six years

Feb 20, 2018

It is early morning on February 20, the sixth anniversary of my hip injury. The thoughts and emotions and heartache and joy and pain and gratitude of the past six years are swirling around in my soul. I can’t actually capture the magnitude of this experience in our lives, but I want to try to share some of my thoughts so I can always remember this moment of the journey.

We are at a place I didn’t know we would ever arrive. Over the past six years, I have been in wheelchairs, braces, splints, and tape continuously. At least one, and usually many at the same time, body parts have been injured and needing to be held together. Hips, sacrum, ribs, wrists, hands, ankles, feet, knees, jaw, vertebrae, elbows, shoulders, and face along with all the muscles and fascial layers associated with those joints. Thanks to hundreds of stem cell injections, I have been out of all my braces since August and have been out of tape since late December. I am actually, factually exercising multiple times a week – muscle building is happening!

AND I BOUGHT A BIKE! Yesterday, in honor of this sixth anniversary, I decided to celebrate in a big way and buy an upright bike. Last week while I was in San Diego after my stem cell treatments, Tami and I rented cruiser style bikes to ride from the beach to a darling restaurant we discovered in January. We rode about a mile and I was in HEAVEN!

It was hard as heck on my leg muscles, but it didn’t hurt my pelvis, so the wheels in my brain started churning. I came home and talked to Jeremy, my amazing PT, about biking. He initially vetoed the idea saying there is no way my pelvis could handle the force of being upright on a bike. After looking at crank forward bikes (which use a very different geometry from normal upright bikes), talking with Jeremy some more, and testing out all our local options, I found a bike that doesn’t hurt my pelvis AND I BOUGHT IT!

This beauty is the Felt Verza Cruz. It has crank forward pedals that open up the hip area, an adjustable, giant, comfort seat that can slide on that funky, curved seat post, and an upright handlebar position so I don’t have pressure on my very weak elbows and wrists. For any of you locals, Dave’s Bike Shop has them in stock and will take care of you.

Yesterday, Keziah and Fisher loaded up the trailer with all the bikes and we went over to the lake to ride in the 20 degree frigidness. It was SO cold. AND it was so fun to be on a bike and riding with my kids.

In a time I almost cannot remember, we were a cycling family. We rode our bikes everywhere, violin lessons, the grocery store, the park. In the first year we were married, Richard and I sold his old Hyundai and bought bikes so we could ride all over Boise. When Blythe was born, we bought a bike trailer and hauled her around with us. In the evenings, I would take my bike out and ride 10-30 miles on a regular basis. It was my time to be with God. Thirteen years ago, I had to stop riding my upright bike after my pelvis was damaged in a car accident when I was 40 weeks pregnant with Fisher. I didn’t let that keep me from cycling for long – when Fisher was about a year old I bought a high racing recumbent bike and happily rode my cares away many a night until that fateful February day in 2012 when everything changed…seemingly forever.

I have held on to that recumbent bike as a symbol that I would not give up the hope of healing. Doctor after doctor told me I would never ride it again and I should sell it. But I held on to that dream of someday getting back on my recumbent. But I never once believed I might be able to ride an upright bike with my family again.

And now I am. Not a normal upright, but an upright nonetheless. It is a miracle. An absolute miracle.

And so today, my heart is full and my eyes are leaking tears of gratitude. While I have a long, long way to go to get my body strong and functioning well again, right now I am grateful for the past six years of beautifully hard challenges.

  • My Heavenly Father’s tender care. He has whispered to my heart to trust Him. He has held me when my soul has been wracked with grief. He has taken away pain. He has sent angels, both earthly and heavenly, to minister to me. Oh, how I love Him.
  • Richard. This man. This magnanimous, gentle, full-of-love-for-me superhero. He would never think of himself as a superhero, but he is. He takes care of me with a steadfast, patient, always encouraging love that gives me wings to fly even if I’m stuck in bed.
  • My amazing children. Oh, the tears. These kiddos have been through a lot. They have had to watch their mother seize on the floor, speak incoherently, be carried out of buildings, and sob her soul out. They have had to be cooks and cleaners for years. They have put up with an often cranky mama, endless doctor’s appointments, and a lack of stability in their lives for a long, long time. The other night when I was trying to express my gratitude to them, Keziah said, “I don’t really remember life before you were injured, so this just seems normal and not a big deal.” Mom being injured is their normal and they have adapted beautifully. There have been hard days, really hard days of broken hearts and angry words, but there have also been many days full of laughter, learning, and a whole lotta love. I am so, so proud of them and the people they have become over the past six years.
  • My extended family. My mom and siblings and my dad and my aunts and uncles and cousins have blessed my life so much. They have paid for treatments, sent encouraging notes, prayed for me, cleaned my house, nurtured my children, and so much more. They have shown me the power of family again and again. My mom especially has gone above and beyond. She is fighting her own huge battles and she has showered me with love and encouragement on a nearly daily basis.
  • My absolutely incredible friends. I am richly blessed to have a huge community of homeschooling friends who have wrapped me up in their hearts and taken care of our family. We could not have walked this journey without them. Meals, hugs, rides, and rescues are just the tip of the iceberg. So frequently on my darkest days, a friend would come and lift my spirits or love on my children, and that would be a lifeline to get us through the hard. Many, many events and activities have been interrupted by my having a seizure or by another of my body’s needs and people have responded with love and patience every time. My dear friends have listened and laughed and cried and mourned and hoped and dreamed and everything in between. They are amazing. Oh, how I love the amazing women in my life. I’ve also been deeply touched by my church and online communities. I cannot express how life-giving the words and hugs and meals and encouragement have been. So many times when I didn’t know how we would go on, someone would reach out with a heart full of love and somehow we would make it through.
  • Stem cells and all that goes with these amazing treatments – the miraculous healing they have given, the money for treatments, and the many trips to Mexico that Tami has left her family for, taken care of me, and been a superhero in all the ways. She has sacrificed much and I’m so, so grateful. There is no way I could have done this without her. Oh, how I love her! Dr. Calzada’s treatments have given me a life again. When I first saw him in January 2015, I was hardly able to digest food, was having seizures on a regular basis, could not bend my hip more than 150ish degrees, had a torn LCL along with many other injuries, and had little hope of ever improving. I had been on a continuous downhill spiral with my neurological symptoms getting worse each month that went by. Each injury made my nervous system more hypersensitive and there seemed to be no way to prevent the injuries as simply rolling over in bed would dislocate multiple joints. I have been blessed to be able to go to Mexico 11 times. Each trip has been hard and wonderful and painful and full of healing. I’m so grateful for the miracle God has given me and the help that has been showered upon me to enable me to go.
  • My ancestors. On March 27, 2012 I was given a powerful priesthood blessing in which God asked me to find my ancestors and do their temple work for them. I was incredulous that He would ask anything of me when I couldn’t even walk and I was angry that He wouldn’t heal me on the spot and instead was asking me to spend my very limited time finding dead people that I didn’t care about at all. My attitude quickly changed and I fell in love with my ancestors. Researching my family lines, spending time in the temple, and orchestrating an army of people who are helping me do the ordinance work, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. My ancestors are now dear friends. I know they have helped carry me through the past six years. They have spoken words of comfort to my soul, taken away the pain of injury, and protected our family from multiple tragedies. I’m so grateful God knew exactly what I needed and asked me to find them.
  • Jeremy, my amazeballs manual therapist. I can’t even imagine where I would be without him. He knows my body and what it needs and is able to put things back in place like a magician. He has stuck with me through injury after injury and patiently helped my body on this crazy adventure. His wisdom, gentle encouragement, and kick-butt skills have been an integral part of getting me to the place I’m at now.
  • The pain. I’m grateful for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain of the past six years. I have many wrinkles on my face that testify of the physical pain. I wish they weren’t there, but I guess they are badges of honor given to those who survive the hard. I hope my level of empathy and kindness have grown in response to the mental and emotional pain. And I’m deeply grateful for the spiritual changes I’ve been blessed with as I’ve come to depend upon God and hear His voice more clearly. The price that I’ve paid to come to know Him more intimately is worth it. I would do it all again to have this relationship with my Heavenly Father.
  • The lessons. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of things I have learned and there is not space or time to recount them all. Here are a few. God loves me. My husband will stick with me through all the mess and yuck and hard. Miracles happen. A smile can change a life. Sometimes a long cry is necessary. Grieving can be beautiful and it is an essential step on the path of healing. People are good and kind and come in all sorts of superhero packages. Covenants with God provide power in my life. Hugs fill my heart. Hope is critical to a soul’s survival. I’m braver than I believed, stronger than I knew, and loved more than I ever knew was possible.
  • Thank you. Thank you for the big and thank you for the small. A huge thank you to each one of you who have blessed my life and walked this journey with me. Thank you for your love, encouragement, friendship, and hope. The importance of your influence in my life and the life of my family is immeasurable. We have needed each one of you and are so, so grateful you have been part of our journey.

    I have no idea what the next year or six years will bring. But on this day, my heart is grateful for where we’ve been, what we’ve gone through, and where we are right now.

    She looked back and marveled how far she had come. She didn’t wonder how she made it. She already knew the answer. Only with God’s help had she powered through. For without His strength, she could do nothing.

    I just read through the past anniversary posts and boy, howdy, it has been a ride. If you want to check them out, here they are:

    2013
    2014
    2015
    2016
    2017 – must have missed writing about it!

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2 Comments

  1. Tami

    Love you lady! Thanks for letting me be along with you for a small part of it. I absolutely love and cherish our time together!

  2. Dorothy

    Oh, Tracy. I have put off reading this. There is so much pain and guilt and heartbreak and overwhelm [for me] in your posts. You’ve asked me at least three times if I had read it and I hadn’t. Now, on March 7, I let it in and it seeped and bled all over my heart. You are a wonderful daughter, a wonderful person, a wonderful friend. A wonderful mother. You are wonderful with words. My heart is so broken for you. And yet, I’m so, so proud of you at the same time. What a blessing you are in all of our lives. It has been difficult – so difficult – to watch you go through these last six years. And yet, somehow, you have held on to faith and hope and courage and worn them like badges . . directly over your own broken heart and body. You have somehow managed to put grace and gratitude and tolerance and even laughter on top of pain and anger and whys and hows. You have taught us all how to navigate through seemingly endless trials. How I adore and love you!