The Honor Academy: Grace’s Story, part 3

Note from RA: After knowing “Grace” the last few months, I felt that the end of her story didn’t fully convey the traumatic damage her body has suffered as a result of her time at Teen Mania, so I asked her to explain it a bit more. Here is her response and then some additional thoughts from me.

I am currently undergoing treatment for my late stage Lyme disease. I wish it hadn’t taken 13 years to diagnose and find treatment, but it did. I struggle on a daily basis with profound fatigue, which affects every move I make. As a side effect of having the Lyme disease for so long untreated, I developed a secondary neurological condition called Myasthenia Gravis. The MG makes my muscles give out or shake with use. It also causes me to have double vision and dysphagia (inability to swallow), and subsequently migraines and liquid diet are the result of these. Simple things like taking laundry down the stairs to the washing machine, and going for walks with my family are difficult and often impossible for me. I’m trying to work around it, and I have a wheelchair so that I can still participate in family activities. I have given up on pursuing my career for now because of my bodily limitations. I long to one day have the mental and physical stamina to go back to work. I get frustrated and angry sometimes that I am not able to do more for myself, but I also realize that patience is required in this time of healing. I am thankful that I have found a doctor that is able to treat me, but treatment requires large doses of antibiotics, among a myriad of other pills and supplements. The treatment exacerbates my many symptoms including the joint pains, headaches, double vision, fatigue, dysphagia, mental fog, and depression. It is hard to keep my head up some days. Treatment for Lyme disease is not often covered by insurance, so my family is now swimming in my medical bills which easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. I am hopeful for healing in my future, and know that God still has plans for me. Today, however, it is a nap!

___________________________________________________________

The tragedy of this situation is that all of this could have been so easily prevented. Honor Academy interns spend A LOT of time in the back forty – ESOAL, the Unreached People Group retreat, the Ropes course and various other activities throughout the year.

I urge Teen Mania to take safety precautions including the following:

1) Tick education and awareness during Gauntlet week. Many interns are unaware of what ticks look like, the dangers they present, how to avoid a tick bite and what to do if bitten.

2) After extended time in the back forty, especially weekend long retreats, mandatory tick checks with a tick buddy from your core group.

3) Periodic reminders/education for all core advisors so that they can facilitate the safety of their interns.

None of these recommendations should be controversial in the least. I urge Teen Mania to examine and adopt them immediately.

77 Comments on "The Honor Academy: Grace’s Story, part 3"

  1. Grace – I remember my mom going through 2 Lymes treatments when I was 8 and 9. It wasn't fun to watch. She was undiagnosed for about 9 years and was able to make a full recovery. I hope you will have to same full recovery and be able to enjoy your family time and a healthful life.

  2. Another recommendation – not using interns as Israelite like slave labor. Oh wait.

  3. Tick Check! Reminds me of a Braid Paisley song.

    What's next? soap on a rope? 😮

    hahahahahahahahahahahaha

  4. Anonymous,

    So you couldn't think of anything mildly interesting to say, Aye? And yes I do suggest "soap on a rope" to any kid taking a GE mission trip. It could come in handy.

    RA, A tick check is a very important recommendation. Especially at on the TM compounds. I remember seeing a few ticks in the dorms as well. I even had a conversation with one of my roommates at one point about ticks. She was a little nervous from that point on. It surprised me that she didn't already know.

    I also, almost lost a friend when we were younger to a tick bite that led to lymes disease.

  5. Also, my spouse has an occupation that requires him to be outside in the woods almost everyday. I "tick check" him often for ticks.

  6. Everybody loves a good tick check!

  7. Anon 9:56 = lame. a 'good tick check' would have prevented all of Grace's current health problems. checking each other for ticks makes perfect sense if you're working outdoors where you might get bitten by one. i mean, look at the results of one tick bite. i was one of the naive teenage missionaries in those bunks in '98 and, being from the city, i don't think i would have known what a tick looked like.

    Grace – your situation is awful but it's amazing that you have such a positive attitude towards it all. i wouldn't at all. i'd be demanding financial retribution from TM and telling my story to anyone willing to listen. you truly represent patience and forgiveness. it is honestly inspiring. i wish you only the best.

  8. hey kolchak…maybe anonymous at 9:56 was being sincere, albeit in a lighthearted way?

    i've stopped coming around these parts bc it seems so much more polarized than it was in the early days. the "love and acceptance and healing" crowd are quite quick to jump down anyone's throat they think might be disagreeing with them or the RA site…and then there are the people who haven't experienced any pain and cannot comprehend that someone's experience was different than theirs…and assume that this site is all about divisiveness and anger and hatred.

    at this point, i don't want to align myself with either group, because no matter what people SAY, i'm seeing far too few soft answers and open discussion. :/ i sincerely hope that love and listening and trying to UNDERSTAND…giving people the benefit of the doubt, will return to rule the conversations that happen here. i think this site is important.

  9. gc – perhaps… there were some other comments in the same 'lighthearted' spirit that were deleted. i've read this site for about a year now, but reading that led me to my first comment. i can't believe the pain Grace is going through, the extremely civil way she is handling it and the audacity of someone to *maybe* poke fun at her situation. it was a knee-jerk reaction.

  10. I think that is a good suggestion, if you send it to the Leadership at the Honor Academy, I do not think they would ignore it. It is a practice that people do all over the south.

    And sweetheart, I know that God loves you and has wonderful plans for your life. This was a tragic thing that happened to you, and I am sure that this was not something the HA would have wanted to happen to you. Though, it may have been from negligence that it happened. I pray that the Lord continually heals you and that your recovery is more swift than expected.

    Also, one last thing… I don't know if you like to read, but there is a book called 90 minutes in Heaven. It was written by a Baptist minister that died for 90 minutes, and while someone was praying for him, he came back to life. It is about the struggles he went through after recovering from that car accident. It may encourage you in your walk with the Lord, and your daily life.

  11. Grace, I know I'm way late to the party in reading this. But I want to say…. I am deeply touched by your story. Thank you for writing it down for us. It's important that the world sees that the repercussions of abuse, neglect, and inhumane carelessness are not JUST emotional scars, but life-altering physical ones too.

    I wish I were a lawyer, because I truly feel that unless TM fears legal ramifications, things like this could happen again. Unfortunately, I feel the relentless pace, lack of time for processing, and the excessive amounts of indoctrination ("teaching") contribute to an environment where everyone is so busy trying to survive (literally sometimes!!!) they have not one ounce of emotional energy to care for someone else. So they throw out words of judgment about being sick or "claiming" your healing. Environments like TM has created make EVERYONE the abused and the abuser.

    Your life has obviously taken a path you probably never dreamed it would, and Grace sounds like a very good descriptor for what you've allowed yourself to become through this. So… thank you again for sharing. I think you're amazing. You keep at it, one day at a time.

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