Michael's mother, Betty Ann Marquardt, told TotalBlueSports.com "it (chondromalasia) was first diagnosed at BYU after spring ball his freshman year. He has it in both knees, but one hurts more than the other. He also had a problem with his patella tendon in one knee that was causing him pain. That was also diagnosed at BYU. We did not realize this would affect him on his mission."
With the constant walking in the mission field, "he got to the point he could not bear the pain after about four hours of being on his feet. He said his entire body ached and he felt like an old man," his mother said.
His mission leaders came to Elder Marquardt's rescue and arranged an MRI to have his knees examined.
Betty Ann said, "After a couple of weeks, Michael thought everything must be normal because he hadn't heard anything -- although he was only able to work about half the day."
However, things changed quickly and immediately for Elder Marquardt when he received a phone call from his Mission President "to pack his bags and take a nine hour bus ride to the mission home because they were sending him home to receive medical care. Although it was a relief to have his physical problems addressed, he was not ready to go home."
Back home in California, several doctors evaluated Elder Marquardt's condition. The conclusion was physical therapy would be needed to strengthen his quadriceps.
"After several weeks of physical therapy, he became much stronger, but the pain was still present so the doctor decided to do surgery. They scoped his knee for the chrondo and also opened the knee from the top to debrid his patella. Recovery has taken a while because of the open surgery," said Betty Ann.
As for Elder Marquardt himself, he said "I'm doing pretty good. I tore my patella attendon behind my knee cap. It's where the cartilage on the knee cap tears and the knee cap sags and swells up. It's pretty painful.
"I feel all right," said Elder Marquardt. I'm just doing some rehab, mostly with light weights."
Elder Marquardt, a top-rated 265-pound defensive end in California out of high school, discounts questions or comments by coaches and opposing fans who claim a two-year LDS mission serves as an advantage to athletes. Indeed, the sacrifices of missionary work exacted a physical toll on him as well.
"I lost quite a bit of weight. I was 265 pounds and went down to 225 pounds. I'm now back up to 240 pounds and feel much better now. I lost a lot of muscle mass."
His mother added: "After being in the mission field for over a year, your body is not quite the same as when you left. I think physical therapy has been a humbling experience for him. He still has a way to go, but the doctor says he will be 100% again."
The news of a full recovery for Elder Marquardt is good news for his family and BYU fans as well.
Elder Marquardt will be officially released from missionary service in December this year. Though only six months away, he really wants to get back into the mission field as soon as possible.
"That's the goal. I wanted to put in my full time, but right now I'm just trying to get myself rehabilitated and keep myself ready so I can be reassigned as soon as I'm able to go back out."
Currently, Elder Marquardt is serving in his California home stake where he continues to do what he can.
"I know that being home has been awkward for him because there is not much to fill your hours while recovering. I have enjoyed him (having him home) a great deal," said mother Betty Ann. "It has been great having him here, especially for my youngest son who misses his brothers very much."
Being home while still an unreleased missionary has been an interesting experience for Elder Marquardt. He still feels and acts like a missionary, but is not being able to fully work as one.
"It has been different because his friends realize he is still a missionary and the phone does not ring off the wall the way it usually does when he is home. I know it was very disappointing for him to leave Argentina before he was ready."
Elder Marquardt confirmed his mothers assessment: "It was easy in the mission field because you have a routine. Now I try to find a replacement for that. It's hard because the missionary rules don't apply to you in many ways now."
How did he enjoy his mission service in Argentina?
"I thought it was going to be more Latin than it was with food such as rice and beans. Instead, you have a lot of Swedish and German people with blond hair and blue eyes down there, and food like pasta," Elder Marquardt joked.
Despite not being able to be there in person, Elder Marquardt still receives positive letters of support from those he worked with and came to know while serving in Argentina.
"He enjoyed the people there very much as well as the missionaries he worked with and trained. They email him and write letters and he has been able to stay in touch with the happenings in the mission field. That has been very positive," his mother noted.
"It's amazing. The church is very strong down there," Elder Marquardt added.
While home, Elder Marquardt was able to go to Utah with his family and watch his brother Daniel, a 6' 2", 297-pound defensive tackle, play in BYU's annual Blue and White game at Lavell Edwards Stadium this spring.
"I went up to the spring game and saw the new defense. I love the hussle and intensity. You can tell the guys are putting a lot more effort than in the past," he said.
Once released from missionary service, a fully recovered Marquardt plans on returning to BYU where he will join his older brother Daniel on the football team.
"I plan to be back in school for the winter of 2004," said Marquardt.
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