My grandfather loved trains. For many years he worked on the railroad as a machinist and worked on the steam engines. Because of his love for trains, as a child I can remember him reading me the book, “The Little Engine that Could” by Watty Pipper.
The book is about a very little blue steam engine that saved the day. A little red steam engine that was carrying all the toys and food over mountain to the boy’s and girl’s broke down. It’s wheels just couldn’t go any farther. How would they get all the toys and food it was carrying over the mountain and in the hands of all the children? The passenger engine, the big strong freight engine, and the rusty old engine refused to help them over the mountain.
Then all of sudden a little blue steam engine came by. She was the smallest of all the engines, but she was willing to give it a try. She hitched herself to the little train and she tugged and pulled the train slowly up the mountain. “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can” , said the little blue engine as they climbed up the mountain faster and faster. and faster. Finally they reached the top of the mountain and they all cheered for joy because the children would be happy because of the help of the little blue engine. As she puffed down the mountain she said, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”!
I love this book. I loved it as a child and I love it as an adult. When you are down on your luck and you feel so defeated and you feel there is no hope, how do you carry on? This book teaches us if you remain positive and believe that you CAN then you CAN accomplish the impossible.
Applying This in my Own Life
After my accident because my level of injury was so high I could not breathe on my own and was on a ventilator to help me breathe. The first 6 month of my injury I was in the hospital at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I was very unstable. After about 4 months had passed they were transferring me from the bed to my chair and something happened. My heart stopped and they called a code. My mom hit her knees in prayer and told the Lord, “she is your child, if you need to take her, take her, but if you send her back she has fought so hard please send her back better.”
As they were reviving me my doctor thought he saw me try to take a breath on my own. They decided to do a scan of my diaphragm to see if it was working. They took the vent off and said, “try to breathe”. As I gasped for air, praise the Lord, my diaphragm moved. Then began the process of weaning off the vent.
Turning my “I can’t” into “I can” !
When you breathe you really don’t think about it. You just breathe – It’s natural and easy. However, when you are learning to breathe again every breath becomes a conscious thought. I was on a mat on the gym floor and my favorite respiratory therapist came and said, “are you ready to give it a try?” Reluctantly, I said, “yes”. She took me off the vent and told me to breathe. It literally felt like I was suffocating, but she was monitoring my oxygen levels and I was okay.
I stayed off for 10 minutes. Every day they would come in and take me off and set a goal for breathing on my own. 10 minutes became 25 minutes, 25 minutes became an hour. It was so hard because it felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath. I would cry and say I, “I can’t do it, PLEASE put me back on the vent, PLEASE, I can’t breathe!
One day my grandfather came in and gave me this little stuffed blue train just like the one in the book he used to read to me. He said, “remember the little engine that could? Don’t say you can’t, think you can”. After that every time they’d take me off the vent I would look at little blue train and think to myself, “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can”!
It was hard and and I still felt like I was suffocating, but I kept thinking, “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can”, “I think I can”! Soon an hour became 2 hours and then 3 hours. It took 2 months to gradually get off, but the day finally came were I was no longer dependent on the ventilator and I could breathe on my own.
Life will always throw us hard, difficult circumstances sometimes. When it does don’t be defeated and give up. Turn your “I can’t” into “I can”! Climb the mountain and stay positive and think I CAN! Soon you will be able to be on the other side saying, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”, “I thought I could”!
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