Monday, October 6, 2014

Defying the Odds

I heard a great story on the morning news a few days ago that I thought would make a great post since I can relate to part of this woman's story.

In 2012 Liz Mitchell fell 16 feet off her balcony while playing with her dog. She landed on her head, shattered her C6 and C7 vertebrae and damaged her spinal cord. Liz was put in a medically-induced coma at the hospital. Five days later she awoke to find out that she was a quadriplegic.

Liz's boyfriend, Bryan, broke the news to her. Liz told a news reporter, “He didn't just say, 'You're paralyzed; you can't walk.' He specifically said, 'One day, we'll move to Waco, we'll get married, and we will have a beautiful life. And it does not matter if you are in a wheelchair.'" Bryan also told her, "Whatever God is going to allow you to get back, we're going to maximize that."

Liz moved to the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, where she started learning how to be independent in a wheelchair. Every day Bryan encouraged Liz by motivating her to try to wiggle her toes. One day they moved. Bryan said that it was the most miraculous moment he'd ever experienced. With therapy Liz steadily improved, regaining the movement she'd lost. She took her first steps in a pool, then on a treadmill and used an exercise bike to strengthen her legs. Liz first walked with a walker and then on her own... even up stairs. 
Bryan stayed by Liz's side and he encouraged her every step of the way. Bryan said that seeing the person Liz became in the darkest depth of her struggle really deepened their relationship and he knew he couldn't live without her. Liz first walked out of the rehab facility, and then eventually down the aisle.

Even though Liz can now walk on her own, her mobility isn't what it was before she fell. She walks slower and with a noticable limp. I doubt she would change things, though. She said, "Before I seemingly had everything, I was successful and healthy, and from an outsider, it looked like I had everything. But I wasn't grateful, I never said 'thank you.' One day you wake up and you have a breathing tube in and you can't move a muscle... you realize the body that you thought was so important and defined who you were is useless." Bryan said that the transformation Liz made in the rehab center physically paled in comparison to the transformation she made emotionally and spiritually.

The doctors initially thought Liz wouldn't be able to get pregnant. Until this point, her reproductive system wasn't working. (I'm not sure if Liz always had this issue, or if it was a result of her injuries; the articles I read weren't that specific.) Miraculously, Liz defied the odds again by getting pregnant. Liz can't feel pain or temperature from her neck down and she said that her body feels like it is asleep. Liz's doctor initially told her that they weren't sure if she would feel contractions or fetal movement, but one day Liz felt her baby kick... another miracle. Liz and Bryan are so excited and have chosen the name Dorothy Marie... a name that means "gift of God."
My mom and I both enjoyed listening to the news clip on Liz and the miraculous set of events that have occurred in her life over the past few years. My mom exclaimed, "Why not you?!" (I'm always amazed when people damage their spinal cord and completely recover, or regain much of what they lost.) Knowing how close we are, I asked my mom if she would really want that for me if it meant that I got married and lived far away, like most of my other married sisters. She said, "Of course I would!"

What would I do if I spontaneously recovered? It's something I've never given much serious thought to since I believe my accident and becoming paralyzed is part of God's plan for my life. So the answer to what I would do if I recovered is: I have no idea! I would be absolutely lost and it would take me a while to reinvent myself and come to terms with it, just like it took me time to get used to my disabled life.

So what would I do? I still like the idea of nursing and caring for people, but the thought of undergoing several years of schooling really doesn't appeal to me... I'd just want to jump in and get going. One thing's for sure, though, I would make an excellent nurse! There is a huge component of nursing that cannot be learned in books; things that I've learned as a patient. If I were able to care for others, my experiences as a dependent/disabled person would help me better care for my patients and their families.

There are a lot of other things on my wish list of dreams that I would take on if I were suddenly physically able to. However, as I've said before, if completely recovering meant that I had to give back all of the valuable life lessons I've learned since my accident, I wouldn't do it because I'm a far better person NOW than I was BEFORE and there are just some things more important to me than being able to move!


Anonymous said...

Awesome post!

*Elizabeth* said...

the life lessons you experience here will bless you in the eternities. Those skills that would make you a great nurse, will benefit you in the hereafter. I am sure of it. You are an inspiration for not being healed.

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