News Articles

Training, prayer propel marathoner beyond double hip replacement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Bruce Gust learned a little about himself and a lot about God’s grace by the time he crossed the finish line of Nashville’s Country Music Half-Marathon in under 2.5 hours.

Three years ago, doctors told Gust, 39, regional operations trainer for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, he needed double-hip replacement surgery.

But the nine-year Marine veteran was afraid surgery would cost him the physical strength he had sustained since leaving the military. However, when a friend noticed a limp and Gust’s knees began to hurt, he finally saw an orthopedist and learned that his left hip was deteriorating.

The diagnosis: osteoarthritis, which Gust knew existed in his family health history. But a relative’s joint-replacement surgery had left her physically impaired, and Gust feared surgery would dramatically alter his lifestyle.

“I thought it would be easier to stick with and work through the pain that existed rather than risk what could be,” Gust explained.

But consistent doctor visits, physical training and proper nutrition solved nothing. The pain continued to increase until Stewart Smith, an orthopedic physician with Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance, told Gust surgery appeared inevitable. Still, he refused to accept his doctor’s counsel.

In addition to continuing physical training as a means of healing, Gust’s prayer life intensified — involving not only extended individual prayer sessions, but also prayer with his pastor, deacons and the congregation at his church, New Hope Baptist Church in Hermitage, Tenn.

But his pain continued to grow and his prayers appeared unanswered.

When Gust and his wife attended a class at Baptist Hospital to learn more about hip-replacement surgery, he noticed a distinct age and fitness difference between himself and others in the class. That’s when he finally agreed to the surgery and decided the procedure would not slow him down — despite the odds.

Gust endured two surgeries, one on each hip, and missed work over a six-week period. “LifeWay was great in working with me through this time,” he said. “I feel lucky to work for an employer that stands behind its employees during situations like mine.”

Physical therapy began almost immediately after the surgeries, and Gust quickly healed and regained the physical freedom he had struggled to maintain.

“God did heal me,” he said. “He just used a scalpel to do it.”

Gust registered for the April 26 Country Music Half-Marathon as a personal fitness goal. The orthopedist approved his participation, but requested a follow-up visit shortly after the race.

Running with his friend and pastor, Raymond Vogtner, Gust finished with a time of 2:24:40. His pastor finished slightly faster.

He felt fine after the race — “a little sore, but I expected that.”

All who face joint-replacement surgery do not achieve his results, Gush acknowledged. “Knowing that confirms it was God alone who healed me, not my strength or determination,” he said.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: STAYING THE COURSE.

    About the Author

  • Ben Stroup