The Life of Bon: What does your body do for you?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What does your body do for you?

I spent much of my weekend curled up reading this book.

Most bloggers are familiar with Stephanie Nielsen and her story she was a popular "mommy blogger," constantly blogging about her children and her love for being a mother.  Suddenly her life changed in an instant when a plane crash left her near death with over 80% of her body burned.  She spent three months in a coma and then countless months after that trying to heal, trying to recover.

This book chronicles the entire experience.  I started and finished it this weekend.


Both Saturday and Sunday I woke up earlier than normal.  I tossed and turned for a moment, and then decided to turn on the bedside lamp and read in the quietness of the morning- in those hours of stillness before the hussle and hecticness of the day begins.  Hubs lay curled up and peaceful beside me, and I pushed my body up close to his and read page after page.

While I was reading, I was so overcome with admiration for somebody who has endured so much, and gratitude for everything I have been given.  I thought of the trials we are all given and how we conquer them, how we become better or worse people because of them.

In her book, Stephanie speaks candidly of her most difficult moments, her feelings of hopelessness, her struggles, her pain.  And more pain.  And more pain.

She tells of having to wake up and learn where she was after three months in a coma.  Of having to here the awful news and then having to rehear it every time she woke up again.

She tells of her week of having her eyelids sewn shut and feeling so trapped- not only by the bandages that covered her body, but by her inability to see anything.

She tells of being constipated and not being able to do even the most basic of human functions.  She couldn't go to the bathroom by herself and instead passed her bowel movements in a diaper and had to have another adult wipe her clean.

She tells of her first day being home from the hospital and having her sister try to give her a shower.  After water soaked the sister's clothes and spilled all over the bathroom she just took her clothes off and showered with Stephanie- both of them bathing together.

She tells of trying to buy Christmas gifts online for her kids from a hospital bed- how proud she felt of herself for being able to make a purchase on the internet.

She tells of her kids being afraid to look at her, of her baby crying "mommy" for someone else- for the sister who took care of the baby for months while Stephanie was in the hospital.

At one point, Stephanie couldn't get into the tub and her sister couldn't lift her, so Stephanie's brother in law came in and lifted her naked body into the shower.

Stephanie talks about the difficulty of doing even the most basic physical movements- like raising an arm or pointing with her finger or taking a step.  She describes the fierce physical pain and her desire to just give up all together.  As incentive the doctors would say to her, "Pretend like you are getting spaghetti sauce down from the cupboard to make dinner for your family."  She talks about how she yearned to be able to do basic mom and wife duties- make dinner, fold laundry, and go grocery shopping.

I couldn't help but feel guilty as I thought of everything that I take advantage of every day.  Just yesterday I went grocery shopping, with my list in hand and my coupons in tow.  I complained in my head the entire forty five minutes I was in the store about how much I hate this chore.  I pushed the cart around without thinking once about my ability to do so.  I grabbed noodles and bread, beef and bacon, crackers and cheese and threw them casually into my cart.  I sifted through coupons, waited in line, thumbed through a magazine, slid my credit card, signed the receipt.  I loaded the groceries in the car, drove home, parked the car, carried the bags into my apartment, put the food away, scooped a bowl of ice cream.  My body did exactly what I told it to do when I told it to do.  I lifted heavy groceries, I pushed a cartful of food, I drove home- steering and braking and fiddling with the nobs on the radio.  And I had taken advantage of it all.  Not once had I thought about how grateful I should be for my ability to do so. Instead I was annoyed that they were out of otter pops, stressed at how much groceries cost, offended by the driver that cut me off.

I was so overcome with gratitude as I read all morning long.  I looked over at Hubs, lying so peacfully beside me, grinding his teeth in his sleep and dreaming of superheroes and dragons (And yes, he does dream about those things.)  I look at his arm curled up under his pillow- the perfection of it, its ability to move whenever he wills it to- even while sleeping.  I looked at his ears, his legs, his long torso, his toes, all body parts that do exactly what body parts are supposed to.  I looked at him and thought what an amazing thing a body is and how often we take advantage of it.  The spot in the bed was warm where he lay, so I cuddled up close and put my arms around him.  I stroked his back casually and then thought how even this was a gift- to be able to move my arm where I wanted it to, to cuddle up with him on a Sunday morning, to feel my forehead rest against his chin.

I suppose this is a resolve to be a little more thankful for the endless blessings I have been given.  To stop complaining about commuting to school and kids who don't turn in their homework and people who cut me off in traffic and waking up at 5:50 and power bills that are too high.  Instead, to be grateful for my healthy body, my intelligent mind, my family who loves me, my friends who laugh with me, and my Heavenly Father who has given it all to me.

Go read the book, will you?


  1. ooooh I didn't realize she wrote a book! Guess that's going on my reading list now :)

  2. What a great reminder to everyone. I didn't know she had a book either, I will definitely be checking this out, thanks!

  3. my plan is to read this on the plane to brazil. I can't wait!

  4. I've been looking for a new read and just ordered it off Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautiful post!! I may have to put the book in my reading list. Sounds very insprational

  6. Wow! That's a great review and this book has definitely moved you. I love when books do that.


    p.s. Thanks for visiting my blog...I'm a new follow ;)

  7. I want to read this. Can I steal it from you?

  8. Thanks for sharing this! I just went and read years back into her archives. Such an inspiration!

  9. what a great post- it is too often that i forget these things myself, that are so easy yet get me so annoyed. thanks for bringing this to my attention, and this is now on my to-read list.