T O R N . . . & . . . B R O K E N
by Susan Siu Grobler | 30 June 2012 | North America
Colorado, United States
It was a day like any other for our snowboarding season, ride hard, learn and practise skills and tricks, and have fun with friends in the process! The jumps at Keystone Resort’s A51 Terrain Park had become like familiar friends to us, so to jump this particular one should have been fine. Something to note is I had being staying up late most nights previous to finish off work for clients in New Zealand...
I remember feeling strangely nervous before hitting the jump that day; I hadn’t felt that feeling before so chose to ignore it. I also remember thinking if I landed the jump feeling the way I did, it would be a miracle. Oh the beauty of hindsight. It was a most surreal few seconds of blurred confusion; the incredibly intense pain that followed when I landed on my right shoulder lacks words to describe. The impact felt physically and mentally numbing, it knocked my mobility to a halt. The extreme impact led me to yell, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ouchie”, laying there helpless, and in disbelief at my inability to motion for help. It was a very humbling and painful experience; one I would never want anyone else to go through.
After being raced down the mountain in a bed sled at the speed of lightning, the medics rushed a wee broken me into the Keystone emergency medical centre. All the medical staff are friendly and professional, and I guess they have to be when you pay US$850 for a two hour visit. They even threw in free Gatorade, a sling and plenty of strapping tape for my shoulder! Analysis showed that I had torn my AC connecting my collar bone with my right arm, the collar bone took such an impact that it pushed through layers of muscle until it poked up and out. Yes, rather gross.
The next day we went to see our friends at Summit Orthopaedics, the surgeon took one look at the right shoulder with a bone poking through and said, “That must be painful for a small person like you? Shoulder injuries are rated grade 1-5, THAT is a 5, so I’m guessing you need much stronger pain killers”. He explained that I would need surgery as soon as possible and expressed his concern about insurance problems they have with Brits, Aussies and Kiwis. Insurance companies often prefer to fly policy holders home for health care because of the extreme American medical bills.
Everything seemed so much more urgent as we were due to fly to Africa in two weeks time, so surgery was vital and flying home was not an option because of the extreme pain prior to surgery.
So we did what we knew to do... we prayed, we called our families on Skype and asked them to pray. Brett’s mum Oban had everyone she knew praying for us, it was an important Facebook update on her page! My parents had the entire church praying for my injury and recovery... it became a worldwide prayer request.
Within a day and half, Brett received an email from our insurance company expressing their “well wishes for the operation and hopes that it all goes well for your wife”. It was a very welcome answered prayer for our insurance worries – this meant no flight home to NZ and no need to cancel our time in Africa. Not to mention that my US$25,000 medical bill would be taken care of.
Surgery was scheduled for three days time. So instead of waiting around twiddling out thumbs, we went to Denver with our good friends Seth & Brooke (and Stuart their super dog), the day before surgery. We explored Denver, stocked up with strong pain killers, Brooke’s green concoction, and had fun the entire day with these guys!
Friday, 16th March; Brett and I drove to Summit Orthopaedics Surgery Centre, and within a couple of hours, I had a new tendon in my shoulder, most likely an American donor. In the afternoon, my friend Brooke came to see me with prune juice (pain killers block you up nicely), herbal remedy and most importantly, flowers.
The next day, with the help of very strong pain killers, we took Stuart walking on Lake Dillon. Brett was chasing Stuart all over the lake, and made me laugh so much that the next day the pain seemed to double. I learnt that after surgery, you should really rest... and not play... despite really wanting to!
My amazing husband is my pillar of strength; waiting on me hand and foot, he organised insurance claims, talking with surgeons about my recovery, tidying and packing up our room as we were about to leave America in four days. In the midst of this madness, I asked him kindly to call insurance to try and upgrade our flights from New York to Johannesburg; the thought of a 14 hour flight in pain after surgery seemed too much to bear. He simply said to me, “I would be surprised if they flinch, but I can try”.
The day before we were to fly out, Brett had organised a surprise birthday party at Pour House Cafe with friends, it was so incredible to see our close friends there, and an amazing spread of beautifully sliced fruit and a yummy chocolate cake Brett had secretly baked the night before! I must have been drugged up well if I didn’t have a clue about such a surprise. In the afternoon, we had a picnic on frozen Lake Dillon with Brian & Aurora, and that night Brett & I hung out at Twisted in Breckenridge. What a birthday treat!
Wednesday 20th January – Day of departure; our plan was to drive to Denver and hang out with Matt & Kate before our flight at midnight to New York. We woke up this particular morning and Brett asks me how I feel. Crying, I honestly tell him, “I am tired, I feel stressed and I am so nervous about flying”. He says, “Same, I’m nervous too”. I ask him, “Why” and he replies, “Because I have to carry all the bags – you can’t carry any”! So again we prayed together and sincerely asked God to have His way in us and through us, that he would prepare a way, cover us with His grace, give us great favour and send His angels to help us along our journey, we also asked that He would grow our faith to believe and trust in Him too.
After meeting our friends on last time at Pour House for an early coffee, we told them about our prayer request and desire to see Jesus in our situation. We really needed a miracle because I was in so much pain and Brett needed help with our luggage (He was nervous about backpacking through Africa when I couldn’t even lift our small camera bag)! Our friends sent us off with their love and support and prayed for us; together we prayed believing for a miracle and believed God would send His angels to help.
Half an hour later, we were doing last minute packing back at the Rode’s house and we get a phone call from New Zealand. Brett comes to tell me that he has good news, “Insurance has approved our request, so we are flying business class to Johannesburg”, I start to get all teary eyed and he adds, “But I have even better news, because we bought a round the world ticket, all our destinations are included as ONE ticket and so they have to upgrade us for all our flights until we go home”, I burst into tears. This time tears of joy and gratitude, and not of distress.
The story gets better – when we arrive in New York just after 6am, we check in at Business to find a mistake in Brett’s ticket. My flight was booked for business class so the lady gave me a lounge pass, but his seat was in economy so no lounge pass. Hmmm, the whole idea was for us to sit together so he could look after fragile, drugged up me. I tried to call our insurance in New Zealand but our case manager didn’t start work for another six hours because of the time difference. Just as the guy on the phone apologises and says he will check our notes while he puts me on hold, our phone cuts out with no money left (we didn’t top up as we were leaving the country).
In the meantime, Brett had gone to the enquiries counter next to check-in. Just as I was beginning to think all hope was lost, a gentleman in a Navy blue suit adorning many tags and lanyards around his neck appeared from nowhere and approach Brett. Remember, this man has no idea who Brett is or who I am, and has no idea about our hiccup situation which had been happening for the last five to ten minutes. “Don’t worry, it’s all sorted, just go and re-check in”, he tells Brett. Brett waves me over to him and tells me what had happened; so we checked in – Brett had no idea who he was or where he went for that matter... we looked at each other and realised it must have been an angel. Our divine appointment came in a most exciting and unexpected way.
The next day we receive emails from our insurance company and travel agent apologising formally for the mistake they made on our ticket. Praise the Lord that he intervened before they could... NZ was still asleep when it was all happening!
Every time I am now able to lift something, use my shoulder, or feel a stiff ache from my rehabilitating right shoulder, I am reminded of God's grace and goodness in my life. I am reminded that it is so easy to take the small things in life for granted, and so easy to forget to stop, take a moment and give thanks to my Jesus for everyday and every moment. For mercy is not getting what we do deserve as sinners, and grace is given what we do not deserve so we can live a life of joy, generosity, and salvation for others.
May we be challenged today to take a moment, give thanks, and not take for granted the everyday small things that make our lives so much bigger and better. And let us love on those who need a bit of uplifting and encouragement, let us learn everyday to live bigger than just ourselves.
Praise the Lord Jesus, for He is worthy to be praised! Your miracle and revelation is only a whispered prayer away.
Photos shot with our equipment from our supporters Canon New Zealand:
Canon 5D Mark II