Left side of the photo: Sarah standing before a red "rollator" walker with a surprised happy look on her face. Right Side of the photo shows Sarah in a Power wheelchair with BYU Blue motor and wheel cover months later with a happy smile on her face.

My brother made this silly photo showing my upgrade from Utah red to BYU blue… as I looked at it, the “upgrade” just seemed so ironic as I’m gradually losing mobility and independence due to electrical injury caused by electroconvulsive therapy. So while I do love my BYU Blue chair … I’ve stared at his “upgrade” on the photo in confused denial. Is this really an upgrade?

When doctors sat me and my family down to discuss electroconvulsive therapy (aka Shock treatment or ECT) doctors didn’t mentioned the risks associated with permanent brain damage. They did not talk about how ECT might effect me later in life. No one explained the possibility of developing symptoms associated with repetitive brain injury. Nor did they discuss symptoms associated with electrical injury. Yet here I am. A decade after ending treatment it looks like I’m experiencing symptoms consistent with medical research on electrical injury: delayed progressive neurological sequelae.

Gradually I am losing the capacity to walk and breathe at the same time. It’s like my brain is overloaded–trying to decide between taking the next step and inhaling or exhaling. Consequently, On August 13th, in an answer to prayers and in a miraculous way only Heavenly Father could craft, I got a power wheelchair. Being able to move freely without concentrating on breathing is something I always took for granted … until now. I’m so grateful for this chair and for the freedom it brings. This photo was taken on my maiden voyage. That smile says it all. 😉

Now to retrofitting the home. Disability specialists have a unique opportunity to help these transitory experiences. My rapid decline has been overwhelming for the entire family. Thank heavens for answered prayers, guidance in treatment and the knowledge of a bigger plan. The future looks brighter. Now I can explore it!

At the beginning of the BYU football season, shortly after I got my new power wheelchair, my brother made a silly photo showing my upgrade from Utah Red to BYU Blue for the big rival game. As I looked at it, titling the photo “upgrade” just seems so ironic. I’m gradually losing mobility and independence due to repetitive electrical head injury caused by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT aka “shock treatments.”) So while I do love my BYU Blue chair … for weeks I stared at “upgrade” captioned on his photo in tears of confused denial. Is this really an upgrade?

For what it’s worth, I’ve discovered things get hard, it usually is a prep for a strong spiritual experience. I’ve discovered during the preparation time before a spiritual experience, Satan seems to unleash his everything in an attempt to distract me from whatever it is God wants me to hear.

When prayer becomes difficult, I pray aloud…or in sign language to really focus on what I am trying to say because otherwise prayers get lost in my head. I try and imagine Heavenly Father or my Savior sitting there with me. I talk to Him. It helps me focus and actually feel something rather than getting sucked under by the physical symptoms or emotions I may be feeling.

Mortal life is quite a journey. I learned something from my stepson the other day as we read this week’s “Come Follow Me” New Testament bible study. He said that in 1 Corinthians 10:13, when the Lord says he doesn’t give us more than we can bear–he’s all knowing, knew us before this life and knows exactly what we can bear–but we don’t know it. My son suggested our trials aren’t to prove ourselves to the Lord, but the Lord’s way of proving to us just how strong we really are. His thought gave me pause. It’s such a reframing of my current circumstances.

They’ve been so many times in my life where I thought I’d hit “rock bottom,” only to discover rock bottom’s basement and then the abyss below. Never did I ever imagine I’d make it through some of these experiences–but some how I keep breathing and taking one teeny (sometimes only metaphorical) step forward.

These hard times we experience are really HARD. They suck broken glass at times… but for whatever reason, the Lord believes in us enough to allow us a retrospective glimpse into just how strong we really are. I say “retrospective glimpse” because we never feel strong when we’re going through the nastiness life can heave at us, but afterwards, when we make it through we should really pat ourselves on the back for our strength and courage to keep breathing, and feel a little closer to our Savior who is allowing us to go through these things because he wants to prove to us just how strong we really are. After all, if we’re literal children of God, we have divine DNA.

Keeping that in mind helps me put things into perspective and gives me the confidence that I can overcome whatever I face. I might not have all the answers right now, but I cannot walk (or even roll) through the valley of the shadow of death to genuinely comfort someone if I’ve never felt the depth emotions they’re feeling. It doesn’t matter that completely different experiences may have driven us to similar emotions. What matters is that everything we endure/experience in this life will draw us closer to becoming more like our Savior IF we allow it.

My husband’s a gamer and often speaks of “experience points” needed for an armor upgrade. When everything in your life feels like it’s hitting the fan at the same time, buckle down the hatches folks! You’re gaining experience points for the upgrade.

If the winds of the adversary are whipping your heart, know the Lord has something really powerful in store for you–a spiritual upgrade if you will. If you can’t feel the hope of that promise, hold on to my hope until you can find your own.

It’s just around the corner! Promise. 😉

P.S. If you would like to prevent this from happening to others, please consider signing my petition to “Standardize, Regulate & Audit Shock Treatments (Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT)”

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