My Favorite SF 49er

This post concludes a 4-Part Series on Healing

Daughter_in_CourtToday, Jan 2, 2014 rivaled one of the most disappointing days that comes to mind. When your kids hurt, you hurt. When justice seems to laugh at you in the face, you’re caught by surprise.

But today isn’t the end of that story. Though everything seemed to culminate in one hearing, God’s given us clues that there’s more to this story… and we’ll choose to hold on to hope, to sleep soundly.

Rather than questioning God, we’ll think on the times we’ve seen His mighty hand before, one of them exactly one year ago to the day, January 2, 2013.

A year ago today was a different story. It was a day my husband and I had awaited for many months.

Frank had been hit a year earlier with significant back pain. At the time, we believed it was the sciatic nerve, which with exercise, should work itself out.

Frank went to chiropractors and massage therapists, exercised on a stationary bike, and soaked in a hot tub… but it only got worse.

By March of 2012 we began suspecting that there might be more to it; and though we were without medical insurance, we made an appointment with a doctor in a spine clinic. The diagnosis— severe osteoarthritis in both hips.

bilateral-hip-osteoarthrosis
The cartilage in his joints had nearly disintegrated. The doctor said that surgery was the only solution. About $120,000 cash.

God’s timing left a 9 month gap between the diagnosis and when Frank would qualify for US Medicare coverage.


How sweet of God! Sure, 9 months was a long wait, but what if it had been 9 years? God clearly had not forsaken us.

Those months, however, became a real challenge as the bones in his hip joints chipped away from direct contact with each other. He lived on a handful of ineffective pain-relieving shots and a limited supply of pain pills. He moved from a cane to a walker, and eventually to a wheel chair.

TPHD-Tenors-220-x-100-21But Frank never stopped living to the fullest.

• He joined a large black gospel choir with me and pressed on even through the 3-hour live recording session.

hotdogs for homeless 2
• We continued intercity street ministry on cold November and December nights. While I struck up conversations with homeless men and used dreams to minister or evangelize; he helped feed them, minister to them and pray for them… from his wheelchair.

san-francisco-49erThen one weekend while spending Christmas with family in the mountains, I had a night vision of a single San Francisco 49er player. I saw him standing before me in his red uniform and gold helmet as I heard a voice say “winner”.

A life-long NFL fan, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That God wasn’t telling me to bet on an NFL team was confirmed when we watched their unexpected 3—26 loss against the New York Giants several days later.

This short but vivid dream would have to be one of those unsolved riddles, one that would make sense when the time was right.

By mid-December, we were getting a little nervous wondering if there’d be a wait to get an appointment with a surgeon, and another wait for the actual surgery. We wanted an outstanding surgeon, willing to replace both hips at once. Time was getting short, and we’d only been given one doctor’s name.

We had waited on the Lord for direction because one referral from a random person seated next to me at an October Red Rocks Amphitheater rally might or might not be direction from God.

Feeling led to reconnect with a couple we’d met in July, we agreed to attend a jazz club style church service. There she told us that she’d worked for and highly recommended Dr. Dayton… the same renowned orthopedic surgeon that the doctor next to me at Red Rocks had mentioned. They were both medical professionals, and their opinions aligned. Clear direction finally! Hallelujah!

this way
Frank connected with his office. But hold the phone… Dr Dayton was booked for months and wasn’t taking new patients anyway. WOW. How could that be? Hadn’t we finally heard from God in he 11th hour!?

The gal at the appointment desk suggested Frank consider another doctor on their team. “Dr. ___________, next appointment, Feb 16… or Dr. ___________, Feb 3…”

Frank had suffered and waited for so long. How could God be asking him to delay longer? How could God not honor our waiting on his guidance?

“Dr. Hogan joined the faculty a couple of months ago,” the scheduler continued. “I don’t know much about him, but let’s see… he’s got an opening on… Jan.2.

Frank’s insurance kicked in on New Year’s Day, Frank set it up.

We headed straight for Google… University of Colorado, School of Medicine… Faculty… Orthopaedics…Craig Hogan… Education and Training

Medical Schools University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
Undergraduate School University of Denver
Internship & Residency University of Colorado
Fellowships University of California (San Francisco), Adult Reconstructive Orthopaedics

SAN FRANCISCO!! Dr. Hogan was our 49er!

Football players, like physicians, have to be extremely disciplined. God had used that symbol to tell us that Dr. Hogan was the one He’d chosen to reconstruct Frank’s hips. We need not worry. He would do the job flawlessly. He was the winner of God’s doctor contest.

Wonderful friends, acquaintances, and pastors had prayed for Frank. Some had prayed for a creative miracle in order to avoid the surgery altogether. But God now unveiled his plan. His way of healing in this instance was through Dr. Hogan. God led us to Dr. Dayton in order to get us to Dr. Hogan.

Doctor AppointmentA couple of weeks later, we met the handsome young doctor and got more x-rays. Frank’s hips were among the worst degeneration he’d seen.

Although the nurses at the hospital later informed us that they hadn’t seen bilateral hip surgery for about 10 years, the doctor urged Frank to go that way.

And we’d thought we’d have to lobby for that! Double-hip surgery. Get it over with! This was a match made in heaven!

Hip SurgeryNine days later and a $250 co-pay lighter, Frank was wheeled into surgery. Awake and giddy from the drugs, he enjoyed the experience. That’s right; he chose not to be put under.

‘This is better than Disneyland!” he exclaimed during surgery.

Medical faculty lined up to visit him during that week of recovery and rehabilitation. Except for lifting restraints, he was fully recovered and riding a bike by early spring!

Even when things go terribly wrong, when justice is mocked, when we are mocked, when it seems we’ve been abandoned by God; He is still there working his wonderful plan for us and holding us in His hands.

Sometimes our Heavenly Father does creative miracles; sometime He uses surgery; sometimes he allows temporary injustice. But His ways are higher than ours. He loves us beyond earthly measure. He raises us up. We can count on it— no matter what.

By the way, the San Francisco 49ers did make it to the Super Bowl, but lost to Baltimore that year. But by the time that game came along, Frank was well into recovering… and now he’s stronger than ever!

October 31, 2015

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