10 Year Anniversary
I previously tried to write some of this story in narrative form. That attempt earned me a C in senior year writing class. I prefer this ungraded version. Easter 2022 marks the 10 year anniversary of the worst accident of my injury prone life. That whole event established some important things that exist in my life today. The experience was surreal. It was incredibly difficult to go through as a 15 year old. So now as a 25 year old I get to do the easy part and look back and reflect on how that hospitalization has impacted me. Even after all this time, I can see parts of my character and pieces of passion that began to develop in that period of being two ankles down for a few months.
On April 8th which was Easter Sunday in 2012, I spent a calm afternoon celebrating Easter with my family. But by the end of the day I had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital for immediate medical attention. My adventurous side got the best of me when I decided to climb high on a tree branch suspended thirty feet above the ground. The next branch I reached for snapped and so did my ankles and back as I crashed to the ground. The fall left me with two shattered ankles and a broken vertebrae in my lower back. The initial thought was that visiting urgent care for a quick check would suffice for medical care. But as soon as I saw the team there at urgent care, they transported me via ambulance to the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital for in-depth treatment. My family and I learned that the injuries were severe and would require surgeries. The back surgery was especially complicated, because I was still growing, there was a debate between whether avoiding a risky lumbar surgery in favor of immobilizing the area using a limiting back brace. The ankle procedures promised wheelchair training to allow for non-impact healing. Needless to say, the earlier excitement of an Easter celebration turned into dread.
God provided so much strength, community, encouragement, and hope that in this time I often neglect to point out the miracle of expedient healing he gracefully gave to the multitude of people who were praying for my situation. But that’s what God did. He preserved me from worse injury, and he provided full and rapid healing that outdid every medical prediction. The first example of this, was on the night of the injury. After finally getting to a proper hospital, the nurses attending to me were appalled by the fact that in my condition I tried to walk and was carried. They were insistent that I was lucky that my back being bent as I was carried did not cause some permanent paralysis. Praise God for keeping my spine intact long enough. That was how God preserved me. Furthermore, while deciding between which surgeries had the highest reward opposed to risk another unsettling projection was made. My parents and I were told that I should start preparing for a desk job and that I’d likely never go back to playing sports. Amazingly, those predications did not deter me in my rehabilitation. I believe God did something in my heart to protect me from settling for those outcomes. Fast forward six weeks, and my walking ban gets lifted, the wheelchair stays in the trunk, and the attending physicians are telling me to go run, jump, flip, do anything I want cause my body is healthy. That is where the healing was provided. The final appointment was like a dream, because I heard everything that I was expecting to hear. Whether or not my body was miraculously healed one instant or my turnaround came from the process of rehabilitation, the success can’t be argued and the improbability is hard to ignore. I give glory to God because I felt that he was my shepherd and I lacked no provision from Him when it mattered most.
The God who was and is to come
the power of the Risen One
The God who brings the dead to life
You’re the God of miracles!
You’re the God of miracles! — Lyrics — “Miracles” by Jesus Culture
The improbability of the healing and recovery is significant. It is amazing that my journey began on Easter Sunday. The sense that my recovery was improbable and miraculous is not shocking considering the events of Easter. The death and resurrection of Jesus is an incredibly improbable thing to happen. Both fully God and fully man, Jesus was not the savior that the Israelites expected. He was a humble servant rather than a ravishing king. He became the sacrificial lamb, enduring suffering and condemnation that only sinners deserved. So the most improbable thing under the sun has already happened, that people and God are reconciled through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For this reason, the healing I was blessed to experience is not shocking.
I’ll try weave together some of the significant memories and either the lessons or habits they sparked within that broken young man.
The famous worship song “One thing Remains” must have been at its peak popularity in 2012, because I recall listening to the radio every night on the local Christian radio station and that song put me to sleep. It was an aberration for a teenager with a cellphone to listen a clock radio to fall asleep. Regardless, those silent nights when that song was playing for seven minutes every few hours offered hope. Hope was a definite need as my body ached from lumbar to Achilles and as the image of my portable commode faded from sight as my eyes closed for the night. Yet those lyrics “your love never fails, it never gives, it never runs out on me,” provided hope. It was a reminder that my pain and immobility were seen and known by God. His love remained; though the brokenness of my body lingered, my spirit was coming alive.
“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to to him who has no might ne increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:27–31 ESV” One evening before going to sleep for the evening, my Mom decided to read aloud from the Bible. Come to think of it, this didn’t happen very often, because most times I think she let me choose if I wanted to hear it or not. It was the right move by her. Hearing these words from the Bible that were so relevant to my situation and the way it made me feel that I couldn’t ignore the message. I point to this time when the Bible and God’s word become real, personal, and tangible to me. It stirred my spirit. Since, then there are countless Bible passages that have encouraged, challenged, confused, and uplifted me. In retrospect, it is clear how God used that entire situation for good. He pursued me while I was in pain, so that I would personally see He is ultimately the One who is so worthy of being pursued.
Another significant takeaway from my injury and recovery is the importance of community. I have often had a lone wolf mentality, in wanting to be left alone to do things on my own. In that challenging time, though, there was no chance I could do it alone. My independence was taken away. There were times I could not go to the bathroom without the help of someone else, which was humiliating for a fifteen year old teenager. The presence of family and friends was critical to my rehabilitation. I had friends visiting me in the hospital everyday. Family members by my side every step of the way. Many people from my church were praying for me. People cooked meals, built wheelchair accessible ramps, pushed me in my wheelchair, wrote me letters, gave me gifts to keep me entertained, teachers were supportive academically. It took a community to help me get through recovery. One of the more memorable conduits of support was from my brother. On the first day of physical therapy, after I got done weeping out of despair. I opened a text message from my brother that read. “Go beast-mode in PT today, you got this, I love you, and you are so much better at basketball than me.” No, the last part was not included. That brotherly encouragement meant the world for me at the time, cause I’ve always looked up to my big brother. And I knew that even though I had to physical therapy alone there were friends and family that believed in me and wanted me to succeed. That is a lifelong lesson to learn, because there are no shortages of difficulties in life. When those times come, it is important to lean into the people in a community that are willing and able to give support.
Hospital Food is often ridiculed. There seems to be reason for this. To be fair, though, the odds are stacked against that style of food service where a group of cooks in a basement are expected to cook for thousands of patient and stuff on a daily basis. There are added elements of difficult when considering varying meal times and dynamic dietary restrictions for patients. Thus, the need for bland, standardized crowd-pleasing options limits the ceiling of how savory the food can really hope to be. In my position, I was not eating much as I was on bed rest, so the occasional yogurt and stale muffin were sufficient. Still, to this day, my commendation of best chocolate cake goes to the Fairview Acute Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis, MN. The 3.4 star rating it earned on Google must not have factored in the chocolate cake they offer. Monday April 16th was my first physical therapy appointment. The task was to get acclimated to being in a wheelchair. The evening before was spiritually loosening. The morning of that day was either emotionally draining or releasing. So naturally the next progression was physical duress. After crossing the $150 wood slab that served as bridge to get my backside from bed to wheelchair, I was set to roll. My arm muscles at this point were unfamiliar with the demands of navigating down longways in a chair. Even my recovering back was uninitiated in maintain a sitting position for very long. There were a lot of factors that made sitting in that wheelchair more uncomfortable than the naked eye could see. Gravity forcing blood flow to my swollen legs hurt. the lack of support of the wheelchair on my back made me rely on stuffing multiple pillows to keep my ailed back upright. It’s always amazing how you realize how many things go right in simple tasks when those same things, like sitting, become painful.
That was the scene, even getting into that uncomfortable wheelchair took work. It may have been better if the discomfort of moving from my bed into a wheelchair offered more relief, but it just made it worse. It was not ideal, no part of doing that physical therapy was comfortable, the only encouraging thought was that I would soon return to lying in bed. The most grueling part of that whole process was getting into the hospital basement. Down there were long ramps. The exercise consisted of using my noodle-thin arms to wheel myself up the ramps. It was hard labor that exhausted me physically after I was already emotionally weathered. The triumph came when at last I reached my bed again and grabbed a cafeteria menu. Up to this point most of my meals were plain because of dietary restrictions combined with a dulled appetite because of the medications I was taking everyday. The physical exertion of PT that morning provided me an appetite. My craving of choice was a piece of chocolate cake. Now it seems like a lot could go wrong with dessert from a hospital. But that chocolate cake tasted incredible, simple as that. It became the triumph for a morning that felt more like battle than it did rehabilitation. Having a difficult exercise wasn’t just hard that day but it was an indication of many physically challenging days and weeks ahead. The emotional toil of the morning, would too become indicative of several troubling emotional and mental obstacles to overcome on my path of recovery. So the piece of chocolate cake served as a sign that although the next phase of recovery was going to require more strength than I possessed, there would be relief at the end of the climb. That’s one of my fondest memories because I got to train in the practice of doing that seem beyond my ability level, but am able to exercise more strength than I thought I had. Even better, there is a reward at the finish line when embracing those trials.
Overall, I attribute my relationship with God becoming a serious, dire pursuit in my life to this tribulation. It’s no secret that difficult circumstances can leave people hopeless. In that time, it felt that God knew my struggle, he my doubt, he the uphill battle that was about to commence. So He provided me with inspiring Bible passages. chocolate cake , worship music, community, and grit in order to let me everything was going to be alright. God demonstrated to me what a life with him would be like. Full of struggles, victories, disappointments, and accomplishments. Along the way He ensures blessings so that I won’t every have to do it alone.
Happy Easter and thank you so much for taking the time to read about an experience that has undoubtedly shaped my life!