Shawn Hendricks: Being Thankful Through All the Aches & Pains

The back brace I wore much of this summer is now collecting dust in the garage. That chair I had to sit on for weeks in the shower is somewhere in a garbage dump. And my running routine has for the most part returned — though I’m more sore on some mornings than others.

It’s been four months since I crushed the T-12 vertebra in my back. To look at me now, you wouldn’t know anything happened and that my life appears to be “back” to normal. But in some ways it’s not — and I remain thankful to the Lord for that.

On July 13, (yes, Friday the 13th) I was preparing for the Spartan, a 3- to 5-mile run with more than 20 obstacles, when my life took a sudden detour. Before getting ready for work that Friday, I thought I could get in some quick training before my morning commute. But while climbing on some outdoor equipment, I lost my grip and fell about 10 feet onto my back.

Though I was able to get to my feet and grimace my way about a mile to the house, I knew the injury was worse than I wanted to admit. Later that day — after a bumpy ride to the emergency room and another bumpy ambulance ride to a different hospital, doctors looked over my X-rays and told me that I came dangerously close to damaging my spinal cord and being paralyzed from the waist down. They thought surgery might be necessary to keep the bone stabilized.

Before my accident, T-12 sounded more like a vitamin than a bone. But it quickly became the difference between life as my family and I knew it and something far different.

But while that broken bone rubbed up a little closer to my spinal cord than I would have liked, doctors later decided it was “probably” stable enough to avoid surgery. They told me I’d have to wear a back brace — an uncomfortable, medieval looking contraption that looked like a cross between a corset and a bullet-proof jacket — every day for the next three months and avoid lifting anything over 10 pounds. After that, everything should go back to normal.

And with numerous doctor visits, physical therapy and many uncomfortable days of wearing that brace, the doctors were right – actually, the bone healed faster than they initially expected.

Still, I think about my fall nearly every day and still cope with occasional soreness in my back and neck. I often think about how if I would have hit the ground a little harder or maybe in a slightly different way, I could be writing this from a wheelchair. Sure, the bone healed, I’m working a regular schedule these days, teaching Sunday School as usual, kicking the soccer ball around with my daughter, and have even returned to a lighter running schedule. With that said, the experience definitely left me changed — and thankful.

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Source: Baptist Press