NO CHAL­LENGE TOO GREAT

Activated - - NEWS - BY IRIS RICHARD IRIS RICHARD IS A COUN­SELOR IN KENYA, WHERE SHE HAS BEEN AC­TIVE IN COM­MU­NITY AND VOL­UN­TEER WORK SINCE 1995.

The voices seemed muf­fled as I slowly woke out of the anes­the­sia fol­low­ing a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure on my back.

I heard the doc­tor’s gloomy prog­no­sis: “She might not be able to live a nor­mal life and cer­tainly she shouldn’t have any chil­dren with a se­ri­ous back con­di­tion like this.”

Another con­curred: “She might be con­fined to a wheel­chair from the age of 30 if the sco­l­io­sis keeps pro­gress­ing as rapidly as it has been.”

When I reached home later that day, I locked my­self in my room and sat by the win­dow for hours, star­ing out at the gray, cloud-laden sky as tears rolled down my cheeks. All I could think of was spend­ing life in a wheel­chair.

I was twelve when I was di­ag­nosed with a se­ri­ous case of sco­l­io­sis in three parts of my spine. The di­ag­no­sis was fol­lowed by count­less doc­tor and hos­pi­tal vis­its. The sco­l­io­sis rapidly wors­ened. To slow the progress of the cur­va­ture, I be­gan sleep­ing in a plas­ter mold and wear­ing a thick plas­tic corset dur­ing the day.

The song went out of my life, and I be­came shy and with­drawn, for fear of my crooked spine be­ing no­ticed. I wore loose-fit­ting clothes to try to hide the slight hump that had formed on the right side of my back due to the cur­va­ture. But de­spite my de­spair, an in­ner voice en­cour­aged me to not give up, and even­tu­ally, af­ter months of hard train­ing at phys­io­ther­apy, the progress of the sco­l­io­sis started to slow down.

With time, my faith in God also in­creased, and I re­al­ized that prayer was aug­ment­ing my suc­cess in achiev­ing my life’s goals, de­spite the set­backs this chronic con­di­tion kept throw­ing at me. God sent spe­cial peo­ple into my life, like a gifted mas­sage ther­a­pist who helped me for years with her ser­vices and friends who as­sisted me dur­ing the de­liv­ery of my seven chil­dren. I learned to live pos­i­tively with this phys­i­cal chal­lenge and even im­prove my health. The forecast of be­ing con­fined to a wheel­chair thank­fully never ma­te­ri­al­ized, and the sco­l­io­sis hasn’t wors­ened.

Now, al­most 50 years later, I am grate­ful for the ob­sta­cles that I learned to over­come. Prayer is what has given me vic­to­ries over what seemed like life-threat­en­ing defeats.

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