10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. ______________________________
We pray for blessings We pray for peace Comfort for family, protection while we sleep We pray for healing, for prosperity We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering All the while, You hear each spoken need Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops What if Your healing comes through tears What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise -Laura Story "Blessings"
I want you to think back on the worst stomach flu you have ever had. I know, probably not a pleasant experience. But for my example, please let you mind go there. Remember how terrible you felt? And how at some point you were fairly confident you might just die, and you didn't even care? Keeping remembering. Think about not being able to eat, barely drink, or sit up for longer that 5 minutes. Now think about your best friend (or spouse) coming to sit by your side. They hold your hand, get you a wet wash cloth, and then they sweetly say, "It's all in your head. If you just put your mind to not having the flu, all this will go away." You explain that the doctor said you just needed rest and fluids but they kindly disagree with saying, "You know what you need? A good run! Go outside, run a few miles and think hard about getting over the flu. That will do the trick."
Over the past few months, we have been reminded how amazing the human body is. You may remember, Derek broke his left arm and as a result, his radial nerve was severely damaged. The doctors told us the only thing we could do was just wait and see. For nerve damage, the average healing rate is 1mm per day. Since the damage was near his shoulder and it needed to reach his fingertips, you can imagine how long that would take! 6 months to be exact. The only real thing we could do was wait. Thank God the nerve did heal and he is currently squeezing 103lbs of pressure. When we first got to rehab, he was squeezing only 11lbs. Big change! Now as much as I would love to brag on Derek, the fact is he really didn't do anything. He didn't sit and meditate on healing his hand, he didn't really even work it out. It either was going to come back or it wasn't, nothing he personally did would change that fact.
Basically, I just gave you two blog introductions to the one thing I really wanted to talk about. Emotionally healing when you don't see progress in physical healing. Social media tends to bring more light to the paraplegic community, which is awesome. What isn't awesome is when all spinal cord patients get lumped into one category. The classic answer we heard every day for months "every spinal cord injury is different" holds true to this as well. There are encouraging photos, articles, and posts about these amazing people who start walking again after their injury. And you can basically bet your life savings that somewhere in the article they will say, "The doctors said I wasn't going to walk again and I wanted to prove them wrong" or "I put my mind to it and knew this is what I had to do".
I have become such the skeptic that I have started to do some serious stalking to figure out the back story of what actually happened to the person. I kid you not, every single time, the person in question was expected to walk again. I will give you the inside hint: Most doctors who perform the spinal surgery will be pessimistic on walking, especially right after an accident. It takes weeks for the spinal cord to stop swelling and therefore really know the damage. Once the person moves to a rehab facility (like the one we went to in Chicago), they will have a much better idea of their chances. The rehab doctors will do a test called the ASIA test which is a series of things (seeing if you can feel pricks, soft touches, and a few invasive tests) to determine the severity of your injury. So what doctors really want to know is where you are on the ASIA scale. Asia A is the worst. Derek is an Asia A.
We have been so excited to watch friends we met at RIC progress from their wheelchair into walking, running, and even scuba diving. But with that comes the painful reminder that most likely, that will never be us. Not because Derek doesn't try hard enough or put his mind into walking again, but because he is an Asia A Complete T-6. We have come to grips with this, but almost need others to as well.
We will continue to pray for Derek's recovery but more than anything, we pray for adjustment. We want our life to be more than doctors appointments, therapy sessions, and walking in a robot. Derek doesn't have a desire to become a motivational speaker or play on the wheelchair basketball team for the 2020 Paralympics. He wants to be a great patent attorney, a father, an awesome husband (duh), and a man who points others to God. We want what we always wanted before. A life.
The best example I can think of is children. I know there are a lot of people struggling with infertility, etc. so please do not take this example as being insensitive:
Let's say the doctor told you that having children would not be possible for you. Along with being physically impossible, there was also no such thing as adopting a child, possible medical treatments etc. You were just not going to have a child you always assumed you would. With that information, you continue to do the action that produces a baby, but you do it for your relationship, not for the end goal of having a baby. And you move on! If you know you aren't going to have a baby, you need to start making goals, plans, dreams, around that fact. The last thing you want is to get to the end of your life and think, "Man, I wasted so many of my years dreaming, wishing, and hoping for a baby that never came." That's us and walking. Maybe just maybe, moving on isn't giving up.
The song lyrics at the beginning of this post has been stuck in my head for weeks now. Back in the early days of hospital life, I remember laying my phone next to Derek's head and playing it for him. Although I was fairly confident he wouldn't remember, I needed him to hear exactly what I was feeling. What if all of our trials really are just His mercies so that we could know Him better? I know. Tough to swallow when all you want to do is be angry, hurt, or upset. But I feel so confident there is a plan so much greater than I could have ever dreamed for us, and to miss that plan just to be more comfortable? Eh. No thanks.