It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and I’m reflecting on the last 7 months of mine and Ryan’s lives. On this day, in August 2018, we faced something that challenged us more than anything else thus far. Tragedy seemed to strike at the most inconvenient time, and we were left with a puddle of blood, exposed bones and tendons, and the choice to have faith or completely lose our minds and freak out.
In psychology, this is called fight or flight.
We can stay and fight to find a solution or we can run away to escape the problem.
Fleeing was not an option. Even if it had been, it was never going to happen. I remember the look in my fathers-in-law’s face the moment he realized this was going to be really bad. He all but dropped to his knees in prayer, and honestly, if we had the luxury of time at that moment, I know he would have fallen to his knees. But, time wasn’t on our side, so he went running praying every step of the way.
We ran, but we didn’t run away. We ran right into the middle of what seemed like an impossible situation.
I’ve only just recently processed the Event that put my husband in a wheelchair, then led him to a little scooter, then to crutches for 8 weeks and eventually to complete healing and the ability to not only walk but to run again. Sometimes, it feels like only a story until I look down and see the question mark shaped scar on his leg.
He says it feels like it happened ages ago. But to me, it feels like it happened just yesterday.
Exactly 213 days ago, Ryan was rushed to the emergency room for a major life-threatening injury.
We had been working at our previous office building, and after taking a final review of the building, he found a large window pane of glass that needed to be removed from the premises. In their efforts to move the glass, mind you being so incredibly careful, the glass didn’t cooperate and shattered into a million pieces – One piece being the ultimate culprit of what would be a very messy situation.
Ryan didn’t feel the chunk of glass as it sliced through his lower leg, carefully avoiding all major arteries but completely severing two important tendons needed for everyday activities like walking, stepping over things, running, and simply moving your foot from left to right. That one single piece of broken glass caused more damage than we could have imagined in that little moment.
Away in a different part of the building, I was helping Ryan’s father move some tables when his phone rang, and all I could hear on the other end was
“Oh My Gosh!!!”
“You need to come now!”
That’s when we ran. We ran as fast as we could to meet him at the entrance of the building. I had no idea what had happened. I just knew it was bad. I was standing in the elevator next to my father in law listening to his desperate prayers for Ryan to survive this and be okay. When the doors opened, I saw Ryan laying there in a pool of blood on a moving cart. The bones in his leg were completely exposed. He was white as a ghost, and everyone looked like they were going to pass out.
I honestly don’t know how we were able to pull off the next 30 minutes of this story. This, in my opinion, and deep in the core of my soul, is what I believe to be the first miracle.
I have to stop here and mention the adrenaline rush that went through my entire body. You know how a mother when prompted can protect her child from anything with that instinctual adrenaline rush. Like how they can lift a car or scare away a bear. That’s the only thing I know how to compare this to. That was the level of adrenaline that was rushing through me. I suddenly felt this incredible calm, like ya’ll… I’m not a calm person, but in the most drastic situation of my life, I was THE DEFINITION of calm, cool, and collected. So was Ryan’s dad. It was like we had been training for this moment our entire lives.
His dad drove us to the emergency room, and Ryan sat in the passenger seat. I sat between them on the middle console and tied a belt around his leg to stop the bleeding. It was close to midnight, with tons of roadblocks and construction, and without a map or Siri to navigate us, my father in law got us there in record time. I’m pretty sure he ran every light and by the grace of God, everyone around us seemed to understand that we were in FIGHT mode, literally fighting for Ryan’s life.
I’ll never forget hearing my husband, my rock and my protector, say “I’m fading guys… You need to go faster.” And the look on his face when he handed me his health card and driver’s license because he thought he would pass out before getting to the ER… You don’t forget things like that. Maybe that’s why it still feels just like yesterday.
I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but when we arrived at the hospital, and the doctor who was casually standing at the check-in desk immediately yelled for help when seeing Ryan, my fears were confirmed.
He was in real trouble.
During the next hour or so, we would learn that what we thought was skin hanging down was actually those 2 very delicate tendons that I mentioned earlier. We would learn that nothing was broken, and the doctor would tell us that he would have rather Ryan broken the bones in his lower leg than severing these two tendons.
We would find out that he would need skin grafting and that it was a real possibility it wouldn’t work the first time. I would go on to sit beside Ryan’s plastic surgeon and observe for the next 4 hours as he put in around 200 stitches to patch up the dearest person in my life. We would be told that it’s another real possibility that Ryan may never walk again and that he would definitely never run, play soccer, or golf again.
All of our dreams of having an active family with Ryan teaching our kids how to play soccer, golf, run and ride a bike seemed to disappear at that moment.
Again, fight or flight.
This was not happening to me, but it was happening to half of me. It was happening to the half of me that I relied on for so many things. It was happening to him, and I swear… I would have given absolutely everything to have traded places with him.
At 6 am the next morning, after 4-5 hours in surgery, Ryan woke up, and we were discharged. They sent us home with a little slip of paper and a phone number. It was now our responsibility to book him an appointment with the surgeon of our choice in the next few weeks so that they could cut back into his leg and reattach the tendons if they were able to be mended.
Let me remind you that we have no background in medicine. I’ve pretty much always done whatever a doctor has advised me to do, but when he told me to find my own surgeon and set up an appointment for surgery, I had to carefully hide my crazy and tuck back in every ounce of southern charm that was welling up inside of me and say OK.
Even though, I had a pretty clear vision of the nurses/doctors/health care providers always handling things like scheduling major surgery, I figured this was just the way the healthcare system worked up here and accepted the challenge to do something honestly no wife, mother, husband, or anyone other than those qualified should have to do. Free healthcare or not, we should not have been searching for a surgeon in our downtime hoping to find the one that would make him walk again.
That being said, we now come up to our next miracle.
Remember how I started this story talking about us being at our previous workspace? Well, our new workspace was purchased from an individual who was directly connected to all of the major surgeons in that area. He had the kind of access that people just don’t have when it comes to medical professionals. He found out about Ryan’s accident, and within a few hours, we connected with a surgeon.
This wasn’t just any surgeon. He was the surgeon who specialized in repairing the two tendons that make your foot go left and right. He had done this surgery many times before, and he was fully confident that it would work and that Ryan would go on to do all of the things he had dreamed of before the injury.
I’ll never forget the way the hairs stood up on the back of my neck with the surgeon said, “It is my personal and professional responsibility to make sure that you not only walk again but that you run again and go on to teach your children how to play soccer one day.“
And with tears in my eyes as I write this next part, I am so thankful. I am so grateful. I appreciate this man who repaired my husband’s tendons so much, and beyond that, I thank God for leading us directly to him. During this journey, I refused to believe that Ryan would never walk again. I just couldn’t bear the thought, and I handed over the weight of that to God.
Our friends, our family, our church, our work colleagues, missionary partners, everyone we knew was praying for Ryan to make a full recovery.
During the first 2 weeks of Ryan’s recovery, we received around 10 edible arrangements from friends all over Canada and the U.S. We were getting messages and get well wishes from all over the world.
We had so much love coming our way that being positive became our natural instinct. I had so many messages from women who were encouraging ME during this process that I honestly was left speechless time and time again.
I remember feeling ashamed when I would be tired or get a little squeamish when changing the dressings on his wound. How could I complain when he was the one going through this? And yet, God knew my heart, and He knew my needs and sent people in my direction to give me the encouragement I needed to continuing Fighting for Ryan to make a full recovery.
In the last 7 months, Ryan has accomplished so much in terms of recovery.
He is walking again.
He doesn’t even have the slightest limp.
He is jogging on a low-impact treadmill regularly.
He is kicking a soccer ball when he gets the chance.
He just played a round of golf with his dad.
And just today, he began agility training to start using his leg to its fullest capacity again.
Not only that, but we have made so much progress in our personal lives during his recovery process.
We listed our condo, had it staged and sold it pretty darn close to asking price. We looked at close to 50 houses before finding the one, and we moved in, furnished it, and unpacked all of our things.
We moved into our offices at work, and Ryan led the design and renovation teams as the building turned into a completely new space.
We were able to travel to all the places we normally travel for the holidays and even squeezed in a trip to the Bahamas before Christmas. We made it to Nicaragua, and Ryan was fully healed and able to serve and speak to 80 Pastors at a special breakfast.
We even joined a gym and have made it a goal to get our overall health and fitness back to a place where we feel comfortable and confident again.
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
I’ve never known how true that was until after going through this experience with my husband and our families.
We are so blessed.
Even when it felt like the crappiest situation ever, we knew we were blessed. We knew God would make a way. And we trusted that He would figure out what we couldn’t.
I never doubted that Ryan would walk again.
I think I always knew that God would make a way. I refused to even picture a life where Ryan would not have complete and miraculous healing. I rejected all other ideas.
Even when he was laying there those first few nights, crying out, and when none of the medicines were touching the pain, I knew he would get through this. I had peace about it, which is easy for the one without the massive wound on their leg to say... But the same calm that I had the night that this whole journey began, it stayed with me.
I believe that was the sweetest gift God could have given me during this.
When the first surgeon told us that his fate would mean being wheelchair bound or walking with a severe limp for the rest of his life, the only real emotion I felt was anger, and it was not anger at God. It was anger at the surgeon for not having enough faith in God to even give Ryan a fighting chance to pursue his dreams and our plans as a family. That anger is probably what fueled my fighting spirit, and that’s probably about the time God decided to give me strength.
Sharing Ryan’s story on the blog is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but the timing didn’t feel right until today. I thought his 6-month review would be the right time, but it wasn’t. For whatever reason, and I’m sure there is a reason, I’m sharing it today.
I know there was medicine involved in the healing and recovery process that Ryan experienced. I also know that without the healing touch of our Father, the Ultimate Healer, Christ Jesus, that he would not be as far along in his recovery as he is today.
I respect medicine, but I trust miracles more.
I don’t know why God allowed this to happen to us, mainly to Ryan, but I do know that through this, He allowed us direct access to seeing miracles happen with our very own eyes. I am grateful that this is the outcome of Ryan’s story, and I am so thankful that God intervened time and time again.
If you are facing a fight or flight situation, if you are wanting to desperately run away from the worst thing you’ve ever heard, I want to give you hope.
I want you to consider that you are capable of fighting for a miracle, or full recovery, or whatever it is that you need to call it to make it worth it. I believe that God can give you a miracle even if you don’t get full healing or a full recovery. The miracles that we experienced were wrapped up in hope every single time. Ryan’s recovery was simply the icing on the cake. God used a horrible accident, a disaster really, to show us that He is real. He is good. And He is always listening.
Don’t just have courage, have faith.
– the Wife
Watch Ryan’s Journey to Recovery and all that God has allowed him to do post-injury in the little slideshow below 🙂