It’s been seven months since I last blogged. I know droves of readers have been waiting anxiously, refreshing their inboxes and wondering why a Wednesday “Flat On My Back” update has not come in awhile. I just wanted to individually apologize to all parties involved that noticed the lack of reading material.
2014 was coming to a close and I could not wait for what 2015 held. I was back in class. My future plans looked a bit more concrete. I could not wait to start the year.
Then this happened:
Now, I realize a picture of me flat on my back fits nicely with the name of this website. But the name of the website is meant more to convey where I spend quite a bit of time. I did not envision the phrase to encompass where I spent ALL my time. For six entire months.
On December 25th a pressure sore was discovered. (Merry Christmas to me!) It was caused in large part from sitting in the same position for too long. The only remedy is to do the opposite.
Which means lying in bed.
For a long time.
I was left to stare at the ceiling for hours on end each day waiting for skin cells to grow back, which I can now vouch is a much better play on words than watching paint dry. The treatment called for no more than two hours in the wheelchair between extended periods in bed.
The fact that the start of the year kicked off my first time being back in online classes at the University of Cincinnati meant that nearly every precious minute I had upright was spent rushing through a textbook, writing an essay, or studying for an exam, while obsessively glancing at the clock watching my two hours dwindle as if it was a time bomb.
This healing process would not have normally taken so long, but other factors came into play extending the process. A few other health-related conundrums popped up, one after another.
The months involved multiple doctor appointments. A couple of trips to Urgent Care. A hospital visit for a procedure that consisted of a team of five people essentially dropping me while manually transferring me out of my wheelchair.
I canceled plans one after another. Missed friends’ weddings. Rarely could respond to email or the phone. Sequestered in my room in my bed for months on end, I felt more isolated from the outside world than ever before.
On top of increased pain and mental gymnastics, my body would shake throughout the night as if I was being electrocuted. This left me awake night after night staring at the ceiling, wondering how much longer this could possibly take, if I would go crazy before it ended, and dreading the next day of this view:
I never thought anything could rival the four-month stay in the hospital after the accident when my world was turned upside down. That may have been grueling, but my memory of it is foggy at best thanks to being drowned in medication. The first half of 2015 tested me like never before.
Jesus never promised life would be easy, but I found myself thinking, “Can’t I catch a break?” Lying on my back in the middle of the night, I contemplated the truths of the Bible: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial…” “Consider it pure joy when you encounter trials of various kinds.”
I knew my perspective needed to change. James 1 promises that these trials develop perseverance and make me mature and complete. As these trials would move into the rearview mirror I could trust God was using them for my ultimate good.
Thankfully however, slowly but surely healing began to take place.
Is everything perfect now?
I’m still mostly unable to leave the house, thanks to my body’s intolerance of the jostling of a car ride. The tightness in my body, especially my chest and shoulders, often leaves me tense, on edge, and unable to concentrate on the person in front of me or the task at hand. I’m still frequently left staring at the ceiling for hours in the middle of the night which leads to sleep deprivation and zoning out mid-conversation as my eyes drift shut on the person in front of me.
But you know what? I’m thrilled. I do not have to lie in bed all day anymore.
My perspective is much different and I’m incredibly thankful. Plus, it’s been a great month.
Here are a few of the highlights…
I’m enjoying being able to focus my time away from the ceiling and more on classes that actually interest me. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have loved plugging away this summer on Microsoft Excel for my Real Estate Finance class. (Cue the nerd jokes.)
I finished off the school year meeting with 16 high school guys, culminating in what was one of the most rewarding days of my life.
After being isolated in my room for the better part of the year, I have finally gotten to get outside and enjoy some sunlight, often with my sister who is back home after finishing up her junior year of college.
I reconnected with high school friends in town for our 13th annual fantasy football draft.
My grandparents were in town for a week and I got to spend hours talking with my grandpa. I heard about old family stories, his time serving our country in World War II and the Korean War, and received some in-depth lessons on the stock market.
And then this happened.
But I’ll save that story for the next blog…
Contact info: Ryan.S.Atkins@Gmail.com
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