Prayer WORKS. Restoration is REAL because GRACE has NO LIMITS
After a year and a half of working with a local prosthetic provider, insurance spending $53,000, and over seventy appointments back and forth with no promise of a finished leg I finally decided to cut my losses and move on. I had felt trapped in believing that the insurance would not pay for me to see a different provider so soon after paying such a large bill. That kept me seeing the wrong provider in spite of a nagging voice inside telling me to move on. If you have been following this blog for the past few years you will see article after article of my struggle. Yet even while being in the wrong place medically God used it as I grew closer and allowed Him to sprinkle Miracle Grow on my faith and patience.
It sure hadn’t been enjoyable to our bank account, my body, or the roller coaster of emotions. When I pulled a muscle in my back this summer and later found it was a cracked rib I felt the writing was on the wall. Time to move on, I knew, and sighed with a little relief. I made the phone call to A Step Ahead Prosthetics (where I had been fitted for a leg growing up by Erik) and asked what would have to be done to start the process all over again. By the time I made this call I was so frustrated and tired of fighting and hurting and healing that I was expecting them to shut the door in my face after learning I didn’t have the energy capacity to fight with insurance for another leg so soon. I just wasn’t sure how it would work out with A Step Ahead being nearly five hours from my front door on top of everything else.
That is where this article began. It began with me coming out of six weeks in a wheelchair and putting on more than a few pounds over the five months I couldn’t wear a leg at all. It began with me crying and fighting to keep active as much as possible on a stationary bike. It began with me thanking God each day for the little blessings provided such as a scooter from my godmother and friends and family to help out in more ways than I could count. The start of this article found me pale faced with dark circles under my eyes as I fought to surrender the pain, internal struggle, and PTSD symptoms to God every day while crocheting over 16 blankets for loved ones refusing to allow the negative to win. Needless to say, while I still cannot seem to find adequate words to capture my internal response to some of this hardship, this article is started out with me surrounded in darkness.
And as reliable as the rising sun, spring rain, and April taxes, the Light revealed himself to me. And He started with the simple message of grace telling me I didn’t need to fight anymore. He reminded me of my very own testimony in which I explain that “life is no longer my battle”. Sigh…old habits die hard it seems. So I made the phone call asking for help for a new leg.
When I called I was told to provide some pictures and information and that was it. Immediately, it was a load off of my shoulders as I was informed the on-staff lawyer would handle the approval process with insurance. I didn’t need to do anything but wait to hear back. It was during this time that a friend asked Rick and me to take a break and come stay at their beach house with them. While my knee-jerk reaction was to say no and wait for the leg she gently nudged me and reminded me that part of being under grace is waiting on God to fight the battle. We spent the week down at the shore relaxing and enjoying our friends and the blessings they shared with us while my body continued healing. It was at this point I started to realize that the numerous people that were praying for me were being heard and God was not letting a single prayer fall to the ground.
Growing up it would never occur to me to ask for prayer. While many people would pray for me without being asked it was something I just didn’t feel was something I should ask for. It seemed prideful and selfish to me. Yet for the first time this year I asked for prayer so that I could get through this journey and wind up on two feet again. The prayers were being answered. A month later I received a call that my leg was approved by the insurance and that I could make travel arrangements for a week in New York City to stay near the doctor and come home with my a leg up. I was ecstatic! While I was stressed with the travel expenses I knew that it was where God was leading me and I turned it over to Him. I sat back and put my foot up and talked to God about it.
Immediately, I was blessed. I found a reasonable hotel that was also accessible and provided me with privacy. My mom insisted that she come along with me so that I would not be alone. She proved to be so helpful in carrying things and serving me through the week that I wouldn’t consider doing it alone again! Anxiety for driving in the city ceased as I pulled out of my driveway that morning, leaving at 2:30 AM to be there by 7 AM. Parking spaces were always available for us, food was abundant, and most importantly I was emotionally present for this trip rather than “checking out” mentally when I walked through the door. (Past trauma can sometimes cause me to block out parts of my fitting which make a good fitting very difficult.)
When I first arrived I felt the panic creeping in and all of the fear of failure and being in the wrong place came flooding in. I was petrified of the doctor and of whether or not he could really fit me with a leg that worked after so long without a good one. As I stood there short of breath and feeling the oppression settling over my head I closed my eyes and said “Jesus.” Just that one word was all I could utter with so many eyes on me. And just like that He was there. The darkness lifted and peace flooded in on the rays of sunlight shining through the windows. That was the end of stress and anxiety for the entire trip and I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt that someone was praying for me at that moment.
RESTORATION is REAL
We had arrived at 7:30 AM and the test socket (they pour a temporary mold of the leg prior to making it permanent so that it can be tested and marked for adjustments) was ready to go. By 9 AM the doctor told us to leave for the day because he was finished with me and was going to move forward with making it permanent. No second socket was needed, no further adjustments, nothing. Now, I should say that over the last year and a half I had 25+ test sockets poured for my leg and not one was successful. There I was on the very first day any and very first hour being told to come back tomorrow for the permanent mold. Can I get an AMEN?
I had been listening this year to Joseph Prince as he talked about 2015 being a year of restoration. From my “wheel-eyed view” this summer I couldn’t really say that I had seen much evidence in my own life of this up to this point. Yet, while God is rarely early he sure is never late. That morning when we left the doctor at 9 AM the hotel graciously allowed us to check in six hours early and rest a bit after the five hour drive up. While resting, my mom came up with a plan: “When you were four years old and in the hospital for nearly a year you only got to associate New York City with sickness and pain. I always have wanted to bring you back so that you could experience some of the good parts of the city too. Maybe today we can do that if you feel like it?” Well, this was music to my ears! I hopped in my scooter, threw a few apples and water in the front basket, and we charged out of the hotel posed as two country bumpkins groping about the dark as we learned how to ride the subway. We were a mess trying to figure out how to use public transportation and I loved every moment of the fun! In the city we walked 5th Avenue, window shopped, visited the Rockefeller Plaza and were overwhelmed by the beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We sat in Times Square and Broadway with a slice of the freshest pizza I have ever eaten, stared horrifyingly at the “desnudas”, negotiated the rush hour crowds, and laughed the entire day! God was restoring my memories!
Even financially God restored so much to me that week. I was blessed with tokens of blessing to go along with me which paid for some of the expenses. Someone covered my tolls for me and food expense (which wasn’t much since we packed a lot with us). We finished a day early and the hotel decided to provide a refund for the last night even though their cancellation policy clearly stated “no refunds”. Before leaving we took ten minute drive over to Sagamore Hills (President Theodore Roosevelt’s home) and immersed ourselves in the history and museum while using my brand new leg.
Of course the week had down moments as well. Restoration for me didn’t come completely without a price. I had to meet God and be obedient to what He was doing in my life and body as well. Trying the new leg was pretty hard for me as my body was not used to walking, so by day two my muscles were screaming and hurting in places I didn’t know could hurt. I don’t want to paint a picture that this was a super-easy and fun trip because in a lot of ways it wasn’t. We had to take the leg to parks and stores and walk and walk even while being in pain. There were adjustments that had to be made as my body formed to the shape of the socket mold which left me in tears and quite snappy with everyone. But this article isn’t about the hard times but rather about the ways that God knew it would be hard and met me each moment to make it easier for me. It wasn’t all smooth-sailing but when God is up to something we can most assuredly focus on the great things that He does rather than the pain of pushing through. “Joy comes with the morning” just about nails it.
Grace has NO LIMITS
When I got home I was prepared for the worst. The doctor told me to prepare myself to push through a lot of pain and hardship for six to eight weeks. He encouraged me that the more diligent I would be with pushing through the pain, the more quickly I would become calloused and used to it. I was advised to join the YMCA and swim as a total-body, low-impact form of aerobic exercise. Initially I didn’t want to spend the money but I obediently signed up and over the past few months it has been such a joy and delight getting into shape as I swim and use my new leg on the equipment. Rather than pushing through outside in the winter weather I have been blessed to use treadmills and the YMCA facilities. God has made a hard journey enjoyable. Swimming, I have found, is so freeing to move without hindrance. This is a form of restoration on earth until I get my heavenly body with two feet that can dance and move freely!
There were other forms of blessing too that showed me how much God cares and extends grace to those who love him. Each time I get a new leg most of my clothes no longer fit because of size and shape change and this time a friend called and her neighbor remembered me and had a few bags of lightly worn clothes for me. They fit perfectly! God cared about providing a wardrobe for me. I also came home to find a gifted food processor on my front porch to encourage my love of canning and food preserving. It only took me a few days to get to work on cutting up some pumpkins and making homemade pumpkin pie.
I can go on and on here. The encouraging cards and emails as I pushed through my six weeks of soreness were overwhelming. My husband helped me upgrade my small car that I could no longer reach the gas pedal in with my new leg to a small SUV that I am comfortable in. Women at the YMCA that I didn’t even know would stop me to tell me that my smile and attitude inspired them to be better.
Most importantly, my leg continues to work and has not broken once as of this writing. It is by far the most comfortable leg that I have ever been in and while it isn’t even close to having two good and normal legs it has already helped to change my life and activity level around the home. The first day I wore it here and was able to carry the dishes from the sink to the cupboard my eyes filled with tears as I realized how simple that daily task can be when you have two feet to stand on.
Now, for 2016, I am looking for that restoration to continue. The chemotherapy caused 65% hearing loss in both of my ears so this year my journey will continue as I seek medical care and save money to hear again. I can imagine the things I am missing out on like the sound of birds, crickets, running water, and fire alarms. Thankfully, I know I don’t have to fight to find out because with God there is NO LIMIT to grace.
Looking forward to journeying with you this year!
**Stay tuned for some great humor and adventure stories stemming from using my leg and interacting with the world around me!