Exercise is a Gift

Teena Myers

By Teena Myers

Adam opened his eyes to white walls, and the sanitized smell of a hospital. The last thing he could remember was admiring the beauty of the Georgia Mountains as he leaned his motorcycle into a curve. A doctor entered with bad news. “You broke your elbow, shoulder, knee, and ankle. Six ribs are broken in three places, and both bones in your right leg are broken in multiple places.”

His wife and mother stood by his bedside, awaiting his death. He survived the night. The doctors said he might live but would be paralyzed for life. When their diagnosis proved wrong, they said he would never be able to use his right leg. When he moved that leg, they said he would never have a full range of motion and would need a cane to walk. None of their predictions came true.

After spending a month in the hospital, Adam returned home in a wheelchair with an external fixator attached to his leg to maintain the correct position of the leg as it healed. The doctors drilled sixty-nine holes in Adam’s leg to attach the device.

Adam endured a slow and painful recovery. When a bone did not heal properly, the doctors broke the bone and reset it. Powerful drugs eased the pain. One day, Adam realized he had become dependent on the drugs. He stopped taking his pain medication and suffered withdrawals. Rather than become a drug addict, he endured the pain until it became unbearable.

A turning point came when a friend invited Adam to volunteer at the Louisiana Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual 150 Mile Bike Tour for a Cure. The event raises funds critical for programs and services that assist people living with Multiple Sclerosis. The two-day bicycle tour had rest stops provided every 10 miles for the cyclists. Volunteers distributed food and water at each stop.

Adam was reluctant to volunteer because his wheelchair made travel difficult, but his friend insisted. He parked Adam at the first rest stop. When a sea of cyclist in tight formation sped past, Adam thought I can do that, and then prayed, “God if you see fit to let me out of this wheelchair, I’m gonna do this to honor you.”

He returned home excited and set a goal to be a cyclist at the next Tour for the Cure. He reached a low point in his recovery when he failed to accomplish his goal. Discouragement grew with each passing cyclist as he sat his wheelchair handing out food and water. Refusing to accept defeat, he fought back the discouragement with hope and a renewed determination that one day he would ride in the Tour for a Cure.

The following February, he begged the doctors to remove the fixator, so he could begin training. His bones had healed, so they complied, but warned him to take it easy. Two months later, he purchased his first bicycle. The weight he gained while confined to the wheelchair made riding difficult. The one-mile ride exhausted him.

Adam struggled to exercise and watch his diet, but losing his first two pounds after so much effort was little consolation. He felt himself slipping into depression when he heard the Holy Spirit whisper to his heart, “You have to lose 2 pounds to lose 12, and 12 to lose 20, and 20 to lose 60.” Spurred on by the gentle encouragement from the Spirit, he determined to be faithful in whatever his body could handle. He arose at 4:30 a.m. every morning and rode his bike for an hour. When he had time, he rode again in the evenings and on weekends. By late August, he was riding an average of 300 miles a week and his bike was falling apart.

He had purchased a mountain bike to accommodate his weight that was not designed for riding long distances. Now sixty pounds lighter, he invested in a road bike.

After two long years, Adam attained his goal. He finished the first 75-mile leg of the tour in four hours. Even though the time was slow, he never planned to compete, only finish the race. Many people did not finish, but he did.

Besides completing the Tour for the Cure, Adam accomplished more goals. He completed a half marathon and then he learned how to swim, so he could take part in the Half Ironman Triathlon, a 1.2-mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run.

“Exercise was not a part of my life before the accident,” said Adam. “There was no way I could have done all of this without God’s blessings and favor. To me, being able to exercise is a gift from God.”

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