I’ve been “threatening” to write a book for at least 20 years. I wanted to tell my story, in the hopes that my experiences might give comfort to someone who’s trying to find their place in this crazy thing we call life. Not because I’ve found my way – I am a work in progress – but because I’ve survived.
I started this blog for many reasons. Not the least of which is to try to put my thoughts in some kind of order so that the book I eventually write will make sense, and may be of service to others. As I researched where and how to begin this blogging thing, I came across a few “professionals” who have taken it upon themselves to teach others how to reach success in blogging. One common suggestion for people like me, who weren’t sure where to start, was this: “Ask your friends what they want to know about you.”
Uh…no. At best, that will come off as self-centered. At worst, narcissistic. (“Enough about me! What do YOU want to know…about me?”) I hope I am neither of those things. Forget it, I’ll just write. I have really good ideas, lots to share about dealing with negativity, overcoming hardships…holy crap…OVERWHELM! Where do I start?!!?
I called a friend who spent many years as a technical writer, and whined to her about it.
“Writer’s block, huh? I hate when that happens.”
“No, there’s just so much in my brain swirling around, I’m…”
“I hate Writer’s Block.”
Sigh. “So, if I were to write a blog, what would YOU like to read about? (Omigoshpleasedon’tthinkI’mselfcentered!)”
After a minute of careful consideration (which felt like a week!), my friend said, “I would like to know where it all started. What makes you, well, YOU.”
Okay, D, this post is for you. 🙂
I was born at a very young age. I barely remember it, but the story goes like this: I was born with Cerebral Palsy. To put it simply, I was born with brain damage. My left side was paralyzed, my lungs hadn’t fully developed, and I was severely underweight. (Editor’s note: Nowadays if a child weighs 5 pounds and half an ounce, medicine can do wonders, but in 1967 it was dangerously low.) I was not born early. In fact, all three of my siblings were three weeks early, and I was the only one born exactly on my due date.
(This was to set the precedence of my life: I follow ALL the rules, do EVERYTHING I’m told, and still, somehow, come out the problem child in the end. Sigh.)
Any one of these challenges could have been deadly, but all three… The doctors said I wouldn’t survive the night.
My family and our doctor were religious people. Dad said he got a call from the doctor “early the next morning” saying there was nothing more that Medicine could do for me. My dad rushed to the hospital, and he and the doctor prayed. They held me, placed their hands on my head and spoke to God on my behalf. My dad said that he demanded that God allow me to live, and make me whole. And so, He did. Beginning that night, the story goes, I became a miracle.
Just a quick note, in case it crosses the mind that my daddy thinks he’s so important that he can tell God what to do: My father has NEVER, before or since that day, questioned God. While my personal opinion differs (as in, I believe that God understands us so deeply and so personally that we can and should speak to Him any way we need to), my daddy is the most humble man I know; true to his religion, and faithful to his Heavenly Father. Each time he tells the story, he says “I don’t know why I said it, I just said it…” But *I* know why. Because, when your baby is dying, you say and do anything to help them. For the record, God must have been okay with it, because He did exactly what He was “told”.
Faith, without works, is dead
When people hear the word “Miracle”, I wonder if most of us associate it with “Magic”. It is not the same. There was no “abracadabra!” moment. This didn’t happen with the snap of a finger. I wasn’t suddenly breathing on my own and flailing my arms like a healthy newborn baby girl. As an adult, I still struggle with coordination. It took years to heal. And brutally hard work. God healed me. It was very personal and He is involved every step of the way.
He was with my parents as they defied the doctors who insisted they put me in a home. Although I had survived, they were convinced I would never walk or talk, or even be able to sit up straight. He was with the doctors as they performed the operation that replaced the muscles missing in my feet with bone grafts, so that I could learn to walk at 3 years old. And again, four years later, when they operated to lengthen the Achilles tendon in my left leg. He was with my grandmother, who never gave up insisting that my parents take me to her chiropractor. He was with my mother when she finally relented after 18 months, and took me to see “that quack”, and he was most certainly with that chiropractor, Dr Hugh Wayman who, after ONE treatment, elicited movement from my left arm and leg. It was spastic, but IT MOVED!
He was with me late at night after that first surgery as I cried in bed with braces on both feet, and after the second surgery at the hospital when my mom had to leave every night. He was with the physical therapists as they taught me, and then my mom, the exercises I would need to do every day to gain the use of my left side, and He was with my mother each time she refused to let me give up, and when she yelled at me in frustration because “I don’t want to! It hurts!”
He was with me when the bullies in second grade tied me to a pole on the playground with a jump rope and pulled my pants down while they laughed. He gave me the strength to shout through my tears “You know what? I’m glad I have Cerebral Palsy, so I remember to be nice to people and not a bully like YOU!”
He was with my mother when she taught me that “not all handicaps are visible.” He was with me when I shared that knowledge with another bully who thought it was funny to shout “Cripple!” from across the street…until I retorted with “At least I’m not crippled in the BRAIN!”
He was with me on that first day of fear and uncertainty, and He is with me as I write this tonight, more than half a century later. It is impossible to have a “Sunday-go-to-Meeting” relationship with a God who has made it so personal.
After I turned two, the doctors stopped telling my parents I would die, and started being doctors. They operated, they treated, they marveled at my strength, and called me “The Miracle Baby”. They treated me like I was special. But I’m not. I belong to God, and He to me. Just like every one of us.
I have been bullied. I have been abandoned. I have been abused. And I have been LOVED. I have been blessed. I have been grateful. I will forever be grateful.
Some who hear my story have said “You could be so bitter!” But I can’t, really. It’s not who I am. I choose not to treat others as I have been treated, not only because I know how it feels, but because I know how I would feel doing it. I would never inflict on another human being that kind of pain. I became strong in some ways. But was it because or in spite of what I went through? Or was I strong all along? Are we all strong all along, and just fail to realize it until life hands us a reason to see it?
I am, indeed, glad that I was born with Cerebral Palsy. It’s part of what makes me, well, me!