Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: "Your Will, Lord, Not Mine."

     In May 1994, after suffering from debilitating headaches for more than 5 years, I received news that that rocked my world, not the good kind. I had been going to a chiropractor for a year, to help with my headaches, and was waiting for my insurance company to approve neck therapy. The news came from Beaver Clinic's Insurance Review Board: Request has been denied. Call your neurologist as soon as possible.
     I called my neurologist, and they had been waiting for my call. I was told to have someone pick up a neck brace from the clinic, and I was to wear it at all times, and I was not to drive, and I was to not to make any sudden, jerky movements, and I was to avoid being in a car as much as possible, since if I got rear-ended at a stop sign, it could be fatal, or at the very least, could cause permanent paralysis.
     So, I did what they said: went out only to church and medical appointments. I went to a neuro-surgeon, the best in the West Coast. He told me my problem: a congenital defect -- I was born without the dens (that's the bone on C2 that supports C1 and helps your skull pivot and roll). My neck muscles had been keeping C1 in place, but as I was getting older, the neck muscles were getting weaker. Whenever I look up, down, or turn left or right, C1 was sliding into my spinal cord, causing all kinds of problems with my organs and their functions.
     The solution: Take some bone from my hip, use it to fuse C1 and C2 together. Take 2 3-inch titanium screws, and screw C1 and C2 in place. Just for good measure, take 24 inches of titanium wire, and tie C1 and C2 together.
     The good news: there is a 90% chance of complete recovery (just no more bungee jumping) and only a 10% chance of paralysis.
     The bad news: the procedure is so close to the brain stem that one little glitch could be fatal, but Dr. Abu-Assal was known for his steady hand. There is a 50/50 chance of surviving the procedure (but 90% recovery should I survive). I would have to wear a halo for 6 months (that's a brace that's secured by four screws attached 1/4 inch into the skull), and a neck brace for the rest of my life. The operation would take about 4 hours.
     The decision: Go for it. I was scheduled for surgery August 19.  Sometime in June, after a doctor's appointment, I took a detour to Wal-Mart, and they had set up a temporary glamour shot studio.  I got glamour shots done, and paid $300 for a 17X20 canvas oil rendering of the shot of my choice.  I did this because I wanted a nice picture of me to put on top of my closed casket should I not make it out of the operating room alive.
     Sunday, July 31, 10:45 AM: Coming out of Sunday school, I lost feeling on my entire left side, and then I passed out. I was taken to the hospital, and they ran a slew of tests that ran into the next day. They bumped up my surgery to Monday, July 31 at 5 PM.
     Monday August 1,  5:00 PM: several people from church were in the waiting room, praying. I had an I.V. already in, I had said see you later to Jim, and I was waiting alone in the holding area for the anesthesiologist.
     While I waited, I talked to God. I reminded Him I had a 9-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 6-year-old at home. I gave up my schooling to be home with them, and it would be cruel to take away their mom. I reminded God that I had given my spare time in service; that if I wasn't at home serving my family and friends, I was at church serving Him. I reminded Him that I was the best person to be the mom for my kids, and hadn't He chosen me for them in the first place? So I told Him I'd better wake up from this surgery.
     Monday August 1, 7:30 PM The surgical team came in with the news: No surgery that night. As they were setting up the instruments, they noticed that the screws were not the right kind. They were sure they got the right ones, but on the double-check, it was confirmed that the screws were not the 3-inch titanium ones needed. They'd been scrambling to find the right screws, making phone calls to other hospitals, with no luck. They ordered the right ones from the manufacturer, and at best they should arrive in 3-5 days. In the meantime, I couldn't eat anything in case they have to do any emergency surgery for anything.
     Tuesday, August 2,  5:00 PM: While other patients were being served dinner, I was frustrated, discouraged, and utterly defeated in my hospital bed. I had been reading my Bible and singing praise songs in my head all day, and by this time, I was ready to talk to God again. I thanked Him for my family and friends, for blessing me with the time at home with my babies, and for Jim who would continue with raising them in a godly home if I didn't make it. Then, I finally said, "Lord, You know best. I am now ready for Your best, even if . . . especially if . . . that means I go home to be with You. I know You will not abandon Jen, Jax, and Jimmy. Help them to remember how much I loved them. I know Jim will rely on You - help him to remember You'll always be there for him. So I'm ready. Lord, Your will, not mine." I felt an overwhelming sense of peace as soon as I said "not mine", and I fell asleep.
     Tuesday, August 2,  5:25 PM I woke up, looked up at the clock, it was 5:25 (5 is our family code for I love you, and 25 is 5 fives, one five for each of the five Hammers), and I was reminded of God's love. At 5:30, Dr. Abu-Assal and his nurse Dexter came in with the good news: Loma Linda just happened to find two of the exact screws we needed, about half an hour earlier! The surgical team had been summoned, and surgery scheduled for 7 PM that night.
     Wednesday, August 3, 3:00 AM After a 7-hour operation, I woke up in the recovery room with nothing but a Philadelphia collar (the styrofoam kind). Jim came in the room, shocked at my bruised, bloated face, and the sight of the collar. He had been expecting a halo. He called the nurse, who looked at my chart, and in a panic, paged Dr. Abu-Assal. Dexter came, and explained what happened: when they opened me up, they saw that the base of my cervical bones were thicker and wider than normal -- another congenital defect --, and would secure the screws without the help of the halo!

Wednesday, November 1, 1994:  
I was back at work as a substitute teacher.

Today I am a living testimony of God's love, grace, and provision. God's way is WAY better than mine, and I am humbled to know that He kept me as the "best" wife and mom for Jim, Jhen, Jax, and Jimmy. I still pray "Your will, Lord, not mine."  I originally wrote this blog in 2002.  My prayer remains the same.  Even now.  10.19.10




1 comment:

  1. Wow what an awesome testimony!


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