What a whirlwind the past 5 weeks have been! To give you a little background, on October 28th I went in for hernia repair surgery. It was supposed to be an outpatient procedure and I would return home that evening. Apparently, God had other plans for me! While in surgery, the doctor found a total of three hernias- I was only aware of one. He repaired all three with mesh and stitched me up. It took me many hours to awake from the pediatric dose of anesthesia that was administered.
While I was waking, I had a reaction they call Stridor. This is a high-pitched, wheezing sound caused by disrupted airflow. I was choking in my attempt for air. They admitted me into the ICU where I would remain for the next 7 days. When I did finally awake, I made the startling realization that I was unable to move my legs from my hips down. Each leg felt as though it was 600 pounds and no matter how hard I tried, I was incapable of lifting them off the bed. Terrified and helpless I laid in bed for the next week with an unknown cause of the sudden and intense weakness.
I underwent a slew of tests such as blood work, MRI’s, and a spinal tap. I was seen by many specialists who all came up empty as to the cause. I worked with physical therapists and occupational therapists and yet saw little improvement. I was unable to stand or walk on my own. I required at least three people to hold me up, and over the course of my stay, the weakness traveled up my body and eventually affected my arms as well.
All of the specialists decided that in-patient rehab was the most appropriate option for a full recovery. In the beginning, I was completely against this idea as I longed for answers. I sought a definitive reason, not just a band-aid. Unfortunately, if I refused to check into the rehab facility, I would have been going against medical advise and could be turned away in the future by insurance for further treatment.
So, I was left with no options. I was transferred to a nearby facility where I would undergo three hours per day of intense physical and occupational therapy. I had to completely relearn to walk. Never, in a million years, would I have imagined that I would find myself in this position.
The complications quickly presented with my Secondary Addison’s Disease. The pain that my body was in prior to surgery was still very much present, and the therapy that I was participating in only intensified that pain. For the next 2 weeks I experienced Cortisol crashes almost daily- some I caught in time with oral steroids; however, many I did not. In these instances, I would be unconscious before I realized what was happening and would require IV steroids to bring me back.
Eventually, I was able to walk again- slowly and with a walker, but it was enough to be discharged and return home. This didn’t end the journey as I would still need to work on increasing my strength. I was unable to take care of myself unassisted, I was unable to drive, and still required either the wheelchair or walker. Temporarily disabled at 24 with an unknown cause of pain, weakness and fatigue.
Let me tell you- this chapter in my book is filled with unknowns, and I, in a literal sense, had to learn to walk through them. For me, that journey included wheelchairs, walkers, harnesses, treadmills, parallel bars, therapists and hospitals. For you, it may include the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, a car accident, or a Holy Spirit leading to move your family into the unknown. In it’s own peculiar way, each situation is relatively the same- we can’t see anything in front of us, yet we are required to take the next step. Each step is scary as we don’t know where our foot will land, we don’t know what obstacles lie in our way, and we aren’t convinced we have the strength to take that step.
However, each situation encompasses another similarity. This is that we have a Father who’s mighty and loving hand is guiding us through the dark- through the unknown. We need only be still and know that He is God.
During this extremely difficult time, the Lord gave me a scripture to claim as my own. Psalm 46:5 says “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” I held onto this verse and by God’s grace, I never did fall in my endeavor to relearn to walk. There are plenty of unknowns physically, mentally and emotionally as I have had to process through all that has happened. I have questioned God as to why? Why me? Why does it have to be so bad? I am still searching for answers medically, and the emotional toll is almost impossible to describe.
You see, we are merely human and will try our hardest to ascertain the entire picture before we take the first step forward. Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
So I encourage you as you are learning to walk through the unknown to follow these few steps. (Pun intended!)
Trust. Trust fully in God- in who He has proven Himself to be for you. When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart. And, just as a baby trusts his father to hold him up in his endeavor to walk, we must trust our Father to do the same!
Let go. Don’t delay your steps until you are in possession of all of the answers. A pastor at my church recently put it this way. “You wouldn’t wait for every stoplight in your path to turn green before you proceeded on. You would advance through the first green light and wait at the following red light until it too turns green- then you would proceed through that one too!”.
Take His hand. I know that the unknown is terrifying, believe me; but I am a firm believer that if we take His hand daily, then at the end of our life, we will look back and realize that we are exactly where He wants us to be!
Follow Him. Psalm 37:23 says “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him”. Both scriptures promise that He will direct our path and make our steps firm we just have to delight in Him!
Please hear me when I say that this is nowhere near easy to accomplish. Fear is strong and is gripping. The unknown is dark and terrifying; yet we are left with no choice but to walk through it! Imagine if I would have refused to take those first few steps in rehab out of fear. I would be permanently disabled and fear would have won. Instead, I have determined to allow faith to win.
So I ask. Will you join me on this journey of faith? Let’s learn to walk!