6/30: The Hardest Thing

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

Appropriately, in one day it is the 2nd year anniversary of the event that threw a huge kink in my plans and taught me a lot...

I feel like I have talked this to death. Last year I blogged about it on the 1 yr anniversary of my accident here. But the reason I have talked about it so much is that it affected my life so much, still affects me and probably always will. 

On my last day in Australia I went for one last surfing ride that ended with me in the hospital.

The weeks and months that followed was hard on me physically and mentally as I adjusted to having my spine fused and the long recovery that followed. 

In the hospital I was a perfect invalid, instantly aged to be an 89-yr-old arthritic grandma. The simplest task would exhaust me; I needed help with everything. Rolling from side to side in bed or getting out of bed would wipe me. I couldn't raise my hands above my chest, couldn't shower myself, couldn't sit up for more than 20 minutes and when I got energy to walk down the hallway and back my doctor's were impressed. 6 weeks later when my mum and Len picked me up from the Calgary hospital I could feel every bump in the road and was in excruciating pain by the time we arrived in Lethbridge.

But even though this was a huge shock and unexpected trial and that this post states this is the hardest thing I have had to experience I only look back at this event as physically trying. I learned so much from this experience and my life changed so much in the course of my recovery that I can't help but look back with almost fondness. 

The first and foremost thing that was abundantly clear was the Lord's hand in my accident. Perhaps this is why this 'hardship' of recovering is overshadowed by all the tender mercy's that I experienced in my recovery.
Some examples:
 - I got injured on the LAST day of my 6 mo trip, so I didn't have to cancel further travels, just shifts on 3C... 
 - Of all the countries and towns we were in and surfed in I got injured 10 minutes away from my only Australian family's house. So instead of being released from the hospital and having the stress of finding somewhere to stay for the remaining three weeks before I was okayed to fly home, I was able to spend more time with my Uncle, Aunt and cousins whom I loved.
 - When I got injured, all I wanted was a priesthood blessing so my sister got ahold of the local missionaries which was appreciated but sometimes you just want a blessing from someone you know. Imagine my surprise when the missionaries walk in and one of them exclaims, "Valena?". Turns out that one of the two missionaries had just got transferred there a few days prior and was little Jimmy Stringham who's family was one of the 20 families from the TINY Spring Coulee where I grew up. He was so much younger than me that all we really knew about each other was basic information that neighbors know but that day I felt the lord's hand in having Elder Stringham show up to give me a blessing of comfort in my most stressful situation. 
 - After being slammed headfirst into the sandbank from the wave's force I ended up with not a snapped neck (which should of happened) I ended up with thoracic spine fractures. The doctor said my head was PERFECTLY tilted to channel the force down my cervical spine before shattering my thoracic spine. Any other way and my neck would have been snapped. 
 - I had friends and family that were at my bedside the whole time. Even across the world I was lucky enough to feel at home in the hospital.
 - Being injured extended my stay in Australia and with my Aussie family by 6 weeks. If you are gonna get injured, Australia is a good place to recover! 
 - I came home broke as a joke, unable to work for 3-6 months. But I received amazing charity from my mum's work who threw a charity bake sale and donated enough money for me to live until I could return to work.
 - Even though I have some residual discomfort/pain, I am blessed to be able to live my life completely undeterred besides the regular stretch and pop. So if you see me stealing five minutes at work to lay on a stretcher, that's me just recharging my back. 

And my absolute favorite:
 - After 24 years of perfect health when do I meet my husband? 3 months after my accident, still wearing my back brace and still quite the rickety old grandma physically. I have no idea where or what I would have been doing if I had came home in perfect health like I planned but a small piece of me thinks I probably wouldn't have been at the dance that night that I initially met Shawn. 

In my mind, I can't help but think that this accident was meant to be in my life to teach me about Heavenly Father's love for me, how I can bounce back from complete physical weakness and to help open my eyes to see the most amazing guy ever...

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