Life Can Turn on a Dime – Part 6

This is part 6 of a series about experiences related to a life change at age 18 when I lost control of my car and became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. See part 1 for more background.

I hung out with a friend’s family if my family was gone. Often we dreaded time alone.

Fear and Darkness
Apprehension set in at night when all visitors and therapists vanished. Even other patients’ families were unable to add comfort and had to leave. Fear flew in as quickly as the kite on the stark wall beamed the last colorful comfort before the lights dimmed and visitors deserted.  Couldn’t someone please spend the night?  No, the rules prohibited such pampering. A call for help was as close as a simple fuzzy ball hanging from a cord near the bed! I think it had mercury in it and with a tap activated an alert to the nurses’ station.

Gone were the days of simple grunts or cries to get ‘911-like’ prompt assistance as I had at the other hospital where I was considered a ‘special’ patient with ‘special needs’. I was now another paralyzed soldier in boot camp on a road to recovery.

Didn’t they know I could barely move my arms? The fuzzy ball was an innovative and effective device…most of the time.

The nurses could not hear my faint cries for help when I knocked the ball out of reach. This was a scary, helpless feeling….I remember some dark nights…nights when it was best not to cry and get my nose all stuffy and make things worse. I couldn’t move my arms much in the beginning. Wiping a runny nose or teary eyes while laying down was impossible and tears would only provoke additional fear and discomfort.

“Let’s try positioning you on your stomach tonight,” the nurses said with enthusiasm as they flipped my body, padded me with pillows to eliminate pressure – and oh yes – positioned my head so I could breathe. I fell asleep but woke in a panic as my face felt smothered and my fancy, fuzzy ‘calling’ ball was out of reach. My already quiet chirps for help were muted by the surrounding pillows and my paralyzed prone position. Helpless and scared, I talked to the One who was with me, never leaving me alone. Of course the nurse’s help always ‘eventually’ came and I was learning new patience and perseverance. A year later I had additional in-patient rehab and loved the experience of sleeping on my tummy each night. It’s amazing what time and experience does for perspective and courage, isn’t it?

New and different realities in our lives have the potential to shift us toward bitterness, hopelessness, and anger. We can feel so helpless when things ravel out of control..conflict, sickness, grief, financial needs, scheduling difficulties, etc.…we can choose to rant about them (as I often do in my journal) but at some point the ranting loses its appeal and I know there is a necessary shift in perspective. That’s when my heart seeks to understand the potential grace and growth and moves toward wrestling for a firm grip on hope and gratitude.

Memories and Growth
As I document these memories and revisit past difficult times, I reflect on current difficulties as well. Challenging events are part of our journey and produce our legacy. I remind myself how they build strength, depth and an ability to depend on Christ in new ways. They continue to help me understand the power of James 1:2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Revisiting the past makes me much more grateful
…for the husband next to me at night
…for the provision that I continually see
…for the people I meet
…for opportunities to refresh others
…for the stabilizing Anchor of my soul
…for the encouragement that there is always more to learn.


Prayers for peace and purpose to you in your difficult hours…

Read on to part 7.


2 thoughts on “Life Can Turn on a Dime – Part 6

  1. Madge,
    This is an awesome site!! As I have sat and read your story it just reminds me how wonderful and great our God is. As Joseph said to his brothers, you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. My sister Kim has a disable daughter named Brooke, she is blind, has to be in a wheelchair because her legs are now too weak to hold her up, she has the mental ability of a 2-4 year old and is a wonderful person. She has touched people that I could never touch.

    You are so right that we all struggle in some way and we all need the Lord to help us through everyday life. The one thing that we talk about in our family is the day that Brooke will walk into heaven and SEE JESUS. My sister Kim as well as the rest of us are looking forward to the day that Brooke will be able to see her mother’s face.

    Because of her age range she believes with a simple faith. We have to live each day with eternity in view and know that whatever happens this is just a place to shine for the Lord. I want you to know that both you and Brent are great big beams of light for HIS GLORY. It is a privilege to know both of you.

    I will continue to look on your blog for you are so encouraging and it really helps me to put things into perspective.

    God bless you both,

    • Karen,

      I’m so glad that you took the time to make a comment! Thank you! I so love to know about people like you and Brooke. I understand what you mean about her childlike faith. I’m sure she ministers to the whole family.

      Thank you for all you do for Brent. I didn’t realize about your sister and their family.

      Prayers and blessings,

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