In order for you to understand the significance of the latest miracle that God has performed on my behalf, I need to tell you some personal history. Sit back and relax, some of this is (almost) ancient history…
In 1952, the summer I was five years old, a polio epidemic swept the United States. Almost every family had someone who contracted the disease. In my family, I was the only one who caught it.
Polio affects both the nerves and the muscles. Some cases are mild and a person never recognizes that they are a polio survivor. Not everyone was – a survivor, I mean. Some people died from the onset of polio and others died from complications after the acute phase was over. Those who survived were left with varying degrees of nerve damage and muscle atrophy.
My case was a serious one; I was completely paralyzed from the neck down. I could move my head from side to side, move my tongue, and swallow. Fortunately, my diaphragm still moved air in and out of my lungs. (Patients whose diaphragm was paralyzed lived in an iron lung, which acted as a mechanical diaphragm.)
During the acute phase of the disease, the doctors told my parents to be prepared for my death. My parents are people of great faith with large Christian families on both sides who know how to pray in faith and who believed that God could heal me. So, despite the doctors' fears, I survived that phase of the disease. That was my first polio miracle.
My second miracle came with hard work on my part and dedication on the parts of my physical therapist and my Mother. The doctors, pessimists that they can be, told my parents that it was highly likely that I would never be able to leave my bed. Their caution was well founded. The acute phase of polio left me with less than half the muscles to do the work of all the ones that had died. Nevertheless, after almost a year of therapy, I walked into the doctor's office without the benefit of braces or cane.
The third miracle took place after I was an adult and without me being aware of it until it was over. My parents had kept a secret from me for almost 15 years. It was the doctors, again. Before I was released from the hospital, they told my parents that I had lost too many muscles in my pelvic area to be able to carry a baby full term. I would never be able to have children. My Mother told me about this the morning after I delivered my first daughter.
About ten years later, I learned of post-polio syndrome for the first time. Before I heard about it, God's healing touch had affected me during a time of prayer on the 700 Club. I knew He had healed me with respect to the impact that polio had on me, but I didn't know why. Shortly after that, my sister told me about a report she had heard concerning post-polio syndrome. The Holy Spirit confirmed to me that I had been healed of that.
Post-polio syndrome, as well as the doctors can determine, occurs when the regenerated nerves and the over-used muscles reach a point where they can no longer function as well as previously. The onset of post-polio syndrome is so gradual that it takes the polio survivor by surprise. Usually, it starts twenty years or more after polio leaves.
Post-polio syndrome complicates the normal ageing process. Everyone's muscles weaken as they get older. Polio survivors can experience this in complicated ways. Less than ten years after God healed me of post-polio syndrome, I began to notice deterioration in some of my motor skills. This time, I knew what I was facing. Yet again, God healed me.
Fast forward to 2005, thirty years after the last time God had healed me. Post-polio syndrome hit me with a vengeance. For the first time in my life, I discovered that my diaphragm had been damaged by polio. I would quit breathing when in the deepest part of the sleep cycle. This time, God did not heal me. Instead, His miracle was one of technology, a VPAP breathing machine to assist my breathing at night and a power wheelchair to take the place of my legs.
All this brings me up Sunday, September 7, 2009. For several months, I had been getting less and less oxygen at night. Both my physical strength and my mental acuity were affected. Many of my family and friends were praying for me. Last Sunday morning, our church had a special prayer service before our regular worship time. My pastor prayed for me; my God healed me. Before the prayer was completed, I could breathe normally, filling my lungs completely with air. Also, over the period of about an hour, God washed out all the poisons that had accumulated in my brain from lack of oxygen.
No, all effects of post-polio syndrome are not gone. I still use all the mechanical aids to get through my days. But God has again extended my life for His purpose – that I might be able to fulfill the plan He has for me and bring glory to His Name.
All praise to our sovereign God!