Lying in the hospital, many thoughts ran through Leonard’s mind. He had been a famous soccer player. Now he depended on people to push him around in a wheelchair. Once his strong legs enabled him to entertain the crowds. Now his legs would not move by themselves.
“Is this the end of my soccer career?” he wondered. “Will I ever hear the crowd shout ‘Shoooooes!’ again when I get the ball in midfield and head towards goal?” One day the doctor who was treating Leonard came to speak to him. “Mr Gregory,” he said, “I don’t know how you are going to respond to this news. Your accident means that you will never use your legs again the way you used to. Life is like that, Mr Gregory. Sometimes things happen which we do not expect, or want, to happen.”
The doctor kept quiet and waited for Leonard’s reply. “I understand, Doctor,” said Leonard without hesitation, smiling.
The doctor was surprised that Leonard was taking the news so well. He continued, “You will be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life or you will use crutches.”
“I understand you completely, Doctor,” Leonard answered bravely. “I know that God will give me the ability to cope with this new way of life.”
The doctor realised that Leonard accepted his situation. He told him to have a good rest and promised to see him the following day.
After the doctor had left, Leonard meditated on the news that he had heard. “What does all this mean for me?” he asked himself. He touched himself to make sure that he was not dreaming. He tried to shake his legs.
Leonard was worried about his family. Would his wife and children accept him as he was? What would happen to them now that he could not walk? Would he be able to provide for them as a husband and a father? This type of question kept him awake at night.
He had grown up in a Christian home and had always been spiritually strong. He thought about his grandmother, Lilly, who had been a powerful influence on him when he was young. She had been disabled as a result of a snake bite. She had a hunchback and was short of breath, but she always had firm faith in God. Leonard’s faith in God was a great help to him during this time.
Then, after many weeks had passed, Leonard’s family came to visit him in hospital in Pietermaritzburg. It was a long way from Kokstad. They were very pleased to see each other. This visit was a great relief for Leonard.
His family did not reject him because of his disability. They showed great acceptance and they encouraged him to continue with his plans. Leonard also had a lot of support from friends and from the church. Leonard was encouraged by the visits of his family and friends. He requested a transfer to a hospital near his home so that his family could visit him often. Soon he was well enough to return home to his family.
When he went home from the hospital, Leonard did exercises every day to strengthen his legs. Although it was very difficult and painful, he persevered. Soon he was able to use his legs with the assistance of crutches.