Written by Isaac Puckett
My name is Isaac Puckett, and I am a Sophomore attending the University of Arkansas. When I started college in August of 2018, I was determined to fit in and be as normal as possible. My aspirations were to get an engineering degree in four years, no more no less, and then get a job in this area. I was very certain I was going to be ordinary in college and fit in because my upbringing was quite unordinary.
I grew up in the middle east in a large city where my family does mission work for an international school. As you can assume, the culture there is much different than a much smaller, American town like Fayetteville. All that being said, I was determined to not have anything derail my college education, and I felt like I was doing a good job of that. God, on the other hand, had a different plan.
Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 I was back home in Turkey playing basketball with my brothers and dad at our school when I noticed my arm felt slightly weak. Later that night, my arm was so weak I couldn’t lift it past my shoulder, even though I felt as though I was pushing as hard as I could. Nevertheless, I went to bed in hopes everything would be better in the morning.
The next morning, I awoke unable to roll over to get out of bed. Stunned and terrified, I called out to my dad who, with the help of my brothers, carried me down the stairs and set me in the car. I was mortified. Overnight, I had gone from feeling quite weak to not having the strength to support my own body. Hurriedly, my mom and dad took me to the ER of a nearby private hospital where they ran two MRI tests and an EEG test in an attempt to figure out what the issue was. By this point, I had digressed to the point that even swallowing was becoming difficult. A few hours later, they were able to diagnose me with Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system mistakes part of your nervous cells for a pathogen and attacks them, compromising your nervous system and thereby causing partial paralysis.
Unfortunately, even though they could diagnose me at the hospital, they could not treat me, so I had to be sent via ambulance to a larger public hospital to receive treatment. All of this happened on Thursday, the 2nd of January. To be honest, the events of the following day are still very much a blur to me, but I emerged Saturday morning with a feeding tube and oxygen in my nose, an IV in my arm, a urinary catheter, and a femoral catheter. I don’t say this so you’ll feel sorry for me. I say this so you realize how great of a thing God did in my life.
I had gone from playing my brothers in basketball to not being able to swallow my own saliva in a matter of less than 3 days, and the recovery would take me an estimated 4-8 months. This is when we decided to cancel my classes for the spring semester and make plans for me to not come back to Arkansas until summer.
I continued to decline throughout Saturday into the night, but by Sunday morning, I noticed a considerable improvement in my ability to breathe, which must be one of the most relieving things I have ever experienced. After Sunday, I continued to progress. On Monday, I could wiggle my fingers. On Tuesday, I could bend my knees. On Wednesday, I was able to stand (not stand up, but stand). And on Thursday, I had recovered enough I no longer had to be in the ICU (where I was only technically allowed 5 minutes of visitation time per day).
By no power of my own or my doctors--though I had good ones--and only by the power of God, I continued to recover faster than anyone anticipated. By Monday the 13th of January (12 days after I was admitted), I was discharged from the hospital and was able to walk out on my own. To put it plainly, God had rocked my world.
I went from thinking I had everything planned out for my college career, to realizing that no matter what plans I make, I am not ultimately in control of them. God had me come to a point of incredible weakness, but never left my side, and he brought me out of it, too. This can happen in anyone’s life. You may not lose all of your physical strength, but at some point--and normally more than once--everyone comes to a point where they feel too weak to carry on, and can do nothing but ask, “why? Why is this happening to me?” The answer: so we learn to trust God for everything. Period. Not just the big things, and certainly not just the little things. If we are willing to trust God for our eternal salvation, how much more can we trust him to know what’s best. Why am I a semester behind in school? Because God taught me a lesson last semester, and it took me missing school for that to happen.