Dec. 14, 2012 is the sixth anniversary of Derek’s minor surgery that exposed an ugly, ugly disease. From that day forward, my knees hit the ground praying. This whole time, through the toughest years of our life, I have refused to pray for and believe in anything but ultimate healing for our whole family.
Looking back through our journey, I have witnessed—and documented—a series of hardships that have also brought miracle upon miracles. And the miracles continue to unfold.
I can honestly say I have just written another tearful journal entry. This past week was a tough recovery for Derek and my dad.
On top of recovering from surgery, Derek developed a cold, skyrocketing his head pressure to an all-time high. My dad has a lot of health complications and is still in the hospital.
Thankfully, I can assure you, both have made incredible progress. Thank you for all the prayers. We have felt them!
Through it all, something remarkable happened. I can’t quite explain it, but it was like a shedding process. Because we both had colds, we hunkered down, slept, and I worked. It was time to reflect, dream, and focus on pioneering forward.
The big question is: Are the walls of Jericho coming down for Derek? Boldly, I say YES.
Miracles don’t always come easy. As we watch his miracle unfold, we are learning great lessons that I will share openly. Maybe it will help you on your own journey.
Unfortunately, Derek has been really off-balance and feeling dizzy. His head pressure is high and he’s hearing the “whooshing” of his heart beat in the ear that had surgery.
However, he just had some of his packing out, and with that came some relief from pressure. Good sign! Everything is healing beautifully. There are no signs of infection. And the reason he is hearing his heart beat is from the fluid and inflammation caused by surgery.
These symptoms should go away in time.
Now we wait. Dr. Gopen is hopeful. He saw fluid leaking in surgery, and repaired that area. We pray boldly every single day that each day brings more healing for Derek.
There is always clean up after a tsunami. That’s what is going on now for Derek. For so many years he could “hear” his neck moving so he over-compensated his neck muscles and literally has a ‘pain in the neck.’ We are going to continue physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy to try to relieve his horrible neck pain. Plus, he is back on all his holistic nutrition to help reduce inflammation, after going off of it for surgery. Could he ever tell a difference going off them.
Dr. Gopen said this is common in SSCD patients, especially those who could hear their neck move. It can be extremely painful, so we will continue to keep a close eye on this.
Derek has been cleared to head back home. He cannot fly for several weeks, and we are going to do our best to avoid the highest elevation routes.
Basically, we have a L-O-N-G drive home. This is not our first rodeo of a road trip. This time we will rent a little car, not drive a 42 ft camper through the Rockies.
Dr. Gopen assured us he’s not going anywhere, that he is always here for Derek. All we have to do is reach out to him personally. That man is an angel. So is Dr. Yang. We are at peace to give Derek time to heal now.
I’m working on doing a small video of Derek’s journey. We met with both doctors early one morning and took pictures because it’s time to share Derek’s story with even more people. We want to serve others who are suffering and encourage them to never give up.
The more I learn of this wretched disease, the more I want to be an advocate for these suffering patients and their families. That’s exactly what we are planning to do.
Many have asked us over the years how Derek has been able to fight through this. There is no secret except that he trusted in faith and prayed through it. Derek did his part so God can do his.
He eats incredibly healthy, supplements with the best nutrition we can find, became innovative with gut and brain health, turned to holistic medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy, and he always rises. He may not be able to lift weights yet or do hard work outs, but he walks. Movement is key to good health.
He relies on a lot of laughter and treasured friends.
Here’s an example. While he was recovering, even though he was struggling, we took an afternoon and went for a drive. He wanted to see the Hollywood sign and the “stars.” We found Don Knotts’ star and “Cousin Eddie” from Christmas Vacation, but Derek tired out before we could find Andy Griffith. Until next time Andy. We also learned that Spiderman is a frequent walker and Alan gives great directions.
We laugh a lot. Laughter heals. (You want a good laugh, go stand on Hollywood Blvd.)
We have surrounded ourselves with other high achievers and overcomers—because failing isn’t an option. Insulating ourselves with other like-minded, faith-based, warrior-mentality humans is exactly what gets us through the climb. And, when we are all alone, God sends us angels at the right time. Thank you, Tamara and Kristie, for being our angels this past week.
I’m also learning to take time out to breathe, to take care of myself. I took a few hours off work and got my haircut in Hollywood. There, Imet the most amazing people.
The stories of inspirational people are everywhere. We just need to get out and meet them.
Remember the Italian angel the day of Derek’s surgery? She told me the greatest word there is: LOVE. That’s because LOVE is the greatest gift there is. She then asked me three questions:
1. Have you loved well?
2. Have you loved deeply?
3. Have you loved fully?
I literally lost it. Because I knew that I could confidently say yes to all three of these questions. Love allows us to see all the miracles that come even in the middle of horrible hardships.
If you aren’t there yet, do not give up. It takes a life time of being patience, perseverance, and a relentless spirit willing to never give up.
Love and Laughter will find you.
My Italian angel also told me, that the word BELIEVE is not one she likes to use in her vocabulary. She replaces that word with trust. You don’t believe in faith. You TRUST in it. Trust that God will do his part! Because he will!
We are trusting that in the weeks to come, Derek’s pressure will diminish. We are trusting that God has met all our needs—and that he will continue to do so. We are trusting in complete healing.
Love & Laughter are truly what has sustained us.
Our 30-plus hour drive home waits. I’m bringing Derek home.
Sarah Hein the Pioneer