The first week of November 2008 was glorious. I had my hands full of things I intended to take to the car for the first trip and come back for the rest of the items that needed to either be dropped off at schools or the library. That was when I found the ‘non’ skid plate at the entrance of our front door was not really ‘non’ skid, or at least not when you were leaving the house.
Everything slowed down and I had been given God’s grace right then to choose how I was going to land.
1. I could land face first on the concrete,breaking my facial bones, as the things in my hands and arms would not allow me to drop them.
2. I could just put both arms out and take the chance on breaking either one or both arms to break my fall.
3. I could try to twist enough to my left and hit the soft garden earth, doing the least amount of damage.
I chose 3. It was the wrong choice. I did not clear the concrete by 2 precious inches. The pain was instant and breath-taking. I had to wait for sometime to stop crying and to pull myself together. Luckily I had tucked my cell phone on my sweater pocket and called my husband at work and told him what I had done. I explained in layman’s turns, “I think I just broke a great deal of my lower back and probably my tailbone.” He replied “I’ll be right there. Don’t move.” Right, like I was going to get anytime soon. I did call the school librarian and told her I wouldn’t be in for my volunteer time and I seemed to have had a slight injury.
Within 14 minutes my husband was pulling into the driveway, while I still lay on my back watching the clouds as I had done as a child. It helped to calm me, though did nothing for the pain searing through my back from my neck down to my tailbone.
My husband, Scott, squatted down beside me asking me what was hurt. I told him, “Everything from the back of my neck all the down.” He took me to my orthopedic doc and pain relief people for my other back problems and they had xrays within 20 minutes.
I had done severe damage. I had dislocated my spine 1″ completely to the left, had hairline fractures from Lumbar 5 all all the down to my tailbone, with my tailbone taking the brunt of the damage and breaking in a couple of spots. In all, I had broke 7 vertebrae, dislocated my vertebrae and broken my tailbone.
I was given shots of pain killers and told I would be put on bedrest for the next 3 months until the first of 3 surgeries would be performed. They gave all instructions to Scott because they could have told me I had to dance Swan Lake and I probably would have agreed to anything at that point.
The next day he was home from work with me when I woke up confused and in a great deal of pain. Scott gave me the meds and explained what I did to my back. But it was going to get better than that! I was going to get a back brace and a TENS unit that sends little electrical pulses to locked up muscles. For the first 2 months, I was to go no where alone, when with the back brace I nicknamed the ‘Iron Maiden’. I now know why women hated corsets and police offices complain about Kelvlar! It adds about 10 pounds onto your weight, you have to wear something between it and you and you cannot turn very far right or left. The Iron Maiden is exhausting to wear and hot, even on the coldest of days.
I was unable to sit on a regular chair due to my tail bone, so I get to eat every meal in bed. As refined and Victorian as that may seem, you miss a lot of dinner time table talk.
Me, being a mom, thought, I would over come this in a week or two. I was wrong. In a few days, I tried taking 4 steps before I was crying and heading back to bed. Stupidly, I did this while my husband was at home on the weekend. I realize men do actually have selective hearing even through closed doors. He came charging in while I was trying to get back to the bed, demanding to know what I was doing. I told him I was making progress. He uttered somethings under his breath that had nothing to do with the word progress, as he picked me up and carried me back to bed. I was told to “Sit. Stay.” Like a puppy in training. I threw a soft cover book at the door after he shut it. He came back a few moments later with my herbal hot pack for my back and picked up the book I had thrown. He tossed the book at me and said, “Here’s your ammunition. You’ll be needing before the day is out. Let’s put on the hot pack now and undo the damage you just did.” It’s hard to stay mad at someone who is giving love and attention to your broken body with humor and grace.
My husband worked out a deal with the doctors that I could continue teaching HS Catechism and Confirmation on Sundays if I stayed in bed the rest of the week, with a promising to sit the entire time on a very soft pillow, wearing the Iron Maiden, and 10 other things we had to all but sign in blood, but I had to take 2 Sundays off at first and let my tailbone settle down. I agreed. I would have agreed to teach in an Angel costume for the joy it gives me to see my students comprehend and grasp what I am teaching them and answering their questions.
So through the other 6 days, I had a lot of time on my hands. I was sent lovely flowers and a few cards. But I was unfulfilled. I couldn’t figure it out. Scott pinpointed it immediately for me when I discused my feelings. He pointed out I hadn’t taught. On Sundays there is a very big difference in me from when I walk into my classroom compared to when I walk out. Scott told me that the joy of The Trinity shows through me when I leave the classroom and that I positively glow. He asked me “What do you feel when you teach ?” I couldn’t put it in words. He then asked, “How do you know the right words to say? From studying ? Scripture? Lesson plan?” I then said, “I put it all together through the week and spend a couple of days on it and the words just come. Even the answers to their questions.” Scott then sagely said, “You are missing the presence of the The Trinity every week, and I can’t imagine what that loss is like for you. It must leave a big whole inside of you.”
He was right. Before I teach each class, even before I leave the house, I do the prayer to Give Myself to God. From there, he must take over and do the teaching. Filling me with Love, Understanding, and Knowledge to give to his children. I’ve been around large groups of teens before and not had the same feeling.
When teaching them what God, the Son and The Holy Spirit want them to know I get some of the gift as well. That what was missing those 2 weeks out of my life. I felt empty and hollow.
I am not teaching this week as my class went on a retreat, something that was not approved by my doctors. Again, I feel the hollowness and emptiness. At least I know now what I am supposed to do and how to regain that feeling of pure Love and The Light.
As for me, I will be having between 1 and 3 surgeries. The first one is for sure and set for the first week in February. The second one is also an almost for sure one-they will attempt to manually put my vertebrae back into place since its not gone back in place by itself. They do not expect it to, but it has happened on rare occassion. When it occurs, depends on my healing time from the first surgery.
The Third is up in the air, all dependant upon if my vertebrae go back to where they are supposed to, how well and if my vertebrae stay in place. If not, they will surgically put them in place. Yes, I am cringing on this side of the keyboard too.
My most frequent confession is I just can’t seem to let go and let God take over my life. I am at the point where I have no option other than to do just that. So I say the prayer everyday.
I now can walk up to 50 steps without a break or feeling the need to cry. I’d say from 4 to 50, that’s pretty good work in God’s hands. At Christmas I blew myself out and walked for 20 minutes leaning on a cart and spent the rest of the night in bed after doing shopping for my husbands Christmas gifts as he had done everything else, well, he and the children. It was just as beautiful a Christmas as always even without me there to help, direct or coordinate. I managed to let go and let God and my family take care of everything. I am learning.
Now for my other confession to you, I’ve never asked God to take away the pain or to heal me. I have done it for many others. I thought that it would seem selfish when so many other have so many greater physical problems, financial problems and emotional problems than I do. I don’t mind praying for them at all. I pray for my family, each child, my husband,and even dead relatives. But to pray for myself, I just cannot do it.
Is it weak of me or stubbornness of still not letting God take care of it all? You tell me. I’d appreciate the advice, honestly. You can respond to me here on the site or at my personal email [email protected] if you don’t feel comfortable having your answer printed for all to see.
Also I ask that you pray for my healing. This is the closest I’ve come to ever praying for myself, asking someone else pray for me. I know I am on several prayer lists, but that hasn’t gotten me booted off the surgery schedule yet. Right now, I ask of you to pray for me and the healing of my back and I give you my deepest thanks.
p.s. I am now allowed up a great deal more, so I will, hopefully, be able to continue writing weekly. Over the last 3 months I have had many thoughts, questions and even talks with God. It’s good to be back in the writers seat again.
Copyright 2009 Lori Callaway