I have always liked the phrase "bent but not broken," but exactly four years ago it came to play in my life.
I remember it just like yesterday. I recall receiving the news that I had an awful case of scoliosis. Sitting in an x-ray room, my hands trembled while my back ached. I didn't have a clue--innocent, naïve, maybe you could say--to the knowledge of scoliosis and what it consisted of.
As I caught a glimpse of my x-ray on the screen, my heart thudded. I think I even laughed to myself. Was my spine really shaped like a snake? Was it supposed to look like that? I guess you could call it unique.
I sat in a small, stifling room with my local doctor at the time. Sure enough, she confirmed my case of scoliosis. My mother and I set up an appointment with a pediatric spine specialist. All the while each night I tossed and turned with pains that terribly hurt my body. I couldn't dance, which was something my heart loved and pursued for many years. I couldn't breathe right. My spine was almost pressing on my lungs, and if it would have gotten worse, it could have pressed against my heart.
Now I want to pause a minute. I never want you to think that I'm creating a sob story when I share this part of my life with you. This part of my life was God sent. It was what strengthened my faith and trust in the Lord. This particular season of my life is a testimony that I pray I never fail to tell.
Getting back to where I was...After a few weeks I found myself sitting in a medium sized waiting room full of kids my age with multiple different problems. When my name was called, I remember my heart beating so irregularly that my blood pressure was outrageous when they took it. I think I have what my mom would call "white-coat syndrome."
The pediatric specialist took his own x-rays and observed them for himself. Then, he dropped the bombshell. "Spinal fusion surgery is the only way to fix this." My heart dropped and my jaw fell to the floor. I couldn't hear my doctor speak anymore, couldn't think straight. The only thing I felt was numbness and tears rolling down my cheeks. I wasn't about to let someone slice me open from my neck down to my waist! But God had different plans...
The next few months from late October to early January consisted of gross bloodwork, a long MRI, and more x-rays. During this time, I never understood why God chose to put me in the position that I was in. Rolling around in my bed at night, I felt so alone. You have to remember I was only 14 at the time, this was huge and absolutely terrifying. My family, friends, dance and piano teachers, church, people I didn't even know were so encouraging and loving, though. My aunt even bought me the cutest little sweatshirt that said "God's got my back" on it. I wore that shirt like, every day.
I remember my Pappy sitting me down in the kitchen and opening up his torn and tattered Bible. He flipped the pages to Romans 8:28 and handed it to me. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." I never realized then how much this verse would mean to me. How much of a comfort it would be. I had no clue of my future, but I began to trust that God held it. And that fact was more than enough for me.
Early in the morning on January 21st, I walked into a scary hospital knowing my life would literally change. I sat in a waiting room with my stomach absolutely growling like the cookie monster without cookies. I remember getting called back to prep for surgery and just breaking down in tears. The nurses and staff were amazing, though. They managed to make me smile and laugh in the midst of the most difficult time of my life.
When it was just my mom and I while I was prepping for surgery and people were poking me with needles, I distinctly remember her stroking my brows (which is the most calming thing ever by the way) and singing the children's song, His Banner Over Me is Love. Shortly after that, the rest of my family came in before I was sent back to the long six hour surgery. Everyone held hands and bowed their heads. Looking back now, I don't now how I wouldn't have made it and stayed sane if it wasn't for the prayers and God Himself.
Six hours later and after a lot of throwing up (#ew), my spine was as straight as a toothpick. And I could actually breathe like a normal person! Recovery was a long and grueling road though, but I wouldn't go back and change it even if I could. That experience was a huge growing process in my walk with the Lord.
Going back to my first appointment with my surgeon...he told me that he would possibly have to go lower in my back than he ever had before. That he would possibly have to break some ribs to straighten up my spine. But the first thing my recovery nurse told me was that he didn't have to do any of that. And GUESS WHAT?! I was able to dance in my recital that June! Isn't God amazing?!
I'm here to tell you that when it seems like your situation is hopeless or absolutely devastating, God steps in and says that He is possible. All you have to do is put your little hand in His much bigger hand and trust that He knows best.
I remember my best friend, Bethany, encouraging me that maybe God had put me in this position to witness to a nurse or a doctor. If that was so, I pray the right words were said and done. Those nurses and doctors were angels, providing care for me that was the sweetest, and I sincerely believe, from the heart. As they helped me walk again, watched over me while my mom stepped out to simply shower or get something to eat, I can't help but feel thankful for them. Nurses truly are angels in disguise.
Before I end my blogpost, I must thank my family and the God above me for them. I can't express how supportive and loving each of them were. The visits from each friend and family didn't go unnoticed, even if I did have a hard time keeping my eyes open the whole time. The love from everyone was overwhelming. I can't thank God enough for placing the right, Godly people around me. I wouldn't be where I am without Him and the strength that He provided.
This is a story of hope. Hope that when everything seems impossible, God walks in and shows you how He can turn your tough situation into something so hopeful and beautiful. Never forget that. You may be bent, but with God, you don't have to be broken.
Here's to scoliosis and to everyone who has struggled with the difficulties that come with it:
"And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." -Luke 13:13
"...and the crooked shall be made straight..." -Isaiah 40:4