I thought I would never forget the miracle, but I did.
Christmas morning, 2012, started out great. Ryan and I awakened early, had coffee by the tree, read the Christmas story, and opened gifts. The dogs bounced and raced around, excited because we were.
I went to the kitchen to start breakfast and decided a treat of peanut butter in their Kongs would settle them down and keep Maggie and Mamie occupied for a while. The unopened 40-ounce jar of peanut butter sat on the top shelf, just out of reach. I stood on tiptop, used my right hand to steady myself, and stretched. Just as I grabbed for the jar, the dogs caught my attention and I turned my head.
In a quick instant, my life veered off course.
The jar slipped out of my grasp and crashed to the counter. It landed on my right pinkie and instantly shattered the bone. Pain shot from my finger through my entire body and I thought I might vomit. Instead, I collapsed to the floor, held my hand, and rocked back and forth. Finally, I summoned enough strength to call for Ryan.
He ambled into the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw me on the floor, his eyes wide. My hand hurt so badly, I could barely speak, but I finally managed to say, “I think I broke my hand.”
Ryan stood, speechless, for a moment then asked if I needed some ice. I needed more than ice, I thought, but it was a start. He helped me up and I held tight to my hand, uncertain what to do. “I am NOT sitting in the emergency room on Christmas,” I insisted.
My mind focused on our family celebration in Starkville at my sister’s house. It was our first Christmas without my mama, and I determined to make things as special as possible.
I did what must be done.
Since we had a 90-minute drive to my sister’s house, I decided to splint my hand. In the haze of pain, the only solid things I could find were two peppermint candy canes. Somehow, Ryan and I managed to drape my pinkie finger around the curve of the cane and strap it in place.
It looked ridiculous. I knew that at the time, but it hurt too much to figure anything else out at the moment.
I drove to Starkville and paced and moaned the entire time there. My nephew, an EMT, insisted I let him see my injury. We removed the gauze and viewed the bruises and swelling together. “Oooh, Anna. That looks bad,” he told me.
“It is bad,” I assured him.
Things got worse…
After we returned home, I devised an infinitely more comfortable splint from a small wooden spoon. Ryan padded my hand and wrapped it in gauze. I had a full schedule the next day, and was the only doctor in the clinic, so I worked as usual, my hand still splinted with a wooden spoon.
I can’t imagine what the patients thought.
And even worse…
Four days after the injury, I had surgery. We opted for eternal fixation to lessen the likelihood of long-term sequelae. It sounded good in theory but meant I had three pins sticking out of my finger. I won’t bore you with all the details of that ordeal, but it was painful, hard, and long.
Finally, the surgeon removed the pins and I began physical therapy. My right pinkie and ring fingers were frozen in place. It took months of exercises and rehab to regain function.
The first time I clenched my hand in a fist felt like a miracle. When I picked up a feed bucket with my right hand and held it without dropping it, I wept with joy.
I thought I’d never get over the miracle of healing, but I did.
Today, I saw something that reminded me of the blue external fixation pins and thought about my amazingly complete recovery. My hand works well now. I have a strong grip and full flexion and extension. A few years ago, I thought that degree of function impossible, but it’s real.
I expected to treasure my healing every day for the rest of my life, but it didn’t take long to fade from memory. These days, I rarely consider how well I can use my hand, nor how hard I worked to have that function.
Hard times are always temporary.
My difficulties were temporary, but they didn’t seem that way at the time. This morning, I’m reminded that all hard times are, in a way, temporary, including my recent cornea difficulties.
Because of the hope of heaven, even a devastating medical illness only lasts a short time compared to eternity. In heaven, no hard times are allowed. No sickness or sorrow invade those gates.
No matter what we face today, God is with us and He will help us through. No matter how difficult, our situation will end and we can get through it. Even when we think we can’t.
Let’s take heart in the words of Scripture.
God cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7 )
He loves us. (John 15:12)
He will never leave us nor forsake us.(Hebrews 13:5)
We can do what we must because we need not do it alone.
Take heart in that truth and press on. May we, like the apostle Paul, press on to the prize set before us and keep our eyes, hearts, and hope focused on the goal.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14