Hi friends. This is part of a series about experiences related to a life change at age 18 when I lost control of my car many years ago and became paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. See part 1 for more background.
Almost ready to go home from the hospital in my brand new wheelchair. My half butchered hair is hidden as we pulled it back to cover the bald spots from traction and surgery.
Home Sweet Home?
Eleven weeks after the accident I was discharged from rehab. Coincidentally, my accident occurred the day I left for my sophomore year of college and I arrived at home the day I would have come home for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays. Yes, that was an interesting semester and definite learning experience. The true training was just beginning.
The transition to ‘every-day’ living was what I remember as the most difficult adjustment. I no longer had a host of new friends and therapists who understood my ‘different body’. It was ‘game on by myself’. Most of my friends were away at school, and yes, my family was there, but whoa…it was an awakening. A hospital bed was set up in the living room for the first six months while we worked on an addition to the house on the ground floor.
We set up a temporary shower in the hallway between the kitchen and laundry room right in front of the door going out to the garage. I remember threatening to charge admission when someone needed to slip in or out during my shower. When showering seems to involve the whole family you get a new perspective on life!
We had no idea how to hire helpers and we learned life lessons as we saw the good, the bad and the ugly up close and personal in our house. We tried both ‘live in’ and ‘visiting’ helpers. One night I was awakened to flashing blue lights at 2:00 AM as the police entered the house. One of our hired helpers took my mother’s wedding rings! Redemption came when her father bought the treasured diamond from the pawn shop where she sold it.
It’s heart-breaking to see such desperate people. Gratefully, we honed our approach to hiring and I have developed many wonderful and lasting friendships through my dependence on others for personal care. As you might imagine there are times of joy and challenge with this dependence and these relationships. I highly recommend a couple of my go to scriptures for courage and relief during the tough times….No kidding, I use these now to remember and to move ahead. Yes, I still have my struggles just as I know you do. This very year has been replete with pneumonia and other health challenges. I repeat my short verses over and over:
March on my soul, be strong. Judges 5:21 NIV
Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord! Psalms 27:14” The NET Bible
Friends Stick Close
Many friends helped lighten the family’s load and ministered to physical and emotional needs. It is overwhelming to look back at the ‘mini’ miracles and the glorious evidence of God’s amazing grace. A good friend, Julia, cared for me during my first summer before she went to college. I know it was difficult for her to stay with our family caring for a needy, exposed paralyzed friend, but her young soul offered safety and continuity as she served selflessly.
One of my former full-time helpers and friend, Michel, has a special gift of care giving and was with me for a good part of ten years as she lived with us and became part of our family. She helped when I first moved away from home and was a great support when both my father and mother died. She was in our wedding and even went to Aruba to help us with care-giving on our honeymoon. She now lives in Arizona and I rarely see her, but we had many memorable times together. One of my most tender memories of her were the nights she spent at my mom’s bedside during her final days of fighting breast cancer. Mom seemed to eat and move best with Michel…it was beautiful…and a great comfort to mom and our family.
A couple nights before mom died, unable to sleep, I drove to her house at eleven or so and Michel put me in the small hospital bed with mom in her semi-conscious state to cuddle. A precious and priceless time.
You see, through the struggles and difficulties of my ‘different’ life I have seen the caring, loving touch so many extended to me and to those I hold dear. As if that was not enough of an example of God’s great love and faithfulness, he surprised me with the gift of a loving, caring husband! Great is His faithfulness!
If you are currently struggling I’d be honored to hear your heart and pray for you. Drop me a note or post a comment. Love to you and more to come next time my friends. – Madge