This story is about me but also about my wife who is the one that has a spinal cord injury.

I have been in healthcare for more than thirty years and I really feel that it is my calling in life. I enjoy helping people and if I get a chance I share the Word of God with them and pray for them. I spent over seven years working in a rehab unit with peopel with head injurys, burn patients, and people with those with spinal cord injurys. After I left the rehab unit I worked in what is called a "transitional unit" which helps people with spinal cord injurys learn how to live life in a wheelchair.

A lot of people just kind of gave up. Their friends dissapeared and they were all alone. This is where I meet my wife Jeri. She was different. She had a gusto for life, she went to school, paying no attention to the stares and the name calling and all the difficulties of just being in a chair. All of her friends still came to see her and take her out and do what ever they had to do to make sure she had a good time. I noticed there was something different about her. And she has always said she noticed something different about me too. She said that I always smiled and I had this gleam in my eyes.

So she asked me once "What makes you look like that?" and I told her it was because I had Jesus in my heart. She said she admired that. We started talking from that day on and I could tell that she had a hunger in her heart that wasen't being filled by anything. Yes I did ask her out, and I also took her to my church. With the help of one of her close friend and myself she accepted Christ and ask for forgiveness.

Later that year I went on a Billy Graham crusade in Amsterdam the Netherlands and was supposed to be gone for two months. I called her at least twice a week and we then both knew we were meant to be together so much so that I came home a month early. We got married later that year, but as love goes, we were blind. We had no idea what life would be like-- especially with one of us being in a wheelcair.

We adapted whenever we could, using ramps and special frames for the bed, and adaptive devices for the car so she could drive. Then Jeri got pregnant and there were no special devices to help us with that. In fact we could not find any information--anywhere--to help us deal with the pregnancy or the birth. It was as if we were the first ones to do it, so we were on our own. That was in 1987.

We had a natural birth and it was a boy. Now the question was... how do you raise a child from a wheelchair? We did it on our own! We adapted pillows so Jeri could feed him and all the time we asked God to show us the way and keep us moving in the right direction. And he did. He must have thought we were doing a good job because he blessed us with a little girl. So through all of this we have raised two good kids who have a solid foundtion in God and an appreciation of people with disabilities.

All these years, however, have taken a tole on both of our bodies and spirits. We now have medical and financial issues that are dragging our spirit down. We still love each other and will stay together for ever (23 years so far) and we will not give up with the help of God! We live in such a small town that there are no support groups to help us and not any doctors. that know about spinal cords. We feel lost here.

No one understands what Jeri goes through every day and what I go through as well. That is why our friend Joni Eareckson Tada told us about this site, Rest Ministries. We both hope we can find someone in our similar situation and have someone to talk to who understands.

Thank you., This is our story. This is a story of two people --Jon and Jeri--struggling to live a normal life with abnormal circumstances. Please e-mail us at jjekgill@eoni.com

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Rest Ministries is honored to be an affiliate of Joni and Friends International Disability ministry. For more information on their services visit their web site. For Rest Ministries spousal information, visit our spousal support page.

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MY STORY:

Over the last 14 years I have slowly lost the use of both respiratory and joint function due to being on a medication called Prednisone for a long term treatment. Each year I have become more and more isolated as my physical functioning decreases. Currently I am in a wheel chair waiting for a complete knee replacement and only interact with close immediate family on a day to day basis.

One day while doing a web search for some online Bible studies I came across the Rest Ministries web site and I have "lurking" for about 6 months. The daily devotionals and testimonies of what others of you are dealing with continually has helped me not to feel so alone. I have decided to reach out at this time and make a "real people connection" so I can say thank you to all of you who share your hope and faith in the midst of your trials.

Our God is good and awesome, and I am greatful for the encouragement of brothers and sisters I will share His kingdom with oneday.

Presently I am in real need of spiritual strength not to give up in my struggle as I wait to have surgery to aleviate painful stress to my knee joint, knowing that it will only be some help but progressive tissue degeneration will continue even after surgery. I am a married, 59-year-old mother of four and and grandmother of nine, who after thirty years as a hairdresser/manicurist developed severe respiratory problems which have led to numerous accompaning debilitating conditions.

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Lola would be exited for you to contact her if you would like to correspond or encourage one another.