GOING OUT ON A LIMB
25-year-old Alyssa Pfannenstein of Minnesota headed to the park over Labor Day weekend with her 4-year-old daughter and her boyfriend, Justin. While her daughter played, Justin and Alyssa set up a hammock between two large birch trees. The two lovebirds cuddled together in the hammock as they watched and laughed as Alyssa’s daughter joyfully danced around, enjoying her freedom to run and play.
It was quiet, except for a few birds chirping. The couple had a lot to look forward to and dreamed of a bright future. Alyssa’s daughter was one of the main objects of their love. They wanted to give her a happy home and a joyful life. She had been without a dad for some time, now she was going to have one that loved her.
Suddenly, the midday calm was broken by a loud crack! Before the couple could find out where it came from, they felt their hammock drop out from under them. Little did Justin or Alyssa know, one of the birch trees was completely rotten on the inside. As a result, it came crashing down and landed on top of Alyssa, hitting her in the back and the head. “It was surreal, said Justin, at that moment there was no time to respond because it happened so quickly.”
The impact left Alyssa motionless, but conscious, lying on the ground. Yet, somehow, she remained calm through the whole terrifying ordeal. Rather than worry about herself, she bravely comforted Justin and her daughter. “Her composure quieted me and her daughter down and made us believe everything would be OK,” Justin recalled.
At the hospital, the family learned the freak accident shattered Alyssa’s C5 vertebrae. At that moment, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down. Friends and family prayed, as well as set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for medical bills. And as news of the accident spread, more and more people lifted Alyssa up in prayer.
Despite her terrifying experience, Alyssa remained just as self-assured and optimistic as the day the accident happened. Rather than focus on the many obstacles left to overcome, Alyssa was determined to celebrate each victory, encouraging her family to do the same.
Alyssa underwent extensive surgery to remove bone fragments and repair her damaged spine. Afterward, she started regaining some mobility in her arms, as well as feeling in her body. The prayers are working! “We want to appreciate every miracle,” Justin exclaimed. “Accidents happen, and we will get through this like anything else.” And already there have certainly been miracles to celebrate!
Determined to get better, Alyssa quickly defied her doctor’s expectations. There were setbacks too, but Alyssa has kept her positive outlook through all of it. As Alyssa continued to stabilize, doctors moved her from the hospital to a rehab facility. And with her upbeat attitude and determination, everyone was hoping and praying she’ll make a full recovery!
Alyssa’s positivity in the face of such a tragic event was truly inspiring. It began to inspire others to adopt the same attitude. “There’s no sense in feeling sorry for myself,” she said. “Why keep thinking about what I may have lost instead of what I have to gain?”
Her family and friends saw this faithful woman thanking God for each and every blessing. And how incredibly thankful she was that the accident happened to her, rather than her daughter. Sometimes things go horribly wrong, and we just don’t ever know why. It’s a time when, like Alyssa, we need to cling to our faith and trust God to carry us through.
Alyssa’s family and friends report that she is still so positive and is getting stronger. She has overcome complete paralysis; her movements are a bit quicker, and her determination has already defied what doctors predicted. After overcoming a couple high fevers and low blood pressure, she is now stable. She is now receiving treatment from the best spinal facility in Minnesota.
We may not suffer such a paralyzing accident that makes us physically immobile, but we can be paralyzed emotionally by things that haunt us from the past, or a situation we find ourselves in at the moment, or even fears of what is facing us in the future. But yielding to that sense of “I can’t do it” or “I’ll never make it,” will only keep us mentally bed-ridden and of little use to ourselves, our family, even our Church.
Instead of letting things like this freezing us in place, do what Alyssa did, look forward to the way you want to be, and start taking one step at a time. You don’t need to do it on your own. You have God’s Spirit dwelling in you. You have Jesus, who is willing to walk with you. You have friends and family who will cheer you on. And you have God’s destiny for your life that you need to reach with His help. You must decide to do it, or don’t do it. It’s all up to you. – Dr. Robert R Seyda