Have Mercy On Me

Before last Christmas, my sister asked me what my students called me so she could use my title on a personalized present. She was thinking of the difference between “Miss” and “Ms.” before my name.

“Well, most of them call me Mother Hewett, but I don’t encourage it… There’s a growing number that refer to me as Saint Hewett. I’m okay with that one. But I introduce myself to my students as Ms. Hewett.”

The saint joke was partially my fault as I did get a graphic arts student to photoshop my face on an icon, but I definitely did not ask the graphic arts teacher to print out a hundred wallet size versions and pass them out to students. Nor did I ask him to print out an A4 version to hang in my classroom. However, when the thing caught on, I did ask the student to make a set with the rest of the Bible department teachers because I think they are hilarious. I don’t think I’m better than anyone to have my face on an icon; I’m quite aware of my shortcomings. However, I’m a protestant, so I happily celebrate how I am already a saint because of the work of Christ. I also have spoken frequently of how I expect to be attributed with three miracles if a particular HBR agnostic discovers he has a soul. My jokes accidentally come across as edgy to some, but it’s probably not that shocking to anyone who’s followed my story for long.

Which transitions me neatly from the title of this website to the reason I’ve shifted platforms. I broke my back five years ago, and I wrote a nice post about it last week originally posted on the blog I began the week I was in the hospital which was hosted on a platform specifically for people who are sharing stories of medical traumas and recovery. I’ve candidly shared about my trauma and recovery along with lots of other details of my life and ministry, so after five years, Givorgy suggested I should shift to a well designed website with my own name on it. Givorgy set up and designed the whole website for me, and I’ll use this domain to host the continued stories of my, well, mostly recovery, but occasionally other things guilt free about how closely they connect to my accident.

I’m notoriously bad with technology (which should probably be more embarrassing for the daughter of a computer programmer – sorry, Mom), so I know some people might be frustrated that I’ve moved platforms and they can’t keep getting the nice email notification for new posts they signed up for previously. Have mercy on me; I’ll still update each week because my life is still an awesome defiance to medical odds. You can subscribe below for email updates or bookmark this page to find all the ongoing awesomeness and even comment easily without having to make an additional profile.

For example, here’s a great anecdote of me being incredible: this Monday, instead of going to the physio practice to meet with Mike, we met at the gym across the street and set me up with a membership. It’s a quarter of the cost of going to Mike each week, though I’ll still check in with him occasionally, and Mike gave me a specific workout plan to train the weak muscles in my neglected legs. The warmup to my routine is fifteen minutes on the treadmill, and the goal is to keep the pace over two kilometers an hour. I frequently whisper to myself, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” as I practice walking. It’s a meditative prayer that focuses me while I keep moving my legs, lifting from the hips, and making sure I don’t drag my toes. After that, I go through a series of leg curls, leg extensions, leg presses, and sit to stands that target all the atrophied muscles that I need to activate again. The leg curls are the most difficult, and I struggle to get the machine to recognize I’ve completed a rep to my maximum ability when it’s only half of the range a normal person is capable of. I repeat my prayer for mercy, recognizing my limitations before counting on my own and celebrating my success for moving my legs at all after I was told it was medically improbable.

The gym employees were super friendly when I met them (as all Kiwis are), and were excited to hear about my incredible recovery so far. “No one will recognize you after six months here,” they encouraged me. I’m obviously optimistic about my improvements, but I’m still a little self-conscious about wheeling into the gym each day. Honestly, like lots of other people, I was self-conscious about going to the gym before my accident. I remember trying to avoid going at busy times so less people would see me. I don’t really know what the busy times are for this new place, so I just showed up when was most convenient for me this week.

Thursday, I’d shifted myself onto the leg extension machine and was huffing through my reps with barely any weight as I watched a man with a slight limp approach me in a break from his routine.

“I just wanted to say good on you for getting to the gym with an obvious disability. I know what it’s like,” he lifted his sweat pant leg to show me the green metal rod that connected a shoe to his upper leg as he spoke the last words.

“Thanks,” I grinned involuntarily.

I actually couldn’t stop smiling the rest of my workout. It is pretty awesome that I didn’t let the wheelchair stop me. That I don’t. That I won’t.

I’ve overcome a lot, and I have a lot left to overcome. It’s a paradox like the sinner with the title of saint.

Don’t give up on me. If you think I’ve done a lot already, just know there’s a lot left ahead. I’m a miracle.

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