Hey there, Warrior!
Rather than call you a chronic pain warrior or a chronic illness warrior, I just simply want to call you Warrior, because I see you as a Kingdom Warrior! Whether you’re just finding our ministry or you’ve been following us since the beginning, thanks for being here. No matter what stage you are in of your journey, you are welcome here. Right now we’re highlighting the Top 25 episodes from the Heal Podcast, out of the 107 episodes that we published in Season One of the show. Coming in at #8 is Episode 96 with guest Mike Fennema.
I heard about Mike because one of our awesome listeners (like you) reached out to us through our website and recommended we interview him. I am so grateful he did! What a timely story for us as we are all still grappling with the effects of the 2020 Covid pandemic and our own stories of pain and loss.
Mike seemed like he was on top of his game as a husband, a pastor, and an active dad of five whose family loved going to church and spending time together outside. But in November of 2020, all of that changed. Going down a mountain biking route with his son, he hit a curve incorrectly and flew off his bike, landing in a way that immediately gave him a severe spinal cord injury.
An injury that ended in quadriplegia would be traumatic enough alone, but Mike had a special set of circumstances that made his recovery even more daunting: Covid-19 restrictions. Because the pandemic was in full swing, for over 100 days Mike could not see his wife or children except through a fence six feet apart. His mom was able to come take care of him at the hospital, but other than his interaction with her, his doctors, and nurses, Mike faced accepting the new reality of being a quadriplegic without being able to connect face-to-face, hand-to-hand with his family or friends.
Mike was finally able to return home and try to adjust to new life surrounded by his family, and then a few months later he went to the Shepherd Center for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation to invest in some serious physical therapy. When we did our interview, he joined us from Atlanta at the center, where he was working hard to gain as much mobility as he could.
In this episode, Mike shares about all the adjustments and losses he has faced over the past year and a half, including adjusting his worldview to a wheelchair after standing at above 6 feet tall, what it looks like for him to be a husband and dad with his new limitations, and how God was there for him amidst such isolation in his recovery.
It breaks my heart, but I think part of the reason this episode ranks so high in our list of top episodes is because many in the chronic pain community know what it’s like to try to heal and recover in isolation. If that’s you, or you know someone in that circumstance today, please consider sharing this episode with them. And though he hasn’t asked for it, I know Mike and his family would appreciate any support you could give them as he continues his road to recovery, whether that’s checking out his Facebook support group, praying for them, or donating to their recovery fund.
Listen to learn more about:
· What part isolation plays in our healing and recovery journeys.
· How significant physical loss can affect our identities.
· Where God is and how he speaks to us amidst our loss and isolation.
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Favorite Quote from the episode:
· “I’ve grown up as a Christian and in the Church my entire life, and I feel like I’ve known a lot of things about God intellectually that just in the last 18 months of gone from this intellectual knowledge to this actual experience. There are these sweet passages of Scripture, like Psalm 23 - ‘he is with us in the valley of the shadow of death,’ or how God is our ‘ever-present help in trouble,’ or how in Lamentations it says ‘great is your faithfulness.’ I’ve known those things to be true in my head, but now as I’ve experienced this accident and I’m a quadriplegic and now live most of my life in a wheelchair – things that I never anticipated being my life – God is taking these things I knew about him and now I’m actually experiencing them.”
Links from our conversation:
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