We’re past the statute of limitations on certain spoilers, but I won’t ruin Avengers for anyone. I did just get home from watching it, but you can read this regardless of having seen it yet or not. The only Endgame pun I’m going to make is that my endgame is to walk without mobility aids, and I’m well on my way, thank you very much.

Instead, I’m now going to reference huge plot lines of Buffy – if you haven’t seen it yet, well, you’ve had like almost twenty years to catch up, so that’s on you.

We all know I’m a huge fan of soteriological story arcs in pop culture, and Buffy is one of the best Christ figures without the all important resurrection power (which just gives me loads of ammo for conversations about there not being a better story in existence than the history of Jesus conquering death). Both of Buffy’s deaths on the long running TV series require her to be resurrected by her friends, but I’m not going to talk about either of those. Instead, I’m going to talk about the episode where Buffy is tricked into believing that her life as a superhero has been a six year hallucination while she was locked in a psych ward beginning in high school. The bad guy in the episode was trying to get her to give up because she was pretty close to beaten but had the power to win if she just kept fighting alongside her friends.

I’ve had plenty of days where my legs spasm and fight me and my body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to – like just a couple hours ago in the theater I couldn’t stop the jerking in my calves, but I could enjoy the Avengers fighting to save the planet. However, those leg spasms have had seasons of intensity over the last five years and are on a downward trajectory. This week had some spikes after several weeks of a noticeable lull. I even mentioned to Mike how it seemed like I was having less spasms though after he slammed my nervous system to wake it up and help me do my best walking post accident, I was understandably shaky for a while after (and incredibly sore the next day).

So let’s spend some time focusing on that awesome physio appointment because you might have noticed I said I did my best walking post accident this week. When I showed up at the gym on Monday, I got up on the treadmill to show off my latest walking feat – a slow and steady pace with only one hand holding on at any point. Mike got up behind me and asked me to try a few steps with no hands. I managed three. It was pretty epic, but he was prepared to ask for more.

Moving over to the leg press, Mike set the weight at over double what I’ve managed on my own during my solo workouts and helped push me up to the full leg extension and let go to force me to slowly lower the weight back down. At first, he’d explained we’d do a single one with a full minute rest before trying again. “Change of plans,” he told me after I finished the first, “We’re just going to do twelve in a row. Let’s go.”

“I think I might need a break,” I said after he’d counted seven.

“Nope, five more,” he pushed the bench up not giving me a choice.

Miraculously, I managed twelve. Like, seriously, it was a miracle. So obviously I was primed for a half hour more of miracles.

We moved to the stretch of the gym that we’d walked across before, and after a practice run where my legs felt like jelly because of the leg press, Mike talked me through the game plan. I’d already smashed my previous record walking while holding his hand, and we were going to time a couple runs (like seriously running for me) where Mike would just hold my waist and my hands would be in the air instead of holding on to him. “I’ll let go when I feel like you have a steady pace,” he told me.

It only took about half a dozen steps to get a rhythm before Mike let go for the next half dozen. He held on to me at a couple wobbly points and helped me turn around, but the majority of the second half back was all on my own. I sat down in my wheelchair, stunned. He made me stand up to hug him before we did it a few more times. I was near tears in the end because I had taken so many steps without Mike holding on that he hadn’t bothered counting.

Years ago when I did the physio intensive week in Oregon, Candace asked me what my ultimate goal was. “I want to walk without mobility aids,” I dared to dream. My endgame is still the same: that God would be glorified. And it would be nice if I could walk again too. From the moment I told my dad that pre-op five years ago, I’ve kept that goal in mind. I want to walk again.

I’ve got a ticket to get me to Gold Coast, Australia the last week of June to spend an intensive week at a facility called Making Strides that specializes in working with spinal cord injuries. I had to fill out a twelve page application and state my long and short term goals. I want to walk without mobility aids.

I know that requires my head in the game though. Like Buffy, it sometimes looks bleak for me, but I don’t have the right to give up this fight. There’s a whole lot more on the line than my walking ability. Big picture, I’m more than my body, but my body is also part of who I am. Before I lose all of you in my esoteric reflections, I’m just going to ask for some specific prayer requests going into this week. I’ve got the obvious walking improvements I’d like to see, so please pray for the energy and stamina to keep my body moving and to see new improvements physically. I also have the hard process of beginning goodbyes in order to leave this place well. Christchurch and my RCC family have become incredibly special to me, and it won’t be easy to leave. I’ve got a whole Scooby Gang here that I’ll cherish forever who may not get all my Buffy references, but at least Liz will watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with me.

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