God, all this time I wondered where you were; why your voice seemed so distant. Now, I understand…I’ve been running; you’ve been standing beside me this whole time, but it was me that let go of your hand. God, you are my best friend, my Healer and my Strength; I am getting nowhere by running away from Your plan- the plan that I am haunted by. God, I am scared to death and I don’t like to admit it; I feel like a completely helpless child, torn in each and every direction. I thought I had accepted Your plan for my life, but the devil is relentlessly terrorizing and beating me down, God. I can’t fight his lies on my own, God; it hurts more than words as he weaves doubts and lies into my mind with the ultimate goal of separating me and You because he sees the Strength You bring and it terrifies him. He is sick; his relentless beatings on my soul have left me weary and wounded…too weak to stand. Forgive me, God for believing his lies…lies that I will never be good enough; lies that I deserve pain; and most of all his lies that nursing is not what you have in store for me. Yesterday, as I volunteered, I was told I will be a special nurse…so different from the rest; Satan, is this what you see? Do you see the potential I can only see glimpses of every once and awhile? As I was at the hospital yesterday, for once not being admitted, I was reminded of what I am fighting for; it’s not my own life, but the poor and fragile lives of the hurting and lost of which God has called me to witness…to LOVE. As the devil sees me come alive, truly alive and radiant, he is scared; it’s hard for me to comprehend that I am a threat to his kingdom, but I now realize that it’s not me he’s afraid of- its God working within me and His essence of true beauty radiates from me, filling my eyes with sparkles and my smile with love; this is what he fears. Beauty is his biggest threat; it’s what brought his downfall and will always haunt his soul; he had it all…all of the beauty in the world, yet he wanted more; beauty will forever haunt his wicked and wounded soul, and this is what he hates above all- the beauty of the King which cannot be denied in the lives of those fully surrendered to Him; beauty has the power to heal, so he relentlessly attacks to prevent this from happening. God, I’ve been so blind; this chaos has haunted me and brings up scars I thought were healed. This chaos reminds me of a time…time when all was falling down and chaos surrounded me, entrapping me into its deathly grips.
I’ve been working on a book of my own… the story I so humbly share of what used to be my life. I must be blinded to the potential you see, devil; you have been relentlessly attacking me from the beginning of this process and as the “end” approaches, as I near publishing, you keep beating me down harder than I ever imagined possible. You’ve filled my vulnerable mind with lies…lies that I have nothing to say and no healing to bring to this world. But you are wrong. You have been doing everything you can to keep me from publishing, but now I see that it is time. All this time I was so deceived as to think it was God telling me to wait; maybe it was partially God, but you took advantage of me and this I am not ok with. The chaos of nursing school surrounded me, deafening my ears at times to the still quiet voice of my Warrior and Healer; I’ve been running farther and farther away from God’s plan, blinded by the fact that the wounded girl in my soul is crying out to be comforted as the chaos brings back many memories too painful for words. I have something to say; my feelings and testimony are not a mere figment of my imagination, but real and neglected. The pain has come upon me all at once, relentlessly beating me to my knees and I can barely stand as I recall the chaos I’ve taken back into the grips of my hands. Here is a peek into my book and the chaos once called reality.
After several months of the same intense routine of a life committed to sports while also squeezing in daily back exercises and weekly back adjustments, my curvature continued to progress a noticeable amount. I was to the point where running left me breathless and back pain overwhelmed me to the point of exhaustion. At this point, people were increasingly noticing the abnormalities caused by Scoliosis apparent to the unaided and uneducated eye; my hips and shoulders were unaligned as well as what appeared to be a large lump in my back when I bent over, which I later found out was my spine rotating outwards. My curvature was not regressing as we’d hoped but was indeed progressing at a concerningly rapid pace. My last resort was to see a specialist for my abnormality and after much persuasion and forcefulness, I was sitting in the waiting room of Akron Children’s Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics with nightmares running through my head. Eventually my name was called and my mother and I were escorted to a private room which would later be filled with shock and teary eyes. A nurse came to get me and took several x-rays of my back for the doctor to evaluate; after we returned to the room, anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks as I waited for the dreaded knock on the door and the emergence of yet another doctor of which did not have very high track records in my book! The anxiety built with each passing second and trembling overtook my scared body. Finally the time arrived to approximate the degree of my curvature and severity of my condition; thus began what came to be the all too familiar routine of bending over, having lost my ability to touch my toes, while the doctor evaluated my back/spine. After measuring my curve twice, once with an x-ray and once without, a number came out of the doctor’s mouth higher than anything I’d ever anticipated which almost brought me to my knees; my curvature had progressed to a sixty degree curvature within only a matter of months. The thought of surgery never once entered my mind as the doctor proceeded to inform us of the limited options; after strongly suggesting a spinal fusion he reinforced my hatred of doctors and the perceived conceptions already stored in my mind. After hearing those words, shock overtook my body and tears began to well up inside of my eyes; I tried with all of my effort to keep from showing emotion and anger began to well up inside of me. Thoughts like, “Why me, God? What have I done to deserve this?” pounded in my head and memories of the commitment I’d made to myself after my first surgery haunted my mind and left me scared to death; never again did I want to go through the trauma of a surgery and withdrawal from highly addictive morphine. As soon as the last door in our car was closed, tears and sobbing filled the air surrounding us and the walls I’d put up against showing emotion came crumbling down.
Life as I knew it was not going to change, no matter what obstacle tried to keep me away from the one place I felt truly myself. Sports brought out the competitive side of me and gave me a strange yet empowering feeling of freedom and confidence of which was foreign to me. As I put my heart and soul into each moment, I pictured the faces of those who had scarred me most and had taken away my innocence; as I ran I replayed in my mind the times of complete helplessness I felt while being taken advantage of, which empowered me to run even faster, empowered by those trying to keep up after following in my dust. As each pitch came my way, I saw the faces of the selfish who’d inflicted wounds in my fragile heart, and I swung the bat with all my might, crushing it into left field; the intensity of the bat crushing the ball into thin air gave me an adrenaline rush only leaving me wanting more. Physical pain seemed microscopic compared to the inner turmoil and chaos going on inside of me; painful memories of the past kept me stuck- -too scared to entrust anyone into the deepest depths within me.
According to PubMed Health, “The limitations imposed by the treatments are often emotionally difficult and may threaten self-image, especially of teenagers. Emotional support is important. Emotional problems or lowered self-esteem may occur as a result of the condition or its treatment.” For me personally, Scoliosis was devastating and embarrassing and became known to me as the dreaded “S-word” which at the sound sent shivers down my spine. I went from first hearing the word Scoliosis to being diagnosed, then to an extensive over seven hour surgery in a matter of months. Shock consumed me as I convinced myself this was all a dream and no big deal.
In all honesty, I had absolutely no clue what was in store for my future and overly minimized the reality of surgery by refusing to acknowledge the truth. When asked if I was afraid of the future, confusion overtook my mind as I was convinced it was only a minor surgery and not of the least concern. I struggled, and still do struggle with minimization; I heard the doctor explaining the surgery, but it "went in one ear and out the other". I didn't realize the seriousness of this surgery; I was being cut open; big deal! I viewed this as a minor surgery, so "why were my parents and others so scared? Why were they putting me on the prayer list?! It was JUST surgery!!" I was so incredibly ashamed I had to have surgery that I told no one unless they asked and utterly despised talking about it. I didn’t understand why my parents were so concerned; why they spent so much time crying and praying for me. I hated all of the extra attention given to me because of my “illness” or whatever-- I hated being treated like a “baby”; “seriously, it was no big deal. I’d be fine, I could handle it” I told myself. I had no idea; it’s good I was asleep or else I would have beat up the doctors! (joking!) But seriously, watching a live 1hr. broadcast of a spinal fusion by Akron Children's Hospital opened my eyes completely; I saw what they had done to me and reality hit me as to why I’d been in so much pain. To me, though, the surgery wasn't actually the most traumatic part- it was the emotional, mental, and psychological effects; pain was not a foreign feeling but instead brought a strange sense of comfort whereas emotions had been numbed for so long that I had no idea how to manage them once they eventually surfaced.
Pain...a word so scary yet once comforting to me. Pain numbed the wounds inside of me and silenced the screams from the depths of my heart. After many years of numbing my wounds and looking for happiness on my own, I hit rock bottom. Through all these years of searching God has never let me go, even when I was just hanging on by a mere thread. God turned my hopelessness and pain into beauty and passion. He took my pride and shattered it into a million pieces until I realized I couldn't get through this broken world on my own; I found my Knight in shining armor who fights these battles for me and never leaves my side. I am FREE- free to live the life God has called me to live. Now my pain can be used to comfort others which make the benefits much outweigh the costs. There is a beauty found in everything....even pain!
In order to maintain good health and to eliminate and/or reduce risk of injury prior to surgery, I was directly ordered by my doctor to refrain from strenuous physical activity and competing; however, do you think this stopped my stubborn mind? Certainly not! Several days after scheduling surgery was the most anticipated day of the school year – Track and Field. I told everyone who asked that I was just having back surgery and would be back to sports in a matter of weeks. After trying to explain to my fellow teammates my orders from the doctor, I heard things like “It’s not that bad. I don’t see anything wrong. How could your lungs and heart be affected by a spine abnormality”? This confirmed in my mind that I was over exaggerating and that doctors took all of the fun out of life; I put the doctor’s orders behind me and did my part in competing. I may have been vital to the team, however my performance was rapidly declining due to my sixty degree curvature compressing my lungs; I ran with all the power my body would allow me to but could feel my legs weakening underneath me which was beyond frustrating. I pushed myself to the point of complete exhaustion during Track and Field and collapsed onto the ground once my events were completed and my work was done.
I hesitate to share this because I’m afraid…afraid of judgment. The pain has once again haunted me; both physical and emotional. As four years of living with two rods and twenty one screws approaches, the pain I thought was healed has come upon me like a mother bear comes after her child’s predator…relentlessly. God, I run into your arms because that is the only place I find comfort; I’ve run away and the pain has only intensified. Please take me back and wrap me in your powerful arms of love, armed with strength yet tenderness. You are the only Hope I have of being truly and fully healed. As the devil relentlessly attacks me, bringing to surface the wounds of my past, I run to you.