IT IS NOT ABOUT ME – Ch01-part 1

A Quadriplegic’s Autobiography by JQuisumbing

Click here to read PREFACE

Chapter 1 – He is Real

In the beginning, GOD… (Genesis 1:1a)

At around 5:45 AM or so, I am awake. As usual my vision is blurred. I try to bring my hand up to my face to rub the sleep away but it would not budge an inch from its resting place. My first thought, again as usual, was ‘Oh, how I miss splashing cold water on my face’. So, I do the next best thing and squint a number of times to produce tears to clear it up. Now, as it clears, the scene that comes to focus is the turned-off TV mounted on the far wall. Nothing far-out there except that I am lying flat in bed. I should be looking up at the ceiling. Of course, now I remember. I sleep wearing specialized prism spectacles that I ordered from Amazon. I use them so that when I awaken I will not be staring helplessly at the ceiling which gives me vertigo. This dizzying condition was an after effect of being laid-up in a hospital bed, with my neck immobilized by a very stiff collar for 2 long months. This was not one of my favorite memories.

At 6:45 AM, my wife tiredly gets up from her bed. Her routine is to first give me my early morning pill that stimulates my intestine for… ahem… obvious reasons. Then, she would roll me to my side and inspect my posterior for bedsores. This is a real danger for every quadriplegic if not regularly monitored. After which, she disconnects my breathing tube from my respirator. This routine is for me to exercise my lungs to breathe on its own. I can stay off it for about 3 hours until my lung muscles tire. From there, my wife does other nursing chores until it’s about 8-8:30 AM. Before long, she is cranking my bed to about 30 degrees, not exactly to a sitting position, but just high enough for me to be fed.

This is just a taste of my reality as a quadriplegic, that is, being paralyzed from the neck down. This is not a condition that is temporary. This is for the rest of my life. No more backpacking in California’s Sierra Mountains. No more playing laser tag and ping pong. Even my dream to stroll the quaint country lanes of England, climb the highlands of Scotland as well touring the sites of Europe will remain a dream. My world is mostly limited to a 3 foot by 7 foot bed in a studio apartment. By every right, I should be bitter and in desperate despair. I have seen that look of despair before in the faces of quadriplegic patients, abandoned to live their lives in a poorly ventilated ward of a state run hospital. What I remember most was their eyes which reflected no HOPE at all. Today, I share the same predicament except that my spirit is not imprisoned in a useless shell. In fact, instead of misery, self pity and depression, I am incredibly filled with a joy that is by the world’s perspective beyond comprehension. When asked, how can this be? My answer is simple.

GOD IS REAL!

To be continued…

Click here to read Chapter 1 Part 2

IT IS NOT ABOUT ME – Preface

A Quadriplegic’s Autobiography by JQuisumbing

I have a Catch-22 situation. You see…

I’M A NATURAL SHOW OFF!

It is a habit that I make a point of curbing whenever the set up involves me being in front of people. I am afraid that a lot of my exaggerated outward show has raised a fair number of eyebrows.

One particular memory that haunts me was when I was part of a singing worship group at my church. I have been told many times that I had a good singing voice. Well, on one Sunday worship, when my best friend was song-leading, we were singing a song that when he sang the chorus, there was a part where a good voice could echo the song leader’s. Well, uninvited, I jumped in enthusiastically. I wish I could say that I did well, but by my best friend’s sidelong glance, I was bad… I mean, really bad.

I wish that was the only thing that haunts me but nope. There are a lot more. Even though I have reached an age where I have a little more self control, that bad habit does pop out of its rabbit hole. Just the other day, I asked a friend and a fellow thespian whether I exhibited any such swagger lately. Her response was with a slight derogatory chuckle.

Anyway, let me swing back to the Catch-22 part. As a discipline, I try not to show off, that is, I avoid being the center of attention. I liked it way too much. For years, I have managed to keep myself for the limelight. Then I was ‘convicted’ to write an autobiography. My best friend, who is a published author, had been hounding me to write my story. I hesitate… for obvious reasons. I almost decided not to when this passage came to mind.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” Matthew 5:14-15

I have extolled in my Bible study groups (many times) that for the sake of those who still wander this world of spiritual darkness, that they are the only source of light. Of course, when I refer to ‘light’, I speak of truth. When I speak of truth, I really mean Christ Jesus who is the Truth (John 14:6). Then when they ask ‘how’, I am quick to tell them that one of the ways is for them to tell their story… a testimony of what the Lord had done for them. I frequently remind my brothers and sisters of this passage as both a reminder and encouragement. Now, this passage speaks to me. It is my turn! As a quadriplegic with an unusual jovial personality, many have felt that I have much to share. But I must be careful of my old nature rearing its head.

You see, I am no stranger in giving testimonies. In my early years, I was always quick to go up on stage, stand before an entire congregation and give a great story. At first, I thought I was bringing glory to His name by telling all the things that the Lord had done for me. But then I found myself tweaking the story to make it sound better, mostly to get the expected reaction from my audience. I confess that I had even added embellishments, justifying that creativity is okay for as long as… again… that the Lord was praised. In hindsight, I unknowingly and knowingly loved the attention of the audience especially when I was personally hailed. That habit had even permeated in how I vocally pray before others.

These days I avoid getting on any stage and I prefer praying quietly. But writing an autobiography can easily yield into those same temptations. So, should I do this? Should I be safe and avoid the lure of recognition and fame? You would think that that would be the right course. But the conviction I got from Matthew 5:14-15 told me that if I did not, it would be like I was putting a basket cover on the very light that my Lord had lit in me. God’s intention was always for all of us to shine bright in this spiritually dark world. For myself, I just have to avoid certain pitfalls that can so easily entangle me. What are these pitfalls? Well, let us take a look at verse 16 of Matthew 5. Take note of the bold underlined part. The pitfalls for me is that my intent is opposite of what should happen below.

Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. vs16

So, the task for me is to write about me and tell a story that is hopefully a page turner, but yet not tickle my ego. This is not so easy, but I’m going for it. I think the first place I will start will be the title of this book.

Some friends and I tossed around a number of working titles. Keep in mind that we followed the rules of publishable Christian literature. Here are our top three titles:

THE LORD IN ONE NOT SO SPECIAL
THE SPIRIT FILLED LIFE OF A QUADRIPLEGIC
MY MIDDLE NAME IS ALSO JESUS

I don’t know. These titles seem good, however, I could not help but feel that they were still a little ‘amour-propre’. That is French for self-conceited, more or less anyway. No, I don’t think these titles will work out. My goal is to put out a book that must ‘shine’ for those who don’t really know the Lord. Secular folks tend to shy away from obvious ‘religious’ titles. So, strategically, I decided to use…

IT IS NOT ABOUT ME
A Quadriplegic’s Autobiography

I hope to show how the Lord has moved in my entire life; from when I became a polio victim on my first birthday to how I became paralyzed from the neck down 60 years later. You will get to know the Jesus that I know; the Jesus who taught and mentored me; the Jesus that I trust and believed; the Jesus that I willingly follow regardless how hard life is; and the Jesus who continues to save me. I pray you would discover how truly sweet salvation really is for us who are so undeserving.

So, shall we start?

To be continued…

Click here to read – Chapter 1 Part 1