Ted (name changed to protect anonymity) was born with back problems due to an underdeveloped spinal cord. He learned of this handicap 52 years later in manner unexpected and unwelcome. This is Ted’s story.
When I was a child at ten years old I used to work on a farm and did a lot of physical work until I was 19. I used to have all kinds of back pain, lower back pain, all my life. Sometimes I could barely walk, but I put the pain behind me and kept on pushing myself. I started drinking right after high school and everything fell apart after that. When I was 19 I rolled my vehicle 8 times. Sometimes I wonder why He didn’t take me back then. A lot of times we don’t know.
During my twenties I was down south and went from job to job through temporary services. I was staying in and out of shelters. I didn’t know what to do with my life. I had back pain all the time.
I met a nice young lady and got married in 1995, had two wonderful kids, and I was the only provider. The type of work I was doing at the time was concrete work, making sewer pipes. It took a toll on my back. My wife could not understand it; to this day she still can’t understand it. It created problems in our marriage and our union ended in 2003. I had nowhere to go so I went into the woods, and spent the next 12 years there. I got my own wood, made my own camp. I thought I was capable of doing everything myself until my back starting hurting, and then would have to lie down for 2-3 days. I needed help. And I needed peace.
In 2015, I finally went to work for a landscaping company. I could not physically meet the demands of the job, and as a result I lost my vehicle and $400 of paid work every week. I just laid all my work down and didn’t tell anybody, and came to Kansas City when someone told me about a doctor here that might be able to help. I scheduled an appointment, but he could not see me for three months. In the meantime, I started working one more time, for a carpet company. That is when I pinched a nerve in my lower back. I couldn’t get up for three days, and again I lost my job.
On the evening of December 27th in 2015, I was at the river all day thinking about my ailments and the pain I have suffered through every day of my life. We had our first ice storm of the winter that day. I couldn’t walk well anymore and my despair reached the highest it had ever been. I was thinking of jumping in the river and getting it all over with. That night at 9 pm I was ready to go through with it. I was on the side of the river and it started raining. As I stood there and was entertaining my final thoughts, the Lord told me no. I heard him in my thoughts. I turned around and started walking toward downtown Kansas City, back to the bus terminal to go to the medical center so I wouldn’t miss my scheduled appointment the next morning, the one I had been waiting to go to for three months.
“I was thinking of jumping in the river and getting it all over with. That night at 9 pm I was ready to go through with it… As I stood there and was entertaining my final thoughts, the Lord told me no.”
As I walked, my leg slipped out from underneath me when I slipped on black ice and my cane went up and hit me beneath my chin. I laid there for about ten minutes, and the bus driver saw me and called 911. They asked me if I could move my legs and hands, did some resistance tests on me, but there was no response at all. That is because I was paralyzed from the neck down. When they got me to the hospital I could barely remember anything until I was out of surgery. They placed two bones in my neck from my hip and I don’t even remember. When I came to, the doctors did not know what would take place. Two days later I could move my hands and feet. They didn’t know if I would ever get out of the wheelchair. The doctors there were so polite and honest about everything. They didn’t even know what to expect of me. I pushed myself; it was almost like breaking bones. I had to learn to eat, feed myself, shower, bathe, and walk again. It was a slow process, but I did it.
When I fell I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was going to be paralyzed from the neck down. All I felt was a burning sensation throughout my whole body. When everything happened it was like a wake-up call. It changed the way I viewed everything in life, and everyday thinking. All through my life He always had a purpose for me; I didn’t know what it was or why He had that purpose for me.
He always does his work according to His plan, not your plan. I believe God told me not to end it all on the side of that river. I also believe my fall was part of a plan to get me off the street, to keep me safe, provide shelter and food while I recovered. After my recovery I was able to receive disability benefits from the government, enabling me to pay for an apartment and get off the streets for good after spending most of the last fifteen years outside. If not for my fall, I would still be on the streets. Now I plan to write and spread the good news of Jesus. God has a purpose for our lives. We just have to see it and seek it.