Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

My friend Mary Grace recently told her story of losing the sight of her left eye due to a horrific accident she suffered last fall.  I asked her if she'd mind me reprinting it here - thankfully she said yes.  I'd have done it anyway because it's amazing. She's amazing. Our God is amazing.  

So without further ado, part one of MG's story: 

The reason I’m writing is to share with you a recent series of events that have allowed me just the briefest glimpse into the sustaining power and blessed sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did this experience deepen my faith to a place I didn’t even know could exist, but I can also tell you that through the incomparable grace of God, I have heard of it impacting others as well.

Last October, my son and I took advantage of a beautiful fall day and went for a walk in a park. As we traveled down one of the paths, my son picked up a big stick that he deemed to be the “perfect” walking stick! It was about the width of my two middle fingers, with a blunt end, and just about chest high. He loved giving it to me, and even when I told him I didn’t need a walking stick, he insisted I use it anyway. He was so proud of having found the perfect one.

We came out of the woods to find ourselves in the most spectacular clearing with massive trees all around and a bench right in the middle, the sun streaming down on it. We both thought it was such a cool place, and we immediately dubbed it our secret bench. We agreed that even though we might show it to other people, it was always going to be our special bench. After basking there for a while, I noticed that my cell phone only had one bar remaining, and said “Honey, I think we should probably be heading back.” We started back to the car.

There was a lot of leaf cover on the trails that day, so I never did see the root I tripped over. I just know that it happened very fast and I went down very hard.

As I pitched forward, that walking stick went through my eyelid, thru the bones in my eye’s orbit, through my sinus bones, and didn’t stop until it had reached my brain. The main shaft of it had broken off, so at this point it was protruding out of my head by about 6 inches. My immediate impulse was to pull it out, but after one tug I realized how deep it was imbedded, and that if I pulled it out I would probably bleed to death. That’s when the full realization of my situation hit me. This huge stick of wood has gone right through my eye.

To this day, I don’t remember the pain of that moment, but I do hope to forget the sound the stick made when it went through my eye…

My son was amazing. He took the cell phone out of my pocket and called 9-1-1. He did seem to be secretly thrilled to be able to legally call the emergency number! He told the operator that his mom had a stick in her eye, and tried to give her an idea of where we were. The operator told him that they would be able to get our location from the cell phone, and to just sit tight.

A female paramedic was the first to reach me; she was not prepared for what she saw. I think she thought I had gotten something in my eye. I was clued into this when she started yelling “She’s impaled! She’s impaled!” into her walkie-talkie, again and again, until I pointed out that my son probably didn’t need the reminder.

When the rest of the EMTs understood more fully what they were dealing with, they concluded that they’d need a vehicle to get me out of there, as I’d lost far too much blood to hike out myself. Entire trees would have to be moved, and they would have to get permission from homeowners to drive through their properties. Bottom line: this was going to be a long wait.

The paramedic did eventually pull herself together and sat down on the trail next to me for the long wait.
She started to ask me some basic medical questions, including, “Are you generally healthy?” I answered yes, and then in a more serious voice she said, “Then you’re doing better than me.” She went on to share that she was suffering with breast cancer, and her husband had recently left her and their three year old daughter. I asked if she was Christian, and she said not really, but I suggested we pray anyway.

We sat right there on that trail, and I prayed for her health, for her daughter, and for wisdom for her doctors. I wrapped up the prayer by asking for God’s peace for myself. She seemed genuinely touched, and it made my time there infinitely more bearable.

After an hour and a half of sitting on that trail, they finally came to get me.

I was loaded into a pickup truck for the ride out, and all the way to the hospital in the ambulance the guy with me kept saying, “I can’t believe how calm you are. You’re really taking this well.” And I kept saying “It’s God peace. I prayed for God’s peace!”

All told, it was over seven hours before they finally removed the wood from my eye, and I had been conscious for every minute of it; not only conscious, but often left alone with the stick still sticking out of my face. Now if there has ever been a time in my life where I might have forgiven myself for losing it, it would have been during those long hours. But the words of great hymns like “How Great Thou Art,” and “It is Well with My Soul” sustained me.

After surgery, I could see – I was so relieved! I wasn’t going to lose my eye! But late the following day, the pressure inside my eyeball had skyrocketed and when they came to check it, it was literally bulging out of my socket. Right there in my hospital bed, with scissors, and without the benefit of painkillers, they had to cut open the other side of my eye to my temple in a desperate attempt to save my optic nerve. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. When they tested my sight after the procedure, it was so hard to admit that I saw nothing. I kept trying to imagine that I saw a glimmer of light, when all I saw was the blackest black I have ever known.

There is now no hope (outside of God) for any vision in my left eye.

It has become so unbelievably clear to me recently, that there is such genius in everything God does, not only in what he does, but in how he does it. I think most people would agree – the accident I suffered was very bizarre. I wonder if God didn’t make it so freakish so as to better draw attention to Himself. Somehow a car accident or baseball mishap just doesn’t seem to be as graphic as, “I was impaled in the eye with a large stick!” Would it be too outrageous to wonder if He had me wait all that time for help so that everyone would clearly know that I was not on my own dime? Standard human forbearance can only go so far. My sanity was in Him. 

I love Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  I never did go into shock that day, and believe me – I was shocked! God’s providence is unending. We are only truly strong when our faith is in the Lord.

Part two, her medical staff's reaction.