Mike’s brain problem (AVM)

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 also begun this blog to give personal and ongoing testimony to the fact that, as the Bible says, God causes all things to work together 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).

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12 thoughts on “Mike’s brain problem (AVM)”

  1. Mike:

    What a shock to hear of this medical situation. We’ve never heard of it before but are thankful that God has brought it to your attention before a catastrophic event!

    Yesterday, I preached on John 5, entitling the message, “Mayo Clinic East!” I wasn’t trying to be especially clever but wanted to make the parallel that the pool of Bethesda was the last resort for the “Hopeless” cases. But, even that wasn’t enough as the lame man of 38 years was such an example. Jesus searched this man out, spoke to him and healed him. The religious people wern’t much interested in those matters. Hopefully, we are.

    God Almighty bless and keep you through this experience. I’m sure that if all those procedures had been done on me the surgeon would have seen and heard nothing in response! So, here’s to the Lord Almighty taking and straightening things out in that mixed up brain of yours! I want to see a better right-handed batter and always a better golfer. And what will it do for your sermons. As I see all that Latin mixed in I’m not sure what your people are hearing!

    Love and Prayer, John and Marilyn Aiken, Arthur and still at Kiron Baptist

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  2. Dear Mike, Our prayers are with you for a quick recovery. We pray it isn’t anything serious. It sounds like one of those character building times, when you were least expecting it. May God give you the grace and patience to trust him on this and we pray for you for complete healing of mind, body and soul,
    With Love and Prayers ,
    Rich and Carol Posthuma

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  3. Mike,

    Having received word of your upcoming surgery I want you to know I/we will be praying for you–for a great outcome and grace for the journey there, for you and your family.

    In Christian love,

    Tom Loyola
    Clinton EFree Church

    Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand

    Tom Loyola

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  4. Mike and family,
    Mike, you have been an inspiration throughout your walk with Christ. This is one more path along that journey. You are on our hearts and in our prayers. As you recover from this surgery, and you will, God will use your testimony to advance his Kingdom and lead other to the narrow gate.

    pastor doug and ethel reynolds

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  5. Mike, You are in surgery at this moment. Your faith has always been strong, your will is in doing His work. I am familiar with feeling helpless in these situations but at this moment I feel hopeful. I feel hope to see His will be done whatever the outcome of this mortal plane. Your faith has been strong enough for the both of us for a very long time (Grandma Bleakney used to keep me posted) and now I have a piece of your faith too. I know God better today because I know you. Be well my friend, everything is going to be okay…

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  6. My 30 year old daughter had an AVM when she was 19. We took her to Dr. Yakes at Swedish Hospital in Denver. After 3 years of brain ablation she is totally healed and married with two children. God is soooo good and we are praying for quick healing for you as well!

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  7. Pastor Mike and Karla: What a surprise to hear of this medical condition for Pastor Mike. I had an email from someone in Earlham telling us of the situation. You are in our prayer group here at work in Claremore, Oklahoma and at the church we attend in Inola, Oklahoma (a Cowboy Church) imagine that for us!) We miss you all.

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  8. Mike and Karla, You don’t know me but, you know our Denae and Steve–you are both in my thoughts and prayers. In fact, it seems that every thought of you is a prayer!! You are also on our church’s prayer chain. God seems to be not done with you yet!!! Love to All, Audrey

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The Human Condition and all that Pertains to it

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