-Katherine Farmer, Contributing Writer
Dear Ungrateful Self,
It’s these hours at night when you lay awake, not able to sleep, that you should be thankful. Thankful for your family, thankful for your God, and thankful you can move. He delivered you from heart-wrenching circumstances and brought you into light. Your God delivered a modern-day miracle. God was there when you had to relearn everything because your muscle memory was wiped clean. He was there when you took your second first steps at age 15 and when you finally learned how to hold a pencil again. I know you look at your life now and wonder how you got here. It’s a hard place to be in, balancing the physical pain with the mental and emotional. But God called you here, to this life. So why do you worry? Why do you worry about the future so much? Don’t you know the Lord has you in His hands? Hasn’t that been evident to you?
At 15, instead of praying for my driving test like most people my age, I was praying to regain movement. May 30, 2010 started out as a very normal day. The tennis tournament I was participating in had been cancelled, so I went out on the nearby lake on a boat with my family. I was tubing behind the boat and was exhausted, so I clumsily fell off. When I hit the water, I immediately knew that something was wrong. A wave of numbness washed through me and that’s when I lost it. I was paralyzed—a quadriplegic.
My nerves were shocked so they interpreted everything differently. It suddenly felt like I had third degree burns all over my arms, which the doctors said is the worst pain a human can feel. When someone touched me, it felt like knives. After many tests, the conclusion was simple: I had bruised my spinal cord and I was never moving again. I was told to “give up hope and accept it because no God can save you from this.” My mom fed me, bathed me, and dressed me for two and a half months before I started to regain movement little by little. This was a miracle, but it wasn’t over. My muscle memory was wiped clean. I had to relearn how to do everything again, including things as basic as walking, holding a pencil, and tying my shoes. Things I had learned by age 5, I had to relearn again at 15. We found out later that I had spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, in four levels of my spinal cord and needed surgery. They broke eight bones in my neck to make more room and cut my shoulder muscle in two pieces to get there.
Today people see me and think I am great. The truth is, I’m not “great”. That’s the funny thing about the spinal cord. It doesn’t heal and in the off chance it does, it never heals right. I am a 19-year-old student that has 24/7 chronic pain in every inch of my body that morphine doesn’t even touch. I am elated to get two hours of sleep a night; I have memory problems; my limbs go numb randomly; I have burning sensations that come and go, muscle weakness, deteriorating motor function, bulging discs, pinched nerves, as well as extreme side effects from medicine. I have gone to several doctors, and it’s the same diagnosis: “There is nothing we can do, and it will just keep getting worse and worse.” So far, they have been right. The pain is getting worse, and my motor function is declining every day. I can’t even wear rings on my fingers or bracelets on my wrists because it hurts too much. This condition effects my whole future. Will I find a job that my situation won’t hinder? Will I be able to have kids? If so, will I be able to hold them without fear of dropping them? Will I be able to walk around the block with my husband or friends? All this is scary, but I am still thankful.
I am thankful for my life, my situation, and my chronic pain. It has taught me so much about myself, others, and most importantly my relationship with Christ. The pain is a constant reminder that I can’t do life on my own. I am a stubborn, independent person and every morning when I wake up and the pain hits, I am reminded that I need His mercy and love every day. I need Christ. It blows my mind that the Creator of this beautiful universe cares enough about me to show me His sovereign love and protection. Every hard day or night has brought me closer to God, and I will forever be grateful for how this injury has allowed me to become closer to the one who created the mountains and the shooting stars. He has every single day of my life written already, so all there is left to do is trust Him. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. I wouldn’t trade these past four years for anything. I feel so blessed by the Lord, my family, and friends. Life has been a rollercoaster and will continue to be, but I am all right with that. I am so thankful and blessed. I will continue to rejoice and have gratitude no matter what life brings.