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Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

Giving Thanks During Difficult Times

If you have something you want to do, go for it now, for you don’t know what tomorrow brings.

On Oct. 11, 2004, in the pitch-black morning of Anchorage, Alaska, while getting into the car to go to work as an RN, I was jumped.

Someone brutally assaulted me and stabbed me 10 times. Left on the street to die, I lay paralyzed from a puncture wound in the neck to the spinal cord.

In the quietness of the sleepy morn, as if with a microphone, I bellowed out, “Help! Call 911 immediately, I’m badly hurt!”

 

I shouted as loud as possible, over and over again. My only chance at survival was professionals in an ambulance.

No one came. I tried to help myself, but could not budge. My voice dropped. Weak, squeaky sounds screeched, “Help! Call 911 immediately, I’m badly hurt.”

An Air Force man appeared. He informed me 911 had been called and said, “I can hear the sirens.”

I couldn’t hear a thing. Blows to the head made hearing tough. Then, the glorious sounds of sirens rang in my ears! I heard them!

I asked the firefighter near my face to call my mother Helen and gave her phone number. I asked him to call work and gave the number.

With support to my neck, they rolled me on my side to place me on a backboard. The bundle of car keys laid right in front of my nose — I thought, “I don’t need them anymore, they can have ’em, I only want to live.”

The rescuers stabilized me onto the gurney. As they lifted me up to the ambulance, my nursing clogs fell off onto the street — “That’s okay; I don’t need them anymore, I just want to survive.

With extreme pressure in my chest, I breathed with great difficulty. I implored, “I can hardly breathe. May I please have oxygen!”

They gently placed a mask over my face. I’d done everything I could to save my life. I relaxed and started to drift off. Vague voices muttered, “Sucking chest wound ...”

Once in the hospital, they breathed for me and resuscitated me with three units of blood. No one knew if I’d make it. Family, friends and priests knelt and pleaded with God for my life. The heavens were stormed with prayers for my survival.

One day, I heard my brother’s voice. He whispered into my ear, “Deb, doctors say you’ve been stabbed three or four times.”

With a tube down my throat and eyes unable to open, I thought, “Oh! That’s what happened!′

Later, I heard him utter, “Deb, doctors say you’ve been stabbed five or six times.” And later, “Seven or eight times,” and then, “Ten times.”

I started to wake up. Tubes, wires, IVs, stitches, bags and prayers kept me alive. Three members of the medical staff turned me in bed every couple of hours.

There was no position of comfort. Smells of food and broths nauseated me. I tried my best to smile. One physical therapist sang, “Turn that frown upside down.”

Blessings, prayers and time brought small movements back. One outstanding day, I held my head up. And with that, my vision improved. I saw out the windows again! The beautiful Alaska Mountain Range, covered in snow, appeared before me. What a grand day!

Eventually, I sat with little support and, after lots of hard work, I took my first steps. Each little recovery brought more and more smiles of thankfulness.

The title of a magazine article read, “Give Thanks in ALL Things.” I began a daily gratitude list: “Oh Father, I’m so thankful to be bathed today ... I’m so thankful to see the eyes of those who visited today.”

Daily gratitude writings kept depression and despair away. At five months, a complete shift came. I expressed gratitude for another opportunity to live.

Once I appreciated my new situation, contentment came. There’s no greater treasure than contentment.

To pass trials or hard times, keep a gratitude list.

Originally Published in the Self Narrate Column in the Gainesville Sun

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