I remember when that elevator in the middle of Nemours became more than just some elevator for the Ellis Clan.
Walking into Nemours for the first time in 2014, I was a mess. Physically, emotionally and mentally.
My trust in orthopedics wasn’t all there and doubt was clouding my head. I had very little hope that my situation could turn around.
But then we got off that elevator.
“Jordan, look at that.”
Following my mom’s smile and seeing my dad pointing at something behind me, I turned around and saw that.
A picture of a little boy in a metal walker like the one I grew up in, smiling ear to ear. And words that forever changed our world:
“A promise to do whatever it takes.”
The thing is, that is something I’ve had to live by my whole life. Growing up, I became a master at quick problem solving in everyday life. I often wouldn’t let my physical limitations slow me down and I’d do whatever it took to do whatever I wanted to do in life.
I can’t play sports. But I will do whatever it takes to get near a field. So, for three years in high school I rode bus after bus, watched soccer game after soccer game and took stat after stat. Loving every minute on that bench.
I can’t run. But I remember limping (and falling a lot) for a mile around the gym in elementary school just so I could do the Presidental Physical Fitness Test like everyone else.
In so many other ways, I always did whatever it took to keep up. I hate feeling like the “disabled kid”, so I did and still do, all I can to keep up so I feel less like the odd one out.
So, when we stepped foot in a hospital that promised not to give up no matter what, I think we all felt instant comfort. Because that is how we have tried to live our lives as a family - never giving up. No matter what.
Lots of people told me UF wouldn’t work for me. It isn’t easy being on a campus that big, I’ll give you that. But I made it work for a year already, and I plan to make it work for three more years.
I do whatever it takes to be a Gator. Even if that means waking up extra early just so I can figure out the accessible routes on campus.
But, as I prepare to move back to Gainesville on Saturday right in the middle of recovery, I’m realizing that it’s going to take a little more to be a Gator this year.
Right now, I crutch at the speed of a turtle, cringe when I see even two steps, definitely feel the pain of a new rod and a few screws being in my leg and overall, I’m not as fast as I’m used to being.
That freaks me out a little bit.
Okay, it freaks me out a lot.
I woke up this morning and wondered if I have what it takes to make it work this year.
How will I keep up with my PT? What if the pain I’m still in slows me down even more? How will I keep up with my friends? I don’t want to slow people down.
Do I just smile and try to hide that I’m kinda sorta really freaking out about the fact that my leg hurts, I extra suck at walking right now and I have so much road to go on this whole recovery thing?
I mean, I can’t even take one step without my crutches right now. How will I comfortably and easily get around my dorm?
I’m living alone in a single room. What if something happens and nobody is around?
I hate asking for help. And I need more help than normal right now. Will I actually speak up when I need someone’s help?
How am I going to do this?
As my mind started reeling, I thought back to a verse I held tight to in middle school when that surgery went wrong, and my world came crashing in:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I remember sitting in middle school bible class and learning how the Lord hems us in. He protects us on all sides, going before us and with us, never leaving.
I remember hearing that and feeling okay.
And when I remembered that and went back and read that verse again, I felt okay.
Fact is, this isn’t going to be easy. It’s probably going to be really hard. But I’m going to be okay.
I’m so thankful for the support system I have at UF and know I have plenty of people to fall back on in this time of recovery.
So to my UF fam, if anyone needs a gym buddy, let me know.
To all my friends who are going into PT, I’m so down to be your guinea pig.
If anyone sees me on campus and notices that I’ve been scooting most of the day, yell at me and tell me to walk.
And if anyone wants to be my walking buddy as I circle campus, just trying to learn how you guys do this whole walking thing, feel free to join me as I crutch around at the speed of a turtle.
This isn’t going to be easy, I know that.
But I’m ready to do whatever it takes.
See you on Saturday, Gville.