My daughter, Meaghan, has been diagnosed with an advanced case of major double scoliosis. The diagnosis came so fast and so unexpectedly, my husband I decided to wait and watch three months to see if her curve would worsen.
It did indeed—a whooping 8* in a very short amount of time.
“If you don’t get the brace now,” our MD advised us in late January, “I will likely refer you to a spinal surgeon at Johns Hopkins to have metal rods put in her back.”
After I took screen shots of a spine so bent and crooked it took my breath away, I took the mound of paperwork from the doctor, thanked him for his conscientiousness, and walked to the parking lot towards my fire engine red Ford passenger van. As I turned the key in the ignition, I felt my shoulders slump and my head hang. I mentally tabulated the emotional, physical, and financial toll the next few months would bring.
I fought off tears and then this line from John 19:36 popped into my brain:
“For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of him shall be broken.”
It was like a prophecy that hit me square across the jaw.
I put the car in drive and started down the road.
“Ok, Lord. Straighten her crooked spine,” I prayed silently.
I’m told the type of medical device we ordered is so advanced that it won’t simply keep the spine from worsening (like the braces of yonder years) but will indeed made her crooked paths straight.
“Are you serious?” I asked the technician at our initial appointment for Meaghan to be fitted for the plastic contraption that will become her constant companion and undergarment.
“As a heart attack,” she said. “These braces are the latest and greatest in medical technology and if she commits to wearing this device, it will fix Meaghan’s scoliosis,” she exclaimed, barely able to contain her excitement.
I nodded my head, hopeful but not convinced. Still, the convicted pronouncements from both the medical doctor and the orthotics staff are hard to ignore.
Yesterday at 11 am we arrived at the orthotics and prosthetics clinic so Meaghan could be fitted for a brace. Meaghan, a huge fan of Wonder Woman, had picked a patriotic star pattern to decorate the plastic device that she will wear 23 out of 24 hours of the day.
“I love it,” she exclaimed when the technician showed her the brightly colored print.
“Doesn’t it look like Wonder Woman’s belt?” the technician asked. Meaghan beamed back at her.
“Yes! I just love it,” she repeated.
It looks like a mid-evil torture device, I thought but grinned to hide my negative thoughts. I can’t imagine having to wear that piece of plastic on my body for 23 hours a day.
I followed them both back to a room where Meaghan was asked to try on the newly fabricated made just for her device. The first go around was so uncomfortable, Meaghan yelped in pain.
Tears stung my eyes.
I could see her flesh beneath the plastic bunch, twist, and redden. I could see her struggle to breath. I felt angry at God.
Where are you? I asked silently.
After a few minutes, the technician peeled the brace off of Meaghan. I saw her entire body relax.
“Don’t worry, Meaghan, the tech assured her. “I’m going to adjust this, so it fits much more comfortably. We’re going to work this out. Let me go cut this thing so it works better for you. It will take me some time so go hang out in the lobby.”
Meaghan smiled at her and wandered out of the room. I sat there feeling kind of stunned, still shaken from the pinching skin and my child’s obvious discomfort.
How are we going to do this for 23 hours for the next 365 days? I wondered. I felt myself slip into the pit of self-pity.
“Do not worry about tomorrow!” came the command.
It was another line from scripture placed gently before my mind to consider. This one is from Matthew 6:34 and the full line reads, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
It was true, I was a bundle of nerves, worried everything imaginable: the new kinds of clothes we needed to buy for her, how this was going to affect her extracurricular activities, the mounting medical costs, how the brace would affect her life at school, her social encounters, and everything anything else I might possibly obsess about.
I pondered the invite to not worry for a moment.
Would happen if instead of focusing on the negative things—my current mode of operation—I praised God for the positive parts? I decided to do a test run:
Thank you, Lord, for the sports physical that I initially complained about having to get but am now so grateful for because this was how we discovered her severe curve.
Thank you, Lord, that you answered my prayer for a good orthopedic doctor, who I felt right away was the right person for this job.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful medical technician who is so kind and loving to Meaghan.
Thank you, Lord, for health savings accounts and payment plans and for providing us with exactly what we need when we need it.
Thank you, Lord, for support groups for girls with this diagnosis and for all the emotional support and friendships it will provide.
After just a few moments of thanks, the air in the room felt thinner.
I could breathe better again.
The anger was gone because, hello, Jesus had never left either of us but had been with us this entire time.
The room seemed brighter, not nearly as dark and drab as it had when I entered.
“Ok,” I said to myself. “I’m not going to worry about tomorrow, I’m just going to get through the appointment today.” And that’s what I did. We all made it out alive, Meaghan still were her flesh in tact.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in denial. Meaghan and I are on a long road for the next year and I know it.
But we’re not walking the road alone.
He is with us, guiding our every foot step. Our path with Him has never been crooked. He will make her bones and my attitude straight.