For those of you who are new to my story: I suffered a massive bleed in my brain just over a year ago. The Surgeons had to remove part of my brain to save my life and in the process damaged 6 intercranial nerves which meant I could not swallow for 11 months and still have a face that is paralyzed on one side and cannot walk. I was on Life Support for 40 days after my surgery. A year later, I am still in full-time therapy. I have many big issues, but I am alive and grateful for everyday that God has given me.
My best friend/roommate for 3 years from college, Cilker (her bday is today!), recently visited and introduced me to her new baby boy. Her husband asked me what I am learning from this time of intense suffering. It got me thinking and I decided to write down a few ‘revelations’ from this time…
(so many of you have asked me this and I have soooo many lessons that God is teaching me, here are just a few of them…)
What happened to me is extreme, but the feelings and themes are universal
While most people can walk and drive and I cannot, I am willing to bet they do not feel free. While most can eat normally, I doubt they feel fully satisfied. While most people do not have a face that is paralyzed on one side, I doubt they feel beautiful. While most don’t have the trouble I do speaking, I doubt they feel understood. While most people do not have double vision, I doubt they see everything clearly. I am sort-of a microcosm for what we all feel.
Fattening Food Tastes better
Since I did not eat anything for so long and lost over 30 pounds, I have been eating a whole lot of food I would not normally eat. It is delicious! Have you had any whole milk in a while? If you are being really indulgent, you might drink 2%. Never whole, though. It is sooo good. Have you had your favorite King-Size Candy Bar in a while? AMAZING.
Perspective is so important in all situations
This has been horrific, no doubt. However, being at a neurological rehabilitation unit has been great for me. It gives me a picture of what intense suffering really looks like. My experiences at Casa Colina have expanded the borders of my perspective as I have observed the suffering of others. Seeing this suffering has helped me feel gratitude for the problems I am not facing and fighting. I do believe that pain is pain – no matter the form, but perspective is also perspective.
When experiencing extreme humiliation, always laugh
I used to wet the bed every night and I just had to laugh about it. There have been so many embarrassing things throughout my health crisis, and I have always known having a sense of humor about it made them more bearable. Luckily, I am around a lot of really funny people. My Father is hilarious. Amie (my middle sister) is one of the funniest people I know. She would sit in the room with me in the hospital and make me laugh. My Dad said at our Rehearsal Dinner that humor can get you though the hard times. I believe it.
A support system is key to recovery
I had over 100 friends gather in the hospital during my surgery. For the first 3 weeks I was in ICU, someone was in the waiting area 24 hours a day. They actually called my area of the waiting room ‘Katherine’s Corner’. I have told you before about the insane amounts of emails, facebook messages, texts etc. that I have received every single day since this injury. Out-of-town visitors have come in abundance to share their support. In addition to being scientifically proven as a facilitator of healing, my personal experience verifies our deep need for encouragement. With a health crisis like mine, you long to feel that you are not alone. Your online support has been life-giving to me. Isolation is one of the natural responses to intense suffering, but Support is the key to recovery. That leads me to…
The Internet can be used for great good
You have probably heard about the pornography, identity theft, and cyber bullying that happen through the evils of the internet. I agree- those are terrible, but there is also great good from this tool. There are 9 websites dedicated to what happened to me. The two main ones have received well over one million hits in over 100 countries. WOW. This is very unusual. If you are reading this on caringbridge, take a look at any other website. They maybe get up to 10,000 hits after several years. The amount of online support is incredible. This allows people (like you) to track my progress and see how I am doing. Plus the instant information of the internet allows people all over the world to pray with greater efficacy.
Families were designed for a reason
All sides of my family have been incredible throughout this ordeal. There is just a bond I have with my immediate family that could never be changed. Through extreme humiliation, Amie has made me laugh. Through many tears, Mom has comforted me. Through many hardships, Grace has supported me. Through so much heart ache, Dad has kept me from falling. They have sustained me. They have all risen to the occasion! They say when you marry, you marry the family. Well then, I am very blessed. The Wolfs have been amazing. They are just incredible people.
We are all dying everyday
I became (unhealthily) obsessed with Heaven after the rupture happened. Reading 90 Minutes in Heaven was so enthralling to me. Now that I was recently given the Kindle, I am refraining from downloading every book I can on the subject. I think I was so infatuated with Heaven because I knew how easily I could have been there. I think understanding where we are going is crucial to understanding where we are today. I love the verse in Ecclesiastes, “God has set eternity in our heart.” I think we all desire to know that there is something beyond ourselves. – Something that will live on in eternity. Whether today or in 60 years, we will all die. It is very important to know where you are going. I am so glad that I know.
In life there are problems beyond our control. Don’t create more!
I feel very strongly about this one. Horrible things happen in life – TRUE problems. What happened to me is one of those. However, I think so many times we make mountains out of molehills. Things like petty gossip are ridiculous. Let the little things go. I have a whole new take on the expression, ‘well, if it’s not life or death…’. I have a friend who says that, “there are people who have problems and there are people who wish they had problems”. A mentor of mine says that “there are people who have problems and people who manufacture problems.” Amen and Amen.