When I lived in the nursing home, night was a very hard time for me. I was alone. Unlike the hospital, where nurses and aides came into my room at all hours of the day, in the nursing home I was not visited from 11 PM until 6 AM, unless I called for them. I slept very little during the 2+ months I stayed at Manor Care. The pain allowed me only short periods of sleep before it would wake me. This meant that I was up for half the night trying to find my way back to sleep. During the day, family and friends were with me. Therapy gave me something to do. Having people around helped to keep my pain-numbed mind occupied. At night I did not have such comfort. My family and friends knew this and would sometimes stay by my bedside until mid-night or later, leaving when I would fall asleep. I would awake 2-3 hours later, alone with my thoughts and my pain. Often, I was scared. I was not scared of dying or never walking. I was afraid of my own thoughts. I was very angry. Much of my perseverance those first few months came from anger and fear. My biggest fear was that I was no longer “me”. That I had changed into someone who others wouldn’t recognize or want to be around. I felt very different and people certainly treated me differently.
It was during the long nights that I would often pray. These were the prayers of a broken man. I would ask God to wake me up from my nightmare. I would try to bargain with God by promising to do things in return for Him making me better. I knew it didn’t work that way, but I was desperate. Over the many months of my rehab, I would try to become more thankful in my prayers, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find peace. My pain caused my mind to wander and it never went to pleasant thoughts.
Over time I have come to accept the “new me”. I am different on every level; physically, mentally and spiritually. Just last week a co-worker was looking at a photo of me before the accident and told me that I don’t look anything like I use to look. I hear that a lot. With my new found acceptance came peace. Peace, but not contentment. I still persevere, but now it doesn’t come from fear and anger any more, but from understanding. Through understanding I have gained some control over my pain. I have come to embrace the silence and even seek it out. I can now thankfully pray to God for all of my blessings. Now, when I think about those scary nights in the nursing home, I realize that I wasn’t really alone. God was there with me, listening and patiently waiting for the “new me” to understand.