When I was sixteen years old, like many teenage girls, I was enamored with horseback riding. My parents agreed to let me take riding lessons at a nearby stable. I loved every minute of my time with the horses, until one fateful afternoon. Stable horses being what they are, can get rather jaded toward their riders. I can't say that I blame them. I don't know that I'd want to have countless youngsters jumping on my back, pulling my ears and kicking my sides either. But when you're the rider on a stubborn horse, you could be in for some trouble.
That afternoon we were learning to cantor. My horse was doing fine until he got three-quarters of the way around the ring. He stopped dead in his tracks. I didn't. I bounced right off of him and landed flat on my back. When I opened my eyes I was staring at the belly of the horse and prayed like crazy that he would stay still long enough for me to get out from underneath him. My instructor had me get right back on the beast and try again. Fool that I was, I listened to her. As we approached the same turn I tried to brace myself for another possible stop, but I found myself flying through the air once again. I landed on my back a second time and told my instructor exactly what she could do with the horse.
That evening my father (a physician) was concerned over a possible concussion, so he and my mother kept an eye on me. I really felt pretty good. Embarrassed, but pretty good. It wasn't until a few weeks later that I would discover the real injury I suffered that afternoon in the ring. I was at my boyfriend's apartment and tried to stand up from the couch. I froze about halfway up when it felt like someone had stabbed a knife in my back. I eased myself back down and waited for the pain to go away. I finally made it onto my feet and drove home. My father, being an osteopath, began regular adjustments to my spine. That seemed to help for a while, but by the time I was eighteen I knew I was headed down a long, painful road.
Prior to my nineteenth birthday I had already been fitted with a soft back brace, underwent a myelogram (a nasty procedure that had to have been invented in the Middle Ages), and was placed in traction both in the hospital and at home. The surgeon decided against surgery and for that I was extremely thankful. At times I felt as though I was on fire from my waist down. Other times I experienced weakness, numbness and tingling down my right leg. I decided that my back problem was something I was just going to have to live with for the rest of my life.
I managed pretty well through the years, trying to do what I was supposed to do and not do things that I knew would aggravate my spine. After I was married and Dan and I had tried for such a long time to have a baby, I even started to think that perhaps God knew that my back couldn't handle the extra stress of carrying a baby to term. After almost fifteen years of trying, when I found out that I was pregnant, I put everything in God's hands - including my back. I held up just fine until the last month, and even then there was nothing that a little time in bed wouldn't fix.
By the time our son was born I had already become a person with a back problem and my life reflected that. I owned a cane for those days when my left leg just didn't want to cooperate fully. I owned a special knee pillow to relieve lower back stress when lying down. I knew all the special back exercises and did them whenever I remembered and I wasn't in pain. But as Matthew grew into a very active toddler, things started to change. I could no longer keep my lifting to under 10 pounds. I couldn't rest my back when necessary because I had to meet the needs and demands of my son - something that I had always wanted to do, but was finding it more and more difficult. The day when I had to explain to my teary-eyed toddler that I couldn't pick him up because my back hurt too much I thought my heart would break. But that wasn't the worst of it.
About eighteen months ago I finally agreed to have an MRI done - only because I had access to an open machine, and even then my claustrophobia tried to rear its ugly head. I knew that they would find some sort of problem with my back. But even so I was not ready to hear the reality of the situation.
Apparently one of my discs had indeed ruptured. Part of the disc was protruding outward and irritating my sciatic nerve, causing pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in my left leg all the way down to my toes. But there was another part of the disc that was protruding into the space surrounding my spinal cord. When those words left my doctor's mouth I panicked. After I calmed down a bit he said that he would not recommend surgery immediately, but that if my foot started dragging or if I lost control of my bladder I should give him a call. Believe it or not, I was not encouraged by those words.
Fear took a firm foothold that day. I knew in my heart that God could heal me, but I had a sneaky suspicion that He was going to want to do it through a surgeon's hands this time. I decided that I was simply going to have to be extra vigilant and do everything within my power to keep myself from the surgeon's knife. But things just never seemed to get any better. They would for a few days here and there, but then the pain and numbness would always return. Just a few months ago I was coming to grips with what looked like the unvarnished truth - I was going to have to see a surgeon. I hadn't even had a chance to tell my husband of my decision when God intervened.
About three months ago at the end of another wonderful Sunday morning service, our pastor hesitated just after dismissing us, then he said that he felt that God wanted to heal someone of epilepsy that morning. He hesitated again, and almost as an afterthought said that God also wanted to heal someone's back. My husband looked at me and sent me forward for prayer.
Two of the ladies on the prayer team began praying for me. Within a very short time it felt as though someone had flipped a switch to turn off the pain in my leg. The outer half of my left leg and foot were calm for the first time in I can't remember how long. The ladies finished praying for me and I was in a wonderful daze for the rest of the afternoon - until I realized that my big toe and second toe were hurting me. I sought God about it and felt that He told me to go back for more prayer the following Sunday to get the other half of the problem corrected.
As soon as the service was over the following Sunday I went back to the front for more prayer. This time one of the ladies who had prayed for me the prior week prayed for me with her husband. Within a few minutes I felt cold traveling down the inside half of my leg and the pain and irritation were gone. The gentleman said that he had seen an image of a hand holding or supporting my spine. That evening at our church's anniversary dinner I mentioned what God had done for me to the pastor. I laughed and said I even felt a little taller. A few days later my son suggested that Dan measure me after he had measured Matthew's height. Imagine our surprise when I measured three-fourths of an inch taller than before my healing!
Since God has healed my back I have been able to do everything I want or need to do. I have no more pain in my back or leg and the areas that had lost sensation have been restored. While it is certainly wonderful to be free from debilitating pain, the most precious thing that God has given me through this healing is the ability to hold my son. God has restored my back, but He has also restored my life. I will indeed need all of eternity to thank Him for what He has done for me.
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