24 May 2016.

That was the day when the car I was in collided with another vehicle while during a rock-climbing trip in Australia. My friend and I were flung out of the backseat from the impact.

My memory after that remains a haze even up till now. But there’s one thing I remember: Lying by the road in unbearable pain.

The pain was so intolerable that I begged: “God, please let me die.”

When I woke up a week later from my coma, I found myself at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. But I was in a state of confusion and couldn’t understand what was happening, why I was in so much pain. 

Because of my post-traumatic stress disorder, I couldn’t remember anything including my age, where I was or who the people who visited me were – until now I still can’t remember who visited me or recall taking those photos. 

It was only much later that the doctors explained to me what had happened and the different injuries I had sustained. I had a brain injury, and you can still see the scar on the right side of my head. I also had multiple rib fractures together with ruptured lungs. My pelvis and thigh bones were found to be broken into many pieces as well. This made me 3cm shorter.

Photos courtesy of writer

As my spleen wasn’t functioning either, the doctors said that my immune system would be very weak, and that I would have to be on antibiotics for life.

To make things worse, my vocal cords were paralysed and no one could understand me. The doctors told me that this could be permanent, and that I’d have to take botox injections in my throat every few months to temporarily regain my voice. That was very frightening.

I also couldn’t eat or drink water for many weeks, as I would start choking on my own saliva. But the feeding tube was so uncomfortable that I pulled it out twice – that resulted in me having to be strapped to my bed. 

I felt very helpless for a long period of time because I’ve always seen myself as an independent person. I used to be a competitive rock climber and previously ran a marathon. But when I was in the hospital, I had to learn to rely on the people around me. I couldn’t even shower by myself. 

Photo courtesy of writer

I think if I had the reassurance that I could heal, I would be able to go through the recovery process. But because things were so uncertain and the doctors couldn’t be sure, there were a lot of worries on my end.

Yet at my lowest points, I was greatly comforted by close friends who kept reminding me that God knows and sees me. They’d text me long messages of prayer every day. Sometimes I wonder if they prayed more for me than I did myself.

Besides my parents, three sisters and cousins, many of my friends flew all the way to Australia to visit, including church acquaintances. They brought food and flowers, and offered a lot of encouragement and support. My boyfriend also flew over to Melbourne the night he heard of accident and stayed for two weeks. 

Rachel’s parents (left) and Rachel’s boyfriend, Bryan (right, photo courtesy of writer)

When the doctors told me I should try to walk more even though it was very painful, a few friends from church whom I didn’t know too well also offered to bring me out to walk at different parks.

Through the different people that God has sent to offer me support, I’m repeatedly reminded me of how He sees me through my struggles each day.

However, the road to recovery is still a long-drawn and painful process. Even when I could start to stand, I’d quickly need to find a seat. Months later while learning to walk around in Singapore, I’d panic when I couldn’t find a place to sit.

I also noticed that the escalators moved way too quickly for me. The first time when I could step on to the escalator again was a moment of joy, although this was something I’d taken for granted in the past.

There were also many sleepless nights during the first year after the accident because I would be rudely awakened by the pain if I jerked my leg in my sleep. 

I’d also regret laughing when someone said something funny because I’d be in a lot of pain.

I always encourage myself saying that things will get better as long as I’m disciplined in my physiotherapy. But to date, more than three years since the accident, I’m still unable to participate in sporting activities that I used to enjoy. 

It still hurts for me to climb up and down the stairs, or to stand up from or sit down on a chair. There are also other disabilities that I still struggle with – disabilities that prevent me from serving in church like I used to. This led me to question why God would allow this to happen.

While I still do not have the answer, I’m very grateful for different areas where I’ve seen recovery.

For instance, my spleen was found to have stopped functioning, but months later after numerous tests, the doctors found that it was working again. Thank God I don’t have to be on daily medication!

I also gradually regained my voice and mobility. I’m now able to speak and walk long distances. These are all precious miracles that I hold close to my heart.

The memory of lying by the roadside in immense pain and fear now serves as a cherished reminder for me to use my time meaningfully. The fact that I kept getting better even though I had prayed to die made me realise that surely there must be some purpose for God to heal me in so many different areas!

Photos courtesy of writer

Currently, I have two personal projects that I’m involved in. The first is the development of a mobile app to simplify the learning of Braille, to support sighted individuals to work with people who are visually handicapped.

I realised this gap as I was volunteering with iC2 PrepHouse, a centre that helps children with low vision. The volunteers that I spoke to didn’t know how to read Braille, and that’s when I thought it was useful for volunteers as well as family members of people with visual impairment to learn Braille. Hopefully, with this app, we can better support the visually handicapped community.

The second is the design and distribution of encouragement cards to patients on long-term hospitalisation. I’m currently working with the hospital where I’m still undergoing physiotherapy sessions every week to arrange this. These cards can also be found on my Etsy shop should you know of someone you would like to encourage!

Photo courtesy of writer

Just as how I had been comforted by many people around me, I hope I could extend help too, no matter how small a measure, to individuals who may need it most.

Though I do not fully understand why things have unfolded the way they had, I’ve been reminded of how God sees me through my struggle through the love and support from the community He has provided.

This incident has also taught me to use the time and resources I’ve been given meaningfully and faithfully.

For now, I’m still praying for complete recovery, and I believe that one day I’ll be able to run and do sports again. I believe the God who sees me will continue to heal me.

  1. Do you have difficulties believing that God can heal? Why or why not?
  2. What are some ways besides healing that God displays His care and concern for you?
  3. What is one way you can spend your time on earth more meaningfully?