"What do I think about cure?" I repeated into the receiver. "Cure of what?" My speaker phone rattled
a reply. "Spinal cord injury?" I responded. "Well, to be honest, it doesn't rate very high on my priority list."
After I hung up, the question transported me to another place and time, to 1979, when I had run away and
joined the circus. Literally, I was part of a trapeze act and loved it. Every morning I would mumble to
myself, "People aren't supposed to be this happy when they grow up, are they?"
Five years later, a split-second mistake in timing dislocated my spinal cord, crumbled my marriage, and
shattered my career. (There are few openings for a quadriplegic trapeze artist.) After my injury, I naively
believed all of society's boldface lies about my inferior gimp status. This world, it seemed, did belong to
the young, the beautiful, the able-bodied. Crips need not apply.
I spent nearly every waking moment reading about cell regeneration, and looked to the Almighty Cure as
my only hope. Why not? After all, I couldn't perform anymore and I had no desire to do anything else.
Life had backed me into a corner.
And I'd pretty well proved during those first few years that there was no way out. I had learned firsthand
that a plastic vacuum cleaner hose melts when taped to an exhaust pipe. I never knew. With all the stupid
TV I'd watched, why hadn't I heard of this? And how could I have known that starving myself to death
would take so long? I figured on three, four weeks tops, not two months. We would have gotten it right,
that last time, if a friend hadn't called the cops. I couldn't even kill myself right.
Logically, it made sense to me to end my life. I figured that I'd always need a wheelchair, I'd always
suffer from dizzyingly low blood pressure, I'd always be plagued by pneumonia, I'd always need
attendant care--and nothing would ever change.
Late one night in my tiny hospital room, with no place left to run and nothing left to lose, I finally cried
out to God for help. That night, for the first time since my arrival on the psych floor, I fell into a deep,
The next day, the oh-my-God-what-am-I-gonna-do feeling in my throat was gone. A new ringmaster
had quietly slipped into my heart and now ran the show. Six weeks later I left with plans to return to
school; social work appealed.
In these days when people are popping out of closets every day, why shouldn't I? I freely confess that
I now follow Jesus Christ. Yep, I'm a Christian--from the top of my head to the soles of my gimpy feet.
I begin each day with the Bible, I attend a church filled with genuine caring people, and I was baptized
which required the assistance of nearly half my church!
So now I have an altered definition of the Almighty Cure. I no longer pin my happiness on the hope that
I will rise out of my chair and walk, that I will regain the use of my hands, that I will troop with the circus
once more. I find that the old testament prophet, Nehemiah, spoke the truth when he said, "The joy of
the Lord is your strength." Joy, to me, is a deep seated confidence that God is in charge of every area
of my life. I don't have to go it alone anymore.
Faith might not change your circumstances, but it changes you. I still use a wheelchair, suffer hypertension,
get respiratory problems and require attendant care. But on the inside I have peace of mind.
These days, a hand brace, a computer, and a new-found passion for writing allowed me to complete my
second book, Surprised by Hope: From Circus Girl to Quadriplegic: A Journey Through Tragedy to a
Promise for Tomorrow. I reach out to others with words of encouragement--something every bit as
exciting as when I reached out to children with a comedy trapeze act. The pay might not be so hot,
but the benefits are out of this world!
If the Almighty Cure came along tomorrow, would I sign up for it? I honestly don't know. Without my
disability I would be different, and I have no desire to be different. And, in most ways,
I've already been cured.
God Bless You