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HILLIARD (FBW)—Betty Crews, a member of River Road Baptist Church in Hilliard, has penned a recently released account of her long recovery from a devastating car accident in December 2003. She says she wrote Be Lifted Up to give hope to those who need to be “inspired to walk by faith through the fire of trials.”
Crews and her husband Ronnie were on their way to Jacksonville, a 30-minute trip from their home, when their F-10 pickup truck was forced off the road by an oncoming minivan. The truck crossed both lanes of traffic, flipped and ended up in a ditch. Betty Crews, not buckled in a seat belt, was ejected from the truck at 55 mph.
She began her long journey of healing in the trauma center of Shands Hospital in Jacksonville where she was diagnosed with a severe concussion, a compound fracture of her left arm, a broken left ankle, a cracked rib and several cuts. During her 12-day stay in the hospital, an external fixator, a device to hold bones together was attached to her left arm, and she was confined to a hospital bed.
“Somewhere along the way, I surrendered the freedom to think for myself. And what’s more, I lost the will to even care,” she wrote. “My independence and self-esteem were gone.”
She was transferred to a nursing home for rehabilitation, but a life-threatening reaction to medication sent her back to the hospital on New Years Day 2004. After a short stay, she returned to the nursing home, not far from where members of her extended family lived. Members and Pastor Bill Tyler of Cedar Bay Baptist Church, where her three sisters and a brother attend, were frequent visitors at the nursing home.
“Without the prayers of Cedar Bay and other supporters, we never would have survived those trying ordeals,” she wrote.
Since her recovery, Crews has led a women’s retreat for the church that ministered to her.
She developed empathy for nursing home residents, especially elderly patients whose heart’s desire is to return home.
“I empathized with them completely. I, too, was confused and perplexed. Where is home anyway?” she wrote. “I was living so close to their state of existence that peering into their eyes only reflected my own helplessness. It was difficult, if not impossible, to visualize victory on the mountaintop while I was struggling in the valley.”
She developed an infection in her arm that required more surgery, and another hospital stay, but she returned to her home in Hilliard two months after the accident. Her children and grandchildren surrounded her there.
However, “the unsettling waves of depression continued to sneak up and blind-side me from time to time,” Crews wrote. Only weeks later, an infection in the bone of her arm necessitated more surgery to remove the external fixator. Another surgery in October 2004 replaced her elbow with a metal device, and inserted cadaver bone to facilitate healing.
Her Christian friends continued to pray for her, and amped up their prayers when they sensed some of Crews’ struggles were spiritual warfare.
“I believe [these Christian ladies brought] some heavy spiritual artillery,” Crews wrote.
Orthopedic surgeon Michael Fitzpatrick, who guided Crews medical care, wrote in the forward of her book that “45 percent of those in severe accidents suffer post traumatic stress disorder, and approximately 10 percent suffer major depressive episodes.” He said what prevailed for Crews was her “belief in her family, her friends, and her faith.”
Crews told Florida Baptist Witness she could compare her feelings during her recovery to taking care of her elderly mother for two years.
“It felt the same, because it was something that took me beyond my limits,” she said.
She said her spiritual health was restored as she spent more time in her “soul room—the most intimate part of your relationship with the Lord.”
Like the Apostle Paul, Crews said she has learned to be content whatever her circumstances. Unlike the first year after the accident, she now has no pain, but her arm remains fragile. Her limitations were learned by “retraining my brain, making it a habit.” Even with nerve damage in her hand, Crews has returned to her old hobby of crocheting.
She also worked to record her story in Be Lifted Up, an undertaking urged by friends and family. Ken Westbrook, interim pastor of River Road Baptist Church during much of Crews’ ordeal, said learning of her struggles made him a more empathetic minister.
“Her book reminds me that as we live our day-to-day lives in relative ease, there are many around us who suffer in silence,” he said.
Crews said she has come to the point that she “I don’t have to understand why this all happened.”
“I can say to others, ‘Don’t give up no matter how you feel. God is still in control. Always go back to God’s Word,’” she said.
Her “hang-on Scripture” is Isaiah 40:10: “See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule. His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him.”
“I could repeat that Scripture and feel God’s strength coming back—not in body, because it was broken, but in spirit,” she said.
For more info on Be Lifted Up, go to www.bettycrews.com.
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