Backpacking!

Posted by: David Carroll

Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

I went backpacking with some wonderful friends this past weekend to the Richland Creek Wilderness area just north of Russellville AR. What a delightful trip and considering what I've been through, a miracle! God is good! Three Davids went (should have been four David D. :-) and Roxanne and Tiffany and Kyle.

DSCN0608The water was high and so we could not make the second stream crossing like we had planned but no matter, the campsite we stayed at for two nights was delightful and we were close to a bend in the river with a beach and within a short (although rugged) hike to Richland Creek Falls and Twin Falls. It was cold the first night and the temp was in the low twenties when we woke up Sunday morning. We day hiked to the falls that afternoon and said our goodbyes' to Dave and Kyle who had to head on back home that afternoon. It rained in the middle of the night Sunday night and it was only in the thirties Monday morning. David S. and I determined that we could cross the stream at about thigh deep to go see the twin falls before we broke camp to head on back home. After a quick breakfast and finally some warm coffee after that cold crossing, we packed it up and headed out of the woods for the two mile trek and final stream crossing. The trail was wet and muddy in places so we gingerly scrambled over the rocks and narrow ledges and arrived at our car early afternoon. Two nights in the woods and base camping does not sound all that much but I was so encouraged and filled with gratitude for my friends who spurred me on and gave me a new start in backpacking adventures.

Check out the album on bubbleshare by clicking here. Dave and David, you can download a zip file of the pictures when you go to the album. They should be a decent size, but if there are any you want the fullsize original of, let me know and I'll email them to you.

Turning a Corner

Posted by: David Carroll

All’s been quiet on this front for a long time. I have spoken about how the Lord was healing me of a long term health problem with back pain culminating in having a tumor on my spinal cord in my neck discovered (revealed may be a better word ) and removed. This post will explain this period of quiet and the good news that came out of it but before I can explain the good news, I have to explain why I was so quiet.

Pre-Op MRI with TumorTake a look in the picture on the right of my pre-Op MRI. Can you see what is not supposed to be there? Look up and down the spinal cord coming off the base of the brain. About two thrids the way down is a blob which was pinching the spinal cord.

The surgery required removing the bones of my spinal column which surround and protect the spinal cord. This would give the surgeon access to the tumor on the cord. It was quite a delicate surgery to remove this mass which had attached itself to the spinal cord itself. The tricky part was that the tumor was the same texture and color as the nerve. Furthermore, the tumor had extended down one of the nerve roots going down to my left arm. This required removal of facet joint which keeps the vertabra from coming out of alignment. Without this joint, my neck would be easily broken. The solution here was to fuse the two vertabras together requiring rods and screws to hold it all together while the fusion takes place over the next year.

Post Op XrayThis is a an x-ray (not an MRI) showing the screws. You can see the rod and screws easily but also notice the missing spineous process bones. You can see two of them at the top of my neck (that’s my jaw on the upper right). Then they dissappear for the next five vertabra. These bones are part of the structure fo bones which surround and protect the spinal cord which sits just behind the spinal column of vertabra.  The vertabra are separated by discs forming a column which is the backbone of your body. The spinal cord, or main nerve, runs down just behind this backbone of vertabra and discs and is protected by the spineous process bones. As you can see, I don’t have those spineous process bones anymore. You can feel yours on your back. They are the bony things that stick out and make bumps on the skin down the middle of your back. I have a noticable flat spot on my neck now because those bones are missing. The back and neck muscles normally attach to Post Op Xraythese bones. I asked the surgeon where those muscles attach now and he said that he sewed the two sides together so that they now attach to opposing muscles groups rather than to a central bone.

The next xray on the right shows a frontal view and you can see the absence of these spineous process bones as the long oval darker shape in the middle of my neck just next to the screws. This was the cavity the surgeon made to gain wide open access to the spinal cord and the tumor.

I blogged my recovery from that surgery and how God was healing. The wonderful part was that the pain I had been dealing with in my back and my legs for three years was gone. So I have had two failed surgeries on my lower back and then a tumor which according to the doctors should have had nothing to do with my back pain. Healed! Right? Well, yes and not yet.

I realize that there are many stages of healing particularly when we talk of “complete healing.” What I did not realize several months ago was that although my pain was gone, my body had become dependent on pain killing drugs. I have been taking strong narcotics on a continual basis for over 18 months. I had figured out how to cope with the intestional problems that are typcally associated with opiods. But back last March, I started experiencing severe headaches that lasted 24–48 hours at a time, several times a week. Associated with this was dizziness and loss of appitite. Although I was experiencing no back pain I was having a very difficult time being productive even with simplest of mental activities. Furthermore, I went into a state of depression that was like a vice grip on my head. I am wondering if I wouldn’t rather go back to the back pain, at least I was able to accomplish some work. The worst part was this state of mind was affecting my spiritual well being.

I have wonderful news to report however, my headaches have been gone for several weeks now. I am exercising again, and my appitite has returned. Thank you Lord and thank all of you who were praying for me. Especially you Millie!

Now for the story of how this wonderful turn came about. I had convinced myself that the pain killers were a necessary part of my life since I still suffer from pretty bad arthritis in my left hip and left knee. Although I did not need the pain medication anymore for my low back or my shoulders (from the surgery on my neck), I still felt I needed it for my arthritis since it worked so well on that malady. I kept looking for some reason why my headaches started back last March. It seemed so drastic of a change from how well I had been doing during since January.

Post Op MRI showing SeromaIn March, I had another MRI on my neck done and discovered that I had a seroma which is a pocket of spinal fluid that had collected at the site of the surgery. In the picture, notice the white tube-like thing just to the right of the spinal cord. You can see that the spinal cord is much more relaxed than it was but that there is still some damage from where the tumor was. The white tube-like thing is where the surgeon had to remove so much bone that there was a cavity and although he tried to tighen the muscles up around there, it was impossible to completely fill the cavity with muscle tissue. Now the body abhors a vacuum so it will fill up with something.  Fluids are the easiest to fill such cavities and the nearest fluid in this case was spinal fluid. Such seromas are not uncommon and may or may not cause problems.

Some doctors I talked to, not my surgeon, thought that this seroma could cause the headaches because of the hydrolic fluid connection through the spinal column to the brain. Any pumping of this fluid due to muscle movement or whatever would directly affect the brain since it too is encased in spinal fluid. My surgeon did not seem too worried about the seroma but he did say we’ll keep an eye on it since I have to have four more MRI’s done over the next three years to make sure the tumor does not return. The only complications he mentioned are infection and he did not seem to be too concerned about that. So the headaches were somewhat of a mystery but I became fixated that the seroma was the cuprit and was convinced that was my problem. I even contemplated more surgery to repair the seroma.

Meanwhile, in March, I was asking my surgeon to renew my prescription for pain killers while telling him how I felt they were really helping my arthritis problems and that I might need to continue to take them indefinately. He frowned at that suggestion but acquiesed. But then he decided to prescribe a new synthetic opoid which had just come out in a forumulation where you only had to take one pill a day. It was an extended release type of narcotic. So whereas I used to take the pills when I felt I needed one for pain, typically three a day, now I just took one every day in the morning whether I needed it or not. No pain ever, such bliss right? Not really. I began to realize that the pain killers were complicating my life because the associated constipation was getting more and more of a problem. Twice I tried to stop taking the pills for a couple of days and immediately would have severe flu-like withdrawal symptions accompanied by diarrea, not a pleasant situation. This is a classic case of drug dependancy. It is a physical dependancy not a psychological addicition. But I must say that the psychologal element still comes into play when you know what will happen if you stop taking the pills, withdrawals and exacerbated arthritis pain. Bottom line, the pain killers were starting to show their ugly side. They were wonderful and truly a blessing for a time but now they were definately a problem to be sovled.

Interestingly, although I had read about these drugs, I had never noticed some of the side effects mentioned in the pharmecutical litarature. I have always assumed that the endless lists of “Some patients may experience this that and the other” you see was just for those rare patient cases who were perhaps reporting these symptoms but were mistakenly assumed to be related to the drug. As far as I was concerned, such warnings were just a legal requirement for the drug companies. But then I read again where the opiods I was taking could cause headaches, dizziness and loss of appitite. All of a sudden it clicked. The headaches showed up only after I started taking the extended release pain killers in March. Now I had a huge reason to get off these pills at least long enough to determine whether they were the cause of my problems. So now the question became how to get through the withdrawals.  After consulting my surgeon I got a new prescription for normal pain killers (non extended release formulation) and I began to slowly cut down on the dosage. I worked my way down from 100% to 75%, 50%, 25% then 10% of the amount I was taking previously on a daily basis. I began to notice the headaches becomeing shorter, less intense and less frequent. Last Sunday, I decided to stop taking the pills completely.

Praise God, it has been four days now and I am completely off those narcotics with no severe headaches in two weeks! And all of the other symptoms are gone too. Last week, I returned to my personal trainer whom I had not seen in three years. I am lifting weights, walking and my outlook is fantastic.

So now I ask why did God allow me to go though all of these problems with depression and headaches? In retrospect I can say I really needed those pain meds over the last three years and I can thank God for that. But God knew I would become dependent on them and He had to allow me to discover what that was all about. If I had not been prescribed those one-a-day pills for pain, I might not have ever realized how detrimental that medicine could be over the long term. The last phase of my healing was to take me through a dark time so that I could see those last remaining problems which would have become demons had I not felt the need to fight them early on.

Thank you Lord for answering my prayers.

 

Unshackled

Posted by: David Carroll

Sh1Wednesday, I was set free. Doc says I can go without the neck brace. Freedom is a wonderful thing but scary too I found out. I still walk around like I had the  brace on and I am scared to turn my head too much. It’s weird, almost like I want to put it back on for comfort. Delaine tells me I snored last night too and I have not been snoring. I knew immediately what it was, my chin was being held up keeping my jaw from dropping which kept my mouth shut and kept me breathing through my nose. So now do I put it back on when I go to bed just to keep from snoring?

Ahh but I got to drive today…for the first time since driving to the hospital on Dec 13. (Except for that little emergency when Delaine got locked out of her car at Walgreens, about five minutes away, and I bravely drove to rescue her). Got my hair cut (great to visit with you Marilyn!), got Toby’s bath done, and picked up my prescription. And I finally have a few new twenty dollar bills in my billfold. I found out something interesting, if you can’t drive, you don’t need any cash. I’ve had the same single five dollar bill in my billfold since my surgery. Now I’m flush with cash! (It goes fast).

Toby and I went for another long walk whilst listening to Rush. I took the twin walking poles and really tried to kick up the pace a bit. Oh, and by the way, I asked Doc about how much exercising I could do and found out all that (light)weight lifting I’ve been doing was a bad thing (because the vertebra fusion is still trying to take). So no more weight lifting for another month. But I can do all the walking I want to, so I figured I could at least get the arms in on the act with the walking poles. Besides they make you feel like an Olympic cross country skier.

The main thing is the Lord is good and his word is sweet and I am grateful to his healing hand on my body.

Proverbs 3:7-8 (NKJV)

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Speaking of being free from my neck brace, I have been freed from something else too. I have identified myself with Christ who died and was raised from the dead. So I reckon I am freed from sin’s power over me and one day I will even be freed from sin’s presence.

Romans 6:7-11 (NKJV)

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sweating to the oldies

Posted by: David Carroll

DSC_0648Listening to some old sermons that I had never heard before, I just finished my longest and heaviest workout since, well, maybe since this past summer. I got my heart rate up to 140 sustained  for about 10 minutes but walked for a total 30 minutes. Ten of those minutes were outside but Toby and I had to turn around because it was too cold and windy to stay (for me anyway), so I finished my walk on the treadmill.

That’s an older shot of Toby racing the cars on Walnut Grove road at Shelby Farms when we used to go for a walkabout almost every day there. That’s one of my goals by the way, is to get back in shape where I can do that again. Anyway, the snow shot is appropriate because it snowed about three inches yesterday. Toby was made for cold weather and he he does not need that little red coat that he had on but Delaine made me promise to put it on him.

Back to the workout. After the walk, I found my little dumbbells and got the little six pounders and did some hunched over raises to exercise my shoulders. Then I did three sets of inclined presses at thirty pounds.

I’m going in for my second followup visit with the surgeon this Wednesday and I should become un-shackled from this neck brace I been wearing. And I’m sure we’ll have an interesting conversation about those little white pills I’ve been taking. Actually I’m ready to get off of them and start going drug free. Hey, I’ve managed to stop coffee drinking. That's what the bouts of severe nausea did for me.

I just thought about another thing that could have been affected by the tumor in my spinal cord. Last time I went to the Doc to see about the nausea, my blood pressure was 117 over 75. My blood pressure has never been that low and even with the meds I take it’s usually around 135/90. Could it be that getting rid of that tumor cured that too? Hey, I’m a believer. I give God credit for everything, even if it turns out to be not true.

Now I am going to brave the wind and snow and cold to go get in the hot tub. Ah, just like Colorado! Oh yeah, another goal, ski again!

Thank you Lord, you have blessed me with sweetness of life again and I praise you and desire that you be glorified.

Ready for some (light)weight lifting

Posted by: David Carroll

NautilusI felt pretty good this afternoon so I was ready for a bit of walking. It was too cold outside so I went upstairs to do the treadmill. I have nice Nautilus weight machine sitting there which has gone unused since before my lumbar fusion surgery in May of last year. I’ve told you all about my continuing pain in my neck and shoulders. So on the way past the weight machine toward the treadmill I get the bright idea to do some inclined presses to give those hurting shoulders a bit of a workout. Normally I’d put about 60 lbs on there to do three sets of ten reps. Well I smartly think I should start out easy and put it on thirty lbs. I could not budge it. So I try twenty lbs. I get eight very shaky reps in before giving up. I did eight more later. This is not just out of shape, this is major muscle damage and rehab time. But I know I need to start slow and easy. It’s now hours later and I can already feel that good feeling that comes from purposely exercising muscles.

The treadmill went great, I gradually pushed the speed up to 2.7 MPH and still could not get my heartbeat past 125 for ten minutes. I’m pleased with that. I even walked Toby out in the cold for another ten minutes later on tonight. That’s just a couple of weeks after getting on the treadmill for the first time since surgery.

I’m going to get over this thing and be good as a 54 year old man can be. Of course that is if the Lord is willing. I pray Lord that you are but only if it will glorify you.

It felt great to be back in corporate worship this morning

Posted by: David Carroll

Bellvue2bigBelieve it or not, today was the first day I have been back at a worship service since my surgery. Things went great for a while then we all stood to sing a number of wonderful hymns in a very worshipful attitude. I was singing my heart out. (Delaine my wife, wants me to “blend” a bit more”) But I was really getting into it. Then I started noticing that my diaphragm was hurting and I was running out of breath. Finally a bit of dizziness started to develop and before I knew it, I had to sit down. I got my second wind and just continued to sing from the seated position. I felt kind of wimpish but I was worshiping God and not trying to please men anyway.

After a great sermon by Pastor Steve on revival as experienced by the Jews in Exodus 33, he began to give his invitation. I told Delaine I was going to go forward to counsel those who were coming to make decisions. Deacons have that responsibility in our Church. Our schedule as Deacons is three years on, one year off. Well I am coming back on this year so I have not been deaconing yet this year. The Lord blessed me with an easy couple who had already professed Christ, already been baptized by immersion and already joined Sunday School and just wanted to join the Church. We had a sweet time of hearing testimony. About half way through I had to tell the wife I was working with (another Deacon was working with the husband) what was wrong with my neck because I know she was curious about it. She said she would pray for me, much appreciated.

WaffleFinally Delaine and I went to the Waffle House for some breakfast (you know you can eat breakfast anytime of day don’t you?) That was good  but my shoulders and arms were really hurting by that time. So I was ready to get home and relax.

I had wanted to visit a Sunday School class this morning but I slept too late. Probably a good thing because I don’t think I could have made the four hours total from Sunday School to Sunday Afternoon Lunch.

Continued Progress

Posted by: David Carroll

I feel like I have gotten a lot done this week. I had another great class Wednesday Night and folks came up afterwards and asked some great questions. The last two days, I have had some long meetings with various people and my stamina continues to improve. One thing I just realized today is not only have I not had any low-back pain since my surgery but I have not noticed any arthritis pain in my left hip which was almost as painful as the sciatica pain I was having. In fact I was even considering a hip replacement. Now I still have to qualify that I am still on drugs (less and less amounts every week though), so I can’t speak definitively but I can say that I am believing God has used this last, providential surgery to completely heal me of the things that have afflicted me so much for the last three years including my arthritis.

I did discover Wednesday Night when I forgot to take a pain pill and also several mornings this week when I would wake up after all the pain medicine had worn off that my neck and shoulders are still hurting. Understandable though, because I still just seven weeks out from the surgery.

Thank you Lord for all you have done for me and I pray that it will all be to glorify your name through my testimony for You.

This week is done, and naps are a good thing.

Posted by: David Carroll

Thursday I had a delightful visit with Jon Box; two geeks (professional mind you) enjoying talking about all the stuff our wives have no clue about. Thanks for bringing lunch by Jon, your visit really blessed me; you are a true friend. We probably talked about four hours. (I keep saying that’s about all I’m good for these days, I took a long nap after he left)

CtscanToday (Friday), I had an early Doctor’s appointment to check out this nausea problem I have been having. I thought it was going to be a pretty easy day but that appointment kicked off a series additional trips to get some lab work done, and a CT scan done. I did not get back home until 5:00 (I did have a nice lunch with Delaine at Mamma Fu’s (highly recommended fast Thai food which I think may have cured my nausea problems !). 

So, I sit in my comfy chair at about 5:30 and next thing I know it’s 9:00 and I’m by myself. Delaine comes home shortly with a nice salad and we watched a movie together. I know it’s late now but I go back to sleep for another 9 hours easy. Recovery from major surgery takes lots of sleep and rest. I did not get my walk in today or yesterday but I going to kick up the pace tomorrow and try to go longer and a little faster, Lord willing.

God has been good to me, helped me through a tough but important turning point week. I think I’ll blog another devotional tomorrow and catch up on some reading. I still intend on blogging and podcasting a series of messages on the Kingdom of God. Sort of like an Internet Sunday School.

Don’t forget to pray for Don Whitney. I have been blessed listening to a number of his messages on my iPod this week.

I made it, Thank You Lord

Posted by: David Carroll

I’ve blogged several times about this week being the big test week for whether I was really ready to start keeping commitments, like board meetings, teaching, etc. This is Wednesday night and except for some discomfort in deciding whether to sit or stand, God was gracious and granted me the strength and stamina to teach the first night of the Creation Science course. Thanks go to Bob for helping haul my stuff around but I really want to thank my wife Delaine for dealing with a massive signup night. We had over ninety people in the class tonight. It went well; I received some good feedback afterwards and except for running out of time to finish everything, I am pleased.

Same sort of report for last Monday night when I had an executive committee meeting and then a regular board meeting for the Bellevue Foundation. When I was able to make it through both those events without calling in my backup plan (sneak out and go home early!) I knew I could make it through Wednesday night.

Just to put this in perspective, I just started using my treadmill (ten minutes) last Saturday to try to begin a little physical therapy and last week I was still so weak and nauseous that I could not have made any commitments. As a matter of fact it was not until Monday morning that the nausea finally subsided after a week of misery.

My back and neck muscles continue to strengthen (still use plenty of pain meds however), and my permanently numb fingers (from losing the sensory nerves) don’t even bug me that much anymore when typing.

Strange thing I noticed when out for a short walk yesterday and today (beautiful days), swinging my arms for a normal, slow gait made the muscles that do the swinging sore. Wow, that shows how many of shoulder and back muscles were affected by the surgery.

Thank you for your prayers and I am full of hope for getting back to a normal healthy lifestyle.

I have not said much about my other back problems I have suffered from in the past three years, but suffice it to say that they were still causing me much pain just prior to this last surgery on my neck. That’s after two prior surgeries (discectomy and spinal fusion on the lumbar spine) and almost three years of recovery time. In fact, it was that continued pain that had led me to the pain clinic where God intervened and caused the doctors there to look at my neck with a cervical MRI. Well some have suggested that there is a connection between my past pain and this tumor in my neck. Jury’s still out but interestingly I have not had one bit of low back pain since my most recent surgery on my neck. May be because of the additional pain meds, but I am very hopeful. The pain doc had suggested that the pain I was having was some sort of triggered pain whose cycle needed to be broken.

I am trusting the Lord and wouldn’t it be just like Him and to his glory to have answered all my prayers over the past three years in this way. The doctors could have been looking in all the wrong places but God showed them the right place to look.

Health Update

Posted by: David Carroll

Yesterday, Bethany and I went to the Radiology department at Methodist Germantown to get some spine x-rays done .My surgeon wanted to take a look at how the fusion was progressing during this mornings appointment. He seemed to be generally pleased but not pleased enough to let me take the neck brace off for another four weeks.

But today, was the first chance Delaine and I got to see the extent of the damage (modifications) he had to do to the vertebra to remove the tumor. The most obvious thing you see when you first look at the x-ray is the screws and rod he placed on the right side of C6–C7. Those are where he is fusing the two vertebra together because he had to destroy the facet joint on the left side creating a huge hole to gain access to the part of the tumor that was growing down one of the foramen tubes through which the nerve root passes to my left hand. Without that joint, my neck would be unstable. He could have put a rod and screws on that side too, but he wanted to be able to clearly see that area with another MRI that we’ll do after three months. This is just one of those, “let’s just make sure we got it all.” moves before he pronounces me healed.

You know when you rub your fingers down the back of your neck, you can feel those bumps? Those are called spinous processes. They are rather large bony segments of your vertebra that muscles attach to to turn the individual vertebra and to protect the spinal cord. Well the surgeon had to remove four of those things (C4–C7) including the associated lamina to gain access to the biggest part of the tumor surrounding the spinal cord itself.

Now about how I feel, after looking at the x-ray, I can understand why I still have some neck, back and shoulder pain. All those muscles were involved in some way attaching to those bones he removed. (Don’t ask me what they attach to now, I don’t have a clue.) So I still take pain meds but only about half as much as I was several weeks ago. Thank You Lord.

So, now I seem to be plagued with some fairly minor problems that are kind of breaking through since the neck pain has subsided. I am having a lot of nausea and I don’t know why. I am off all the antibiotics that can cause that. Of course the narcotics can cause that but I’ve been taking those for a long time now and have not had problems with nausea before. Could be just the chronic constipation associated with narcotics but there are plenty of over-the-counter meds to take care of that. Finally I am weak and don’t feel like doing any kind of exercise. Basically the doctor says my physical therapy should be to go back to normal activity (walking etc) when I feel like it. I sure wish I felt like it.

My prayer:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for all you have done for me in this process of being afflicted, diagnosed, and repaired through a capable surgeon’s God given abilities. Thank you for the prayers of all my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Thank you for my dear wife Delaine and my daughter Bethany who have sacrificed to take special care of me. Thank you for the improvement I have made thus far. Now I ask, Lord, that you help me to continue to heal. I know that no healing takes place apart from your divine providence and sustaining hand. I ask you Lord for a double measure of relief in the coming days. Give me strength, stamina and remove the nausea. You know Lord, I have a teaching commitment I want to keep starting next week. You have given me the ability to teach and have allowed me to make this commitment and I know you will provide the strength and well-feeling necessary to do this.

Creation Science Course comming up!, ouch

Posted by: David Carroll

Well, I have been enjoying getting a little better every day. Not great, just a little better, Thank You Lord!

And it’s about time too. Although I stepped down from teaching (for the last five years) Adult Couples Sunday School to take a break and get really recovered physically and spiritually over the next year or so, I need some sort of outlet to express my Spiritual gift of teaching.

So I have a commitment to teach a ten week Creation Science Course at Church starting Wednesday, January 25, 2006. I have always enjoyed teaching this course and the class has grown each year (87 last year). So In that regard I am pumped.

Neither I am worried about getting the material prepared; this will be the sixth time I have taught this series so a little refresher and a listen to last year’s presentation should be enough to get me ready each Wednesday night.

What I am worried about is my stamina. Remember just a week ago I could not sit in a normal chair for ten minutes without extreme neck and shoulder pain. That’s better this week, maybe I can go 20 minutes. Lord help my muscles and damaged tissue heal up.

Related to that, I may need to arrange for a special chair and table to sit at during the presentation. I know, the presenter sitting down during the presentation is not good but it will have to do for the first few weeks.

I’ve got Bob Martin to agree to help me set-up all the equipment each week. (Thank you Lord for providing Bob)

I still need a secretary to get there early and take the roll.

Warning: Technical stuff ahead but serious enough to warrant prayer requests.

  • I have to update my notes and some new software I have been developing over the past three years, that allows me to create and annotate a Word Document that serves as my presentation notes as well as a source document for another presentation time driver to display my notes on one screen (Tablet PC) while synchronizing the PowerPoint slides on the other projector screen and giving a visual indicator as to where you are in the presentation. Anyway, other than creating special PowerPoint slides for illustrations. Nothing more is used than Microsoft Word with my add-in code prepared using Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005. All of the rest of the required PowerPoint slides are created automatically.

This should be fun and I think I have enough lead time but If I run last minute, I’ll be a nervous wreck and that added on top of all my other problems will be bad news for my being able to do an excellent job.

Pray for John Piper

Posted by: David Carroll

I am still catching up on my blog reading and just now found out that John Piper has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will have a radical prostatectomy (complete removal of the prostate) in early February. Again, I find it uplifting spiritually as with Don Whitney below, to see the reaction of a particularly Godly man to such news. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Piper wrote a letter to his church of which I am only going to quote the second half which is the half that shows the sweet and Godly attitude of his complete trust in Christ.

This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in these days have been unusually sweet.

For example, is there anything greater to hear and believe in the bottom of your heart than this: “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)?

God has designed this trial for my good and for your good. You can see this in 2 Corinthians 1:9, “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” And in 2 Corinthians 1:4-6, “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God . . . If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.”

So I am praying: “Lord, for your great glory, 1) don’t let me miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for me in this experience; 2) don’t let the church miss any of the sanctifying blessings that you have for us in this; 3) grant that the surgery be successful in removing cancer and sparing important nerves; 4) grant that this light and momentary trial would work to spread a passion for your supremacy for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ; 5) may Noël and all close to me be given great peace—and all of this through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever, Amen.” I hope God will lead you to pray in a similar way

See, If you are like me, you are already smiling and uplifted in confidence in our Lord because of this man’s scripture saturated prayer.

I want to quote from a scripture he referred to only in a glancing way because it has an important impact on my present situation.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have been blogging about my affliction but I want you to know, it is light and it is just for a moment and everything else about this passage is true for me right now.

Pray for Don Whitney

Posted by: David Carroll

DonI remember going through a small group study on Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I know I received a blessing because I learned so many things about why be disciplined and how it exercises our (weak) spiritual muscles for when we really need them (every day!). In addition to the basics like prayer, and worship, the book talks about such topics as Scripture Reading and Meditation, Fasting, Silence & Solitude, Journaling, and Learning.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to recommend a good book (I just did). but to ask you to pray for Don in the same way you have been praying for me. Don is slowly recovering from recent colon cancer surgery. Interestingly he is blogging about his recovery on his website at The Center for Biblical Spirituality. There is a link on his home page to read updates about his health.

(AT: Justin Taylor)

The little things add up

Posted by: David Carroll

NorelcoI took a shower yesterday but beforehand, I took my neckbrace off and stood at my sink and shaved with my new norelco. I could not have even lifted my hand long enough and held my head steady enough to do that a few weeks ago.

Also, since I have to wear my neckbrace in the shower with me, Delaine helps me change the wet pads out to the dry ones. That’s been an ordeal in the past because of all the getting up and down out of bed. Basically, because I could not even sit up in bed long enough without wearing out and having to lay down. Yesterday, I did the whole thing and never had to lay down. Little thing, but big praise for God from my position.

I went out with Bethany to the Best Buy store to get a couple of computer related items I needed and a little accessory for Bethany’s iPod. That may be the second or third time in a car since I’ve come home from the hospital. The other trips were all Doctor’s appointment related anyway. We did make a stop at a drug store to see if they had an item I needed. So, Bethany pulls up into the parking place and I get out of the car and start to walk into the store.

Bethany said “Dad, you’ve left your walking cane in the car.”

So I said, “OK, lets get it but you know that’s a good sign.”

“What do you mean, Good Sign?” She asks.

“That I’m getting better, I don’t feel as dependent on it” I reply.

That is a little thing and if you take notice of them, they add up to significant improvements. But then stamina is a real problem. Bethany and I went to Best Buy and I knew what I needed and where it was so it did not take me long to get the items but I did shop around for just the right deal, comparing one brand over another.

All of a sudden my shoulder and neck muscles really started hurting. I told Bethany I had to sit down and then we could finish. She was really nice by saying we could sacrifice the iPod device she wanted but she did not really understand, I needed to sit down right then. So I start heading back to the corner of the store. She starts badgering me that there were no chairs to sit down in in the store. But I said “yes there is”  as I turned the corner on the Chairwall of big screen televisions and two nice leather lounge chairs. I told Bethany to go put the items we had already chosen in a cart and park it over by my chair and then go find the iPod thing. I knew there would not be a person in that store that would make this crippled “old” man with the neck brace, cane and all that expensive stuff that I was about to buy, get out of that chair, no matter how long I wanted to sit there. That little ten minute break was a life saver. It’s like that all the time now. I reach a drop dead point and I can’t stand it anymore.

So I said all that to say, yes I am getting better, but I still hurt a lot and there are only a few activities I really enjoy. (Like sitting in places that don’t hurt.)

I’m supposed to return to work Feb 1, but we aren't on the same page yet. SpaMaybe God’s going to surprise me with this overwhelming pile of small things that one day it’s going to feel “all of a sudden” great.

Did I tell you I can get back in my hot tub this Friday? Oh, man I can’t wait! See, little things excite me.

Waiting for that breakthrough

Posted by: David Carroll

Every time I go to sleep for the night, I keep praying for that breakthrough the next morning. That morning when everything feels great. The hope is there but the reality is not yet. I’ve done my calculating backwards and the return to work date is February 1, today is January 5; that’s just less than four weeks away. I know I’ve come a long way but it sure seems like I’ve got a long way to go on this feeling like working thing in just a few weeks. I don’t know whether this is pressure from insurance or whether the Doctors and nurses have enough experience that I really will experience my breakthrough (bedtime prayer or not) because that’s just the way the body works (miracle of the inward parts).

Psalm 139:13-16 (NKJV)

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Regardless, even though I say I’m getting better, everybody hears it in my voice, sees it in my gait, I’m ready to feel it in my bones! Waiting on my sweet Jesus!

Did it sound like I was a little anxious, particularly during the calculating part? Maybe a little; forgive me Lord, I’ll just hang my hat on this one for the day:

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

A Step Back and a Crash

Posted by: David Carroll

Recent Update 12/28 at bottom of this post

I was beat up tired when I awoke this morning. As I laid in my bed which is my recliner in my office, (I know, it’s weird but it works for me) for about thirty minutes I tested moving muscles, and testing out joints that had stiffened in the night. Then the time to arise arose. Now, the trick to this recliner is that it does not allow your feet to get completely under you body weight as they are pushed out in front of you by the bottom part of the recliner. For the normal healthy person, no big deal, just push out your body weight until it is over your feet then do the rest with the legs. The way i do this when I am sick, I try it and if my body weight does not get out far enough I simply allow my self to fall back into the chair, no big deal again. I actually made it up the first time this morning, cane in hand to steady myself.  

But I guess I was a little light headed. I made a turn to put my slippers on but before I got there, I realized I had to step back to “catch” my weight trying to fall back. I never caught it. I took several more back steps then bumped in to something and finally fell backwards crashing into the printer and desk and cabinets Worst of all is my back took the first blow on the printer and then my head as it slammed the floor. I laid there all tough and taking the pain (actually screaming like a baby it hurt so much). My fall was so loud it set the alarm off which sent Delaine rushing to see what the matter was. Toby was really sorry for me licking me and trying to comfort me. Delaine helped me engineer the least painful and most efficient method. of getting back upright. Some times you need a crane to lift a huge mass of crying, hurting, lumps of soreness.

I am feeling a little better writing this (drugs are starting to kick in pretty well). I just hope I have not messed the bone fusion up. That is what this confounded neck brace is for which Delaine has been making me wear really tight. Thank you honey .

Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV)

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

This verse came immediately to mind as I pondered my situation.  God is so good, I love you Jesus. Help me make it through this. Though you slay me, yet will I trust You.

  • Update: 12/28 I am feeling much better after my little spill. As a matter of fact even a few hours later I was starting to feel better. I don't say there were no ill effects and that I dont have a bit of catching up to do, but I don't think any permanent damage was done. Praise God (I did call the doctor and that was his conclusion thus far anyway). Praise God, Thank you Jesus.

Staples

Posted by: David Carroll

DSC_0985I get these taken out Friday, I can’t wait for the skin to seal up really tight so that I can qualify to get in the hot tub! Boy will that ever feel good. Thank you Lord for hope in the small details.

 

Christmas Eve Dinner

Posted by: David Carroll

DSC_0967This was a very delightful dinner we had on Christmas Eve. We had all the traditional items: ham, turkey, green bean casserole (yum) sweet potatoes (double yum) and cranberries (smack my lips). The decorations were beautiful (notice the white porcelain creche).

Of course we prayed before dinner and I got a little emotional about all that he has done for us while we seem to just cast the value aside without demonstrating the incredible love and sacrifice that went to achieve successes

I was not very comfortable in my chair since no straight chair is that easy to sit in at this point. Because of the lack of support for the muscles. of my neck shoulders and back. You just don’t know how much you depend on them until they hurt to use. As a matter of fact, I was thinking that my shoulders were getting much better until this moment. I think they just get tired. The prayer, eating, picture taking and conversation were just enough to wear it out. God’s good timing for when you need the rest.

What was the Star of Bethlehem?

Posted by: David Carroll

BethstarJust a few Christmas season memories today. This is a video lesson  I did last year and thought you might want to watch it if you have not yet seen it to learn about the scientific possibilities regarding the mystery of the Star. If you are interested in astronomy or history and how this can confirm the Biblical text, you might like this one. It’s a 43.5 mb Flash file, be patient and use your fulll screen to view.

Also, I recorded some short audio thoughts (1 min 48 secs) last year about the Star of Bethlehem.

Enjoy and God Bless

P.S.: my appetite came back today! I never thought taco soup could ever taste so good! Praise God!

I didn't even think to ask this one

Posted by: David Carroll

When I found about the tumor on my neck, I knew it was serious because of how serious the Docs were. By every measure of medical history, the surgery was a success, the tumor was completely removed, the patient made home from the hospital without complications, etc. But operating on a tumor embedded around your spinal column and en-snarled among the nerve branches exiting the column toward your left arm, all this being done with a laser knife and a microscope under the hands of a skilled neuro-surgeon. it is not an easy surgery. Plus the fact that the tumor and nerve are very similar in color and texture makes it particularly hard.

Well my doctor told me, “I have good news and bad news.” I was able to save all of the motor neurons, the ones that drive your muscles. But I had to sacrifice a number of sensory neurons in your left arm and I don’t know where on your arm that will affect you. Well, turns out it has affected the sense of touch in the tips of my fingers…my typing fingers. I was anxious to get home to try things out with these new pair of gloves I am wearing. I can feel pin pricks but not much else. So far it has been very annoying to have to use the backspace key so much. Little things you take for granted like knowing which keys your fingers are on come from touch, edges of keys and the little detants on the f and j keys. Also knowing whether I have actually typed the key or now just because I stabbed at something is no guarantee.

I may have to get very familiar with CodeRush. even though till now I have just found some of the functionally interesting and other parts annoying.

There is more good news. Nerve cells grow back very, very slowly.

DSC_0964Here’s my setup. It is a reclining chair with a perfectly neutral position for your back, That is a Toshiba Satellite P26 running a Pentium 4 CPU at 3.2Ghz with 1.00 GB of RAM with an 80 GB harddrive. The notebook is sitting on a lapdesk whiich is adjustable to tilt (normally for holding books) but perfect for the reclined developer position. The rest of the hardware, that white and black ugly thing around my neck only server aa temorary purpose to annoy me and keep my from seeing my keyboard through my glasses. Maybe that is another thing that may help with the typing someday?

It wasn't easy comming home either

Posted by: David Carroll

Praise God I am here though. I’ll have to say a bit more about the difficulties and triumphs at the hospital the a last few days.
And I will when I get some more strength. Suffice it to say for now, that the heater was broken, the Internet line was broken, So admist all the prescriptions, well-wishers, I had to get the heater fixed, and the Internet fixed. The heater part was pretty easy, but I had to get way too involved on diagnosing Internet part.

Anyway Got home today and still hurting like the dickens.

Blogging like a telegraph

Posted by: David Carroll

This is going to be short and sweet.  Blogging without internet access is a real pain in the neck (no pun intended).  Thank you Bethany for keeping everybody up to date.  Things have not progressed as well as we had hoped, particularly my physical therapy.  Because of the severe pain, I haven’t been able to get out of this bed much at all.  Only twice in fact, and both of those were near disasters.  Pain level is close to 10, much dizziness and sweatiness.  How can anyone be happy and joyful in the hospital for 5 days?  Well, let me count the ways.  My dear, sweet wife is taking care of me.  The food on a scale of 1 to 10 has been a 3, but I actually like 3, but I think I’m actually ready for some junk food.  My doctor has been very liberal with the pain medication, which keeps me doped up pretty much all the time except when I have to do grueling things like physical therapy.  Poor health is actually a very spiritual battle because it forces you to test your own faith, in other words to trust.  I haven’t been doing many devotions, but I’m looking forward to them.  I will say this, the only part of this hospital room I’ve seen is the ceiling, and I’m starting to see things in the ceiling that weren’t there before.  This is depressing.  But thank God for modern day surgery and drugs.  The worst part is when they give me all the “ra-ra” speech about how well I’m doing, and I say getting out of a chair one time with the ability to scream a yell of 10 in pain is not a reason to cheer.  Have a great Lord’s day tomorrow.  Bethany will keep you posted every day or so. 

No internet access at the hospital

Posted by: David Carroll

Surgery successful.  Hurting really bad.  Jesus is still sweet.  Feeling a little bit better in the last couple of hours.  Witnessing a little bit more.  Sorry for the short post, gotta go.  Hopefully I'll be home this weekend.  Bethany is blogging this for me.  Grace and Peace.

Good Morning

Posted by: David Carroll

Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV)
There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel that will stand

I almost drank a cup of coffee. Wow, not supposed to eat or drink anything after midnight. Thank you Lord for reminding me.

Psalm 91:1-2 (NKJV)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

This is where I stand. No fear. Just trust. I had a good night’s sleep. Thank you Lord.

Psalm 127:2 (NKJV)

It is vain for you to rise up early,To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.

OK, Time to get up. sleepy head. Face the day, with Jesus on my mind. I don’t know when I’ll blog again but I’ll try to figure it out. Maybe from the hospital. Maybe i’ll get someone to do it for me. Anyway, later my friends.

DSCN0183P.S. I miss my dog Toby. He is a good wake up buddy, we go out together and get the newspaper and stuff.

Laying on of Hands

Posted by: David Carroll

I just remembered a wonderfully moving experience I had on my recent trip to Manauga Nicaragua. I went there to do some due diligence for the Bellevue Foundation to determine how we could partner up with the Baptist Theological Seminary of Nicaragua. There are a bunch of photos of that trip on my Flicker site.

63323149_52f706fbcaAnyway, the class of students studying the ministry of Pastoral Care knew I was having back trouble and stayed behind to ask if they could pray for me. I was in a meeting but said I would be most honored if they could do that after the meeting. You can see me in the picture (bald head, kneeling down). Of course they were speaking Spanish and so I could not understand what they were saying but I understood Señor Jesucristo (Lord Jesus Christ) and Espíritu Santo (Holy Spirit) and mi hermano (my brother). I also understood the fervency of their prayers which lasted about ten minutes and seemed to increase to a crescendo and then begin to taper off. What a blessing to be cared for like that. I think that prayer session with laying on of hands and anointing with oil could very well have been related to God’s movement in my life towards this surgery. Nevermind…forget the maybe part and let’s just give God the credit for it.

James 5:13-15 (NKJV)

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Thank you to my brothers and sisters in Christ in Nicaragua who loved me enough to pray for me like that.

I’ll tell you more about the Seminary in a later post (Lord willing)