This is the 28th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Julia Putzke (see below for her bio) shares her story.
I don’t know how I sat in that kind of pain all day. By the time my mom came home from work, the swelling in my legs had tripled.
“It hurts!” I cried as she came into the living room.
“Let’s get you a shower,” she said calmly.
I remember the ache in my legs as she pulled me up to my quad cane. I’ve always felt slow in my body because of cerebral palsy, but this made me feel my helplessness. My weakness. Without my mom there, I know I would’ve sat in the pain. As we continued to walk to the bathroom, all I felt was this burning sensation like fire. I remember standing in the shower staring at the maroon wall, crying. I wanted to stay there, to sit in it. The pain was so much.
All my memories after this are foggy. I remember the doctor we went to see telling us he didn’t know what I had. He gave me a shot to see if the swelling would go down. It must have been a few days later when the doctor told us we would need to go to the ER. Fear set in as soon as I heard this. I didn’t know what was going to happen.
During the car ride over, I stared at the blue sky. Everything was as if nothing was wrong. People were going places, doing things with those they loved, and I was stuck in pain. Or at least it felt that way. When we arrived, I remember being wheeled into the emergency room, being parked up against a purple wall. I looked out at all the other people waiting. I felt so small and helpless. I wanted to go home. My family didn’t understand, but the sympathetic looks and strong composure of my dad helped a little.
“We’ll get you a room soon,” he had said.
A room became available at 11PM that night. After I was all settled into the room, and my mom had taken my brother and sister home, a nurse asked if I wanted a Sunny D. I think she then came back with the drink and a brown paper bag, and I think my dad told her, “Thank you.”
I just know I was so drawn to the kindness in her eyes, the compassion. I felt seen, known, and loved. It felt like looking into the eyes of Jesus, even though the nurse had no idea what was wrong. That night, my dad encouraged me to eat, though I had no desire, and the Bologna sandwich with mustard was a balm to the burning within my body.
The rest of the days were a blur. I remember nurses coming in to change my IV at night, the terrible heart burn, no desire to eat or drink, my mom giving me showers, my dad rushing me to the bathroom, my mom telling me I needed to rest, being asked if I wanted to eat a pretzel, trying to stay awake to see the end of Sweet Home Alabama, going to the hospital’s library or computer lab, the doctor telling us he wouldn’t have to lance my leg, my grandma telling me they’d come if it got worse, being told I was I could go home.
I was in the hospital for a week. I don’t remember being told I had Streptococcus, a flesh-eating disease. “They told us you had Streptococcus on the third day,” my mom told me. Looking back on this, I see how Jesus was holding me the entire time. Caring for me in the ways my parents came together through their presence, making sure I was clean and fed.
Protecting me from another form this bacteria can take. I could’ve had gangrene, which comes from opening an opening in the skin as Strep does, but the symptoms seem to progress to more than heat and loss of appetite. Gangrene, the wet kind, comes with swelling and severe pain as I had with cellulitis, but I never experienced pus or oozing that occurs.
I was so loopy on antibiotics I didn’t know what day it was, or that this could of been much more severe.
This was surrender I had no choice but to give into because there was no way I could fight this on my own. Jesus’ love rested on me, and I let him in. I didn’t know him then in 2009 as I do now, but the beautiful thing that gets me so overwhelmed:
He remained faithful. In my doubt and fear and pain, he loved me in my weakness. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. Now, I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT version).
When I think of how much worse the infection could have progressed, I’m so thankful God allowed that week to let me see how he’s always been there and always will be. Even when I couldn’t see. That was the miracle.
Though I couldn’t see if I would make it, I saw his love through the nurse and my parents. It wasn’t just the healing of my legs, but the way I simply received help. I allowed myself to be in the struggle without trying to run away. I resisted a little, like not always wanting to rest, but God’s love was stronger. I needed the pain to see: his faithful love endures all things. Forever.
Julia Putzke lives in Georgia in the United States. Her view on life may be sideways to some, quiet and contemplative even, but it may have something to do with staring at the sky for long periods of time. She also loves life talks and Chai tea. She blogs at Crippled at Your Table, has written a book of poetry entitled He Bled, My End and can be found on instagram at jspar002.