I made the leap when I was 12.
It wasn’t too high – just high enough to make me hesitate a moment before launching off of that brick dividing wall.
I knew as soon as I landed on my feet that something had gone wrong.
I had just been playing, only playing. But one stupid decision as my friends and I chased each other around the streets in the Southern California heat changed everything.
The pain came and went for 9 years, until finally a doctor was able to spot the bone fragment buried deep in my patellar tendon. He put me on the schedule for the surgery that would remove it, repair it, and fix it all.
So I went through with it.
But new pain came. Different pain. Worse pain. Fire in my bones, a purple foot, and the feeling that the surgery site was still open. So 2 years later I had a new diagnosis: Type II Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – a rare disorder brought on by trauma: my knee surgery. It began to spread in the following years.
This summer was the 10th anniversary of my surgery. The surgery that set the biggest events of my life in motion like dominoes.
It’s brought on or complicated 7 surgeries, 3 spinal taps, blocks and patches. The degenerative nerve condition has spread from one leg to both and caused everything in my body to heal slowly and inefficiently, from a broken rib to a c-section. I’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my back and a Psuedo Tumor in my head as the result of my confused immune system, and all of the complications have made the doctors say “no more kids” or I risk permanent blindness.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible. How can a knee injury cause internal tears to never heal, impact my optic nerves…so completely wipe out my whole body?
CRPS is a degenerative nerve disease that attacks my immune system, and all of my natural defenses are gone.
It’s crippled my nervous system, cost me jobs, a social life, my health and my freedom.
It’s caused countless hospital stays, canceled plans and years and years of grieving for the girl I once was: the one with all the friends, the musical career in the Bay Area, the steady job and life plan. The grief and the pain were so raw that I turned to countless medications to numb myself, to do anything to escape. Years passed in a fog as I struggled with a mostly invisible illness that no one could see.
When my body began to shut down, everything went out the window.
I often wonder where I’d be if I’d left that bone chip there and skipped the knife. If I’d said no to the invasive surgery all those years ago and just lived with the annoying knee pain. Yet the answer I keep coming back to is: if I hadn’t done it, I probably wouldn’t have landed in my safe rainy haven within the trees – Washington. I wouldn’t have my family as neighbors and best friends, and I definitely wouldn’t have my husband or our perfect little Wolf – and not the tiny baby girl who grows within me now.
I had a good job in California. Shows on the weekends. Best friends. A church. A life. But between stints in leg braces, wheelchairs, clinical trials and procedures at Standford and experimental meds I needed my family – so I took the leap again at 22. I left everything in CA and followed them when they moved to WA.
Would I be able to see the good if all of the bad hadn’t happened?
Would I be able to recognize the mountains if I hadn’t longed for them in the valley?
Maybe I wouldn’t have moved if I hadn’t needed so much help. Maybe my boyfriend wouldn’t have checked out and left me if my medical complications hadn’t exploded again so suddenly in 2012. Maybe then I wouldn’t have sunk into my year long depression. I wouldn’t have cut out all of the mind numbing prescriptions so that I could feel something, anything. Maybe then I wouldn’t have gotten my butt kicked into the night one November amidst my darkness to go attend a young adults group. Then I wouldn’t have taken that leap and gone on the retreat with them. I wouldn’t have met the father of my children. I wouldn’t have any of it, any of them if I had stayed healthy.
All because I took the leap off of that divider wall.
God doesn’t just work in mysterious ways, He holds every string to our life’s tapestry before we’re even born. He sees the millions of patterns it could make. The billions of decisions and complications that we bring to the table. He sees the whole. The complete picture while I’m still looking at the thread that feels too bright, too painful on my eyes.
He asks me to wait. To trust. To step back one day and see the whole – how that string no longer hurts the eyes but makes everything more beautiful.
I know my pain is not unique. Most of you out there are struggling through your own stories. Are you in the valley or standing on the mountain top? Do you feel like you’re chronically in between? Breathe. Cast your eyes from the individual threads and pray for the beauty of the whole, whether you can see it yet or not.
Take the leap.
This summer was the 10th anniversary for me, and I’m working on keeping my eyes on the mountains.
Where are your eyes resting?
Believe that He can shape our stories into something good.