Tuesday, April 28, 2015


The earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday is devistating. 4600 people lost their lives, rescue efforts are still taking place, homes, buildings, and historical places were reduced to rubble in an instant.

Waking up to the news of this earthquake brought back a rush of anxiety and fear.

On January 12th, 2010, one day before my onset, was the earthquake in Haiti. I was aware the earthquake had happened, I read updates, and even made a small donation to Red Cross to help with the rescue efforts. What I was unaware of was the fear that this earthquake, that happened 2,800 miles away, would instill in me.

When I was hospitalized on the 13th, I was paralyzed from the neck down.  My next 8 days were spent in the ICU.  The first few days I had no movement in my arms. Everything was done for me, feeding, drinking, adjusting a pillow, turning on the TV, coughing .... EVERYTHING.  This was a tough adjustment as I assume it would be for everyone. Everything took such effort. I didn't eat much because chewing and swallowing were actually exhausting. I also didn't eat much because I felt embarrassed to have to be fed. Just hours before I was feeding my 11 month old son and now I couldn't move my hand to my mouth. Luckily the complete paralysis in my arms was short lived.

Within a couple of days I was able to barely move my arms. I still couldn't feed myself and I couldn't push any buttons.  This meant I couldn't adjust my bed, turn on the TV, or even call for my nurse. My nurse, Shelby, went on the hunt. She was looking for something I could push to work as my call button. She found a small square pad that had a button inside.  I still couldn't push the button hard enough with my hand, but I could move my arms enough to shimmy my nurse call button up my body and into my mouth, then I had to bite it to actually push the button.

A couple days later, I was able to feed myself again. Like before, chewing and swallowing was exhausting enough, now lifting a fork was as much effort as bicep curling 25 pounds.

Because everything took what little energy I had, I slept a lot as a result.  My family was by my side as often as possible. There were times I asked them or the nurse to turn on the TV. I would watch whatever was being watched by someone else or whatever was left of after the nurse left, because I wasn't able to change the channels.

I remember watching the news one night. It was covering the earthquake in Haiti and had images of dust covered people being pulled out of the rubble. Then they began discussing how a hospital had been destroyed and many people inside were buried. Some where found alive and many more died.

I think this was when true fear set in.

I was paralyzed. I couldn't do anything for myself and my mind raced with horrible thoughts. What if there was a fire? Would someone be able to help me in time?  What if we had an earthquake? What if there was an emergency and the elevators didn't work? How would I get down the stairs? Would I even be remembered if there was an emergency? Or would I be forced to lie helpless in this bed waiting whatever fate was coming.

Since the minute my onset started just a few days earlier, things that were always constant were suddenly not. One thing I could do, that was still effective, was prayer.

And I prayed.

All. The. Time. 

I sang primary songs and prayed when they put me in the MRI tube for 90 minutes. I prayed at night as I fought to stay awake (I felt safer sleeping during the day).  I prayed everytime I took a breathing test that I would pass and I wouldn't have to be put on a ventelator.  I prayed for Jack, that he wouldn't forget me, that he would be happy and safe, that he knew my heart was aching to see him, hold him, kiss him (I was in the ICU 8 days and he wasn't allowed in the ICU). I prayed that my tiny baby in my stomach would be able to grow and develop normally, that he would be ok, that he would stay inside long enough to be born with minimal complications. I prayed for my family and friends who were forced to watch helpless from the side lines. I prayed for my doctors, nurses, therapists, & cna's. I prayed that I would feel comfort. I prayed I could sleep and just for those moments forget it all. I prayed to recover. I prayed and prayed and prayed to recover.


I have known and been taught of prayer my whole life. I'm sad to admit this was the first time I really learned of its true power. My prayers were many. Short prayers, long pleading prayers, and everything in between. I felt comfort every single time. My anxiety left and my body became filled with warmth. I had an overwhelming sense of love.

I was NOT alone.


Since then my prayers have become fewer.  I still say many prayers, long and short and for a variety of reasons, but they are not what they should be. Waking up and reading about the earthquake in Nepal, I am sorry to admit, was the shake I needed. I don't need prayer and it's many blessing any less now than I did then. I need to rely on my Heavenly Father, my Savior, and the blessings of the Holy Ghost. I still need them and the guidance. I need to be better. Other people need the blessings of my prayers. I need to be thankful and I need to express that thanks.

Why do we so quickly forget after the tough times have passed to pray?  Why do we expect answers to prayers only when times are tough?  Why do we only ask for blessings when the road is rough?  Do we suddenly become strong enough to handle things on our own?

I didn't feel the physical shake of the 2800 miles away in Nepal, but I felt it inside.

I'm praying for the people in Nepal as well as the many other people effected by this tragedy and so many others.

1 comment:

Kyle and Tiffany said...

Well said, Steph. We do seem to get a little too comfortable when the going is easy. I guess we should be grateful for those moments that shake us so we can be reminded to focus on the things that matter.