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BEATING THE BROKEN PATH

BEATING THE BROKEN PATH

By Becki Church

My mind began to see all these miracles, and it was then impossible for me to not fight to get myself well. Gratitude became the source of my happiness. I developed an incredible faith, not only in God, but in myself. My faith in myself inspired others, which only fueled my fire to get well.

Life has a tendency to push you to your breaking point before finally backing off, smiling, and handing you a tiny morsel of hope.

My life was no stranger to this thought. Several times in my life, I’ve found myself wrapped tightly inside a string of bad luck. I struggled to find the good in each trial I experienced, because they seemed so hell-bent on breaking me and bringing me to my knees.  And oftentimes they did, but being on my knees is exactly where I needed to be.

Well into my thirties, I was alone in a newly purchased home with a new puppy. Being a first-time homeowner was an exciting endeavor, albeit daunting.  I had big plans for this little home, and a new puppy companion to take it all on with me. I had high hopes that these new changes would finally bring me some good luck.

One morning, in early August of that year, I took my pup to a daycare center so I could work from home. I spent my lunch hour that day at a rock quarry buying cinder blocks to make garden boxes. I put them in the back of my Honda Element. After work, I picked up my dog from the daycare center and headed home.

That’s the last thing I remember that day, before waking up late that night in the hospital.

The story unfolded to me later like this: two men had robbed a bank near my home. Knowing police were in hot pursuit, they ditched their car and ran on foot, each going separate ways. The first man was caught soon thereafter. The other had taken another vehicle and sped off again, with the police quick on his tail. Driving north with speed upwards of 90 mph, this man, in a desperate effort to evade the police, jumped the center divider and drove into oncoming traffic. He slammed head on into my vehicle, sending my car into an uncontrollable spin-out, while his car flipped.

I was knocked unconscious almost immediately. I awoke to my brother by my hospital bed; unable to move, tubes all over, and my head held tight with a neck brace. The extent of my injuries was hard to wrap my mind around. A concussion, punctured lung, broken C5 vertebrae in my neck, broken right scapula, 7 broken ribs, 3 lower spine breaks, broken sternum, severely sprained and mangled right foot, and a broken left big toe. I marginally, and miraculously, avoided paralysis.

I spent the next 3 days in the hospital, and the next two and a half weeks in a rehabilitation center. I was released with home health therapy, having turned my home into a makeshift rehab center. I was told that I would heal fully, but it would take a good year before I would begin to feel myself again. I was in for the long haul.

I knew that to be true, as I couldn’t do even the most menial tasks without help. Everyday life became a massive, painful chore. I was in constant pain, and the frustration of being so helpless was almost more than I could bare. Once a fiercely independent woman, I now needed assistance to do everything– and I mean everything. Humiliating, yet incredibly humbling.

As those early days waned on, I remember reading a quote somewhere—“You are always responsible for how you act, regardless of how you feel. Remember that.” (Robert Tew)

I knew I had a decision to make. I remember thinking, okay, this is my new normal for a while. Better make the best of it. I could either lay there, wallowing in my misery, or fight to get well, and make something good of this bad situation.

I chose to fight.

I took things one day at a time, but had an unrelenting resolve to get myself back to hiking the Utah mountains with my dog again. Those bank robbers broke my body, but I wasn’t going to let them break my spirit.

Progress was slow, but came with a lot of support from my family, friends, and medical staff. Success was measured by taking one step more than I had the day before. I forced myself to put on a smile each day, and let my sense of humor come out in full force, but there were often tears at night. Tears from pain, tears of frustration, tears of sadness. I realized this wasn’t going to be easy.

Every step was exhausting, and I sometimes thought, is this even real? Am I seriously this broken? I’d test myself by attempting to do things on my own, which often ended in miserable failure. But, I made a choice and I was going to stick by it. No way this was going to beat me.

As I continued to recover, I started to think back on the accident and realize how fortunate I was. Not lucky—luck is handed out on a silver platter to those that happen to be in the right place at the right time. I was definitely in the wrong place at the wrong time when my car was hit, but I knew it could have had a very different outcome. I was fortunate. I knew there was some higher power involved.

I believed in God, but this experience also made me believe in angels.

As awful of a situation as it was, several aspects of this accident were nothing short of miraculous.

I happened to be carrying 20 cinder blocks in the back of my car. If I were to have been hit from behind, they would have most likely decapitated me. Being hit from the front, a lot of them shot out the back window, while the others actually played a significant part in weighing the car down so it didn’t flip, which would have probably killed me.

The whole front end of my car was pushed forward into me. The airbags went off, but my steering wheel was pinning me against my seat. The brake pedal was pinned against the lower part of my seat with immense pressure. Somehow, my legs were split perfectly over the pedal—it would have taken my  left leg otherwise.

My right foot was pretty messed up, but somehow nothing was broken. I’ve never been so grateful to be a petite 5’1” in all my life, as my doctor told me if I was even 2 inches taller, that foot would have been destroyed.

Even my car, my Honda Element, was a blessing in disguise. If I would have been in anything smaller, I would not be around to tell this story.

I had this image in my head of someone, maybe several people, from the other side embracing me and my sweet pup, cushioning us from the blow of the Suburban. I can’t explain how I’m still here, and I don’t yet know why—maybe simply to share my story with you—but I know that I believe in the unseen and the unbelievable.

My mind began to see all these miracles, and it was then impossible for me to not fight to get myself well. Gratitude became the source of my happiness. I developed an incredible faith, not only in God, but in myself. My faith in myself inspired others, which only fueled my fire to get well.

My own mind became my best support system. I remember days where I was incredibly frustrated, and gave in to the negative thoughts and emotions. I suffered those nights, physically. But on the days when I found every silver lining I could, and smiled through the aches, agony, and discomfortThe pain was literally lessened. It sounds crazy, I know, but I experienced the truth of this.

The mind is so powerful. When you act like your life is a blessing, I assure you it will become one. When you believe that you have more in you than you think you do, I assure you, you will find that ounce of energy. When you have faith that you can take one more step, and believe that you can do it, you will be unstoppable.

In the past year and a half since the accident, I have surfed again, hiked Mt. Timpanogos, hiked 5 miles of the Na Pali Coast trail, hiked in Glacier National Park, and ran a 5K. I have plans to embark on several more adventures that will test my limits.

Life has been given to us to Live– Not just exist, but to really live. As broken as I was, I learned to believe that I was unbreakable, and that has made all the difference.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

2 Comments

  1. Good job Becki. We are so glad you are still here with us. Love you.

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