Words cannot begin to express how much we appreciate your prayers over the past two and a half weeks. My apologies for taking so long to get back to you with an update on Howard’s condition, but life is just now approaching “normal”. On Monday, April 25, the staff at the County Hospital in Timisoara did the CAT scan on Howard’s neck and back. The radiologist did not come in until Tuesday to view the test results and consult with the doctors on his case. They told Howard that he had 5 broken vertebrae in his neck and back, they were out of alignment, and surgery would be required to correct the problem. They said he could have the surgery there in Romania or could fly back to America on a regular commercial flight, as long as it was Business Class or First Class so he could recline, but he needed the surgery as soon as possible. Any delay could lead to paralysis or even death until his neck was stabilized. Howard chose to return to America so they released him from the hospital on condition that he return to America for surgery. It was Holy Week in Romania which follows the Orthodox calendar. Howard preached Thursday night, Friday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night May 1 without pain.
As soon as he was done preaching, the pain returned and he had to lay back down to rest. Tuesday, May 3 was a 28 hour day for me from the time the alarm went off at 5 AM in Timisoara, Romania until my head finally hit my pillow at 1 AM (CDT) at home in Omaha. (By then it was already 9 AM on Wed in Timisoara.) Our return tickets on Lufthansa were worthless because their official doctor decided it was impossible for Howard to sit upright for take offs and landings, so instead of upgrading him to Business Class as we requested, they said he would not be allowed on board unless carried on a stretcher & attended by a private nurse – at our expense, of course! Instead we bought new tickets with KLM / Delta Airlines with money God had provided just 24 hours earlier and they treated us like royalty! Because it was right after the Orthodox Easter celebration in Romania, the flights were filled with Romanians and others returning to western Europe and/or America so Business Class and First Class were booked solid but God gave Howard the grace to sit up for the entire journey in spite of the pain. By the time we reached Detroit, we were beyond exhausted, yet your prayers sustained us and got us home safely when our flesh couldn’t handle it any more. Even when our flight from Detroit to Omaha was delayed 4 hours because of mechanical problems, the people at Delta bent over backwards to make the trip home as smooth as possible.
We spent most of the next day Wednesday at the ER at Immanuel Hospital in Omaha. They ran an MRI, 2 CAT scans, and X-rays on Howard. They confirmed he had broken vertebrae in his neck & upper back, just as the hospital in Timisoara told us. But sometime between the tests in Timisoara and the tests in Omaha 8 days later, God put the broken bones into perfect alignment and NO SURGERY is required! Howard didn’t even need to be admitted to the hospital! The doctor in ER told Howard he was the luckiest man alive, but Howard set the record straight by declaring “luck” had nothing to do with it! It was God answering the prayers of His people! Thank you for being a part of this miracle through your prayers!!!!
Then last Friday we went to a follow up appointment with a spine surgeon at the Nebraska Spine & Pain Center. He showed us some of the test results. It turned out that Howard had 7 broken vertibrae, including 2 compression fractures further down his back that the other CAT scan had missed. One of the bones in his neck was actually broken in two places! Yet all the bones were in perfect alignment and there was no evidence of damage to any nerves or ligaments! Again the doctor confirmed that no surgery was required. After looking at the test results, he was amazed that Howard had walked into the facility and was sitting there talking to him. He called Howard “the most fortunate man he knew”. Again Howard had the opportunity to share about God’s ability to heal in answer to prayer. They gave Howard a new cervical collar, padded this time, and told him that he would have to wear it for about 3 months. We have a return appointment in two more weeks to check on his progress. Thank you for your continued prayers as a rear guard. The enemy is angry and he keeps trying to attack anyone and everyone around us but in Christ we are more than conquerors. Please continue to lift that umbrella of protection over us, our family and friends, our church and our pastor (all of whom have been targets). God is getting ready to do something awesome and victory is just ahead! Be blessed!
GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Rev. Howard & Barbara Gard