What’s Your Story?

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”  Psalm 119:71  ESV

I never realized how fitting that verse could be until I was the one afflicted.  We all have a story.  Stories of loss, stories of suffering, sickness, hurt, anger, despair.  There are those dark times when we feel as though our worlds are crashing down on us, we won’t survive.  Yet, here we are.  The fact that you are now reading this proves you are surviving.  God is getting you through those dark times.  Right now, you aren’t just surviving, with God’s help, you are overcoming!

When you are able to come to the point of realization that you ARE an overcomer, you can use those dark times in your life.  Not just for yourself, but you can use them to help others through their trials.  Some of you know my back story, and some don’t.  I’m about to use my own dark time as a testimony of God’s love, mercy and never ending grace.

“But Jesus said, ‘now go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.” Mark 5:19

It was almost twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  My thyroid was enlarged, making it difficult to swallow, and no amount of medication would shrink the swelling or treat they hyperthyroidism.  It was decided between my doctor and I that I would have my thyroid removed.  I wasn’t worried, there is very minimal risk of anything happening during surgery.  I was ready to get the surgery over with and have a week off with my husband and, at the time, 3yr old and 10 month old sons.  Surgery was a success and I was wheeled into recovery.

That’s where things took a nasty turn.  There was a large amount of bleeding in my throat, and a lot of swelling, which closed off my airway.  As I was coming out of anesthesia, I could hear the nurses in the background.  One was telling the other to call the doctor quickly, I wasn’t breathing.  I remember having something shoved in my mouth as the nurses tried their best to pump air into my lungs while wheeling me back to surgery.

When I next awoke, it was to find myself in ICU and attached to a breathing tube.  The swelling was so bad in my throat, it was completely closed off, the breathing tube was my only way of getting air.  I also had a feeding tube inserted through my nose, as I could not swallow anything.  Eventually, I was taken back for yet another surgery, to have a tracheostomy inserted.  There I was, in ICU, attached to a feeding tube, unable to talk, breathing through a hole in my neck…all from a minimal risk surgery.  How did I get here?

When I was released into a regular room from ICU, my husband brought my babies to see me.  I’m so thankful that my oldest son wasn’t affected by the site of his mommy that day.  He was having so much fun playing on the elevators with my sister, he didn’t have time to be horrified by me.  My youngest, though, he was terrified.  He pulled away from me.  This was not the mommy he knew.

I went through my moments of depression, despair.  I felt like I would never be released from the hospital.  I felt useless.  I was finally released, though, with orders to come back every other day for therapy.  The days went on and on.  I prayed and prayed.  I fought, I worked hard, I prayed some more.  After a lot of therapy and learning how to swallow again, he feeding tube was finally pulled out.  I still wasn’t able to talk though.  All the swelling had caused damage to both vocal cords and I now had bilateral vocal cord paralysis.  My youngest son’s first birthday rolled around, and I couldn’t even sing the Happy Birthday song to him.  I couldn’t read books to my children.  I barely even had a whisper.  I had more work to do.  My next job was to get rid of that irritating trach in my throat.  We worked hard, and the day finally came when I was able to breathe on my own and have it taken out, praise the Lord!

God was speaking to me, I just didn’t know it yet.  God was getting me through this.  I finally came to the point of acknowledging that there had to be something good to come out of this.  There had to be a reason, I just didn’t know what it was yet.  Maybe it wasn’t my place to know, maybe it was just my job to keep fighting, praying and praising.  So that’s what I did.  I kept going to my therapist.  I went to top notch specialists.  I was finally told that there was nothing more they could do.  My voice was gone.  The vocal cords weren’t coming back, I would never be able to speak again.

That’s when I decided to really start living my life again.  No more depression.  If this was the way my life was going to be, then it would mean something.  I was going to be a wife to my husband and a mother to my children and eventually, I knew deep in my heart, that this time was going to be used for something.  My spirits lifted with that knowledge, I was alive again.

One week, we visited a church that was new to us.  This was the first time we had been to church in years.  It was definitely passed time to get back to God.  It was definitely a wonderful church, we loved the sermon, loved the music, loved everything about it.  Monday morning came, my husband had already left for work and I got up to get ready.  As had become my practice since I had gotten home from the hospital, while getting ready for work, I tested out my voice.  Every other morning, I would just hear a breathy whisper.  Not today, today, there was a sound!  It was rough, it was faint, it wasn’t the voice I was born with, but it was definitely a sound!  I called my husband on his cell, and after he answered I spoke with joy in my heart, “good morning!”

My first words in my new life….good morning.  He couldn’t believe it, he was overjoyed.  I called my parents and my father answered.  “Good morning!” I said to him.  The first words out of his mouth were “Praise God!”  It took a while for my voice to get to the point it is at today.  It still sounds nothing like my original voice, I still have partial vocal cord paralysis.  If you ask my kids, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but it’s my new voice in my new life.  My life where, now, I use my voice to praise and worship.  My life where now I use my voice to teach a girls small group and help them learn about God’s love, His grace, His mercy and His healing powers.  Where I teach about the power of prayer.

I share my story whenever I can, because I know that if it helps just one person, every single thing I went through that year was worth it!  It’s your turn now.  You must share your story.  You have no idea how much it can impact and help someone else.  So….What’s your story?