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Week 37

It’s been five weeks since I posted an update about my ankle.  You might remember that I had to take a break from physical therapy because I had to wait for my insurance visits to kick in again (I am on a six-month rolling program).  Ultimately, it’s been 37 weeks since I broke my ankle.  Crazy, eh?

Monday, the 24th, was my first day back.  I was excited because I had missed the routine of it.

I was a little dismayed when the office staff told me that the physical therapist I’d been working with had been relocated to the the beach office.  Ugh.  I wish I’d been told sooner because there’s a distinct possibility that I would have asked for my visits to take place there, which would have been a little inconvenient but would have helped with consistency.  However, I know that all of the PTs at this place are excellent, so I decided not to say anything.  The girl I’d been assigned to is very athletic, and she is a DPT, meaning that she’s a doctor of physical therapy, like my other guy.

My Monday visit wound up only being an eval so she could get the lowdown on my case since she had not worked with me before (we had chatted, but she had not been in charge of me).  She also measured my range of mobility and pulled and pushed on my foot.  A lot.  I discussed my concerns, which I’d made a list of on my phone, and we discussed some of the issues I’m still having.  She wasn’t going to be there for my Thursday appointment but said that another PT would work with me.

Rather than having me do any exercises that day, she iced me down and hooked me up to the TENS unit.

That evening, I began experiencing a high level of pain.  It was so bad that I may have shed a tear or two.  The Mr. and I weren’t sure why my ankle was throbbing so badly.  We thought that the manipulation of my ankle had been the culprit.  I was pretty desperate to get the pain to ease off and found myself running a bath at 11:35pm.

Despite the pain, I did my cardio and ab workouts the next day.

On Thursday, I had my second appointment, and as soon as I got on the bike to warm up, I knew things were going to be tough.  My legs felt like lead; they just did not want to pedal.

I then did my regular calf stretching exercises while the physical therapy assistants tried to figure out what I was supposed to do because my new therapist had not left anything in the computer for me.

Ugh.  That was frustrating because my surgeon’s PT script had been written for six weeks, and I didn’t want to waste any time.

This office has a program called MVP that helps athletes transition from physical therapy to more intense athletic training to get back into their sports.  My Chicky girl had gone through several rounds of the program, which we credit for getting her in the best shape of her life after she tore her ACL.  A couple of months ago, a new athletic trainer was hired for this program, and she wound up working with me on Thursday.

I loved her!  I was already in a lot of pain.  In fact, I’d been in more pain than usual last week, which I couldn’t understand.  We discussed the Beach Body program I’ve been doing for the last three months – specifically the leg workout.  I had done this workout on Sunday and had upped my weights.  Prior to that day, I’d walked four miles two consecutive days, so I’d pretty much set myself up for the pain.

I pulled up a list of the exercises for her to look at, and she was dismayed.  She explained that the moves were too big for what I was ready for, which was why I was having so much pain.  She’s got a plan to break down each move into their fundamentals, help me master them where I’m pain-free, and then help me transition to the bigger moves – slowly.  She also told me not to do my lower body workouts at home – to do them when I was in physical therapy.

Hearing her tell me that I will be pain free made me cry.

Y’all, the week was just awful.  I cannot even tell you.  I had to take Aleve two days, which I never, ever do.  The pain was probably at a 9 – bone pain that I hadn’t felt in months and months.  I’ve figured that I’m going to always be in some kind of pain for the unforeseeable future.  The Mr. constantly tells me that I’m doing too much, but I just cannot live my life sitting in my recliner.  My body NEEDS to be active; I NEED to burn calories.

So yeah, I had a little cry session right there in the PT’s office.

Bless J’s (the trainer) heart.  She was so sweet.  She understands my angst because she messed up her knee during a very important track meet that would have allowed her to go to State when she was in high school.  As she told me the story, her voice cracked, so my fear was something she could personally identify with.

I got myself together quickly, apologized for my weak moment, and we proceeded.  I wound up doing a couple of new moves.  One involved putting a tight band around my ankle, with me kneeling on the floor.  The band also went around a heavy piece of workout equipment, so it wouldn’t move.  Then, I had to, with one foot planted on the floor and my left knee on the floor, lean forward on my right ankle to stretch it, hold it for three seconds, and then return back to neutral.

You might remember that my surgeon diagnosed me with Achilles tendinosis, which is characterized by extreme tightness in that tendon (because of the lack of use while I was in a cast and boot).  We have to break it down to allow it to rebuild stronger.

It’s so freaking painful.

The second exercise she had me do involved me in a similar position on the floor, right foot planted and left knee bent on the floor.  I had a pole that I had to place at the top of my right foot, toward the right side of my toes.  As I held onto the pole with my left hand, I had to lean forward, hold the stretch for three seconds, and then return to neutral.

This was VERY painful; I felt the pain in the muscle on the inside of my ankle behind the ankle bone.  It was the PERFECT move that targeted my area of trouble precisely.  I’m sure I’ll be doing this move a lot.  In fact, during one of my reps, I felt a pop, which was a good thing because that muscle/tendon had been soooooo tight.

Then, I got iced down while I was hooked to the ever-wonderful TENS unit.

I spent the rest of the day extremely sore.

That didn’t stop me from completing the Hogwarts Running Club Eternal Glory 4-Miler virtual race the next day (it was a rest day from my Beach Body program).

Y’all, this was a hard walk for me.  I was in pain from the moment I left my house – pain that I had not felt in months.  I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do the entire four miles.  I purposely walked slower, thinking maybe all I needed to do was stretch out my ankle.

Nope.  It stayed sore nearly the entire walk, but I did complete the whole distance in one try, so the feeling of accomplishment was HUGE.

I rewarded myself by spending the afternoon at the pool and got to chat with my friend, Megan, who was there as well.

On Saturday, the Mr. and I headed out to see a movie, but we had some time to kill beforehand, so we hopped into a store and did a bit of shopping.  The walking around was still tough.  Ugh.  I felt like I did back in March with my foot hurting every time I took a step.

I’m considering calling the surgeon’s office to schedule an appointment; however, I may give myself a few more PT sessions before I do that.  I remember him telling me that the new protocol would be very painful.

Check.

He had told me that I needed to ask myself if I felt any better than I did the month before.

Well, I had . . . until Monday evening.

Ahem.

I’ve pretty much decided that I’m definitely going to schedule another surgery to have a few pins removed.  One in particular is, I suspect, the culprit for 80% of my pain.  Crazy, eh?  I’m aiming to have the surgery the week of Thanksgiving but am trusting in God’s timing.  All I know is that I’m going to have it before the end of the year.  We’ve had a lot of medical expenses this year and have met all of our deductibles, so it would be more cost effective.  Plus, I don’t know how much longer I can go with this pain.  Some days, it’s almost unbearable, and I’m a tough cookie, so to say that is saying something.

So that’s where my progress stands at this point.  I feel like I’ve taken a few steps backward, and I’m frustrated.  I’ve had a few pity parties this week as I’ve tried to find reasons for the extra challenges I’ve gone through the last few days.  Ultimately, I know that my progress depends on 1) God, 2) consistent physical therapy, and 3) TIME.

I’ve been reminded that I am not a very patient person.  I want my old ankle back, and that’s just not going to happen.

I’m not going to lie – #findingjoyinthejourney was a bit difficult this week.  Pain is a thief of joy, y’all.  I feel overwhelmed sometimes, and that hurts my heart.  So much.

I am so grateful that God loves me when I lack faith – when I can’t see the finish line.  I’ve had glimpses, only to turn corners and discover hills that weren’t on the original plan.

If you would continue to pray for me, I’d surely appreciate it.  This is one hard, long road that I’m still trudging through, a bit unwillingly and very much resentfully at the moment.  That’s just me being as real as always.

Thanks all!

Script Change

In my last post, I think I mentioned that I was going to be having a couple of busy weeks.

It started off with some packing on Monday . . .

On Tuesday, after leaving explicit instructions with the house/dog sitter, the Mr. and I jumped in the car and headed down the road.  Snacks were a must . . .

The Mr. drove all day while I made him listen to the pre-season episode of Rob Has a Podcast Big Brother.  The Mr. was not amused, and I was forced to listen to talk radio for the next two hours.

We hit some rain during our trip but finally arrived at our destination . . .

The sign is a little hard to read, but it says Mayo Clinic.

You may remember my post back in February when I described the health issues that the Mr. had been suffering from.  Over the last few months, he’d been back and forth to the Mayo Clinic for periodic testing.

In May, after another round of MRIs and other tests, he decided to push forth with a very complicated surgery.  This surgery would involve a team of doctors. Surgery was scheduled for June 29th.  He had a round of pre-op appointments on the 28th, which was why we left on the 27th.

The Mr. was very nervous about the surgery; the recovery time was expected to be six to eight weeks with a possible follow-up surgery.  Success was expected but not 100% guaranteed.

Let’s just say that those six hours in the car were not exactly what you’d model the perfect marriage on.  Tension was high.

On the 28th, I got up at the crack of dawn and visited the hotel’s fitness room to get in a walk.  I knew we had a long day ahead of us . . . hours of walking back and forth between doctor’s offices . . . lots of sitting time.

I didn’t plan very well, so we were scrambling to get ready in time for his first appointment, which had been scheduled bright and early . . . 7:30.

I can’t say that we showed our best sides to one another as we fussed.

Ahem.

It’s a good thing our hotel was right next to the hospital, though, which saved oodles of time.  Jacksonville traffic ain’t not joke, y’all.

I love the Mayo Clinic for so many reasons.  Timeliness is a biggie.  We have all experienced the horrors of waiting for hours while doctors deal with double-booked schedules.  This doesn’t happen at the Mayo Clinic.

We did have to wait a very short time, but we’d been told that the doctor we were seeing . . . the urological surgeon . . . had a surgery that morning.  He was popping in to see us before he went to that surgery.

Now, let me tell you.  We have talked to a couple dozen doctors, at least, since the end of January when this ordeal began.  Many of them have not had good bedside manners.  Most have been knife happy . . .  as in let’s do surgery right now kind of happy.

We don’t like those people very much.

This doctor was not like that at all.  He was very approachable and talked at our level.  He began by going over the risks of what he would be doing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Every surgery has risks.  We weren’t really worried about those too much.  I mean, we were at the Mayo Clinic, for heaven’s sake.

Then, the doctor sat back in his chair, and he said, “I’m not really sure why you’re having surgery.  In fact, the GI doctor and I were talking about your case yesterday, and we don’t know why you are having it.”

Now, imagine for a second that from January 23rd, you’ve been told that you’ve got to have surgery . . . that you’ll die without it.

Every single doctor had been telling us that.

Then, this much-educated, very respected doctor sits and tells us that he doesn’t know why the Mr. is going forward with it?

We were majorly confused.

I cocked my head to the side . . .

Accurate

The doctor went on to explain that the Mr.’s most recent MRI had shown . . .

Wait for it . . .

That he was GETTING BETTER!

Double accurate

The doctor, in turn, looked confused.  He told us that typically, patients are completely on board with surgery, but to see us so confused was a signal that surgery did not need to be happening.

The Mr. then shared some of the things that his GI doctor . . . the doctor we started out with and the one who specializes in Crohn’s patients . . . had told him in May.

Well, Mr. Urological Surgeon rang up Mr. GI doctor right there in front of us, and they had a brief meeting of the minds where we learned that the GI doctor had not made the Mr.’s situation sound quite so dire the last time.

I looked at the Mr. and said, “I guess this is why I need to come with you to these appointments – so we have two sets of ears.”

Apparently so.

But I was still confused.  Were we talking about canceling the urological part of the surgery or both parts (the GI part too)?

Both.

I looked at the doctor and said, “Well, now I won’t have to take care of a sick man!”

He genuinely laughed at that.

Y’all KNOW what I’m talking about and don’t pretend that you don’t.

The doctor said that the Mr. had been showing fewer symptoms the past few months (I attribute this to God answering prayer and to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which the Mr. has been following pretty religiously since February), so they don’t like to operate on asymptomatic people.

Now, to be sure, the Mr. still has a messed up intestine from the 30 years he’s been dealing with Crohn’s, but we both know that surgery won’t cure it.  Crohn’s can hit multiple parts of the intestine.  Getting rid of one affected section won’t guarantee that it won’t reappear elsewhere.

The doctor assured us that if the Mr. takes a turn for the worse, he can always reschedule surgery.  He also put the Mr. on a plan to visit him in three months for tests to monitor his progress.  His abscess isn’t fully healed.  A new MRI will check on that, as will some other tests.

The doctor walked us back to the GI doctor’s nurse, gave her instructions to cancel the rest of the day’s pre-op appointments, and then sent us off with his blessing.

Y’all should have seen us walk out of there.

We were shell shocked – dazed looks on our faces.  Our brains could not process this change of events.

We started texting people immediately.  His parents had to be notified first because they were about to drive several hours to be with us for the surgery.

I had to let my friends from home know.  There’s a small group of us who are really close, and they had been praying non-stop.

I let Rebecca know.  She and I had been texting for days.

Then, because we didn’t know what to do, we got breakfast in the wonderful cafeteria at the hospital.

Crazy, eh?

The Mr. ate with gusto, let me tell you.  I don’t think you could have wiped the smile from his face if you’d tried.

When we finished, we went back to the hotel, loaded up our stuff, and checked OUT!  We took a selfie (which I posted on IG and FB with the update) in the parking lot and began our long drive home.

Gosh, y’all, but we were still so confused!

We tried to figure out how we’d gotten things so wrong!  What the heck?  We talked back through the series of appointments, but honestly, I think we would have made the same decision!  The Mr. was trying to figure out what the GI doctor wanted him to do.  The doctor couldn’t tell him explicitly what to do because things were not clear cut.  Thankfully, the urological surgeon gave it to us straight, God bless him!

We listened to praise music the rest of the way home, let me tell you.

We did make a pit stop to see the Mr.’s parents.  We also visited with Chicky’s puppy, who’d been visiting the grandparents for the past two weeks while Chicky traveled.

We got to see Chicky as well.  She arrived about an hour after we got there.  She’d flown into her city the night before and had made the drive up to retrieve her fur baby.  The original plan had been for her to go to the Mayo Clinic so she could be there for the surgery, but with the cancellation, she adjusted her plans.

It was a blessing, in so many ways, to get to go home.  Our fur babies needed us . . .

Molly had been refusing to eat (she’s been pretty sick).

We were eager to resume life.

I have to credit Rebecca for the title of this post.  As we were texting, she said that it was like God had called for a script change in our plans.

In my mind, the summer had been split in half . . . the first being one of luxury, and the second being one of care giving (i.e. not relaxing).

Waking up LATE on Thursday, in our own house, made the Mr. and me smile all day. It was a relief to partake in normal activities without the stress of a looming surgery hanging over our heads.

All Photos-505

I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I took a two-hour nap in the recliner that afternoon, despite having slept in past 9am.

We were able to attend the reception for a precious young couple who just got married in May.  They are the children of dear friends of ours.  I’d RSVP’d no, because of the surgery; my friend eagerly told us to come when I texted her that we were going to be home.

As I said in the update I posted on Facebook, although surgery could still be in the Mr.’s future, we are celebrating the miracle of TODAY.

Isn’t that what life is about – finding joy in each moment?  Heck, it’s been my hashtag since November 13th.

I know that God doesn’t answer yes to all of our prayer requests, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for things.  His no’s are for good reasons because He sees the whole plan for our lives.

But, when He does say yes, hello world, but you just can’t deny that it’s Him.

A friend commented on how good we looked after I posted a selfie from the reception.  I told her that gratefulness is a good look for us.  It’s one that we should wear every second of our lives, because we have so much to be thankful for, good times and bad.

The Mr. and I have certainly had some difficult days in recent months.  We are thrilled to be able to bask in the sunshine of a good day for a change.

17 Weeks

Four months and one week…that’s how much time has passed since November 13th when I broke my ankle.

Each week brings me closer to a full recovery, but I am still a long ways out.

This past week, I learned some painful, yet powerful lessons.

Last weekend, I thought I’d be all that and did three very tough weight lifting routines.

I’d wanted to start Body Beast ever since I’d been sidelined in November.  I had done chest and triceps the previous Friday, legs that Saturday, and biceps and back that Sunday.

To make matters worse, I spent about seven hours on my feet on Sunday…cooking four different recipes.

Boy, was I hurting when Monday rolled around.  I always say that it’s not the day after a workout that you’re most sore but the second day after.

This was me on Tuesday…standing like a gorilla because I couldn’t straighten my arms from Sunday’s bicep workout…

My ankle was a hot mess from Saturday’s workout, let me tell you.  It was so bad that the outside of my ankle…the side where I have my plate, was hurting.  This side rarely gives me problems.

When I got to physical therapy on Monday afternoon, I was doing some serious hobbling.

My physical therapists were not happy, and because I’d done too much, they weren’t able to add new exercises to my regimen.

The ice and stem therapy when I finished that day were much needed.

I struggled all week with my ankle…all because I’d tried to be my former, overachieving self.

Here’s what’s hard for me…remembering that, although my ankle might feel okay while I’m doing something, the effects of being on my feet or doing whatever it is I’m doing don’t hit until later.

I have to start thinking about the after-effects, which is so hard for me because I feel as though I’m missing out on stuff.

Sigh.

So, last week was frustrating, and I might have had a pity party or two when nobody was looking (and even when someone was).

The Mr. got a bit upset with me and fussed…in a loving way (ahem).  He reminded me that I am only four months out from breaking my ankle.

Yes, I can walk.

Yes, my limp is getting better.

Yes, I can drive and do some things.

The key is the word “some.”  That doesn’t mean all, and it doesn’t even mean that those “some” things are going to be to the full extreme that I’ve done them in the past.

YET.

One day, I’ll be able to.

Just not yet.

Just like I can’t wear pretty shoes for very long, so it’s tennis shoes and dresses, on the days when I feel like looking uber-professional.

Don’t be jelly of my fashion style.

Before I left my PT session on Wednesday, I was instructed to take it easy over the weekend…to not do any more than a mile without checking to see how I felt (it had been my intention to get started on my S.P.E.W. virtual race…six miles…broken up for me, of course).

I took their words to heart and went home on Friday determined to be a better patient.  On my way in the house, I stopped to smell the roses…literally.

It had been a tough couple of days with work stuff, and I listened to my body and crashed in the recliner.

Then, I did NOTHING on Saturday.  I stayed in my pajamas and read my new Neal Shusterman book, Scythe.  I had started it Friday night after the Man in the Brown Truck delivered it and finished it early Saturday evening.  It was FANTASTIC!

There were a few twists I didn’t expect, which made this a real page turner.

I took a bit of time out on Saturday to watch the movie If I Stay, which is based on Gayle Forman’s book.  I read it last summer and enjoyed it.  It was a heart-wrenching book.  The movie didn’t disappoint except in a couple of places where things strayed from the book a bit.

Gambit chose to interrupt my “me” time periodically throughout the day.  Being in the recliner puts me at the perfect level to give him a good scratch or two.

All of the resting made a huge difference for my ankle, as evidenced by the fact that you can see most of the bones in my foot.  They’re usually slightly obscured by the swelling that seems to be a constant part of my world right now.

As I type this, it’s Sunday afternoon.  The Mr. is grocery shopping, and I’d like to try to make a couple of things.  We found some recipes that don’t look like they’ll require a lot of standing-up time.  My fingers are crossed.

This journey is reminding me of the importance of rest.  So often, I, along with most of America, use the weekends to try to catch up on tasks that aren’t able to be done during the week.

My body, however, tells on me.  I need the kind of rest that requires purposely sitting down and not doing a whole lot of much, whether it’s thinking or finishing chores.  Everything gets done eventually…it just doesn’t have to be done now.

Speaking of now…the Mr. just pulled into the garage which means for now, I’ll be starting work on those recipes and then hunkering down in my recliner to watch a little NASCAR and, perhaps, enjoy a quick nap.

Thank you for your continued prayers as I press on in my recovery. ❤

Rhythms of Grace

When I woke up this morning and began looking at my various social media feeds, I saw this…

It had been posted by the Proverbs 31 ministry.

I loved the accompanying verse:

Psalm 37:23-26New International Version (NIV)

23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.[a]

How these words spoke to my soul as I read them.

My pace has slowed to a crawl.

Literally.

You should have seen the Mr. last Monday as we made our way from the car in the parking lot to my surgeon’s office.  This was before my surgery (I got wheeled out afterward).

I took baby steps on my crutches.

I was terrified of hitting a crack in the sidewalk and falling.

He patiently escorted me, ready to catch me if I lost my balance.

I frequently apologized for going so slow.

He told me that he was glad I wasn’t going faster.

If you know me personally, you have seen me walk and heard me talk.

I do everything QUICKLY.

Even in my classroom.

I can be across the room faster than a student can turn his head.

My fitness watch / step counter loves me.

I’ve struggled with so many different aspects of my injury…physical pain, emotional distress, and frustration.

Slowing down has been a huge adjustment.

Yesterday, I had a pity party.  Actually the party moved after the Mr. wouldn’t indulge me.  I began texting back and forth with my friend, Barb.  She doesn’t do pity parties, let me tell you.  She gives you a minute (for me, she’s allowing two since I’m on crutches) before she tells you to pick yourself up and get on with business.

She listened, though, in the text-chat kind of way.

She told me, “You will have your life back – just a bump in the road.  Sometimes we need [to] get nudged from above to sit…”

This comes from a woman who doesn’t know how to sit.

She reminded me that this is another blessing in disguise.

It’s kind of hard to argue with God about being still when That’s. All. You. Can. Do.

The Bible verse that followed the illustration hit me too.

It is God who makes firm our steps.

He is the one who will determine when my ankle is strong again.

As a person who is used to being in control, this is difficult to come to terms with.

Beyond what I am doing…elevating my leg nearly 24/7…eating right…sleeping as much as I can…heeding all other directives given to me…I.  Can.  Do.  Nothing.

Nada.

To speed my healing along…to get back into my rush-rush life.

And so I am trying to deal with this with as much grace as I can.

I am thankful for this time, mind you, even as I fight my feelings of letting others down.

Just as God is directing my pace, so is He directing that of others.

It’s as if life is one long song, the rhythm of which changes according to the tempo of each stanza.

Although I am not currently dancing a fast jig, I will do so one day, once my healing is complete.

Just as the Mr. followed closely behind me on our way to the doctor’s office on Monday, God is standing in the gap, strong arms ready to steady me should I start to topple over, as I’m wont to do.

Until this current refrain of my lifesong is over, I remain focused on #findingjoyinthejourney.

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