Welcome Note

Thank you for visiting Kaitlin's blog. Please use this site for the latest updates, information on ways to help, and thoughts from John and Katilin as well as the Rice and Wanberg Families. We will be actively making updates to keep everyone up to speed and communicate as effectively as possible. You can also subscribe so you will never miss a new post.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Inside Out

As I was writing this post, I realized that it gives the impression that the main staples of my life are sorrows and trouble. This is not the case.  I have had so many things in the past years that have been beautiful, normal, and enjoyable.  Most days I feel blessed beyond measure.
have found however,  that writing helps me process through the difficulty and ambiguity of life.  It is cathartic.  It helps me stay grounded. It leads me to truth.  I hope it does the same for you.  

If you haven’t seen the movie Inside Out, go watch it now.
I mean it…
Go watch it.
It literally changed my life.

I can almost bet that those of you who HAVE watched it know exactly what I’m talking about.
The relationship between sadness, and joy, and jealously, and anger is absolutely stunning. 
As they pass and life happens, happy memories become touched by sadness or anger or jealousy.  Different life events come into the picture, and as much as we wish those memories could remain untouched…just as they were the happy day that they were made…that’s not how it works…at least not for me.

Those of you who have read this blog might look at what I’m about to write and say that it looks like I’m moving backwards or not making any progress in processing my injury. Maybe that’s true. Maybe that’s bad. Maybe that’s good…or maybe I’m just moving deeper. 

“I’ve got a new normal”
“Look what I CAN do!”
“I’m learning to balance the sadness with joy and hope”

These statements that I’ve made in the past are still true. But I was talking with a friend the other day and she made the point that to ignore the emotion that is still there…still behind the events and changes and joys and challenges that I face every day BECAUSE of the accident…that’s doing an injustice to something that is STILL part of my life. Something that is STILL meant to be dealt with and learned from.  Something that is STILL hard.

Yes, it has been four years…but that doesn’t mean that I have to have moved past all of the hardship and be “over it”.

Carolyn asked me on a beach in Cape Cod about 3 years ago whether or not being on a beach again (but in a wheelchair) made me in some way sad.  Whether it took some of the memories I had of being on the beach as a kid or with John…swimming…feeling the power of the waves…did it take those memories and taint them in some way.  I said no. It truly didn’t at that time.

Now, I’d say yes.

This is a journey.  It still changes.  It still has its ups and downs. And honestly, it STILL affects almost every part of my life every single day.

I remember how easy it was to hop out of bed to grab a water bottle if I forgot it. I smile when I think about babysitting triplet two year olds and chasing them around in chaos.  I have happy memories of flirting with my husband in our kitchen and backyard. And when I think about these things, sometimes they begin to feel sad.

I remember how it feels to hike. Oh goodness, how I miss it. Sometimes so much that I can’t breathe. How much do I wish that those joyous memories of hiking and being free and breathing rhythmically with my steps and seeing nature…how much do I wish they would be untouched…just stay happy.  But they won’t. 

My ascent to the top of Long’s Peak with friends...
beautiful, momentous, tough, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.
My daily walks up the trail besides the Flatirons in college…
peaceful, quiet, centering, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.
Chasing a two year old through the grass and snatching them up into a hug…
giggly, joyful, SAD, ANGRY, JEALOUS.

Sadness that I can no longer experience these things in the same way that I used to.
Anger in feeling like something beautiful has been snatched from me, and I have no way to get it back
Jealousy over those who are still able to enjoy these things the way I once did

Tears stream down my face as I let myself think about these moments.  In a way, it feels like I have lost a friend.
It almost gets harder the more time passes after you’ve lost a loved one.  You realize that they’re actually gone. You grasp the devastating permanence of the fact that you will never see or talk to that person EVER. AGAIN.


They’re gone. My legs are gone. My friends that have lived so much of life with me…experienced so much joy with me. Made so many memories with me…they’re gone.  I miss them.

I’m four years out, and many times it’s harder now than it has ever been.
It is devastating because it is permanent. And I see the permanence more and more every day.

I put a band aid on it saying “but I CAN do this” or “you can do whatever any able bodied person can do if you put your mind to it”.  Yes, I can. But does that take away the memories I had before this new life? Does it permanently cement them in a different world that is somehow separate from the one I am living in now? Absolutely not. The two are so mixed and convoluted. Sometimes I wish it was more simple.

I am a different person than I was before I got hurt, so my perspective on the way that I lived my life before the injury has been impacted so dramatically.  Paralyzed Kaitlin judges walking Kaitlin…”why didn’t you do those things while you could?”. If I were all of a sudden able to walk now, I would do so many things that I never would have dreamed of doing in my life before the injury.  But now that option is gone. Walking Kaitlin never even knew she wanted those options until the chance to take them was gone.

I don’t even know what this blog is about anymore. So many ideas that have been swirling around in my head for so long...

I guess the theme is that I am paralyzed…that is permanent.
In the wake of that, both my past and my future are affected in a devastating way.

And sometimes you can’t just slap a cheesy “you can do it” statement on that…because even though you CAN do it…”doing it” is no longer the same. You’ve got to feel the weight of that change and loss and realize that the change and loss doesn’t just get processed and then go away…it sticks with you, and it might even get harder with time.

I am being transformed and molded through this journey, and sometimes a shift as dramatic as this one makes you confused about everything that you were and everything that you did before the opportunities for your life were diminished and changed beyond recognition…

But in this I have to remember what doesn’t change.  How is paralyzed Kaitlin the same as walking Kaitlin?
This new person still has the same purpose. To make disciples for the glory of God and the joy of all people.

That remains true. That is a foundation. That is not a band aid.

This journey is tough…and it’s ongoing.  You think you’ve got one thing processed and now you’re good…it’s all figured out…until it’s not.

Praise God for His consistency in this ever shifting life.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"But God..." -- A Post From Sue

Dear friends and family,

It seems like ages since I’ve written on the blog!  I guess in some ways that’s very good, perhaps indicating that we’re all busy and moving forward with our lives. In other ways, however, I feel badly to be somewhat ‘disconnected’ from many of you who have been such faithful supporters and prayer warriors for all of us during the past 2 1/2 years.

Kaitlin actually encouraged me to write this blog while we were on a recent Spring break trip to Florida where we visited my dear mother, Becky, and my Florida siblings.  While traveling together we had many great conversations and she suggested that I post a blog.

We are all doing well. And we thank God for His many blessings over the past few years. Thank you for your prayers and sincere inquiries regarding Kaitlin and John. We are encouraged by your love and your sincere interest in their progress. In fact, Kaitlin and I were talking about our varied replies when we are frequently asked, “How is everyone doing?”  I was telling her about a recent Bible study I attended with my close girlfriends where we were discussing a chapter from Dan Stone’s book titled, “The Rest of the Gospel” and how greatly it impacted my personal response to that very question.  When asked about Kaitlin, I would typically say something like, “God has been faithful and blessed us in many ways, but she hasn’t had feeling or movement return below her injury sight.”  At the Bible study we discussed another way to ‘frame up’ the exact same response.  I’ve begun calling it my “… but God..” statement.  The same words are spoken, yet an entirely different message is conveyed:  “Kaitlin hasn’t had feeling or movement return below her injury sight, but God is faithful and He has blessed us in so many other ways.” Can you hear the difference? Do you sense the hope and thankful heart in my second response? Do you see the praise and glory given to God?  It’s all related to the order in which it’s said.  Kaitlin loved that concept, and she asked me to share it with you!  I challenge you, therefore, to try to personally incorporate “…but God..”  statements into your life everyday. I have, and they have helped me to become more positive and to serve as a reminder that God is indeed faithful to us in so very many ways.

That being said, I would like to ask for very specific prayer from all of you.  Kaitlin was in a car accident earlier this year (which was not her fault) but the impact of the airbag explosion has greatly increased her nerve pain and muscle spasms. Nerve pain can be common in cases of paralysis.  It is pain felt below the site of the injury. Even though she cannot feel gentle touch below her injury line, she can feel extensive nerve pain which she says is similar to feeling a scratching sensation over a severe sunburn. Unfortunately, experiencing nerve pain does not indicate that any nerves are actually being rejuvenated or healed. It sounds similar to ‘phantom pain’ when one loses a limb.  Kaitlin’s nerve pain has become chronic and extremely painful requiring lots of daily medications.  There is, however, a treatment available called a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) implant. The SCS uses low voltage stimulation of the spinal nerves to block the feelings of pain. It could help her to better manage her pain and potentially decrease the amount of pain medication.  Stimulation does not eliminate the source of pain, it simply interferes with the signal to the brain, and so the amount of pain relief varies for each person. The goal of the SCS is a 50% - 70% reduction in pain; however, even a small amount of pain reduction would be significant if it helped her to perform daily activities with less pain and reduced the amount of medication she needed to take.

Before a permanent stimulator can be implanted, the patient must undergo a trial to see IF the device decreases their level of pain.  The surgery is performed  on an out patient basis in two stages: Stage 1 is the trial stimulation and Stage 2 is implantation of the permanent device.  The trial stimulation is very important to determine if the procedure will be successful. It will tell if stimulation is correct for the type, location, and severity of her pain. Kaitlin has her first appointment with a doctor on Thursday, April 21st, to learn more about the SCS and to perhaps move forward as a candidate for the implant. We would very much appreciate your prayers regarding this medical decision.  Please join me in praying for:

God’s wisdom and blessing in moving forward with this procedure.

Pray that Kaitlin would be a candidate for the implant.

Pray for a great response and decrease in pain. I am boldly praying for a 100% decrease in nerve pain!

As always, we appreciate your prayers and we believe God answers them! Thank you for taking part in our journey.  We love you all!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I'm Afraid of Zombies

John and I started watching The Walking Dead Season 1.   About three episodes in, I decided that we should stop.

I was afraid.

Washing dishes alone at the sink at night, I was sure that something terrifying and startling was about to happen…  In the shower, I was convinced that I would open the curtain to see some stranger standing there.

The same thing happened with Criminal Minds…and I’m even struggling slightly with Cluny the Scourge in the children’s novel, Redwall (don’t judge).

Fear is a real thing, and lately, I have felt plagued by it.


I’m not only talking about silly fantasy fears of the creepy man under the bed. 

Real fears.

What if I get a sore?
What if I hurt one of my shoulders?
What if my work decides they don’t want me?
What if something happens to John?
How am I ever going to have kids AND do all of the things I have to do to take care of my body?
What’s going to happen to me when I get older?
What if something ELSE goes wrong?  Cancer? Another injury? More health problems?

Fear can be crippling, and if I let it, it can completely wipe out any hope I have within me.

Satan loves this.


Last week, I was home sick with a stomach bug for one day. I found by the end of the day that I had turned into a complete emotional puddle on the couch.  I was pretty uncomfortable physically, but I was MORE uncomfortable with the fact that I had failed to care for myself throughout the day (John was home helping me), I had not gone to work, I had not gotten anything done around the house…

Each of these things played into one of the above fears, and soon enough, voices in my head had started to chatter:

“You are worthless”
“You’ll never be able to have kids…what will they do when you are sick like this?”
“Your body is so broken, why even try to take care of it?”
“You’re such a failure…you can’t even take care of your own body…imagine what it will be like when this happens when you are older.”

My mind felt like a chapter out of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Then come the scarier thoughts…the ones nobody wants to talk about:

“You know, you really don’t HAVE to deal with this anymore.”
“It would be so easy…then no more struggle”






I’m being real with you.

Real is important.
Real gives opportunity for the light to shine in…

Satan hates that.

But that’s just it, friends…light.

There is light.

I do not have to be crippled by fear. 
I have been given the tools with which to fight it.

When Jesus died on a cross for me and three days later rose from the dead, he demonstrated His undeniable goodness by taking the pain of my sin upon his back, simply so that I would be able to know Him and experience His love.

Over and over, God promises that He will be with me in times of trouble. 
In Hosea, he declares “I will lead her into the desert…”   God promises that he will lead us into difficult times of life…but if He is leading us, then we know without a doubt that He is with us as we walk through it.

The Lord also desperately desires for me to put my identity in Him. 
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Rom 8:15
 If I live as though I am a child of the King of the Universe, then even if all of my fears come true, I have confidence that my Father, the one who made heaven and earth still looks on me with joy…I still have worth because he gives it to me.


So here’s the question…

What if I get a sore?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.

What if I hurt one of my shoulders?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.

What if my work decides they don’t want me?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.
What if something happens to John?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.

How am I ever going to have kids AND do all of the things I have to do to take care of my body?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.

What’s going to happen to me when I get older?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.

What if something ELSE goes wrong?  Cancer? Another injury? More health problems?
God is still good. He will be with you. You are still His child.


Would these things be difficult if they happened?

God is in control and He is good. But a lot of times, His good might disagree with what I think good should look like in my life…and that may be devastatingly painful.

But we are a whisper, and The Bible says that the trials of this life cannot compare to the glories that are to come when we are united again with Christ. Rom 8:18

There are plenty of things to fear. 
Whether they come from a TV show, a children’s storybook, or our own lives…fear is real.

But so is God…and He is stronger. 

I will fear no evil.  For my God is with me. And if my God is with me, whom (what) then shall I fear?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,c
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Room for Sadness

It’s that time of year again.

The weather is getting nice.

People are getting out and enjoying the sun.

As I drive home from work, I see runners… I see bike riders…I see couples strolling and holding hands.

As I leave the grocery store, I see a Mom getting on her bike with one baby on the back and one on the front.

My response to these images for the past year and half has been, “it’s ok, you might not be able to do that…but you can do other things!”

But the truth is, I desperately want to be able to do these things. 

When I see a Mom pushing a stroller, or someone taking a jog…my heart aches.

I feel sad.

My Mom has said to me that she worries that I haven’t processed the accident enough…haven’t taken the time to mourn like so many others have…

I’ve consistently played it off.

“Mom, I’m fine!  I can drive. I’m back to work. I can run errands, cook, and do laundry.  I’m a wife, and even a mom to my puppy!  I’m ok.”

But I think she’s right…I think there’s something more for me to recognize.

I’m not ok because I can “do” all of these things…I’m ok because Jesus has made it so that the sadness will someday be undone.

We have been studying Revelation at church…putting ourselves in the very midst of the throne-room where God’s plan to cleanse the world is in action.

He WILL bring all hearts to Him, and He is where the beauty is.  He is where the suffering ends.  He is where sadness ceases.

But that’s just it…the sadness has not yet been undone…and that means that it is very real.

As we wait for the Lord to take it away, He uses it as a tool in our lives.

Sadness encourages me to run to God for comfort because He is the only one who can give it. 

Sadness gives Him the chance to meet me in my despair when I have nothing else to cling to, and lead me into the hope of eternity with Him

For me, sadness has served to help me to identify some of my idols and selfish desires…the things that I cling to above Christ

I see the idol of control in my heart when I look at my life and it just isn’t what I THOUGHT it should look like.

I realize the root sin of comparison in my life when I look at other women and envy their bodies/capabilities.

I see the reality of my stubbornness to rely on myself instead of Christ when I am bitter about having to re-learn things in a different way.

This is not to say that everything we are sad about reveals an idol in our life…

I am SAD about not being able to walk…but that does not mean I idolized walking…

What I’m realizing is that sadness is real, and it is only as I embrace it that I see its many purposes.

I recognize the brokenness of myself and the world.
Left with nothing else to hope in, I run to CHRIST for comfort
In the arms of my loving Father, I cling to the fact that someday, this sadness WILL be undone.

My new struggle is with the balance of allowing the sadness to be real and to penetrate my heart, while still clinging to the hope we have in Christ and the joy that stems from that.

I don’t know exactly how to do that…but I do know that sadness is OK. 

Sadness does not mean that I am a failure...that I am not “strong enough”

I am not OK because I FEEL OK

I am OK because God is in control.


"Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Rev 21:1-4

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brave enough...

This will be my first entry since the one-year anniversary of my injury.  September 1 was just a day for John and I.  We didn’t take it too seriously or get too emotional about it; but it has given me the chance to look back over the past year of events and just reflect. 

From the very moment of the accident, The Lord gave me a sense of peace. 

As I opened my eyes in that dry riverbed, I soon came to realize that I could not feel or move my legs.  Instead of freaking out about that…I started immediately talking about how grateful I was that I COULD feel and move my arms and hands.

One of the first things I started talking about upon entering the ICU was how excited I was to go to Disneyland and get fast-passes for every ride.

Through all of my therapies, I was strong and determined.  I took the time I had at Craig as an opportunity to meet other people and be an encourager.  Many times I was even an encourager to my friends and family.

When people would come to visit, I wanted to make them feel comfortable and like they didn’t have to worry about me.  I wanted to be OK as to make sure that they were ok. 

Overall…I was brave. 

In some ways, I think the Lord gave me this bravery and peace as a way to survive.  I had to push on and do the next thing so that I could get better…so that I could get back to normal life. 

Well, I’m here now…back to normal life….but my new normal is not what I thought it would be.

Unless the Lord chooses to heal me, I will spend the rest of my life sitting down.  I will never again feel the sand in my toes or the lapping of ocean waves on my legs.  I won’t summit another fourteen thousand foot mountain.  It will take me at least three times longer to get in and out of my car.  I will plan my days around how many transfers will be required of me. I will need someone to push my cart at the grocery store.  I will continue to ask people to pump my gas at the gas station.  I will fear stairs and cracks in the sidewalks.  I will live with sore shoulders and consistent pain in my hands. I will always rely on others to reach items on high shelves, or to reach under my desk to grab that apple that rolled away.  I will be nervous to be alone for fear of falling from my chair.  For the most part, everything will be just a little bit more difficult.

That is scary.  And the question is…am I still brave? 

You know what…I think bravery at this stage of my healing process looks different than it did in the beginning. 

 I am not brave…I am scared.  But in a way, that is the bravest thing I can say.  It can be terrifying to not be ok.  It is so hard for me to acknowledge the fact that I cannot make everyone happy for forever.  People will be sad when they hear my story and look at my life, even if I am bright and sparkling and perfectly happy.  The Lord is big enough for me to struggle.  He is knitting all of this into a story of beauty, whether I’m cheery or not.

So in this season, I’m brave enough to not be brave.  It’s new for me, and very scary, but so authentic.  

Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, o’ my soul wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.”