From high to low and back

How an accident disrupted my life

Photo by gorodenkoff/

4 min read
Evan Schaff, Arizona

On the day of the accident, January 29, I felt like my life was at a relatively high point. I had just gotten home from rock climbing with some friends, I went to confession that afternoon, and was enjoying a nice weekend after wrapping up a four-week project at work.

Immediately after I went over those handlebars and landed on my chin, I entered into what felt like a surreal experience though. I had a hard time grasping the reality of the accident, since I was coming from a place of feeling in control, at peace and very happy in life. But nonetheless, I had fractured my jaw, and that was the reality I had to face. So, I went into autopilot mode and took care of things in logical order: called the cops to make sure I had no concussion, got a ride with them back to my apartment, called my mom, got cleaned up, drove to the ER, had X-rays and CAT scans done, etc.

But while I was waiting for four hours in the ER, it all started to sink in, and I began to feel small, powerless, and frankly a little scared and lonely. But Jesus never actually abandons us despite how we feel.

In the ER there was an older gentleman who had slipped in the shower and shattered his leg, an off-duty RN who had walked into a tree branch and hit her head significantly, a man with an infected foot, and maybe a few others who I did not get to see on account of the courtesy curtains in the room. During our long wait, we each shared with each other our suffering on a very genuine level. It was nothing extraordinary, but just small acts and words of kindness.

The poor man with a shattered leg had an ice pack propped on his leg (in addition to a morphine drip), and at one point it slipped off and fell to the floor. I got up to place it back on his leg for him since the nurses were off doing other things, and he told me I was going to have to get put on the payroll if I kept helping him. It was a very small gesture on my part and a very small but kind comment on his part, but it had the effect of ushering in a strong sense of peace and unity in a time where we were feeling anything but peaceful.

The evening was riddled with small instances of patients talking to and helping one another, and even praying out loud for each other. While there was suffering and pain, there was also the presence of Christ and his peace, brought forth by people who had hearts so large that they were able to think about their neighbors even while they themselves were in the ER.

The next week involved a fair amount of pain and discomfort, but I was able to find a surgeon who would do the repairs needed to my jaw. My mom flew in to help me out with everything. I had my first experience with opioid pain killers that week and learned that I am a lightweight.

Finally, the day of surgery rolled around, and my dad made it in town as well to be there with us. Right before the surgery, I was in the bed, and my anesthesiologist came in and checked on a few things then gave me the first bit of anesthesia. He had a book in his hand that looked like a novel or something. My dad jokingly asked if that was his reading material during the operation. I chimed in with “Its Anesthesiology for Dummies” and that’s about all I remember.

The day after surgery was the worst by far. I knew that it was illogical to think that I would die, but I honestly had little hope. I did not have a fighting spirit, and it was overall not a fun time. In my suffering however, my mind would drift to thoughts of Jesus, and how many of his own bones were broken before being hung on a cross for humanity. I would be comforted by that thought and knowing that his suffering was for a purpose, and that God has one for mine too.

I then tried to keep the gentleman with the shattered leg on my mind and in my prayers and offer up my suffering for him, since I knew he had a very difficult journey ahead of him as well. Lastly, I took immense solace in the knowing that all of my respected brothers of my prayer group had me in their intentions as well as tons of other family, friends and people I don’t even know.

By Monday I could tell that Jesus was answering so many prayers, because I felt like I had left the fog and could see the light at the end of the tunnel once again. It has been better every day, and I feel tremendously better than before.

Granted I still have six weeks ahead of me with my mouth closed shut and liquids only, but at least I am healing quickly and correctly so far. Before I know it, I will be in the middle of Lent and the bands will be coming off!

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