Brains, Woodpeckers and El Roi

The “Brain” that’s what she’s called at school.  She started public school in 7th grade and maintained a perfect streak of 4.0’s. The one everyone says looks like me. But oh’ she’s so much smarter than I ever was. The brain.

The brain contains roughly 15–33 billion neurons, perhaps more, depending on gender and age, linked with up to 10,000 synaptic connections each. The blood vessels in the brain would reach a distance of 100,000 miles, or four rotations around the earth, if they were stretched flat! God created it to be the command center of our bodies. When it’s healthy our potential is amazing.

So when my 4.0 student saw her less than stellar final grades, she began forgetting things, her moods changed and even the simplest tasks became frustrating we knew something was wrong. She was plagued by constant headaches and began to sleep 17 hours a day. 

Diagnosis: Concussion.

Our state-ranked swimmer, equestrian enthusiast, and avid reader was sidelined. No activity at all, no books, music, TV, or computer.  Her photography pursuits were even thwarted because her brain couldn’t send the signals to the finger fast enough to get the shot.

This invisible culprit – concussion, was due to a fall from a chair in school 10 days prior. Her brain, all 2.87 lbs of it had violently shifted in her skull causing her cells to weaken.  Undiagnosed for 10 days, she rode horses, roller coasters, trained and competed in swimming events shocking her brain even further. We began to wonder about Woodpeckers.  Seriously.

The Pileated Woodpecker whacks a tree or our deck with such velocity that it can wake up a sleeping human. I found that woodpeckers have an enlarged brain case, so the brain sits above the level of direct hammering impact. The skull’s frontal bones – together with a set of muscles at the bill’s base – act as a shock absorber. Again, God’s perfect plan, human heads however, were not made to bounce off the school floor.

To look at her, you can’t tell anything is wrong. But living with her is another story. Simple tasks frustrated her, she couldn’t color for 5 minutes without getting a headache.  She would rely on her family as her memory.  “Did I know that?” she would say over and over. She would walk into a room with a blank stare forgetting why she was there. We’d joke she was learning sympathy for her 40something mom.

Sound, lights, riding in a car all caused pain. My active child became a slave to her invisible injury and her family held hostage as spectators.  I thanked God it was temporary.  He was the only one who could truly see.  I took comfort in El Roi (EL raw – EE) ‘the God who sees me’.

In Genesis the story of Hagar is told.  She was an Egyptian slave who connected with her creator in the desert and called him El Roi ‘the God who sees me’. That is the only mention of that name.  She had been stranded in the desert with no water. She laid her son under a bush and moved away so she wouldn’t have to watch him die.  God not only heard the baby cry but provided them with water and their lives were spared.

Hannah looked normal. At swim meets people would question why she wasn’t swimming.  Only El Roi could see her bruised brain.  Only El Roi? The One who created it. Master physician and healer.

When you are dealing with a secret struggle that others can’t see – take comfort in El Roi “the God who sees me”.  When you are accused or attacked know that El Roi, the only one who matters, sees and knows your struggle.  Just because a struggle or wound is on the inside the impact can still be devastating.  And like there is pain in the unseen, there is power in the unseen, El Roi.

Point to Ponder:  Is there a secret struggle in your life?  What do you need to bring to El Roi?  What can you turn over to El Roi and find peace in knowing that He is “The God who sees me”.

PS: Hannah is getting better every day. She is still not swimming, riding or running, but her headaches are fewer, her smile more abundant and her memories are coming back. Continued prayers are welcome.