People ask me on a daily basis how I am. I hate answering this question because I know they are all hoping to hear a progress report. Everybody expects me to be fully recovered and normal by now. After all, it has been 8 months since the car accident! However, I’m so far from normal. The reason I hate answering this question is because I want so badly to give them good news, but the truth is that my pain levels are still very high and I haven’t had one day, or even one hour go by since the accident where I am not in pain. I haven’t had one day go by where I can see normal and things don’t look like they are spinning.
Typically when I answer this question I try to report any progress I’ve seen. I mostly focus on how I am emotionally, because I can honestly say that I am good! I am at peace, I have grown so much through this, God has given me joy in spite of the suffering, and I trust that He is making something beautiful out of all of this. But how I am physically is not a fairy tale nor is it a “feel- good” story. So how am I physically? Honestly? Well a typical day looks something like this…
A Typical Day for Me:
I wake up in the morning and I have shooting pains from my neck down my spine. My ribs feel bruised and sore and it hurts to turn over. I’ll have stabbing pains in at least a few parts of my back. I also have shooting pains from the top of my legs down to my ankles… this typically feels like someone is pinching nerves in the lower part of my back and the pain shoots through my legs. My stomach also hurts when I wake up and I often feel nauseated. My head throbs and everything feels kind of “fuzzy.” I usually am so sore that I have to psych myself into getting the energy to sit up and get out of bed. My vision is getting better, but it is still bad. I look around the room and it looks like the room is spinning around in circles; sometimes I have random objects look like they are coming towards me. Unfortunately, my coffee cup is not actually floating towards me like my vision makes it look, but I have to reach out and grab it ;).
My equilibrium is a whole different story. Though my vision makes it look like the room is spinning one way, my equilibrium makes it FEEL like something different is going on. It makes it feel like the floor is shaking, like my bed is moving up and down or like the ground is not balanced and I am walking on a diagonal all day long. I’ve learned to compensate for the movement I feel on the floor and the spinning my vision sees, but it is difficult. I try to cover it, but sometimes I look pretty silly when I am trying to walk from one room to the next; outsiders might even think I appear “drunk” because I wobble along stumbling over my own feet as I make it to my room ;)..
Though my vision makes things appear as if they are moving, my vision is typically pretty clear except when I regress, then my vision gets blurry. Right now I can see clearly to type this note, but my laptop looks like it is moving with me and my entire room in a circle. I’m on some pretty heavy pain meds; they don’t cut the pain, but they do ease it up for me. The doctor says I could be on morphine pills for the pain I’m in, but I don’t want to get on anything that strong or addictive.
For the first 4-5 months I had an adrenaline that would kick in and give me energy to tune out the pain and have lively conversations. Now I feel like my body is tired and I’ve used all of my adrenaline. I don’t have the energy I had before to talk as my normal, animated self for hours. I’m still me and I still love being around people (because I’m social, I love people, and they bring joy into my life). But I don’t feel that I’m able to “cover up” the pain as well as I used to be able to.
That is the description of my “typical” day. I usually am in bed for a good part of the day because it is too painful for me to do anything else. On good days, I read books, do crafts, play guitar and piano, and write songs. I can’t drive because of my vision and my pain keeps me from doing much activity. If I am in a room full of people the noise and stimulation is too much for my brain to handle and I will start to regress after a matter of time. On a difficult day or after I have regressed my pain spikes up severely , my vision gets blurry, and I feel like everything is spinning 10 times faster than it did before.
See why I don’t like giving the physical update? You’re probably depressed just reading that or feel bad for me realizing what I face every day ;). But my purpose in writing this is NOT to get pity or to depress you, but instead to encourage you because even though you just heard all of the difficulties I face on a daily basis, I’ve had that many and more good things happen to me since the accident. God is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18) but He is also close to those who are just physically broken-and that my friends, is what has made this experience become a good one :)!
Why am I doing good emotionally/spiritually?:
God has been with me every second of this recovery. He has been the doctor that hasn’t left my side, the friend that has brought me joy, the father who has held me through this, and the inspirer that has given me new dreams and ambitions for my future!
I’ve had so many people tell me that if I just “have faith” then I’ll be healed. I don’t mean to be offensive to them, but the truth is that my faith is stronger now than it has ever been in my life! I know God has the power to snap His fingers and heal me instantaneously. Even though He hasn’t done this I know that He still could if He chooses. But my faith is not based on whether God does what I want Him to do or not. Faith means to believe in and trust God no matter what happens. I have faith that even if God never chooses to snap His fingers and instantaneously heal me that I will still trust and believe in Him!
The Real Miracle:
It would have been a miracle if I was instantly healed a week or two after the accident. God has not given me the miracle of “instant healing.” Instead He has given me multiple miracles. What miracles? The way He has changed and humbled my heart since the accident is a miracle. I can never thank Him enough for giving me the peace and joy He has given me in the midst of this storm- that is a precious gift to me and yes I consider that a miracle. The way He has given me new vision and purpose for my future has changed my life for the better. The way He has given me a heart of compassion for those who are sick and hurting has changed my life. The way He has allowed me to step away from the distractions of life and see what is really important has been an amazing experience. Maybe God didn’t give me that one miracle everyone was praying for: for me to be healed instantly, but instead He has given me many miracles by what He has done in my heart and how He has changed my life.
Yes, I would like to be healed. I would like to not go through the pain and difficulties I have faced every day for 8 months. But I would never trade the miracles God has given me for the miracle of being instantaneously healed.
We all have our own storm:
Sometimes terrible things in life happen. For some of us it isn’t “sometimes” but it seems that thing after thing crashes and falls apart in our lives constantly. As soon as one storm starts to settle down it seems a tsunami has risen up and a whirlwind of new disasters hits our way. Often God does not do what we ask Him to do, but that does not mean that He has forsaken us. Deut 31:6 “… for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus even said that, “in this world you will have trouble” but He tells us we can have peace in Him through our trouble John 16:33.
Wherever you are and whatever you are facing in life, don’t give up. Your struggles may be completely different than the struggles I am facing. But that does not mean that they are not heavy and burdensome on you! I know it is hard, frustrating, and heartbreaking when thing after thing seems to go wrong and you feel like you have no control over any of it. You are trying so hard to hold on and stay above water- to just catch your breath.
Don’t give up. God does see you and He hears your prayers. He hasn’t forsaken you even though it may feel like it at times. His ways are not our ways and He does not do things according to how we tell Him to do them ;). But He will bring beauty out of pain if we let Him. He does bring miracles in the middle of the storm, but sometimes they aren’t the miracles we are looking for. But if we stop and open our eyes we can see what God is doing in and around us through the storm.
His ways are not our ways:
It was prophesied for years that God would come down to earth and save His people. Everyone thought that He would come down from heaven and display His power and might. That the power would be taken from the evil rulers of that time and that God would sit on the throne and govern as the “King of the world.” However, Jesus’s story is one that no human would have planned. Yet it is a better outcome than any of us could have imagined. He did not come down from heaven and display His glory for all to see, but instead came down as an infant born in a humble stable to a family of no royal position. He was rejected and persecuted by many during His lifetime here on earth. He never had money or even “a place to lay his head” Luke 9:28. What kind of a king’s life was that??? Certainly not one that any of us would have planned if we had been in charge!! He was then beaten and crucified on a cross- definitely not what I would have planned if I were in charge. Actually, this wasn’t even what Jesus wanted but He was willing to go through it because of His love for us. He expressed in Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Not only did Jesus not want to go through the suffering but He even came to a point when He felt forsaken by God. Matthew 27:46 “… My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So what happened in the end? Well we’ve all heard the story, but it never ceases to amaze me :). Jesus rose from the dead and gave us new life. He conquered sin so it didn’t have to conquer us. He made a way for us to live with Him forever in the most amazing place you could ever imagine. In the meantime He sent us His spirit to live in us until one day we get to meet Him face to face.
When I picture my life a few million years from now I don’t think I will be saying, “God why did you let those terrible things happen to me on earth.” But instead I think I’ll be saying “I can’t believe you let me in! I can’t believe I get to live in this amazing paradise forever with you. I can’t believe this is just the beginning of my journey and my destiny continues on here. I can’t believe I get to dive into golden shimmery waterfalls and then fly into a sunset filled with hundreds of colors I hadn’t seen on earth. I can’t believe I feel like I “fit in” and I’m at home here in the most perfect place ever. I can’t believe I get to live with the essence of good, with my God, my king and my friend.”
Beauty from the pain:
This life can be hard and it doesn’t turn out how we plan. I never planned on getting in a car accident and being so disabled that I had to drop out of school my senior year of college. I never planned on losing my dream job right after I had worked so hard to get it. I never planned on losing my money, my apartment, and my complete ability to take care of myself. I wouldn’t have planned on becoming disabled and unable to walk or to have my vision taken from me. I didn’t plan on living in severe pain every day for 8 months.
Honestly, I don’t think God “planned” the accident or made it happen. I think we are human beings that live in an imperfect world where bad stuff happens. I do think God has used this accident to give me more miracles than I ever planned on. Miracles I may not have experienced if I hadn’t been through this trial. I never would have had the time in my busy work week to be broken, humbled, and changed in the way I have been during my recovery. I had been so focused on my goals that I may not have listened to the amazing new things God was putting on my heart or the new ministries He was calling me to.
He is convicting me every day of junk in my heart that I didn’t realize was there. And every day I am amazed at His unending love and mercy in spite of all my sin. I can’t believe I serve the God who is all powerful, all justice, the essence of good but still loves me as I am. I can’t believe that He will never give up on me no matter how many times I get distracted or disappoint Him. I can’t believe that He loves me! I can’t comprehend why?? But He does and that is a miracle in itself! I can’t believe that He has not left my bedside this entire recovery and that He has held me through it all.
I may not have received the “miracle” of instant healing that everyone was praying for, but I have received many miracles beyond that “miracle” that I will treasure for the rest of my life!
Wherever you are and whatever you’re facing I hope that God holds you and that you can see the good that He can bring out of it. Wherever you are, hang on and keep pressing forward because it is worth it! And if you need a friend or someone to talk to feel free to contact me if you need a listening ear.
Photo of Rachel taken by Angela Klocke: http://klockephotography.com/