God’s Answer to Prayer

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"I've been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day."

- Abraham Lincoln

By Susan Lugli

Within a matter of minutes our lives were transferred from happy and healthy to sad and hopeless. My husband and I barely survived a horrendous motor home accident that would change our lives forever. The first week I was in a drug- induced fog, on the live-or-die list with a shattered back and 48% of my body burned. My husband was 68% burned and in a coma, two rooms from my own with a 9% chance of living.

During my 2-month stay I had many skin grafts and a surgery to fuse my back. I would lie in the hospital, wondering how I was ever going to be able to care for myself again, let alone care for him. I prayed for God to send someone to help me when I was released.

He sent my niece, Vikki, a home health aid, to be with me 24 hours a day for the next 5 months while my husband remained in the hospital. When she first came to live with me, we were not close; but because of her expertise in nursing and my need for her help, our relationship created an everlasting bond.

In the beginning, I was learning to do the simplest of human chores, like walking and eating, so there were many other caregivers in and out of our home too. Each morning, a nurse came to change my bandages, which took 2 hours. In the afternoon, a physical therapist arrived. There were usually five or six people in the house to help out. There were heaps of laundry each day and good meals, which were usually provided by the neighbors. There were appointments to make and keep, and a lot of therapy and exercise to do on our own.

In the midst of it all, Vikki was my protector, mentor, and healer.

I had weekly burn doctor appointments and weekly back doctor visits that usually took 2 to 3 hours because of full doctors’ offices. Vikki taught me how to solve this problem. She put me in the wheelchair, puffed a little powder on my face and told me to drool, as if I didn’t look pathetic enough already! It seemed to work, because they started taking me right in. Through it all, we laughed a lot, and Vikki kept everything going, thank God.

Every fear I had in my life reoccurred with the trauma of this accident, so she not only had to deal with my physical injuries but also my psychological needs. I was such a mess. She taught me to be strong and wouldn’t allow others around me to baby me. She taught me to do things for myself again and many times had to say, “JUST DO IT.” I couldn’t believe her persistence and perseverance. She taught me well that love must be tough, and I remember not liking her many times because she made me do things that hurt. At times, other family members seemed jealous of our relationship. We shared the pain, tears, and sense of humor that it took for me to recover. I trusted the Lord to send me the right person to help me through this experience, and He definitely did.

While all of this was going on at home, my husband was still in the hospital. It took 2 months for him to wake up from the coma, and more months to be in recovery. He had 15 fractures of his head and lost 4 fingers of his left hand, his left eye, and the left side of his face. I knew how hard and painful it was learning to take care of myself, and I knew he would have to go through the same process. I longed for the day I could help him.

It took 9 months for me to be able to be his caregiver. Thanks to my niece, I was able to take care of myself, so we no longer needed a caregiver living with us when he came home from the hospital. He was declared legally blind and at first I was very frightened to be on our own. Vikki had taught me how to help him by making him realize that he is a survivor, not a victim. It was so difficult to watch him struggle learning to dress himself and putting on his shoes with one hand. At times, I felt more like his mother than his wife, and I had little patience. Every movement seemed to be in slow motion. When I felt like giving up, I would tap into all the kindness but firmness my Vikki had taught me. He had to learn to do thing for himself again, and many times I had to say, “JUST DO IT.” I couldn’t believe my persistence and perseverance.

By the grace of God, we made it through those challenging 8 years of healing and rebuilding and we are closer than ever before. We wear our scars as badges of courage and are proud to tell our success story.

My husband often shares how he, too, had laid in the hospital praying that God would send the right person to help him. Then he kisses my cheek and says, “He did. He sent me you.” 

 

This article by burn survivor Susan Lugli was recently published in Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul: Stories to Inspire Caregivers in the Home, the Community and the World. 
Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul: Stories to Inspire Caregivers in the Home, the Community and the World by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and LeAnn Thieman, LPN, was published in July 2004 by Health Communications Inc., ISBN: 0757301592. 
This story is an excerpt from The Phoenix Society’s® Burn Support News, Fall Issue, 2003. Burn Support News is a quarterly publication that contains articles on the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of burn recovery.  All Rights Reserved.
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