Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Accident


Back when I trained and ran a half marathon, I found myself just in awe of the way God made our bodies. The way it can grow and strengthen to accomplish feats such as a long distance run. I found myself often thanking God for my body on my runs. I praised Him for making me able to run. I praised Him for changing my body and helping me lose weight, which made running even better, more enjoyable. I praised Him for the strength to fight through some challenging runs. When I saw someone who didn't have an able body, I thanked Him for mine. That may sound hurtful but that person reminded me of what a gift an able body is, and I just didn’t take it for granted. I found such gratitude and deep thankfulness for my body and the way it grew in strength as He designed. When the accident happened, I was incredibly frustrated and broken-hearted. Like never before, my body was far from able, and I fought that pain in every way. My mind knew the accident was not God taking away my able body, but my heart was hurt and I just didn't understand. My spirit was tormented by the loss. Through wisdom from God, through my husband, and so much scripture, I was set right but gosh, was it hard. Honestly, there are still many days that are hard.

The road since the accident has been its own whirlwind of pain and other complicated ailments with my body (hello, emergency root canal). So many times I’ve fallen to frustration and jealousy in my hurt. Yet, I have found there are always opportunities to rejoice still.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known by everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:4

---

November 24, 2017. The day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Last vacation day in Telluride. Kevin and I, along with our two friends, went for a sledding adventure in the morning. It was around 10am, "three runs" we said, and then onward to town. Two runs, then that final one. The third. The one that ended in the accident. My girlfriend and I were on a sled together moving at a pretty decent speed, then hit a ditch which popped us both into the air and landed us promptly on the ground. That’s the short of it. I remember a lot from the whole event. I remember seeing the ditch before we hit and not knowing what to do. I remember the pain of hitting that ditch. I remember fog in my mind after we landed,  and then my friend screaming that something was most definitely broken. I remember her praying loud and with a great pleading in her voice. I can still go into great detail about that moment. It’s so abundantly clear to me even now.

I remember our husbands made it down to where we were after what seemed like forever, as I tried to assess in my mind all that was happening with my friend and me. My husband called 911, I could see the concern in his eyes and I felt so unsure about my own state that I was confused when he asked if one or two ambulances were needed. I could still hear my friend crying aloud and I looked at my husband and said one. I landed on my bottom but had turned over in the moments since landing (this part I do not remember. I do know that I had in my mind to help my friend but did not make much of a difference) but had not tried moving since. When I landed, I thought to myself that it hurt but it would probably just be sore tomorrow. But when I went to roll over again, pain shot through me and I knew I could not just get up on my own. I looked at my husband, who was still looking at me with concern and told him two.

I remember my mom running frantically across the snow to me and my sweet stepdad coming up behind her. He, being a nurse, was incredibly helpful for my friend. Her injury was visible and causing definitive pain. All I wanted was some sort of relief for her. We both continued to pray. When the ambulances came, they took my friend first and I watched, my heart aching for her pain and truly feeling guilt wash over me. It brings me to tears to this very day. The pain in my heart, the pain in hers. My lift into the ambulance was noticeably more painful than I anticipated, but in I went and with that, I took my first ride in an ambulance to the small hospital of Telluride.

I remember we spent a long while in my little open room of the ER. I could hear my friend in agony and my heart was just breaking for her. I can’t explain why but I still thought, I’ll leave here soon and when I do, I’m going to do something special for her. I even told my husband that we were going to town to get a little prize for them. The severity of my situation and hers was incredibly unclear and unknown to me. I remember feeling hungry, thirsty, and needing to go to the bathroom and how all those things were so complicated. We learned our friend would be taken to the nearest major hospital, not too far away. My situation was still unclear. 

I remember getting asked if I was willing to take an X-ray and an MRI. I'm always fearful of hospital bills, (a previous bad experience has caused me so much anxiety in this area and I did the same thing when I injured my thumbso in complete sincerity, I asked Kevin if we wanted to pass on the MRI. The doctor looked at me and said, oh hunny, you're going to meet your deductible this year. Onward with the MRI and X-ray we went. And when the results came back questionable and yet serious, my heart completely broke. It was then that I realized I was not just going to leave that ER and walk into town. More than that, I was not going home the following day as planned.  In that moment, my mind reeled through all things that we were going to enjoy in the coming weeks and how none of them would be happening now. We were moving to Florida at the end of December. We had so many plans with friends in between the coming-home-from-Telluride and the moving-away-forever dates. I busted into tears as we waited to hear where I would be sent. Kevin, being finally convinced, left me with my mom and went back to the house to pack up our things, and our friends' things.

I remember my second ride on an ambulance to the Telluride airport. It's on the side of a mountain and by this time, the sun was setting. It was beautiful and I can still see the view in my mind's eye. I thanked God for it. A small gift in a moment so very outside of my understanding. I held onto that view as they lifted me twice, painfully transferring me to another bed for my little med-flight airplane ride. My mom, sobbing loud tears, ready to jump into the plane the moment I said okay, stayed by my side till the very end. I didn't let her come. A peace that could only have come from God came over me, and I convinced her to go home with her husband. I had an unreasonable amount of peace considering the fact that I was about to be alone with strangers in a tiny airplane.  God knew what was coming. I'm confident of this. (The short side story is days later my stepdad would have a sad loss in his family and would be heading to a funeral with my mother. She wouldn't have been able to be there with him if she hadn't left me). In the tiny airplane, I could barely see the sun closing behind the mountains through the little windows and the medicine gave way as I drifted in and out of sleep.

I remember the flurry of activity entering the ER of Denver Health. People everywhere. I saw my socks flying in the air and I was being asked if I would give permission to cut my shirt. That's okay,  I said, but please, don't cut my sports bra. The shirt, a Walmart purchase my freshman year of college, could certainly go, my brand new sports bra from Victoria's Secret, umm no. They acquiesced under the conditions that there was no wire in it. Clearly, my budget-conscious-self was still very present.  I was warned of this flurry when we landed and I was lifted out from the airplane under a pitch black sky at an airport into another ambulance, my third and final for the day. No warning would have prepared me for those crazed several minutes and then the silence and unknown. After all the activity, they left me with no information in a dark ER room.

I remember my stomach growling and being rather frustrated about not being able to get food even when I finally learned that I would not go right away into surgery that night or even the next day. I called Kevin from my now still and quiet ER room, a warm blanket piled on top of me, and some random tv show on. He sounded concerned but his voice was steady. I told him about my hunger, they'd finally brought me saltines and a tiny cup of water. He had only a couple hours left in his six hour drive from Telluride to Denver. He made it just in time for my move to a permanent room. We met the most wonderful nurses there. And they fed us.

I remember my mother in law arriving the very next morning. She had purchased a flight the moment her son called her in tears during his drive to me. She brought comfort, sweetness, and sense of ease. I'm still so thankful for her presence that whole week. I laid in bed from the moment I entered my first ambulance ride through much of the next 12 days. I prayed but felt so conflicted in my heart. This accident was too much. The injury too grand. I could not understand what God could do through it.

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of the God. Not only so, but we also glory in our suferings because we know that suffering produced perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope." Romans 5:3 (From my journaling on November 25th. Any time I opened my Write the Word journal, the verse was very relevant. Only God.)

I remember Facetiming our friends as they found themselves also stuck in a hospital with no direct route home fully understood. We sent each other encouraging messages all day. She and I bonded over our confusion and hurt, both physically and emotionally. She had prayed for protection that day on the mountain and while it was hard to see, we knew that God has given us protection. Even though it was not quite the protection we would have expected. Our hearts hurt and we needed each other through every step.

I remember the day before the surgery, 3 days after my night arrival when the surgeon came in and shared all the possible risks of the surgery I was about to endure. He left the room and we all cried. Deep, concerned, confused tears. They flowed hot and heavy, fast and uncontrollably. The surgery was an option, a choice, but also it wasn't. The reality of my accident and the possibilities of a risky surgery poured over and the tears came for several minutes following that news. I had fractured my sacrum and as a result, it had disconnected from my pelvis. The surgeon was going to put two stabilizer bars into my body to hold me together and give me the opportunity to walk again. There were several risks associated with the surgery but if it proved successful, I'd walk again and return to other activities. I also could have the possibility to have the bars removed some time later.

"We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us...and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." Romans 8:26,28 (From my journaling on November 27th).

I remember not fully awakening from surgery and being very confused, cold and uncomfortable. The moment from starting to awaken to finally being taken back to my room was the worst part of our stay in Denver.

I remember the nerve in my leg shooting incredible pain down my whole right side of my body. The sciatic nerve was causing extreme pain down my leg and the first time it happened was, without a doubt, the most horrifying pain I'd experience in my life. I screamed loud and uncontrollably. There were so many people in the room but no one was really helping me. My nurse who tried to help, hit the bed buttons with her pregnant belly causing the bed to come inward, making the pain even worse. I screamed more in terror. In my agony, I shouted at everyone in the room that I was tired of their questions and I wanted help, now. My husband still pokes fun at me at how horrible I was.

I remember every time the nerve acted up, fear crept through my whole body and anxiety took over. I'd cry as the medicine wouldn't be quick enough and I would cry just out of the anxiety of that pain returning. My husband decided it was time to put it into God's hands. We watched Pastor Gregg Matte, my Houston home church pastor, speak on anxiety (if you or ever have struggled with anxiety, listen to it and the second message that goes along with it).  We posted a Bible verse up in the room. Every time, I had to speak it to myself. Every time, I had to remember that God had me, God loves me, God was taking care of me. I failed more times than I was successful but slowly God was calling me out of that anxiety and fear.

"I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:14

I remember the incredible kindness and sacrifice shown to me by so many. Friends happening to be in Norman but coming to their home in Denver brought our pillows. My cousin in town for a conference came over with a bag of goodies. A friend who had moved to the area brought us Mexican food. My best friend from college bought a one day ticket and flew in to spend time with me. ONE DAY Y'ALL! She got there after breakfast and was gone before dinner. Who does that? A best friend. A generous, kind, and thoughtful friend. Not to mention the flowers, cards, and gifts sent my way. And, the incredible grace that was shown to me by my employer. It blew us away. Our hearts were overwhelmed and amazed.

I remember coloring a little, watching the Sooners football games, some Hallmark Christmas movies, and reading a lot of text messages. I recall actually doing very little from bed, though. Kevin told me I slept most of the time. I do not remember that. Many memories from my time in the hospital are backward from reality. I thought my first sciatic nerve experience, for example, was moments after my post-surgery-room-return. It was actually several hours later in the day.

I remember the nurse who changed everything. She pushed me to take a shower. She pushed me out of bed. Without her, I don't know how much longer it would have taken me. She was firm but loving. I cried the whole way through the shower and I shouted every time I went from sitting to standing (the sciatic nerve was the root cause for my lack of progress). I learned to walk again. I learned to steady myself. I learned to balance again. I learned to take the stairs. It took me a whole week post surgery but slowly, I got there.

I remember the day we left the hospital. My birthday. I remember writing thank yous to my incredible nurses until my hands hurt. I remember the cold air hitting my face for the first time in 12 days. I remember the absolutely amazingly patient woman at DryBar that spent over an hour with my head in the wash bowl untangling the hair that had turned into such a giant tangled mess. The DryBar in Denver gifted me the entire experience. We were floored with their generosity. I remember my husband gifting me time to breathe the air and "walk" into shops (with my walker, of course). I remember getting my birthday gift purchase at Kendra Scott and the women giving me an extra gift just because. Again, we were so shocked. I remember the confirmation of purchasing Taylor Swift tickets for a concert where my very best girlfriends would come to visit our new home. I remember the moment we got in the car to drive home to Norman (#Oklahome). The incredible change and quick timeline that now laid before us.

I remember being home. Our friends had graciously packed our home for us in no time at all and babysat me. My employer who continued to be so kind, patient, and generous let me come in as I could. My mom had come to help too.  My littlest sister flew into Dallas to meet my mom and help drive one of our cars down to Florida as I was not cleared to drive (and as it came to pass, wouldn't be cleared until February).

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 (from December 14th) 

I remember one of the last mornings I had at our Oklahoma home, preparing for my first day alone in over a month. Kevin left for work. I did a Bible study in bed and then I was determined to help do some of the final packing work left. I attempted one thing and realized I couldn't do it. I tried another, and again couldn't due to my restrictions/pain. I attempted one other activity and cried tears of helplessness. My favorite moments in those short weeks were eating or sitting with my people and being in my bed reading my Bible. Those moments were slow. The rest was a whirlwind.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 (from December 20th)

I remember driving away from Norman. Our last night spent at a dear friends' home. A light amount of snow graced the roofs. We drove through our alma mater campus one last time then headed southeast for so many changes. I was still shuffling along with my walker, needing to sit on cushioned things, and only really comfortable laying down. I was still very much in recovery. Job changes, home changes, people changes, and most uncertain, my body changes. We didn't know what lied ahead. But God did.

"I trust you today, I will trust you, I commit to trusting you more. In your healing Name, Amen" (my prayer from December 24th)

...


Those memories are hard. Filled with bodily and heart pain, yet blessed with complete kindness from God through the people he surrounded us with. Our bodies are fragile and not a given. The Bible is filled with instruction to persevere through hardships in God's strength for His glory to be known. "But as for you, exercise in everything, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:5  God allows painful experiences, not to discipline us but to allow us to grow. Will we choose our next steps in obedience to Him or will we wallow in the pain of our circumstances? This was, and is, a question I am often asking myself when my spirit falls weak and I feel these experiences I've been allowed to endure from the accident and since are unfair. If I can choose obedience, I can bring Him glory. This I can rejoice in!

On Easter this year, I sat in church as the pastor explained the pain Jesus would have experienced on the cross. Do you know what would have coursed through his body and caused him incredible amounts of pain? Sciatic nerve pain. My jaw dropped. I knew that pain! I mean, not the same pain of course, as crucifixion was so much more. The cross though, Jesus' pain, it almost means so much more to me. I suddenly understand his pain in a way I  have never known before. In the smallest way, I can relate to His pain. I feel just a tiny bit of what He went through for me! This I hold onto. This I can rejoice in!

I recently read the whole chapter of Psalm 34 that held the verse (verse 4) that kept encouraging me out of my anxiety. Psalm 34:3 is our marriage verse: "Oh glorify the Lord with me, Let us exalt His name together." It's on our wall and in our marriage covenant. The very next verse was my hospital verse: "I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears." I don't know why it took me so long to put those two verses together. The purpose of each verse felt so separate before, I guess. The very next verse, verse 5, gives me even more delight. "Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed." God calls us to glorify Him, trust in and rely on Him, and turn to Him. Together, that brings us to real joy. Non-circumstantial joy. Joy not contingent on how healthy or able our bodies are. Joy that is rooted in His goodness, His power, His capabilities. Joy in the gifts of care, love and His son Jesus that He gave us. I can most certainly rejoice in this!

There are a number of ways we saw God's hand at work through this whole experience. My friend prayed for safety, and while we still had serious injuries, we were still spared worse injuries. Where I suffered fractures, there are a number of nerves that control many body functions, and I hit none of them. One of those, controlling my urination, for example. My friend ended up at a hospital near the airport my family was leaving from, which meant my family could take our friends' bags to them the next day. Her work graciously allowed her to work from home as she also endured a long recovery. I know she could share many more ways she's seen God's hand. We, on the other hand, were going to be sent to a hospital in a different city on the day of the accident, but the weather cleared just in time for us to end up with a better doctor in Denver. He connected us with a good colleague of his, not-so-ironically working in Tampa, Florida, near where we would be living. That doctor told us that had we not been in the care of the Denver doctor, I likely would have been given an alternative surgery which would have left me in a wheelchair for months afterward. I can't imagine having to start my new job in a wheelchair. That would have been a whole other set of new things to learn. My new employer has offered me flexibility which has been so nice with the plethora of doctor visits I've had this year. I was able to have a second surgery this year to remove the hardware put in my body a year ago. Since the second surgery, I have been able to heal pretty well and return to somewhat normal life activities. There are so many more that I could mention too.

My body is still healing. There are many things that I will likely live with for a long time still or even forever. Struggles on this earth are real, emotional and downright hard. I'm determined to rejoice and continue to thank God for this body. I can choose to remember God's strength when my body isn't strong. I have no reason to fear what could still come from the injury because I know my God. His character has proven Him faithful over and over again through both the Bible and my own life. I can rest in His faithfulness. 














1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts

Pin It button on image hover