The story I’m about to tell you is different than the other ones, because this one is true. Everything about it really did happen; it is the only nonfictional piece that I’ve written. It starts:
Once upon a time, there was a little six-month old baby lying in her crib. The bracelet on her wrist read Shriners Hospital, Tampa FL and her legs were held aloft by a pulley and weights for the child was enduring what’s known as skin traction to fix a dislocated hip she’d had since birth. It looked grueling and uncomfortable, and yet the baby was smiling up at her mother, the nurses, and the doctors. Those doctors said she couldn’t walk. They said she would need lots of time and help. But the Lord said she would do great things.
That’s what you would’ve seen if you looked in my crib when I was a baby. Yah, I was that six-month-old. It took four years of traction, braces and therapy but that little girl whom the Lord and the doctors worked so hard to heal did walk, and someday she (I mean I) would ride horses. But, it’s funny how history can repeat itself, and how the Lord can bring good things out of bad situations. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.
Now we’ll fast forward six years:
It was a rainy October afternoon two weeks before her eleventh birthday and that same little girl was taking a riding lesson on her beloved horse, Lightning. But as they swung into a canter, her saddle began to slide, and before anyone in the arena could react, she fell. As the dust settled her mother and trainer ran to her and discovered her arm was broken, badly. So an ambulance was called.
That night would forever be engraved in her memory, even down to how the sandy floor felt through her T-shirt, or how the ceiling rafters of the indoor arena looked so high above her, yet close enough she thought she could touch them, and how although she felt no pain, the numbed place from her shoulder to elbow made her think her arm wasn’t even attached to her body anymore, even though she could wiggle her fingers.
But she wouldn’t think back on it as a tragedy. For that night actually started a chain reaction in the ten-year-old’s life, a reaction of changes, revelations, and (although she didn’t know it then), a seed of hope was planted.
The child was taken to the hospital, where doctors mended her arm, and while she was under local anesthetics, she had a very important dream. She dreamt she was standing in a room of bright sunlight, and she saw positioned at the far end were two silhouettes, one of a man the other a horse. Was it Jesus Christ? She was almost certain it was, and she knew for sure that the horse was her horse Lightning. The dream faded too quickly, but it was enough to offer a little peace, and a sign that He wouldn’t leave her, even though it would take nearly two years for her to believe that promise.
When she woke she found herself in a plaster sleeve, her arm cast from her shoulder to fingers. It was heavy, uncomfortable, rested in a sling that was strapped to her body, and it would become her bothersome companion for the next eight weeks.
It was sometime around the second week when her neck started bugging her, and it was discovered by X-ray that she had an injury called a sublexation. Two of her vertebrae were turned and locked on each other, holding her neck at an awkward angle that made it hard to breathe and swallow. She couldn’t turn her head, she couldn’t open her mouth all the way, and the heavy cast made living difficult. She was stuck in more ways than one.
To escape neck surgery the child’s wonderful parents drove her the three hours from their Ohio home to Pennsylvania where she met Doctor Sanders who is a great man and a good doctor. He knew how to fix her neck without surgery.
You know how? Maybe you’ve guessed.
Yep, ironic, huh? Skin traction, just like for her legs when she’d been a baby, would work to stretch and relax her cramped neck muscles and loosen them enough for Dr. Sanders to manipulate her vertebrae back into place.
Now her hospital bracelet read Shriner's Hospital Erie, PA.
She underwent treatment for weeks in the hospital, then even longer at home. Confined to a wheelchair (a difficult task to ask of a, lets say, “energetic” girl) she spent her time playing board games - mainly Chess - and watching movies. Dr. Sanders ordered her special prism glasses so she could watch TV and read when she laid down for the bed traction (they were the neatest glasses ever!). Books on tape soothed her nerves at night as she feared with each breath that she might die. But her fear drove her into God’s arms and she sought Him at night, studying scripture by that cold florescent hospital light.
However, although she made progress she continued to struggle. Surgery was scary. Traction was frightening. She hated the needles and physical therapy. She was used to X-rays (by now she figured she should have been glowing) but CATscans and MRIs were terrifying. She was beginning to wish she would die.
In the beginning she wondered, “Why me? Why should I be put through all this?” She felt bitter, unloved and deserted by Christ who was supposed to be watching over her (or at least that’s what she had been taught). At one climatic moment during treatment she broke down and cried, grappling with herself as she doubted He even existed.
Then, she came to realize that the Lord hadn’t left her, and a lot of good things started to happen.
She made friends with a radiation technician named Lori. Lori helped her through all her X-rays, and you know what? When she was frightened to have her first MRI, Lori went with her and made her laugh and smile through the entire process. She truly was an angel from above, and a great friend.
The girl also grew closer to her mother who slept in her hospital room and was her constant caregiver and companion, especially after they went home.
After the traction was completed and her neck muscles were relaxed enough for manipulation, Dr. Sanders worked his magic in the OR and pushed her neck back into place. She woke up in a Halo: a metal contraption that held her head in place by four metal pins connected to her head (which didn’t hurt a bit, honest). Four pins, one above either eyebrow, one behind each ear that would later come to mean everything to her.
At the time she felt like a racehorse wearing blinders, for she couldn’t move her neck or head, or lay down easily. It was going to be tough, and the summer had only begun.
She was to wear the Halo for three months; to give her neck enough time to heal in the right place, and assure her vertebrae wouldn’t slip out again. It was hot and heavy, but she pushed on, and even though the pin sites bled, the Halo’s weight kept her on the couch, and (despite her valiant efforts to convince him) Dr. Sanders wouldn’t let her ride her horse, she survived.
No, she didn’t survive. She thrived.
The Lord delivered her from her physical and her emotional turmoil. He reached her through her afflictions, and brought her into His light. And you know what? He’s still working with her (I mean me).
Three months later it came time to have the Halo removed and when she woke up in the OR she was free; free from her injury, the medical restraints, and her own inner turmoil. It felt like being born a second time, born again in Christ.
Dr. Sanders sent her home in a neck brace, and even though it was her neck that had been fixed it felt to her as if her heart was brand new. After a month in a brace (another tribute to her four years of hip treatment) she went for her final check-up, where Dr. Sanders dubbed her “95% normal.” and she never had to go back.
Healed, the child returned home to her family and her horse and it didn’t take her long to get back in the saddle. She even tackled a bigger task: writing her first fantasy novel!
The world was now an open threshold leading on to never-ending possibilities for her. She’d conquered her injuries, overcame Satan’s wrath, and came out a winner and a daughter of Christ with the help of the Lord, Dr. Sanders, Lori, her mother and family, and all the wonderful people working at the Shriners. Anything is possible to her now and she knows her determination won’t ever waver.
Because now she has Hope, and four reasons to prove that she can do anything.
And that’s my story.
Did you know this is my fourth time telling my story? When I first got out of the hospital I wanted to reach the kids I’d left behind and give them the hope that they could beat whatever they were fighting, too. So I made what I called Hope Bracelets, paired with a copy of this story, and sent them back to Lori at the Shriners, and we touched 36 lives! It was also my graduation speech, and it was the speech that I gave when I went to a scholarship ceremony in Tampa (more on that later). Each time I tell this story it gets easier to think about, but I can only write it down when I ask the Lord to give me the right words, otherwise it’s a struggle. The article above? Yah, that all came from Him.
Hey! I just realized something! It took me four years to walk when I was little, and I’ve told my story four times, and I have four pin sites… one for each year! Wow, the Lord really is amazing, isn’t He?
If any of you are reading from a hospital bed, please know this: I understand how you feel. Our injuries might be different but the fear is the same. Please keep Hope that the Lord can and will pull you through this. Whether you’re battling cancer, a neck or back injury or another affliction please don’t lose Hope. Remember that you are loved, and that He is watching over you, that you can and you will be healed and when it’s all said and done you’ll be able to look back on this and know now you have a great story to share with others to spread the Hope and His love.
I mean hey, look at me!
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.
God Bless : D