For two months after my accident, before having my spinal surgery July 10th, two separate valley doctors refused to treat me the way that I should have been treated according to standard medical practice for my severe injury. One orthopedic spinal surgeon refused to even see me, even though I had an appointment, all because the neurosurgeon in Arroyo Grande dared to tell him what he thought should be done. I was in tears, holding onto my walker, barely moving, when I arrived in their office. On check-in, the office manager came forward and let me and my daughter know that her doctor didn’t care for the Arroyo Grande doctor’s attitude and I would have to find somewhere else to go. I did not understand. I was not from there, I was from Visalia. I had my accident in Arroyo Grande. I got the appointment after waiting a week since the accident and release from the hospital. I was in total shock, and the anger and frustration could hardly be measured as I broke out sobbing. What kind of oath did this man take? Do no harm was it not? My daughter started to go across the desk demanding I be seen and the office manager looked at her and said, “well that is too bad.” All I could do to restrain her was tell her God must have a different plan, let’s go home and find someone else. She was livid to say the least. I thought about suing this doctor once all the dust settled and then I thought I heard that still small voice that said forgive, he doesn’t know what he is doing. I just could not believe it, after all that had happened to hit another wall to get treatment in the central valley. He so deserved to have his pants sued off him. I knew in my heart before I reached the car, I had to forgive this man and his mean-spirited staff. I had a long talk with the Father on my way home about what I felt He was saying to do. By the time I reached home, I had made the decision to do just that, even though I had to do it about every hour on the hour for days.
My youngest daughter got on the phone and started searching for another doctor. With no one local, she found an orthopedic surgeon in Fresno and made an appointment for me for the next week. In the meantime, I was told to lay still, no moving other than to get up to go to the bathroom. I started seeing patterns in the ceiling around the fan that danced after a while. That first trip to Fresno was agonizing, as were all the rest for the next four weeks. The 99 freeway was under construction and with each bump and pothole it felt like my spine and vertebrae were shattering even more. On my first visit, after looking at my x-rays, the doctor said I needed to allow my spine to heal itself, which it normally does in traumatic fractures. He forgot to add it was in simple compression fractures this happened, not the type I had. But, since I was not the surgeon, I listened to him and went home to lay in bed for what I thought would be another four weeks. I started developing issues with my bladder and walking was becoming almost impossible and the pain was not like anything I had ever had. On a scale of 1-10 the pain sat around a 20 consistently. I knew something was very wrong, but I wanted to be compliant. I finally cried uncle and went in to see him again. He ordered an MRI, which showed further collapse of the vertebrae and bone fragment tipping further into my spinal canal. The doctor insisted that the nerve issues with my bladder and not being able to hold urine were due to infection. I knew it was no infection, as did my primary care doctor who wrote the referral after examining me, but he refused to listen. He made an appointment for some urologist two weeks out. I had finally had my fill and found my voice.
The doctor had a bad habit of talking with his back to me while writing in the chart. I asked him to turn around and look at me. When he did, the annoyance was so evident on his face to be bothered by my request. I shakily told him I was not old enough to forever be in a wheelchair and that I had a lot of life ahead of me and I was not going to just settle for my lot like he suggested I do without surgery. He turned back around said he was not even sure what equipment he needed to order, which would put the surgery several months out. Then he told me that he refused to stand in any operating room for more than four hours for me or anyone else and to do my surgery in one stage would mean many hours of surgery. He said the only place that happens is in a university hospital setting where they would have multiple doctors doing each of their own specialty as part of the surgical team. I then asked him to please refer me to a university team to have this surgery done. He looked up from his papers at the wall and he said, “I will not, you can just have three separate surgeries”, and left the room. I was horrified at his attitude and lack of care. I called my general practitioner in tears. I had now been laid up seven weeks with no appropriate medical care because of these two surgeons. Surely, I missed God, they both needed to have complaints filed on them and sued. As I headed home, I heard that gentle whisper again, forgive them both, let it go, trust Me. I was in too much pain to argue, and in such a state that all I could do was take a moment at a time and pray.
As I closed my eyes on the way home, I was impressed in my heart about all that had happened over the past 7 weeks. My youngest adult daughter was taking care of me, in ways I have always felt a child shouldn’t have to. During some of the worst pain of my life, I dug deeper into who God was, I spent hours in meditation and contemplation, I could not do anything to escape myself. You know it is tough when you cannot escape dealing with your stuff. I came face to face with a lot of truths about my life, about my faith, about where I was in my life and where I thought I was.
Since I could not take pain medication, I also researched every possibility that might help me deal with the pain, to get rest. I wanted to heal, and I knew I was so broken it was going to take a miracle. I also knew I had to make a choice whether to dwell in the pain and let it and the gathering darkness and depression consume me or find a way outside of it and find answers to things that might be of help. I needed to be proactive. As I lay there, I would hold my kindle on my chest and research about essential oils, acupressure, and noninflammatory foods (inflammatory foods cause pain) to start with and started applying what I was reading to myself. I was able to take the edge off the pain enough to not scream anymore.
Then I remembered something from when I first became a Christian, how singing always seemed to transport me to a place where nothing going on around me mattered. I was reminded how I would sing for hours, then pray, then sing during those 7 weeks. Sweet friends would come by and pray with me and for me, and bring meals. That seven weeks was a great time in learning who Jesus really was, and how much He loved me, and He would not leave me, how he would send people across my path to encourage me to help me hold on and not lose my mind. It was a time that tested my very existence. During it all, I could hear His sweet voice say hold on, nothing is impossible, I will walk you through, walk in forgiveness, walk in My love, love never fails.
What is that old saying, hindsight is always 20/20. As I have learned how emotions impact how the body functions, and whether it can heal the way it should and how harsh anger, unforgiveness and bitterness can not only cause inflammation, it can cause disease and stop healing. I have been amazed that all those things I learned while I was flat on my back, are the very tools that I have been using to be healed emotionally, mentally and physically over the past five years, not only from injuries from the accident, but the injuries suffered when I was a child.
I am so very grateful for the time flat on my back. When asked if I would change it all if I could have, I would have to say no. It was a turning point in my life, an embracing of life and living a life in the light. Forgiving those who so greatly hurt me and loving them and praying for them instead released me from a seed of anger and a root of bitterness, allowing me to find ways to deal with the pain and find ways to heal. I learned healing is a process, sometimes a very long process. It was a time of deep seating my faith and finding wonderful modalities that can help with pain, brokenness, healing and helping to live a life of wholeness in an attitude of gratitude.
These are the types of things I want to share from my journey with you. I want to share all the amazing things I have found along the way that have helped me to heal in some way, that have helped me to live my life in the light again, instead of in the dark shadows of depression, anger, and hatred.
If my life journey could help one person, it is all worth it. I am grateful for every step, for it made me who I am today and has taught me that God is always looking out for me, even when He asks me to do things that make no sense at the time or when He is so very quiet, I still know He is closer than my breath.
In my next blog, I will share with you about acupressure and reflexology, which helps me greatly with dealing with bone and nerve pain, among other things. It is amazing how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made. Until next time, may this small spark ignite the desire to live a more radiant life.