It was three years ago, today…
This is my story…
This was the first account, captured from my memory, which by now, has been journaled to document correctly to be shared again.
I went on a trip to Chicago for a Dare2Share conference. Leaving on Thursday evening, I was psyched for the experience of seeing a city that I had never been in before. The youth group that I went with, counted at 12, including me. We arrived that night at a gorgeous church that was more than happy to allow us to sleep there both Thursday and Saturday night.
Friday morning, we woke up around 6 a.m. so that we could have enough time to leave at 7, because we had plans for touring Chicago.
Arriving at a parking lot, we unloaded and grabbed our backpacks ready for our first train ride of the trip. I was surprised when I saw a double-decker train! I asked the youth leader, Eric, if I could ride on the top level. Of course, there were others with the same urge. Riding to downtown Chicago was pretty amusing, the many colors that caught my eye were mostly part of the graffiti-ed walls along the tracks…as one of my friends said, “If it wasn’t for the juvenile delinquents, the passengers wouldn’t have anything to look at!” So, Friday the group saw many buildings, beautiful architectures, landmarks, and museums. That night the beginning of the conference started. Listening to the band FEE we praised God and fell in love with Him all over again. Two speakers, Zane and Greg, had a passion for Christ that bubbled over, which was visible when they spoke to the thousands of people who attended this event.
Friday night we drove to a hotel about five minutes from the Sears Center, where the conference was being held. This conference was to prepare us to minister to the residents of the houses we would go to, asking for canned food for the Salvation Army. It also was a wake up call and refreshing for our relationship with Christ. When arriving at the hotel, we figured out a shower schedule for the girls. I woke up at 6:15 to take mine, what an early morning!. After dressing, I bent down to pick up my pajamas off the floor, I heard a snap and felt a pain in my knee, I looked down, and BAM-my knee cap was completely to the left; stomach churning and grotesque. The bathroom was so tiny, that I could sit down on the toilet to relieve some of the pain. I looked at my knee cap and suddenly couldn’t breath…I thought to myself, “I could pop it back into place—no no no, Sarah don’t be stupid, you need to tell someone,” I opened the bathroom door and when I turned to open it, my knee filled with pain.
“OW!” I yelled “I THINK I BROKE MY KNEE!” My friend Lizzie was right at the door, she told the other girls in the room and two of them ran to the guys room to alert them, while Heidi, the female chaperon, called 911.
“The paramedics are on the way, Sarah. Just try to keep calm,” Heidi said. Picking me up, the two male paramedics felt me cringe in pain. Setting me down onto a chair that would wheel me out, they tried to keep me calm. One of the men said that I would feel a slight pain from the needle, that would allow the IV to be connected to me.
Well, at first it was just a little prick, but then it transformed into the feeling of a knife being plunged into my hand, “OW! I thought you said ‘a LITTLE pain’.” The paramedic apologized, but glad that I still had a sense of humor. As my wet hair was drooping over my face and my eyes closed, I began to feel fuzzy, little tingles covering my skin, I let the five male paramedics know. My breathing began to pick up and I started shaking. Chuck, the paramedic who I recognized as the ‘one with the kind eyes’ assured me that I was going to be just fine. I was reminded that I needed to remember to breath, so i began to take a deep breath in, filling my lungs with air. I exhaled slowly, then began the process over and over again.
I was told multiple times, “You are doing a great job Sarah! We’ll get you out of here soon” The paramedics were very good at their job, and when I first saw them all, I was very thankful that I had already been dressed before the horrific event occurred. After the IVs were in me, they strapped me to the chair and gently stuffed a pillow under my left leg, the one that was injured.
“What is your level of pain now, between 1 and 10?” the paramedic asked me. “Umm, i don’t know…a 7 or 8…I don’t know,” I mumbled, trying to concentrate on something other than my pain.
“What is your address” “What is your phone number” The list of questions was asked after I answered each individual one. “What is your name” “What is your pain level now?” Tipping the chair backwards, they began to roll me out of the tiny hotel room. “We’re going to take you to the elevator now Sarah” one of the men stated. “Alright,” I said while trying to keep my breathing down, even though the pain was excruciating.
Leaving the elevator, the men rolled me to the stretcher that I would be placed on for the ambulance ride to the hospital. “OK, we’re going to lift you up now” “I am shaking so hard, I don’t know why” I stated. “It’s because you’re outside, it’s cold, we’ll get you a blanket once we move you.” “But I’m not cold” I urged. They picked me up and moved me to the stretcher. I yelled, while biting down on my clear retainer, that I usually take out the moment I get up from bed, but that day was different, for some reason I didn’t. I call it a God-thing. The retainer served as a splint while I tightened my jaw and clenched my fists. I was laid down on the stretcher which transported me to the inside of the ambulance. This was a new experience, I had never been in a hospital to treat myself, let alone in an ambulance.
The doors closed and Jared, one of the paramedics, had begun to ask me questions. “So Sarah, Where are you from?”
“Why are you here, so far from home?” he questioned.
“For a Dare To Share conference”
“What is that?” he asked.
“It’s where we learn to minister to people” I answered, trying to focus on the questions and not the pain. In the little amount of time that passed between his questions, I began to think, I’m not going to be able to witness to people today, I’ll be in the hospital the whole day!
“What is ministering?” Jared wondered.
“Telling people about Jesus Christ.”
“Oh, don’t worry about us,” he said with a little laugh to his voice. In that moment I thought ‘yes! He’s a Christian!’ But, then Jared continued, “We’re all messed up” I began to realize that he was stating that the people of Chicago are all un-believers.
“You don’t have to be” I gently cried.
He kind of chuckled.
“I have met many people on my trip this weekend, and some of them have been very nice, maybe they are Christians.”I suggested.
“They were probably just faking it, we’re all messed up”
“I don’t think all of you are, there are some Christians in Chicago, I can assure you”
“Chicago is filled with all of my kind” Jared stated.
“America is filled with your kind, Jared, but if people would listen and be willing, there would be less of ‘your kind'”
After telling Jared this, I began to hyperventilate. This reaction was not from the pain in my knee, it was from the realization that this man really didn’t know there was hope out there. He hadn’t a clue that he could turn his life around. I started to cry, which isn’t something I usually do in public.
“Take it easy Sarah, steady your breathing” Jared said. I followed his instructions. I began to pray, “Lord, if You want me to say anymore to these men, please let me say something, let the words flow from my mouth, give me a feeling.”
Nothing happened, so I decided not to speak. After arriving at the hospital, which only took about 3 minutes, I was rolled into a room. The nurses helped me get comfortable and later, I was rolled to the x-ray room. Heidi was with me the whole time, holding my hand and allowing me to squeeze the life out of hers.
“OK, Sarah I’m gonna stick this board behind your knee so that the x-ray machine can work properly,” A nurse said. She did as she said, and took the x-ray. “This next one may hurt a bit,” directing her attention away from me she said, “Heidi would you come help me lift her leg up?” In my mind I just started praying that it wouldn’t hurt too bad. Clenching my teeth together and squeezing my eyes shut, I felt the pain from my knee being elevated so the board would slide under. “Alright, you’re done now, I’ll take you back to the room,” The nurse said. “Thank you,” I replied.
From one of the reflective mirror/cameras, I could see my face and my goodness, I looked as horrible as I felt. “The doctor will be here in a little bit, I’m gonna give you something to ease the pain when we pop your knee cap back into place.” A different nurse explained. I cringed at the thought of my injury being snapped into its previous state. The nurse came back after a few minutes and stuck something into my IV, to help the coming pain. They laid me flat on my back, after the doctor entered the room. Heidi came over and grabbed my hand and I squeezed in return.
I felt the doctor grab my knee, and I shut my eyes and began to pray in my head, “Lord, please take away the pain, don’t let this hurt please, God. Take away the pain, take away the pain.” I repeated the last line over and over as I felt the doctor place his hand on my knee cap. Squeezing Heidi’s hand, I felt a sharp pain go through my body and I shut my eyes even tighter…but then the pain was gone, it had only been about one second of pain. I was waiting for the doctor to do something else to it, and just as if Heidi read my mind she asked, “Was that it? Are you done?”
“Yup, that was it, she did really well!!” The doctor replied. Relieved, I opened my eyes and began to thank God in my head, while staring at the ceiling. After my whole hospital experience, I didn’t want to talk to my parents, in fear that I would just ball my eyes out and would be unable to talk to them. My friend Lizzie called them and informed them some more, and I just told her to tell them that I loved them.
Saturday (that same day) after everyone ate lunch, I talked to my mom on the phone and ended up having an audience in the van…it was total silence besides the familiar voice on the other end of the line. Arriving at the conference that night, we sang along with a band called Leeland. After a quick prep speech from a former football player on the Indianapolis Colts, we headed out to the van to tackle the neighborhood with kindness. I stayed in the van along with the youth leader, but I organized the cans in boxes and bags. A friend, Lexi, joined me later in the van because she got cold I think, so I had a helper.
After collecting many cans and witnessing to many people, the group re-joined in the van. We went to a restaurant for supper and then went back to the Sears Center for the rest of the conference. While there, we were to pick five people who we were to ‘Shred the Gnar’ with…which is, for all you people who don’t know surfer terms, to ‘Go for the Big One’…and so we promised to ‘Shred the Gnar’ with five people…and coincidentally, there were five paramedics that heard me talking about Christ in the ambulance!!! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?! God is absolutely amazing, and the Chicago trip definitely drew me a lot closer to Him. He reveals Himself in very odd ways sometimes. Even though the paramedics did not give up their lives right then and there, maybe God used me to plant a seed.
Pretty bizarre, huh?