The accident that changed my life happened during basketball practice my second year of teaching in a small town in Florida in 1948.
It is true about the old saying, "If only I had known then what I know now," - how different my life would have been.
I had fallen on my spine doing a layup. I knew I had injured my back, but I didn't know how badly. I drove myself to a Gainesville hospital 25 miles away. When I got there, I was in too much pain to get out of the car.
Later a doctor assured my family an operation would help me.
I woke up from the surgery paralyzed. We never knew what happened. The records had been destroyed.
Raised in a Baptist church, I knew God, but only as someone up in heaven. Now God was to become my constant companion.
I had lived to dance and party. Sundays I sat in church and listened, but the rest of the week I lived for Betty. When I really took God into my life, I realized what I had been missing. Sometimes it takes a tragic accident to help us realize that God is a caring God who loves us no matter what or who we are.
The last 50-plus years have been tumultuous. I was partially paralyzed for two years as some nerves reconnected. I learned to walk again, went back to school, married, raised a family, all the while enduring horrible pain in my body.
Scar tissue in my spine, a condition called arachnoiditis, caused me such severe pain at times that my feet and head would meet backward and my toes would draw under. I felt like someone had stuck me with a hot poker.
I lived on pain pills. For 2 1/2 years, I wore morphine patches, the same medication cancer and AIDS patients use, until God reached down his loving arms and touched my body one night while I slept.
In August 2000, I went to bed normally. When I awoke, I knew something had happened. I stepped out of bed, but there was no pain! Believe me, I was shouting and praising God to the rooftops!
It took another two to three weeks to go through withdrawal from the morphine patches. Despite 25 surgeries and 35 hospital stays since the accident, I always believed God would take away the pain. What discomfort I now have is mostly from weakness in my legs because of the loss of muscle. I am still claiming victory, believing God has healed my back.
One day there will be no pain. I will be able to walk and jump. My greatest desire is that I will be able to run down the church aisle and shout to the rooftops to let people know God does answer prayers.
Dr. Betty Turner of Martinez has a doctorate in education. She is a member of Baker Woods Baptist Church.