Mike’s brain problem (AVM) and other items of interest

This is the story of my experiences into the unknown and heretofore unheard of world of Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM).  My name is Mike and I have one.  I have begun this blog as a personal testimony to the fact that God truly does work all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). Many kind people have asked me to keep them up to date on what is happening.  This is my attempt to do just that.  I knew that the day of October 23, 2008 was not going to be a typical Thursday morning when I awoke to a man trying to place an oxygen mask on my face as I regained consciousness from a severe seizure.

It was 5:30 a.m. and I awoke to a room full of people and a crying wife.  I was confused and could not comprehend what was going on but I knew enough to apologize to one of the Earlham First Responders for making him get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning!  Dan kindly explained that I had just had a seizure and that they were there to help me.

I then sat up on the edge of the bed and I remember the words of Psalm 73:26-27 coming directly to my confused mind: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Nothing else made any sense to me at that moment, but that comforting promise from God’s Word calmed my soul like nothing else could have done.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  For twenty eight years I have sought to live my life in a manner pleasing to Him.  I am also the pastor of Crossroad Evangelical Free Church in Earlham, Iowa, but don’t let that impress you, for I am fully aware of the great Reformation principle of simultaneously justified and yet still a sinner (simul iustus et peccator).

Though I have been cleansed by the blood of Christ through faith in His finished work on the Cross and His subsequent resurrection three days later, I am also painfully aware of the fact that I still sin against God every day in thought, word, deed, as well as in those good things left undone.  Nevertheless, the grace of God to me on this surreal morning came with an unmistakable promise from God’s Word to my confused mind.

I then stood up and walked over to the dresser to put some jeans on over the boxer shorts I had worn to bed the night before.  With all of the people in my bedroom it just seemed like the right thing to do.  I think the medical personnel were surprised to see me hop up out of bed so quickly…from a state of apparent unconsciousness to jumping out of bed.  I think it’s funny.

The medical personnel then explained that they wanted to take me to the hospital by ambulance.  I put up a weak resistance because I knew that this was nothing to trifle with.  So, I walked out to the front porch where the paramedics strapped me to a gurney and loaded me up.   It was a rather pleasant 30 minute trip to Iowa Methodist Medical Center.  Upon entering the E.R. we noticed that there was hardly anyone else in there.  Good.  I could receive the full attention of all the doctors.

As my mind began to clear up a bit I began to process what had happened and I reasoned that the seizure was just a fluke thing.  After all, lots of people have a seizure at some point in their lives.  Then began the battery of tests.  The first test I was subjected to was a CT scan.  My wife Karla became concerned when the test went on long past the time the techs said it would.  Not long after this was completed an ER doctor entered the room to explain that I had a rather large AVM and briefly explained what it was.   It was then that I was informed that I would be required to stay in the hospital for more tests.

I was extremely disappointed to have to stay overnight in the hospital.  I hadn’t done that since I was five years old and had my tonsils out.  For lack of space on other floors they put me on the heart floor with lots of truly sick people.  I entered the room and sat on a chair next to my wife in blue jeans and a t-shirt.  Minutes later a doctor entered the room and asked me if I was the brother of the patient…apparently since I was not in the bed.  He did not notice the IV on my opposite arm.

I explained that I was comfortable where I was and that I didn’t see any need to get into the hospital bed.  The nurse explained that patients normally lay in the beds with the hospital gowns.  And here is the highlight of these two days.  I politely but firmly refused to put on the ridiculous hospital gown with the wide open back door.  Though I was still in somewhat of a loopy state, even Karla admits that I refused in a way that was as polite as was possible.  An understanding nurse asked me if I would be ok wearing doctor’s scrubs.  I said “Yes.”  And that’s what I wore for two days and one night…to the amusement of doctors, surgeons, interns, and med students alike.  To have even a bit of control over a difficult situation is not only comforting but it’s also a bit fun.

(Please click on the next entry “Tests, More Tests, and Some Tough News” if you want to find out important details about what was really going on with me).


18 thoughts on “Mike’s brain problem (AVM) and other items of interest”

  1. Mike and Karla — this is a great way to update us on what’s happening. Thank you for taking the time to do this and for keeping us informed about what’s happening, how we can be praying, etc.

    You’re in my thoughts… and especially in my prayers!


  2. We continue to pray for God’s peace and grace for ALL of your family as you walk through this together. We are encouraged as you give God the glory for all that happens.


  3. Mike and Karla,

    I so appreciated you sharing of God’s faithfulness in the midst of everything. He reigns and is faithful! We will continue to pray for His hand, wisdom and peace. Thank you for taking the time to keep us updated. It helps us know how to better pray and be involved in what God is doing in you and your family’s lives.

    Bringing you before His throne and praying expectantly, Adele


  4. Hey Mike and Karla — To God be the glory! — your words of honor to God are so uplifting and encouraging, even though you face some unknown things. Thank God for the way He will work in and through you, reaching so many as you go through all of this. Rex and I commit to praying for you and we’ll share this with others — it’s the best ever to know that people are praying. May God’s will be done in your lives, and ours. He’s worthy of our trust. Great idea — this blog, and we’ll keep following along with you. Your lives, our lives, are in His hands. He is our hope and strength.


  5. Mike: To God be The Glory. I expect that you really don’t see to much glory in your condition, but your response does reflect the Glory of God. Thankyou.

    We will keep you in our prayers, both here at home and also at Early Chapel and Redfield Christians Churches.

    Karla, we will also hold you and your children up in prayer. It is difficult to watch as some one you love is going through these kinds of things. And if that is true for you, it is more so for your children.

    May God continue to bless all of you.


  6. I stumbled upon your blog this morning, and wanted you to know that I said a prayer for you and will continue to keep you and your family in my daily thoughts and prayers. Your transparent honesty about the road you are beginning to travel touched my heart and linked it in familiarity, as I too am walking a new and dangerous road – but with God’s hand in mine. Remember that you are never alone. He has traveled this road before and knows each bend and turn. He will guide you and comfort you.

    God bless you,


  7. Hi Mike,
    My name is Tony Dye and I am pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church in New Brockton, Alabama. I know that God directed me to this site so that I might pray for and encourage you as you take this special journey. I will bring you and your family’s needs before the people here. If you have a chance sometime check out my site ant http://tonydye.wordpress.com


  8. Mike, Karla and children-from Marge in New York!
    Having traveled a similar road, how comforting it was to know your whole church lifted me and my family in prayer. You are in good hands both spiritually and medically, and I know all will done to diagnose and improve your condition. And what a hoot about the ‘scrubs’…that God gives you humor and delicacy amidst a serious situation!
    Karla, this will be a daily walk, and God’s grace is sufficient to maintain you day to day. You are blessed to have so many people praying for you. Now it’s our turn to return the blessing.


  9. Pastor Mike and Karla,
    I want you to know that I have lots of folks praying for you here in the far corner of the country…
    God is good and He is faithful. I pray for healing, your continued strength and sense of humor… it’s the little things that get you through each day. Thanks for keeping in touch.
    Kirkland, Washington


  10. Dear Mike,

    This is just a tiny note to let you know we are with you in love and prayer from Minneapolis. I’ve sent this site address to Ben. We love you and pray for you. Christ loved you and gave himself for you!


    John Piper


  11. Hi Mike and Karla,

    I’m going to pass along your website address to our congregation today.

    Thanks for your faithful witness to the good mercies of our God in the midst of this trial.

    Mike…. I suppose that we probably shouldn’t wait for you at Famous Dave’s on December 4 :), but January, it’s back to BBQ for you.

    Praying for you.
    Tom Hein


  12. Dear Mike: I use to attend your church before the E-Free Church in Adel was started. My prayers for you and your family are with all of you.

    In Christs name Amen

    Joan Southard


  13. Hi Mike & Karla,

    David Michael passed on the news and the link to us while they were here this weekend. Please know that we will join with you and others in prayer for you as you seek and experience God’s grace in the journey.

    Dale & Linda McIntire


  14. Mike,
    Reading this takes me back many years. You really sound like yourself and its so good to hear you. There is a distinctiveness and uniqueness about you that I and many other people out there really appreciate. Your description of events remind me of the accident I had in 1985 that I somehow survived. I think prayer got me through that one. I want you to know we and the people of St. John United Methodist Church (as well as some other United Methodist Churches here in Georgia) will be praying earnestly for you. Will respond again.

    Love, Brent, Laurie & Hunter


  15. Oh Mike! You sound just like Jim in your responses to the doctor and nurse! Two years ago Jim had a heart episode (everything but the heart attack, including an artery that became 100% blocked), and he didn’t want to wear a gown either! He wore scrubs!

    He also thought it silly they were admitting him.


    There is humor to be found, and I am so thankful God puts those times there for us. Oh…and Jim’s official title at work is “Controller,” think it’s a coincidence? Heehee.

    Then I sit here and think how serious your current situation is, and Jim’s…and I think, “How can you laugh at a time like this?” Believe me, it’s not in my character to laugh in serious situations…but I’m seeing it as a gift from God.

    Love you guys,


  16. Dear Mike and Karla,

    I returned to Minneapolis after several weeks in Kenya to Mike’s news. I have been praying with you since. God is able to hear every prayer and answer in the best and most graceful way. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need; you will abound in every good work” (2Cor 9:8).

    Tamara and I love you and we will hold onto Jesus with you.



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