Slight accident brings a lifetime of consequence

From time to time the Church News receives correspondence that is suitable for publication in the writer's own words. The following is such an account, from Mary Ann Fackrell, Milo 1st Ward, Ucon Idaho Stake.

We never know what new challenge will be placed before us.

The summer before I was to enter my first year of high school, I rouged rye from a wheat field on a farm in Idaho. As we rode in the back of the slow-moving pickup, my peers decided to jump down to the dusty road. Watching the jumping scene, I wanted to follow. I jumped to the ground to the left of the pickup. Afterwards, on that memorable day, I was in the field pulling rye by hand when I noticed my body performed differently than before.

Soon my legs went slightly numb, and in about a week, June 26, 1965, I was totally devastated as I was mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down. I lay paralyzed in my bed. What a traumatic time in life. I was about to enter Ririe High School in Ririe, Idaho. The doctors could not come to a conclusion as to why I could not walk. The best conclusion was that this was possibly the result of all the experimental drugs I had received for my asthma.

My left leg was totally beyond feeling. The best I could describe it was that it felt like a log hanging from me. The right leg was numb as well, from the waist downward, but I knew I had one because there was some feeling in it.

As I laid in bed, my dad's fishing buddy brought crutches to my home. I tried them, but they didn't help. There was too much numbness and nothing to balance with. A wheelchair was the logical choice, but my father would not allow it.

My father had been crippled years previously by a horse. A horse had reared backwards and crushed him. He was told he would never walk again. Not giving up, he did walk again. So I resorted to lying on my stomach. Once I even tried using my elbows to drag myself over the hardwood floor into the living room.

Another doctor tried to prove I could get off the hospital bed, and I was left in the room alone to prove it. Needless to say, when I tried, I crumbled to the floor. It was easier to just lay on my back in bed. Later I was sent to a doctor to see if my situation was in my head.

I remained in the Idaho Falls Hospital. I told the doctors the numbness had traveled about four more inches upward past my waist. My bishop and another priesthood holder gave me a blessing. After the powers of the priesthood blessed me, the numbing effect quit moving.

Living near Yellowstone Park, our family went to pay our annual visit to the park. I was dragged to see the sights with someone lifting me under each armpit. As they literally carried me up the wooden walkway, people would stare. One woman coming towards me on the walk didn't stare. Instead she smiled. Her simple gesture of smile meant so very much to me.

Some strangers heard about my plight and came to my home. They spoke of a doctor who could help me to learn to walk again. I had gained enough feeling to know I had two legs. I learned to walk again by using my body to flip my left leg forward, kinking my knee in place, and then taking a step. Slowly I learned to take one step at a time.

One day I walked across the road in front of my home. I turned around and looked back at my mother in the kitchen window with such immeasurable joy. I had walked. I entered high school with such a "left-leg-flip-step."

It was quite a funny walk, and as I struggled down the road one noon I turned around and looked behind me. Both sides of the road was lined with boys walking to the lunchroom which was located a couple of blocks away from the school. They were imitating me. I was so devastated and humiliated.

My walk improved, yet people would ask me why I walked as I did. In college, I attended the BYU 107th Branch. President Spencer J. Condie [now of the Seventy] was the branch president. I wanted a blessing, and he gave me a blessing, assisted by some young men who had just come out of a meeting.

As they gathered around me, I was blessed that the illness would be "rebuked." I went into the bathroom later and could feel that the water was cold. Up until that period of time, the snow felt like cotton, and the freezing Idaho canals were not cold to float upon as long as my arms did not touch the icy waters.

One Saturday morning several years later, after I was married and had become a mother, my husband and I went to a session in the Idaho Falls Temple. A special blessing came to me that day. As I walked out of the temple that morning, I noticed my left leg was lifting as I walked down the sidewalk.

I went home and ran in the yard and my leg would lift. I knew I still had a limp, but my leg was lifting.

Thirty years later, after a car wreck, more modern medical tests showed I had broken my back at the age of 14. Was this the result of jumping from a pickup? The answer is still a guess.

Never give up, for you will never know when you might be healed. The greatest blessing is that these experiences will do you good, as they have for me; and maybe I had learned what I needed to.