Since Mendy Brockman has had her accident and broke her neck, I have been trying to do my part through my blog to help everyone understand the nature of this life changing event. The blog posts have gotten amazing hits and that is so encouraging that so many love and care and want to understand. When we choose to try to understand many things in life, it takes us much farther than just pretending to know.
Every time there is a status update on Mendy’s progress, my mind just gets flooded with memories of how Jimmy and I felt at those times. My injury was not traumatic (meaning it happened all at once like a car accident). I had been having neurological symptoms as a virus was causing damage to my spinal cord, and then it climaxed in one day and finished its cruel destruction. Because of already seeing neurologists and trying to figure out what was going on, because of the rareness of Transverse Myelitis (the neurological disorder that caused my paralysis), and because I was 5 months pregnant and any medical treatment (the high doses of steroids they put you on when they don’t know what is happening) I did not have the weeks and months in the hospital that immediately follow a traumatic injury. My treatment spread out over time. We just thank the Lord for the grace and protection that He gave us in those first few months of ignorance when we were completely on our own. It truly was His leading in our education of dealing with the “other” issues of paralysis. When I think back at the lack of medical care in those first few months, and knowing what I know now about paralysis, I just shake my head in awe at my God who has spared my life!
Four months later, when it was time for my baby to be born, I had to have an emergency C-section. That is when I was finally a part of a knowledgeable hospital and a team of medical personnel that changed my life! I had my days then of hospitals, from Cincinnati to Cleveland Clinic, and therapy became a new word in my vocabulary. After we received a true paralysis education during those hospital stays, Jimmy and I grieved for the loss of time in those first few months when therapy is so critical to gaining back movement. But, the Lord knows all things and so we just had to leave that to Him. There is so much that we would have done differently if we had of only known what to do! But, as my husband says, there was no manual that said “what to do when you wake up paralyzed.” We only followed the instructions of the doctors we had at that time (who, in their defense, thought it was just an MS flair).
I had a lot of complications from the c-section and all the stress my body had been through in those months and it really took me a full year to recover from that surgery and feel like I felt a little like the old me. I remember screaming and crying in pain when Jimmy moved me. That year was a roller coaster. Therapy was so wonderful. To feel like you had some control by working hard, and then the celebrations of that toe that could move a bit, learning to sit without falling over, wheeling through the hospital without feeling like your arms would fall off, dressing yourself 100%, taking a shower without help for the first time and being able to shampoo your hair without holding on….all of these things that you slowly learned to do for yourself. These were just the physical things. I remember wondering how could I ever be a good mom, or a good wife? Watching your children get used to a mom in a chair, or watching your husband try to be strong when you know he is so overwhelmed, and trying to wrap your head around the idea that this just might not ever go away or get better were the silent stabbings in your heart that many times hurt worse than the physical pain.
I remember trying to figure out how to get my bladder to work the day after I became paralyzed after we realized it had been 36 hours! I finally got to work by mashing and mashing on my stomach….a true bladder management program called the Crede’ Method! Of course, I did not know that then, I just needed help and did anything I could. Why didn’t the doctors we have think about this and send us to the hospital? Good question. Once again…where was that manual? It works so well for me, that my urologist doesn’t want us to change it! How is that for help from God during our “helpless” season? I remember not being able to sit up for long without passing out. My blood pressure stays low and it doesn’t take much to make me extremely woozy and nauseous. My hearing also changed! I know that sounds crazy, but ever since I have been paralyzed, my hearing is backwards. If a car is coming from the left, I hear it on the right and vice versa.
I remember the knots in my stomach every time a doctor came in with a new report. I remember the million questions I asked my occupational and physical therapist. My physical therapist was my greatest teacher, and is still my friend. I remember the answers I liked. I remember the answers I did not like. I remember how just sitting up on the side of a table could wear me out for the entire day. My energy levels have never returned and are one of my greatest frustrations! I remember how batting at a balloon would make me fall over. I am now a professional balloon batter! I remember being stood for the first time in a standing frame. I remember loving being up and tall again, but I also remember feeling afraid and out of control and feeling like my upper body was just floating in the air and I thought I was going to fall. It was very hard to trust hardware to hold you up! I remember wanting to enjoy the moment while also wanting to be put back down and safe. I remember lifting those weights! I remember needing to lay down and just breathe. I remember feeling sorry for myself and wanting to just quit. I also remember looking around the therapy department at people much worse off than me and feeling ashamed at my self-pity.
I remember the nights. The long, lonely, terrifying nights. You are left in the quietness of your heart and mind and Satan loves darkness and does his greatest work in these hours. I remember asking God many questions. Why me? Why my family? Didn’t we already love and serve You? Why are you picking on me? Why are others fine? Why have others recovered and I haven’t? If You are good, this is NOT good! Are You good then? Are You real? Can I even ask God these questions? I shouldn’t. Yes, I can. Jesus did when He was on the cross. Oh the mental tossing and turning as I could not even move in my bed.
I remember Jesus. My precious, sweet Friend that I adore. He would hold me in those nights. I would play the piano CD of my dear friends, Jeri Lynn Wilkerson and her brother, Jonathan Dickey. Their beautiful renditions of the great hymns of our faith were my “harp playing David” and would calm my soul as I talked to my Jesus. The last request I would make to Jimmy each night was, “Please turn on my CD” as I knew the dark thoughts were invading my room. But I would pray the words of those songs, and ask Jesus to come sit with me because I was afraid and He was there. Every night. God would hold me and comfort me even when I was asking those awful questions. I wish I could be kind of parent that He is. I would often go to sleep praying and would never even know until the next morning. His grace and love were so very present in those dark days. There are still some nights like that where it all overwhelms me and I just don’t think I can live like this the rest of my life. But…I know Who to turn to and He is always right there.
Memories aren’t bad. They are just reminders of where you have been and where you are now. I haven’t thought about a lot of this for some time, but my mind is consumed right now because I know the journey that Jason and Mendy have now been brought too, and it hurts my heart to know what they have to face. However, I know they know Jesus and I know that He has been there for them already, and will continue to be with them. That is the memory that comforts my heart. I also know that they will come on the other side of this someday, and will have their own memories…and their favorite memory will be realness of our Savior in the midst of the horrors of our suffering. For that, I am happy to relive these memories.
Please continue to pray for the Brockman family, and to follow their updates here.
More in my Disablilty Series: