Her faith through life’s challenges reveals the beauty in an intricate tapestry.
For Deena Armstrong, life’s biggest blessings come when looking outward at others.
Deena Armstrong is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of 11, and woman of fierce faith. Her background is diverse: As the daughter of an Air Force officer, she’s lived in multiple countries and states and has moved 26 times throughout her life. She learned sign language as a teen to communicate with a neighbor-turned-friend who was deaf, an encounter that fueled her calling to become a sign language provider later in life, and worked as an EMT briefly after high school. Today, she works two part-time jobs and prioritizes her health and nutrition. Deena and her husband live happily in the town of Craig and hope to one day build on the nearby property where they keep their beloved horses — one of which changed the trajectory of Deena’s life.
Almost 18 years ago, Deena was on a young horse and attempted to dismount after realizing she was no longer in control. She landed unevenly and suffered a compound ankle fracture and severely torn cartilage. Since the accident, she’s undergone four surgeries and endures constant, intense pain, despite her high pain tolerance. But that has been lessened by the impactful relationships Deena has since formed.
Deena first met Staci Nichols at a women’s retreat in Frisco, and the two immediately connected. Since then, they’ve become like family. Deena now contracts as a sign language provider for Staci, who is deaf, with the Northwest Colorado Center for Independence (NWCCI), Staci’s place of employment. Staci also encouraged Deena to apply for insurance and disability benefits through Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) when she learned her friend lacked coverage. It was an act that proved to be both timely and lifesaving.
“If I didn’t have Medicaid, we probably would have lost our house, our land. …We wouldn’t have been able to afford to have me in the hospital.”
In October 2021, Deena was hospitalized with COVID-19. Her husband, who has Guillain-Barré syndrome, was admitted with the same virus soon after. The outcome for both looked bleak, but Deena says they turned to their faith for comfort and trusted that God had a plan. She recalls pleading for her life through prayer and feeling an amazing peace wash over her as she extended her thoughts to others.
Her husband was released from the hospital first. Soon, Deena joined him back home. “I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been able to go to the hospital,” Deena says. “Medicaid made that possible.”
Deena lives with long COVID now, and her Health First Colorado coverage has continued to provide her with the support she needs in her recovery. The NWCCI provided transportation to and from her appointments multiple times each week when she was undergoing physical therapy. She recently discontinued her oxygen use and now relies on a CPAP machine.
“I think we’re all put here for each other; we’re not here just for ourselves.”
As she moves forward on her healing journey, Deena reflects on a movie she once saw. In it, there’s a comparison of life to a tapestry. At first glance, it can appear messy and disjointed — you can’t see the whole picture. But when you let God be in control, she says, you can see a new perspective and appreciate the beauty of life.
“We’re all intertwined,” Deena adds, attesting to the power of collaboration and joining together. After all, it was Staci who encouraged Deena to apply for health coverage when she did — something that helped save Deena’s life. Staci plays a significant role in Deena’s life, an integral thread woven into her tapestry.
“I think when you’re self-focused, you miss out on life. You have to get past yourself and start looking at others. Who is your neighbor? It’s not just the person who lives next door; it’s everybody. You should reach out to people…a smile could change somebody’s life. When you start looking outward instead of inward, I feel like God’s blessings really start flowing in your life.”
Learn more about Staci’s story and the impact she’s making with the NWCCI at rockyimpact.com/nwcci.