no waiting for a miracle
(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
Beth’s days in the rehab hospital focused on long physical therapy sessions.
It didn’t seem fair that it took so very long for her damaged muscles to respond in some slight way.
At Beth’s follow-up with the surgeon, we viewed her latest x-ray, a side view of the neck that showed 6 screws instead of 12 holding the large titanium plate; the other set of 6 lined up perfectly behind. In spite of the doctor’s impressive surgical skills, Beth’s motor function remained absent below her level of injury, complete. The muscles in her hands and legs began to shrink, unattached to her spinal cord. No leg movement, besides spasms. No bearing weight on her legs. No standing. No walking. No request for mechanical braces or experimental treatments. No envy of those with expensive equipment, such as standers, or those who spent hours strapped to bicycles and other machines. And no waiting for a miracle.
Beth was eager to start her freshman year of high school on time with her friends.
On discharge day in early August, she hugged the nurses and aides goodbye, but not her therapist friends. She would continue to work with them three times a week in outpatient therapy.
Beth could sit in her new blue wheelchair without feeling dizzy and pushed the big wheel rims to slowly move forward. With taxing exertion, she rolled her body on a flat bed to get more comfortable or to attempt getting dressed. Weak and wobbly, she sat up by herself and put her shoes on and off, though she couldn’t tie the laces. With effort, Beth could shift her bottom on the wheelchair cushion to prevent pressure sores. She ate and drank mostly on her own and kept trying to use her hands. She moved from the wheelchair to the bed more easily—with total help and a wood sliding board, newly made by my dad.
“I was in another world at St. Francis," Beth said."Wheelchairs were the most common sights, everyone was completely accepting, and nothing about my injury seemed out of the ordinary. High school was different.”
When we left the hospital room behind on a sunny August day, it felt like a fresh start. I returned Beth’s smile, hiding my apprehension over what the future might bring. The titanium plates had fused to fragments of bone, so she no longer needed the neck brace. She tilted her head a little towards the open car window, happy, as we turned up the radio and drove away on the country road towards home.
A co-dependent team, we plunged into uncharted waters together.
6/15/2016 07:09:34 pm
A very brave young lady.
6/15/2016 10:06:57 pm
Thanks for saying so, Chuck! Much appreciated! :-)
6/15/2016 09:04:24 pm
Having gone through the same therapies I can tell you that your daughter is an amazing young woman!
6/15/2016 10:14:40 pm
Thank you, Rick! Rehab after a spinal cord injury is such a difficult challenge. I'm sure that I would not have handled it as well, if it had been me.
6/16/2016 08:21:33 am
I am amazed in the way you are able to write this story. Very good work and good therapy too.
6/16/2016 06:25:13 pm
Thank you, Micki! And you're right, it has been a healing process!
6/16/2016 09:19:10 am
Cindy - Do you intend to publish all these blogs into a book? I feel like I'm reading one, a little at a time. So very interesting, especially since I know you and your mom and dad.
6/16/2016 06:49:17 pm
Thanks, Jill! Yes, I wrote a memoir that an editor is considering at the moment. My blog shares some of the highlights.
6/16/2016 02:31:45 pm
Cindy, you are an amazing writer! You have shown Beth's determination and strength. I admire both of you!
6/16/2016 06:56:36 pm
Hi Mary! I really appreciate your comments, thanks so much!
8/23/2016 04:55:12 pm
And I'm over here all "Boo Hoo. I have Rhuematoid Arthritis (among other things). At least I can walk still. The story of you and your daughter is amazing. I hope your daughter improves. More than that, I hope YOU continue improvement. Mental scars sometimes never heal. Blessings to you both.
8/23/2016 06:53:18 pm
Thank you, Diane! I also have chronic pain, and those challenges are very real! When life changes in a moment, the whole world suddenly seems different. Perspective is a strange thing, though. Beth was hopeful from the start, but it took me too long to get past my guilt and start to be grateful again for life and for my friends and family, including my stubborn, determined, and perfect youngest daughter who happens to have a spinal cord injury. ❤️
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