Tuesday, October 30, 2012

finding peace in pain

It's been a while since I've posted... and a lot has happened! I felt like I should share my most recent experience. Though many of you are probably familiar with my situation, I will give a detailed account of my experience so that those who care can read about it and those who don't, can choose to ignore my little tidbits on facebook. This experience has taught me many things... but the one I cannot escape is the realization that I can find peace in the midst of pain.

On Sunday, October 7th, I was invited over to my friend Derek's apartment to watch conference. So we watch conference, then afterwards we head over to my apartment to make dinner. At that point we are joined by many other friends and we're just kind of fooling around after we eat. I play a little guitar, we talk, contemplate watching a movie, but we decided on something a little more pro-active. I don't remember how the topic came up, but I tell Derek I've taken taekwondo, and seeing his interest, and wanting to impress a cute boy, I decide to show him some of my self-defense. It honestly wasn't very impressive, but that's my life. After humoring me, Derek decides to try some moves on me. He tells me he is going to put me on the ground. I'm used to this... having learned how to properly "fall" in taekwondo, but just to be sure, I tell him to be gentle. He tells me he will. This is when things get kind of fuzzy... He takes me down. But something went wrong. To this day we still are unsure how exactly it happened, but somehow my leg got caught behind his and it twisted in a way it shouldn't have. We all hear a couple loud POPS. crap. Now I am on the floor panting and holding my left knee. Val, being the kick-A nursing student she is, is at my aid immediately. I am laying on my back and she asks me some questions and I try to answer, but I am in so much pain I don't remember doing anything. Derek is looking at my leg and exclaims that it's out of place. He says he needs to pop it back in. Now, let me explain something about myself. I have a very low pain tolerance and a bad habit of watching dramatic hospital shows, so I know that I am about to experience serious pain. I tell them not to touch it many times... and then I black out.

I wake up really confused, but extremely calm. If you know me, you know I have a history of passing out. I'm a pro. That said, I calmly ask someone for a sugary drink. Val tells me that she is going to take me to the hospital. At this point, I am in so much pain, I know I can't walk. Derek picks me up and has to carry me down the two flights of stairs to the car. I guess I have to mention something before I get to the car. A couple days before the accident, Derek asked me out on a date... but we hadn't picked a day or anything. So when he was carrying me down to the car, I ask "Hey, so does this count as our first date?" Well everyone else thought that was pretty funny. I tend to crack jokes when I'm in pain or I'm nervous. Well, he answered with a resounding "NO." Apparently that wasn't romantic enough for him. Sheesh, whatever.

The ER was the most painful experience of my life. When they ask me my pain level, it was far beyond a 10. The worst part was when they tried to straighten my leg for an X-Ray. That was excruciating. And they kept wanting to bend it... which was not what my knee wanted to do. Since they didn't know what the injury was, they couldn't make a decision about treatment. It was decided that I would stay overnight and get an MRI the next morning. For hours, or maybe it wasn't that long... time wasn't my first concern, I was being prodded, injected with drugs, moved, and asked meaningless questions. All I wanted was to see Val and Derek. I wanted a familiar face. So they finally let me see them. So Derek walks in followed by Val's brother. They tell me they're going to give me a blessing. It was one of the most beautiful blessing I remember receiving. In the blessing, I was promised that Christ would carry me through this trial. I knew I was going to be OK.

The next few days were painful but I had never felt so blessed. That first night in the hospital was a blur, but it was oddly awesome. It was me, my cousin Andie, Derek, and Val. Val went back to the apartment to grab me some things I needed. Now, if I wasn't sure before that Val and I were meant to be friends forever, this next act removed all doubts. She comes back to the hospital with Ritz crackers and.... NUTELLA. She also brought Avatar season 1. Needless to say, my night was instantly better. So my friends stay until 2am just so I didn't have to be alone. I have never needed my friends more than I did that night. I will be forever grateful for their company that night.

The next morning I got an MRI. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was. The bad part is when the doctor came in later to tell me the verdict. He tells me I tore my ACL and my Meniscus, and that surgery was necessary and there would be a minimum recovery period of 6 weeks. That's when I lost it. I remember Val crawling onto my bed and just holding me while I cried. I couldn't stop thinking about what this would mean for school, for church, for everything! I couldn't walk for at least 6 weeks? There had to be some mistake. Stuff like this doesn't happen to me. I thought my trials would be different. I wasn't expecting this.

My dad came the day before surgery and was there through the whole process of surgery and the rest of my hospital stay. That was such a blessing. My surgery was performed wednesday the 10th, and I returned home thursday morning. I was fixed... but the healing was just beginning.

Well, that is the story. Since then, I have been going to Physical Therapy 3 times a week and my knee is healing wonderfully. It really has been a journey though. There were many nights during the first weeks after surgery where I found myself depressed and so overwhelmed. To top everything off, I had run out of my depression medication, and I was suffering. I was not myself. I was angry with God, angry with everything. That is not me. I knew the worst part of me had taken over and I couldn't stop it. I would cry myself to sleep every night until my medicine came in the mail and I slowly returned to myself.

Now, I don't tell people this story to entice people into pity (though my ex kindly told me otherwise). I tell this story because it was a trial that tested my faith. For me, this was the biggest trial I have ever had to deal with because I am not used to dealing with such strong physical pain. It shook me, that's for sure. From the support of my family and friends, from the countless priesthood blessings, and from the quiet moments of contemplation and prayer, I was able to find peace in the midst of pain. Since the Lord cannot be here to hold our hands during trials, he sends us angels to be there to do it for Him. I have been surrounded by angels willing to hold my hand. At night I will pray long and hard, talking with my Heavenly Father. I will tell Him everything and ask for His continued guidance in my life. I thank Him for the many small miracles I've experienced. Every day is a miracle for me. I feel myself growing stronger every moment and I have made some great new friendships and solidified the most important ones. I even feel my parents and I's relationship strengthening as I call them every day just to talk about everything.

To finish my rather long blog post, I want to share a little quote from one of my favorite books.
"Some people will have good times and some will not , but the only losers are those who give up and quit before they reach their goal. In the gospel race, their are no losers, only quitters. Those who run across the finish line in minutes, those who walk across it in hours, or those who crawl across it in days all win the prize. For they all endured to the end, according to their talents and abilities, looking to the Savior. Paul uses this analogy, writing 'Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith' (Heb. 12:1-2). Too many of us expend our energy worrying about our relative times instead of keeping our eyes on the goal, putting one foot in front of the other, and enduring to the end."
-Stephen E. Robinson from his book Believing Christ

I hope to never be a quitter. I will endure. And I hope you will too.