Thursday, September 04, 2014

Melted

Screaming © ralaenin via freeimages.com

This is the story of my first shower since surgery. It happened several weeks ago. After having stitches burst open in one of my previous surgeries, I did NOT want that to happen again. To say I was a bundle of nerves was a complete understatement. 

Here's how it went: After getting the wheelchair as close to the bathroom door as possible, I used my walker to get in the rest of the way. We didn't foresee me ending up in a wheelchair, so that door frame wasn't made wide enough. After sitting down, I knew I could get the left foot in with no problem. It was just the right foot I was worried about. I kept telling Mama, "I don't know HOW I am going to get this foot in here! It just feels so tight!" I literally felt as if I could not move it. 

For those who don't know, your leg is really weak after being in a cast. I continued, "This seat isn't right! I think it needs to be catty-cornered to give me more room."

Mama moved the chair as I said.

"This STILL is NOT going to work!" I yelled, panicking more by the second.

"It will be okay," Mama said

"I don't know. I just don't know! I don't want the stitches to burst! I don't want the stitches to burst!" I said through tears.

Mama said, "It will be fine. Nothing will happen to your foot. The quicker you get it in there, the better it will feel because the pressure won't be on the heel anymore."

Logically, I knew what she was saying, but I was in full-blown panic mode.

We finally got the foot in the shower, but I was still going at it, talking to myself.

"This stupid chair doesn't give me enough room! My foot feels weird. And it hurts!

"I need medicine." Clearly, I thought my mom was taking too long, so from the shower I yelled, "Codeine!" 

Mama came with medicine and a drink in hand. Maybe I would live through this. Maybe.

After swallowing the pill, the plastic shower curtain became my enemy. "The stupid shower curtain won't stay shut!" I was still crying and breathing heavily and talking to myself. If I was going to get through this, I had to calm down.

So, every time my foot would hurt, I said, "Help me, Jesus! Please help my foot to stop hurting! Help me, Jesus! And I didn't whisper either, this was almost a wail. Who am I kidding? It was a wail at times.

A little bit of time passed, and I was washing off. Okay, this was not so bad.

Then, I remembered my foot, "God, PLEASE don't let the stitches come out!"

I heard His reassuring voice, "I am protecting your foot. It's not like other surgeries. I've got you."

Ah. What a sobering thought. Through my panic attack, I was so busy screaming, I forgot God had me.

Mama was able to come in and help me quickly wash my hair. And the first shower was over.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's Time to Move

Tightrope Walker © Kristin Smith via freeimages.com



I've been in and around physical therapy long enough to know when it's time to move. And now is that time for me. Today marks five weeks since my surgery, and my body is telling me to get up. So, for the past week or so I have been slowly getting up more and more. The first few days I lasted only thirty minutes. Then, I sit up an hour. A couple of days ago, I sat up in my lift chair for an hour and a half.

All of this may seem like nothing to most of you, but it is a major thing for me to be able to sit up again. I know when my muscles get sore and tight, so I have to do something about it. It hasn't been easy. In fact, some days my knees would just ache. At night, it seems like sometimes, everything from my hips down hurt. A lot. But, I know enough to know this won't last forever. This pain is just pain from the surgery. It's not like the constant pain I had from the muscles in my foot constantly pulling the wrong way. Every day, I have to keep reminding myself of that. Pain is a necessary part of growth and change.

I go back to the doctor in two weeks, and he will determine whether or not I am ready for physical therapy. It usually takes me longer to recover, so if I am not quite ready, I am okay with that. 

In the meantime, I have set a goal for myself to sit up at least two hours a day. I started yesterday. To ease myself into it, I am going to do an hour in the morning, come back and lay down for a few hours, and then do an hour at night. I am doing this because the drive to physical therapy will be at least an hour there and back in addition to the actual therapy time. I am putting myself through the paces at home now, so the transition won't be such a shock to my body whenever I do start.

The picture I have chosen for this post perfectly encapsulates where I am at right now. Everything is a balance. I pull back when needed and gently push a little more as I can tolerate it. I am proud of myself for being able to go back to church this Wednesday. In total it was just a little over two hours, and I did it!

If you are feeling stuck in your life, relationship, marriage, job, or whatever, set a goal for yourself. That way, you are more focused on your progress than the uncomfortable feeling. You can overcome any situation! Tell yourself that. That's what I do. Little by little, you start to move out of that dark place to something better. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Some Days

Helping hands © John Evans via freeimages.com


Written on August 5th

It's been almost three weeks post-op. I need to write. In some ways, I feel stronger. Since my one-week visit, Dr. Brosky said it was okay for me to put some weight on my right foot. I did that with his and my mom's help in the office, but at home, it wasn't so easy. I got up and put all of my weight on my left foot and then transferred it to my right as Dr. Brosky instructed. I had pivoted with ease with my walker many, many times so I thought it would be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong.

My right foot was moving, but my left foot would not move. I mean, it was as if it was glued to the floor. I was so frustrated. After a few seconds, I said to my mom, "I CAN'T do this!" I didn't like to admit that, but I didn't want to hurt my right foot. She moved the wheelchair back and I sat down in a heap, sobbing uncontrollably. I just wanted my independence back to be able to get out of the bed and go to my bedside commode when I wanted to. 

Later that night, I told my mom, I felt like a complete failure. I thought my body would just go back to doing what it had done. I mean, my left foot has healed, and it could move. It just didn't.

I was heartbroken. Then, I remembered Dr. Brosky's words, "Take it easy. You are doing great!" I didn't feel like I was doing great, but it had been just a week. I am not a super hero. So, I had to go back to transferring using my arms and the wheelchair, putting some weight on my right foot. 

I have been sore, but I am able to get up by myself now. I am just not using the walker again right now. I know it will come eventually. I admit that I am too hard on myself. Some days, I am frustrated at myself for not working on my book. The cast on my leg is a reminder that I just had surgery. Hello,  Madison! It is okay to not work on anything right now. My days consist of sleeping when I can, sometimes for several hours in the day. Sometimes I watch TV. Other days, it gives me a headache. 

Some days, I post on Facebook. Some days I don't. My days are spent doing whatever I am comfortable doing.

Even if I wanted to work on my book, I know now isn't a good time because sometimes I don't remember what I have said to my mom, thoughts aren't complete, and words are misspelled. 

The days seem long, but I know I am blessed to be able to see the rain fall outside of my window, to hear my nephews laugh, to have a lift chair to sit in. Not everyone has those things. Not everyone has a supportive family. I do. Every day is a day of getting stronger, even if I can't feel it or see it. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Miracles Come in More Ways than One

Dr. Brosky, foot and ankle surgeon, Oakwood, GA

I am catching up with details about my surgery, and don't want to forget this one. On July 24th, I went back to Dr. Brosky for my first follow-up since my surgery on July 18th. 

My doctor said, "Everything looks great." He went on to explain that as soon as he snapped the post tibial tendon, my foot straightened up. No one but God, my mom, myself, and my doctor knew just how bad the contracture in my foot was. It was getting worse with every visit, and I was in so much pain that I couldn't do much except stay in the bed because my knees would swell after a short car ride. My foot turned inwards so much that walking was impossible.

My doctor asked for prayers the night before the surgery, and I said, "We always do." What I didn't know was just how bad my foot was. Today, he told us, "If the tendon had not released when I snapped it, you would have been looking at bone surgery. That means the bone wouldn't move, and your foot would be like a peg."

He continued, saying, "But someone was looking out for us up there." Yes, yes He was! I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am at today's news! Although I have a ways to go before I fully recover, this was just what I needed to hear. I expected a good report, but this was a GREAT report. Only God could have done this. Humans can only do so much. Humans only know so much. Then, God shows up and shows out! 

Dr. Brosky also said, "I know you are going to walk, and I look forward to the day when you send me a video of you walking." Through tears, I said, "Me too." If you are going through a rough time full of uncertainties, hang in there! I have been through so many setbacks and struggles that only God has kept me. Only God has given me the strength and determination to keep pressing forward. Trust me when I say I have bad days and cry out of frustration and pain. I get frustrated that things aren't moving as fast as I'd like them to. Only God knows.

Before I end this note, I want to say something to Dr. Brosky. I know doctors are trained to leave their emotions at the door, but I just have to say this. After my most favorite doctor in the world retired in his 80s, after seeing me since I was eleven years old, and giving me the honor of being his last operation, I was heartbroken. I even told Mama, "I don't think I will ever find another doctor like Dr. Griffin." She said, "Don't worry. There are others like him."  

After many bad ones, a period of no insurance, and doctors who weren't capable of handling all of my issues, I was referred to Dr. Thomas Brosky. I just didn't know what a blessing that would be.  

Dr. Brosky, thank you for never backing down from a challenge. Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you for seeing me as more than a chart number or paycheck. Thank you for your compassion. I thought that was long gone from the medical community, but you are one of the good ones. Thank you for believing in me and seeing me whole again. Instead of dreading appointments, a smile creeps across my face every time I have to come see you, even though you are an hour away. 

Also, thank you to all of my faithful friends and family members near and far who pray for me. I am proof that prayer changes things!