I remember the sound like it was yesterday. The loud snap rang in my ears and I collapsed. I held my foot in my hand as it was hanging completely sideways. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. All I whispered was “Jesus please help me”.
Time moved forward from that scary moment, yet all it took was that moment to alter how I lived for the next several months, and how I look at life now for years to come.
It was the day September 1st, 2014 and the day before my birthday. I had the day off due to Labor Day holiday. At the time I was working 2 jobs, a full time graduate student, teaching assistant for the dean, research assistant for a professor and volunteer at church in 2 departments. My plate wasn’t full; my plates were full. My commute from job to job, school, and everything in between left me driving 5 hours a day. But I was working towards my goals. Everything was planned out for a good Fall ’14 semester back to school. But life happened. Life really happened. I didn’t just break my foot, I broke my driving foot.
I don’t understand why and exactly how but it was a freak accident working out. I have always been athletic and strong. Growing up, I danced for years putting way more strain on my bones and joints and never had the slightest injury. I could meditate on the questions forever of why my injury happened at the worse time possible, but instead
Honestly when I broke my foot, I felt my world had stopped. It was like stopping a fast moving train with the schedule and pace I had. The screeching halt was more like a crash and burn. The injury broke my heart. My goals and things I was doing in my life mattered to me and they meant something. Depression took over me. The days went by and I couldn’t do my school work. My body was fighting fever daily and I couldn’t do the normal things I wanted to do. The feeling of isolation sunk deep into me.
Two or three Sundays after my injury, I sat on the chair with my laptop watching church service online. I remember the sermon our pastor Joel Osteen preached about not giving up the fight. He said “God will not only give you grace to start but grace to finish”. Finishing grace. Those words touched my heart and tears rolled down my face. Something inside of me came alive and those words gave me life. It lifted me out of a depressed state to give me my second wind.
The next several months didn’t magically change because of that sermon. On top of a daily fever, I had to crawl everywhere I went. Crawling became painful because I would get bruises from the floor tile. I couldn’t take a shower. I couldn’t stand to make food for myself. I couldn’t drive myself to school or work. One of my jobs I couldn’t work at all because it was retail. I didn’t have medical insurance. I got really behind in school. My grad school could kick me out for not making A’s or B’s in my class. Crutches were painful on my tiny shoulders. The doctors became concerned about blood clot in my foot. I could lose my foot with a blood clot. Things that took normally took 15 minutes, would take over an hour to do. Life had altered for me. Fear constantly tried to come in my home. I fought to keep it out the door. But what was different despite the challenges, was that I had peace. I held onto the promise of finishing grace. I wasn’t going to give up. I was going to keep fighting.
My driving foot did eventually heal. It was a process from the cast, to walking in a boot, to walking in tennis shoes, to driving. Driving my first few weeks back was painful. I even had to pull over one time because I couldn’t make it anymore. But I grew in strength each day not just physically but as a person.
My injury changed my life because I learned how to be more grateful. I learned that I had taken advantage of basic things like walking and driving. My eyes opened to get a glimpse of what it is like to have a long term injury or disability. I would not dream to compare my injury to what others go through, but I understand a little now. Things that were not a part of my world became a daily event, like having to find ramps and automatic doors. Those were not always available. I learned to laugh at myself a whole lot more, because I would run into stuff a lot with those bulky crutches. If there was ever an Olympic competition of fastest walker in crutches, I was sure to win the gold! I learned to appreciate time alone and just the peacefulness of silence. Most importantly, I valued the support of my parents, which without their help and prayers; I would have been stuck inside for months taking all day to do things.
At the end of that school semester, nothing much had changed naturally. I still couldn’t drive or walk. It was an uphill battle catching up on school. What was different is that I had dug in deeper into faith than I ever before. When the moment came for me to check my final grades, I prepared myself for the worse. I was certain I was going to be dropped from the program. I looked at the screen and I saw 4.0 semester GPA. That my friend is finishing grace.
Below is a blurry picture from September 1st, 2015. I made a goal (like I am obsessed with doing) that a year after my injury, I was going to stand strong in the roughest shoes out there, pointe shoes. Today September 1st, 2016, I worked out pain free. Yeah I get sore still but I am so much stronger in every way.
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Love, Naomi Noel