Dear Marcus, Rut, and Wizard,
First of all, thank you all for your service to our great country. You are the pinnacle of what makes this country exceptional.
My Never Quit story is actually not mine at all. My Never Quit hero is my wife, Elizabeth. It’s deeply personal, so I asked her permission, and given that she knew about your podcast and it’s intention of helping others, she gladly agreed to let me share it in hope that it might help someone else.
Elizabeth grew up in a normal, low to middle class family. She had a strong upbringing and a good childhood, until age 4 when she began being molested by a neighbor. This went on until age 7 when her family moved out of the neighborhood. Child abuse is sadly a very common issue and you may not have known but in the Unites States 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 experience child abuse. Like most children that undergo this abuse, she kept it a secret, thinking that it was somehow her fault, and that she had done something wrong. She tried to forget it and locked it away, turning those bad thoughts into a drive to be perfect and control as much as she could in her life. She became a star athlete, eventually being a top performer on the swimming and softball teams in high school, and really becoming exceptional at her favorite sport, soccer, earning a college scholarship for her talent.
Life seemed to be going well. Then, when she was in her early twenties, she was asked by two men that had befriended her in a bar to accompany them to another bar down the street. After she entered their car, they drove to a remote location, violently raped her, and then dropped her on the side of the road like a piece of garbage. Once again, she hid this from her family and even her roommate, blaming herself for getting into a position where that could happen to her.
Soon after, she began dating a man from college. They dated for a few years and then got married. Immediately after getting married, he became emotionally and physically abusive. One night the abuse came to a head and he beat her up, hitting her in the face and throwing her to the floor. She knew this would not change if she stayed, so she filed for divorce. They were divorced on the one year anniversary of their marriage.
Elizabeth tried her best to move on with her life as best she could, but this time she turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with all the pain. She began a several year cycle of self-medicating, which of course, only made things worse. One morning, she was helping a friend work on a parade float. She was standing near the edge of the float, about 10 feet off ground when a 350 lb. slab of marble that had not been secured slid off its base. It pushed her off the edge. She landed upside down on her head, cracking her skull, then the 350 lb. slab landed on top of her, breaking 3 of her ribs and slamming into her spine. She also had a piece of rebar go all the way through her calf.
She was in ICU for 3 weeks, with bleeding in her brain on top of the other injuries. But the most significant would be the damage to her spine. This injury accelerated a condition called spondylolisthesis, where her spine began to slip apart from itself.
After spending a few years trying to heal physically, and spending some time in treatment, returning to her faith in God to become whole again, she got sober and started working a good job. This is around the time we met. We fell in love and were married soon after. But as we were getting accustomed to our new marriage, and blending a family, Elizabeth’s pain from her old spinal injury was getting worse. We went to a surgeon, who quickly told us that she had a 50% slip in her vertebrae. She had a Stage 3 slippage, and at a Stage 4 your spine falls off into your pelvis. So they performed the surgery on her spine, putting in 2 rods and 8 screws, and they created a new disc to put in. But they found that the nerve that comes out of that vertebrae, the same one that goes down the left leg, was severely damaged. Due to the extreme amount of slip, the nerve was coming out of the vertebrae at a 90 degree angle, and it had been rubbing against the arthritic bone shards, doing irreversible damage to the nerve, and they told us that she would probably live with constant nerve pain the rest of her life. Then, when she was sewn back up, the 14 inch incision she had on her spine became infected. She was hospitalized two more times for this, and was placed on a pic line, where she had to walk around with an IV bag on her 24 hours a day. Her body had a bad reaction to the amount of antibiotics, and she developed an allergy to them. Her skin turned as red as a lobster and blistered, and her face and hands were so swollen she couldnt even wear her glasses. She often fought fevers that were so bad that the bed would be dripping wet, her worst fever hit 104.9.
She began to recover, and when things were looking better, she decided she wasn’t going to let this keep her down. Despite her back pain, she wanted to get back in touch with her athletic roots, so she decided to go play a game of indoor soccer. On that first game, she went up for a block, and came down on her left leg, breaking her tib/fib. Apparently, people could hear the break from the stands. This took a while to heal, and the break has seemed to agitate the nerve in her left leg which was already giving her daily pain. She had to get a plate and screws in her leg to put it back together.
I could go on about other things she has suffered, such as the fact that she developed tinnitus in her inner ear and had to have a cranial surgery to repair it, and now the other ear is developing the same problem. I wont go into all the other details, but suffice to say that she deals with daily nerve pain in her back and leg that is now spreading to her hands, face, and feet. The doctors say it may be fibromyalgia, but they are still running tests.
Through all of this, Elizabeth is the one who points out when I am being ungrateful. She keeps me positive when I start to complain about the stresses in life. Despite her pain, she purposely stays on the lowest amount of medication she can, so that she can still drive, go to work, and be the great active mom that she is. She pushes our children to be great and to work hard. She keeps order in our house. She is an example to me in keeping faith in Christ when all seems dark. And she is going back to school this year to get her Masters in Counseling so that she can help other women who have been through trauma and sexual abuse like she has. She is my hero, and she truly- never quits. Thanks so much for letting me share.
Dear Marcus, Rut, and Wizard,