.


As Derek was taken to surgery, my Dad was next. This was not an easy conversation to have. As he was headed into a big surgery, I was trying to tell him I loved him. But, again, I had no voice. You have to find the humor in it. Geez.

While both of these men were in surgery, I was by myself in the waiting room with my Bible on my lap. It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely draining hospital waiting rooms are. You step into a vortex that sucks the life and energy from you.

Then a beautiful Italian woman who was a volunteer walked up to the window next to me and said, “Come look. This is rare. We don’t always get a view like this with cloud cover here.” I had no desire to engage in a conversation because I had no voice and was completely exhausted. But this sweet older woman was enthusiastically looking out the window and she made me curious. So I stood. Here’s what I saw:


She then said, “You can see the ocean today. That means it is going to be a good day.”

And I lost it.

She engaged me in a conversation and—through my raspy whispers—she got enough of the story to know my husband was in his seventh head surgery.

I want to share with all of you what she shared with me.

“Your husband is like an eagle. Eagles love a great storm. They have great vision and don’t fly into the storm. Instead they use the storms winds to lift them higher, to soar right over the storm,” she said.

“Your husband is an eagle and he will find his winds and soar above this. Just you wait and see.”

I cried with this stranger yesterday more than I have in the past six years. That is the truth. All the years of built-up tears came out.

When Dr. Gopen walked out to share what happened during surgery, his confidence gave me great peace. He found a fluid leak! The leak was near a buildup of scar tissue where Derek’s implants moved years ago. More than likely the tear happened when the original implant moved. It is a BEAUTIFUL THING to find something when you know something isn’t right!

He reconstructed the area with Derek’s own tissue and sealed it.

Derek sure has had his share of leaks and holes. And Dr. Gopen is a great hole-filler. Seriously. He has helped Derek with his SSCD on both sides of his head, plus the damage from several surgeries he shouldn’t have undergone.

It is miraculous news that he found something. We are incredibly hopeful. Will this take away the remaining symptoms Derek has? We don’t know yet. Dr. Gopen said it will take days—even weeks—for the packing to dissolve. Then we will see what symptoms remain.

Dr. Gopen approached this surgery as conservatively as he possibly could. He avoided the inner ear because of Derek’s past experience with vertigo. (Derek’s greatest fear was that he would wake up spinning.)


Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! NO SPINNING when he woke up. He was dizzy and off-balanced, but not spinning. This was a huge . . . huge . . . HUGE milestone. What Dr. Gopen so bravely explored and reconstructed did NOT make him worse! Thank you, Jesus!

Now we wait. Keep the prayers coming—daily. Pray that as this packing dissolves, the pressure that has been in Derek’s head FINALLY leaves. I can’t imagine what he has lived with all these years.

I just can’t even imagine.

I’m so grateful for these doctors. I am eternally grateful for their passion and knowledge. “Greater the risk, greater the reward” will forever be our family’s motto.

Once Derek was stable and I knew he wasn’t spinning out of control, my attention went to my Dad.

He had a LONG surgery. I’m not even sure how long, but it was longer than they expected—until around 9 pm. My three brothers were all there and kept me informed throughout the day. I’m so grateful for them and it was hard to not be there. Dad is currently in ICU on a breathing tube. They are hoping to take it out today. He has multiple health concerns and this will be a long recovery.

One day at a time.

Last night, I collapsed out of exhaustion. I apologize for not returning calls or texts. I literally had nothing left to give. After a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling much better today.

I do not know what the future holds, nor do any of us, but I do know this:

My husband is an eagle that will always spread his wings and let the storms of life only lift and raise him higher. I believe in the power of my God who answers prayer because, on Dec. 4, 2018, when I couldn’t speak, the Lord used all of you to be my wind beneath my wings and raise me up. My children are my heroes and have a resiliency that will sustain them through life. My brothers Dave, Pete, and Phil have always been a big part of my life and they carried a burden together, as we have done our whole lives. They are a team. Thank you to my brothers for your incredible team work yesterday. And, thanks to God for sending me an Italian angel yesterday.

I do not know when we will come home. We have a long drive to make, avoiding mountains and elevation as much as possible. I just know that all we want for Christmas is to be home, for Derek to be healed, and for my dad to have a Christmas with all of his kids.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but my God is the God of abundance, the God who does more than we can ask or imagine. So I’m asking for it all, but trusting in his will, not mine.

Thank you, God, for all the blessings you granted us. Whatever the coming days bring, may we all continue to lift one another up with prayers during the storms in our life.

Sarah Hein the Pioneer



9 thoughts on “On Eagles’ Wings”

  1. Sarah, We were praying in Topeka Kansas yesterday for Derek. So thankful the Doctors found the leak! God is good. Regina


  2. Sarah, I’m so grateful for a good report! Every time my day had a break, I remembered Derek and you in prayer. May you know the sweet Presence of our Lord and Savior as you wait in this Advent season of waiting. Love you, friend!


  3. So happy to hear both Derek and your dad made it through their surgeries. Wonderful that they found the leak! Sending you all love and healing thoughts!


  4. God is good all the time. Keep giving it all to Him every day as you have and trust. Keeping y’all in my prayers.


  5. Thank you for sharing. My son’s birthday was on December 4 & he has Autism. He has taught me so much about moving the mountains. God is good. All the glory to his name. This touched me beyond words.💜


  6. Continuing to pray for you, Derek,and your entire family. God is a god of miracles. He hears and answers prayers according to His infinite wisdom. I am confident miracles will continue in abundance for you all.💖🙏🏼💖🙏🏼💖


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