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He Knew

Who knew that the events that transpired in my life on November 13, 2016, would be a foreshadowing of what was to come exactly two years later?

God knew though.

Exactly two years ago, I broke my ankle in the most random of accidents. It came out of the blue with the only prior warning being a bit of pain in my shin hours before.

After I was given the diagnosis – trimalleolar fracture – I cried. I was dismayed by the projected recovery time – two years was the norm. I was scared as I wondered if I’d ever be able to run again. I was out of sorts because of the lack of control that I now had over my life.


Thus began a long, painful road to recovery – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

As a person who’s used to taking care of herself, all I could do, for the first nine weeks, was to let myself heal. In fact, I did nothing for two and a half weeks but sit, with my ankle elevated. I was only allowed to get up and potty. That was it. I couldn’t risk injuring it worse the week before my surgery, and I had to let my bones begin to fuse together after the twelve pins and plate were put in. I had to learn how to let others help me. I had to trust God to do the most important work – repairing my bones.

To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement, but I was determined to make the best of it.

The eight months of physical therapy that followed were full of ups and downs and a lot of tears as I discovered basic movements that were no longer simple for me. Learning how to walk seemed to be easier for a toddler than for this over-forty year old gal. You might recall that I used a buggy at Sam’s Club to help me figure things out. It was the grown up version of a push walker, but when things get hard, sometimes you have to be creative.

I had another setback in the fall of 2017 when I had another surgery – this time to remove the hardware because it had been giving me problems. The recovery wasn’t as easy as I’d expected, but ultimately, it was the best decision as much of the pain I’d been experiencing from the pins gradually went away.

I’m a firm believer that God uses everything in our lives for good, and though I’d been seeing blessings throughout my recovery from my injury, I had no idea how much these life lessons would mean to mean to me a year later.

Fast forward to today, November 13, 2018.

Today is the day when I will open my classroom door to an unknown number of students – most of whom I haven’t seen since October 5th. That was the Friday before a long weekend (Columbus Day).

None of us had any inkling that day of what was to come. I probably told my 7th period class to make good choices. It’s something I typically say on a Friday.

I’d grabbed a couple of books in case my reading prowess grew during what I anticipated to be a restful weekend.

At the time, Hurricane Michael wasn’t even a blip on our radar. We only learned of a cyclone through an emergency text message that Saturday or Sunday. By Monday, we were beginning to make preparations for a storm we still thought would be minor.

We waited to see if school would be cancelled for Tuesday. It was, but we assumed we would be back to school that Thursday.

Then, Wednesday happened. I’d evacuated in the middle of the night and sent my students a message through Remind 101 early that morning. Many had stayed. I checked in periodically with them, but by the middle of the afternoon, those who were still in town didn’t have cell service any more.

It was frightening. None of us knew when we would see each other again. Even though we had only been together as a student body for two and a half months, we had grown close. When you depend on each other to pass a mandatory reading test to graduate, the bonds get tight.

I returned home a week after the hurricane and began to pick up the pieces of my life.  Although I saw a few students at the football game that my district arranged a few weeks ago, I still haven’t seen many others. I’m eager to lay my eyes on them.

As I sit here composing this, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll say to my students as we begin to regroup. How can I apply the lessons I learned through my own recent struggles with my ankle to what we are going through right now?

Here are some things I’ll probably share with my kids.

I think it’s important to remember that there are going to be stretches when we can’t do anything – when waiting is the name of the game. As hard as it is to sit back, sometimes God needs time to orchestrate things – to align people and circumstances.

Sometimes, we are going to need to ask for help. This is a humbling thing, but just as I couldn’t even carry a plate to the sink when I was hurt, we can’t always carry the load of rebuilding on our own. We need to allow people to come alongside us.

We need to accept that recovery will not happen in a day or a week. I’m still recovering from my ankle injury – two years later. Similarly, it’s going to take years to rebuild after the devastation left by the storm.

We need to remember that it’s okay to cry. Recovery is painful, and we will be hit by the blues randomly. Just this weekend, I experienced a lot of pain in a tendon connected to my ankle. It was random and made me cry in frustration. So it will be with this storm recovery.

For me, simply taking out old trees from my yard has hurt my heart as the memories associated with these landmarks flood in. Most landmarks will be gone forever. Every time we want to go to a store that’s no longer there or want to eat at a favorite restaurant that’s been blown away, we are going to be sad. Just thinking about Christmas shopping is depressing because, quite simply, not much is open on this side of the bridge.

We are also going to be inconvenienced. When I went through physical therapy, I gave up two or three afternoons of my week, but it was for my own good. Post-hurricane life has brought with it new schedules as most of us are being asked to attend school at different times. The increased traffic is wreaking havoc on when we expect to get places, but most of that is because of the people fixing power lines or picking up debris. Complaining won’t help as we are all facing the same obstacles.

We also need to remember that, just as my ankle injury left scars, Hurricane Michael is going to leave permanent marks on our lives. Some of them will be on the outside – altered skylines, demolished homes, renovated buildings. Others will be on our hearts. These are going to be the hardest to deal with.

I pray that as we lay our eyes on the visible scars in the months and years that follow, we will be reminded of not just the beginning of the journey but every step we took toward making things right again.

Some people cringe when they see the angry, red line on the inside of my ankle, but I always tell them that it’s okay. I see a beautiful path toward healing – one marked with so many blessings. I met the most incredible surgeon and nursing staff that tended to my broken bones. I met others along the way who either helped me or empathized with me due to their own similar experiences.

We will do the same after the hurricane. We will remember talking to the people who lived near us who we’d never had a chance to talk to because fences or walls separated us. We will remember hot meals handed out by churches and other charities near and far. We will remember the thousands of first responders, locally based and many from afar, who not only directed traffic or provided security at various locations, but who also carried water and other supplies when our arms grew weary.

We will remember strangers, friends, and family who housed us during and after the storm. They tended to our fragile spirits while tangibly providing for our most basic needs.

We will never take the beauty of nature for granted and may even become tree huggers in the process.

We will see that we are stronger than we ever thought possible – only because we stand on God’s shoulders.

I heard a line from a song that was playing on the radio the other day. It said that light shines through broken pieces. We are definitely broken, but God’s light is shining though. He will take our shattered lives and rebuild them into something new – something better – something stronger . . .

. . . because He knew this would happen but that He could and would work though it.

It’s Been Awhile

I’m BAAAAAAACKKKKKKKK.

Y’all.  Life.  It’s just been

So.

Busy.

Hence, my nearly six-week absence.

Sigh.

But the busy has been good, I promise.

It’s going to take me a week and a day to get you caught up, so why don’t I start where I left off.

And no, I’m no going to write everything in one post.

Ha!

I think the first thing I want to talk about is my ankle.  My last post alluded to a final appointment I’d had with my surgeon.

That appointment took place February 9th, exactly two months ago today.

I took the afternoon off because my doctor is a solid two-hour drive away.  Of course, I stopped by Which Wich to grab lunch since, at the time, the one in my town had not opened yet.

I also ran by Shoe Station.  This store is my jam, y’all.  I like to buy my Vionic shoes there because I can use a store coupon.  These shoes are expensive, let me tell you.

Super Sis was supposed to meet me there, but she wound up having a meeting to attend, so I had to go solo.  I sent her pictures of the shoes I was trying on . . .

I was giggling when I found these shoes because, just that morning, I’d been thinking that I needed a silver pair.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I also found these adorable (and comfy) flip flops . . .

I didn’t know what to do . . . which pair to buy . . . because the struggle is always real when you’re shoe shopping . . .

I made it easy on myself and got both.

Then, I headed to my appointment.  I hoped that arriving early would result in getting in and out and, thus home, quicker.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I had to wait over an hour just to get back to a room and then about another thirty minutes for the doctor to come in . . .

Knowing that I had a two-hour drive ahead of me, in the dusk, was not an appealing thought.

But, and that’s a BIG but, my surgeon is amazing as is his nursing staff, so I put on a smile when he came in.

My surgeon has the best bedside manner.  He’s professional and patient and allows his patients to talk.

And boy do I talk.

Ahem.

After he walked in, he pulled up my new x-rays.

He told me that things looked great and asked how I was feeling.

I told him that the second surgery had really thrown me for a loop – that it was much harder than I’d expected.

He reiterated the fact that my injury had been quite serious.

It still seemed surreal – hearing him say that made me feel better about the aches and pains I was still going through because, if I can be frank, I had sometimes felt like a baby and that people sometimes felt like I was exaggerating my discomfort.  I’d heard at least one comment to that effect.

Then, we got down to business.

I had a few *cough* questions and a couple of concerns as I showed him my ankle . . .

That’s the incision on the inner part of my ankle – the incision I’d had problem with after my second surgery.

The outside incision looked really good though.

There was also the matter of the swelling, which wouldn’t go away . . .

Then, he pulled up a stool and grabbed my ankle, gently of course, and maneuvered it this way and that to check for range of motion.

I described how I’d taken a needle and drained the stitch abscess, per his nurse’s instructions, a few weeks prior.  However, there was still a stitch poking through the skin.  He took a closer look, got out a needle, and proceeded to try to coax it out.

He kept asking if he was hurting me, but honestly, after everything I’d been through since I broke it in 2016, the discomfort was minimal.  He wound up not being able to remove the stitch.  He gave me information about pulling it out if my body decided to expel it later (it had receded back into my incision).

We then went through my list of questions, and I learned that I could expect the swelling to continue for up to another year.

Yay.

Ahem.

I asked what kinds of exercises I could do, and he gave me the ALL CLEAR for all exercises, including RUNNING!

He assured me that my diagnosis a few month prior of osteoporosis (have I shared this here yet?) would not affect my ability to run and that, in fact, running would be good for strengthening my bones.

Yay!

I floated on air as I left.

Before I’d had the second surgery, I’d questioned my decision a bit, and I certainly wondered if I’d done the right thing after the surgery with all of the issues I dealt with.

I can say that I’ve seen a lot of progress in my recovery in the past few weeks.  I still have some pain, but most days, it’s at a two or a three.  I’ve had a couple of bad days here and there, but that’s so much better than having a bad day every day.

I am so thankful that God led me to this doctor and the orthopedic practice that took care of me.

I am still healing, but I can finally see light at the end of what has been a freakishly-long tunnel.

I am, as always, #findingjoyinthejourney.

4 Weeks Post-Surgery

Today marks exactly four weeks since I had a second surgery on my ankle.  You might recall that my surgeon removed the hardware that he’d placed in there the year before.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve talked about my ankle, so I thought I would bring you up to speed on my recovery thus far.

I know that I’m repeating myself when I say this, but this has been a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated.  I’ve had a few issues that nobody warned me about.  As a person who doesn’t deal too well with curve balls, this has been especially frustrating.

I’ve continued with the Hurt Foot workout videos that I found through a Google search for non-impact exercises.

I wish I’d found these videos last year after I broke my ankle and was able to exercise again.  I think I would have avoided a few of the setbacks I brought upon myself with the tougher-than-necessary routines that I literally jumped into.

Meanwhile, I was eager for the strips the nurse had put on during my seven-day, post-op appointment to fall off.  Here’s how my ankle looked on January 7th . . .

You can see that a few of the strips had come off.

January 8th marked ten days since the strips had been applied, and since they were peeling off within the ten-day window the nurse had given me, I finished the job . . .

The black dots lining the outside of the incisions were actually the scabs from the staples that had been used in lieu of stitches.  I had not seen these when I first broke my ankle because the orthopedic center had put on a cast that I wore for three weeks.  By the time it came off, the scabs had healed.

You can see how raw those incisions still were after a little over two weeks post-surgery.

They were painful too.  I’d been mandated to start massaging them aggressively to get rid of scar tissue.  The outside of my ankle felt strange though; I could feel the holes that the pins holding the plate in place had left behind.  You can even see the outline of those holes in the little Instagram video I made.

Meanwhile, I have continued to try out more videos by the same “hurt ankle” girl.  I love the shirt she wore for this one . . .

I need this shirt!

Surprisingly, these videos burn some decent calories!

I didn’t let the boot get in the way of good fashion and went all professional on my students one day . . .

I thought things were going fine even with me calling the Mr. one day with the request to bring me a sock (I’d only worn an ACE bandage) and ibuprofen.

Until January 11th.

Y’all, I’d been having some burning pain, but I figured it was just the incision hitting the boot.

Oh, but it wasn’t.

See what my ankle looked like that afternoon?

It was one angry body part and only getting madder with every hour.

I went back to using crutches to relieve the pressure that walking put on it.

I cried during dinner as I was hit by sporadic waves of pain.

The next morning, it looked like this . . .

I took pictures and sent them to my surgeon’s nurse.  She responded very quickly and told me that the PA believed that it was, most likely, a stitch abscess.  She told me to apply triple antibiotic ointment on it, cover it with a band aid, and keep a close eye on it.  She said it would probably be better in a few days.

The next morning, when I woke up, it looked like this . . .

Yep.  It had gotten bigger, more painful, and generally worse.

The Mr. wanted to take a needle to it; I adamantly refused, fearful of infection.

I did, however, send another email to my nurse while he was driving me to school and asked her if I could lance it if I properly sterilized everything.  She responded immediately, giving me the green light.

A friend at school advised me to use a warm compress to draw out the infection before I performed my at-home, self-care procedure.  I did so, putting the essential oil, Thieves, on my cloth, which I’d read would help with infection and inflammation.  I sterilized my needle while I applied the compress.

You should have seen what my ankle looked like when I pulled the cloth off.

Nasty.  I won’t post the picture (you’re welcome), but if you want to see it, click here.

I got down to work.

Oh my yuck.  It was just everything icky and more.

I had TWO abscesses.

Two.

No wonder I was hurting so badly.

I carefully squeezed out the infection, washed the area with soap and warm water, per the nurse’s instructions, and put a band aid over it.

I can honestly say that my ankle immediately felt better.  I was able to walk around the house (still in my boot) with a minimal amount of pain.  The burning sensation was gone.

However, later when I got ready to change the bandage, I noticed that I now had a deep hole in my incision, where the abscesses had been, and that hole did not want to close up.  It needed a stitch or two.

The Mr. went out and bought me butterfly bandages and incision strips.  He carefully applied a butterfly bandage with a larger bandage over that to see if that would do the trick.

After two days of this, the wound was still opening up, so we used the strips instead.  So far, so good.  I haven’t removed the strips since he applied them a few days ago, but it seems to be healing well.

The best part?

There’s no more pain or swelling in that area, so I know that the infection is gone.

Praise the Lord!

I’ve been able to work out without the burning feeling.  Yay!

So, where do I stand (literally and figuratively) today?

Well, I just put my crutches in the closet.  Woo hoo!

It’s also the last day of me having to wear the boot (and my fun sock-of-the-day, which some of my students have noticed) . . .

Hallelujah!

When I get up tomorrow morning, I’ll get to put TWO regular shoes on again.  I’m going to wear my sneakers for a few days because I need the extra support until I figure out what my tendon is doing (tight, not tight, sort of tight).

I also get to start driving again tomorrow!

The Mr. is thrilled.  He’s gotten up early every single day since I’ve been back at work to drive me there and pick me up.

He’s amazing!

I’m going to continue doing the Hurt Foot workouts until I get my next x-ray, which will be on February 8th when I go for my six-week checkup.  I’m sure they will tell me what kinds of exercises I’ll be allowed to do from that point forward.

I’m hoping to start going for walks around the neighborhood soon.  I signed up for the first Hogwarts Running Club event.  It’s a 9k, so I’ll have to split it into segments.

I’m still finding myself sore by the end of the day, and the outside of my ankle, where the plate was, is still pretty bruised up.  I know that things are healing inside; it’s just going to take more time.

I am trying to listen to my body and follow its lead.  I know that standing too long is still extra hard on me.  Building endurance is something I’ll be working on.

My students have been extra careful around me given the nature of my injury and subsequent recoveries from both surgeries.  I’m thankful for their consideration.

I’m especially grateful for your continued prayers as this journey is still far from being over.  You are a blessing to me.

Despite the ups and downs, I am able, with God’s strength, to push on with my mantra of #findingjoyinthejourney.

Day 7 Post-Op

Wow, wow, wow.

This second surgery has really thrown me for a loop, y’all.

I went into it expecting to be back on my feet right away.  That has definitely not been the case!

As you know from reading my Day 1 Post-Op story, I’ve had a tough time from the get-go.

The Mr. went to work the day after my surgery.  I managed pretty well without him there, but the pain pills really started doing a number on me.  I had gone up to two every four hours by then, but they made me terribly sleepy – and itchy.

The Mr. did come home in time for my new dryer to be delivered.

The Best Buy guys were uber-professional!  They quickly removed my old dryer and set up the new one.

It’s pretty fancy with a lot of features to choose from . . .

Poor Gambit was having a hard time though.  By Friday evening, he’d finally figured out a way to get close to me.

I didn’t sleep well that night and scratched like crazy every time I woke up, which was once an hour.  I gave up the fight around 7:30.

I suspect that my sleeplessness was due to another thing . . .

The Mr. helped me get my first shower since the day of my surgery, and I sort of felt human again.

That’s a compression sock I’m wearing on my left leg to help prevent blood clots.  I took it off mid-day.

Chicky arrived around lunch time, and we decided to have a mother-daughter date at the nail salon.  I haven’t had acrylics in a couple of years, so I splurged . . .

I took what would be my last pain pill while I waited for Chicky to get her nails done.  I knew that I wouldn’t be taking any more because of the icky way I’d been feeling.  I had two goals:  1)  To make it to church for the Christmas Eve service, and 2) To not sleep my way through Christmas.

I paid the price for this decision.  While my head wasn’t loopy, my pain increased.  The boot was the biggest culprit.  Every time I put it on, I felt a burning pain on my ankle bone.  The friction was terrible.

I made it to church the next morning but crutched my way around even though I was allowed to be weight-bearing.

I took my boot off during the service to alleviate the pressure.

I’m glad I was able to go, though, because the lighting of the candles at the end was breathtaking.

I was faking it until I made it though.  People kept telling me how impressed they were that I was out and about three days post-op.  I just didn’t want to be left behind, which is why I went grocery shopping Sunday afternoon, albeit with the motorized cart.

I was exhausted when we got home and, if I remember correctly, napped.

Chicky and I did some cooking later that day.  I made the Mr. a cake and started on my 15-Minute Peanut Noodles, which Chicky had to finish up for me since I got tired by the end.

I can’t remember if we started to watch a movie.  I think so, but I fell asleep halfway through and had to finish watching it the next day.

Y’all, the struggle has been REAL!

We celebrated Christmas the next morning.  I’ll share that fun stuff in a different post.

The Mr. had work Monday night, so Chicky and I chilled at home.

Tuesday marked five days post-op, and according to the instructions left by the doctor, I was supposed to change my bandages.

The Mr. supervised while I removed the ACE bandage first and then cut off the white padding . . .

I was still a little swollen, and the doctor’s writing had not faded . . .

Then, I turned my leg and saw my incisions . . .

It looked as though the doctor had marked lines on my previous incisions so he could follow along rather than making new cuts (thanks Dr. B).  The lines going across marked where the staples were to be placed.  The incisions looked pretty bad though, and I counted 28 staples total – 10 on the inner side and 18 on the outer side.

The incisions hurt like fire when the cool air hit them.  The area you see circled, below, was especially tender.  That’s the spot where the boot had been rubbing, and boy, was it aggravated . . .

I still couldn’t get my ankle wet, but I dabbed around it and tried to remove the beta dine from my leg.  It’s going to take quite a few showers to get it all off, I’m afraid.

The Mr. helped me put fresh gauze on both sides, and he wrapped it in a clean ACE bandage.

What an exhausting task!

Still, I was able to catch my breath and muster up enough energy to treat Chicky to lunch at my favorite local Thai restaurant . . .

Leftovers for days

On Wednesday, Chicky drove me to my hairdresser so I could get my hair washed.  It hadn’t been clean since the week before, and I was miserable.  I wasn’t feeling too well and wound up hitting the sack when we got home.  A cold had attacked my body rather quickly, the result of stress, I suspect.

That afternoon, we drove to Bigger City, Florida.  I had a post-op appointment the next day (this morning), so we came on over to stay with the Mr.’s parents.  He’s going to arrive tomorrow since he’s been working this week.

By the time I went to bed, I was feeling horrible; the cold was in full throttle.  I pulled out all the stops to try to get my symptoms under control . . .

The ibuprofen was for my ankle.  I’d emailed my doctor’s nurse to find out what I could take instead of the prescription, and she’d told me that I could take up to 800mg 3x/day, which sounds like a lot.  I only took 400 though.  My ankle had been on fire for almost a week.

Thursday (today), I woke up to find Chicky’s dog, Cali, eager for attention . . .

I got myself showered, and Chicky drove me to my appointment.

My surgeon has a fairly new PA who’d met with me for my pre-op.  I really like him; his bedside manner is excellent.  He is very patient and knowledgeable – impressive given his youthful appearance.

The nurse first removed my staples.  She did my inner ankle first.  Oy vey!  That hurt like a mother – especially when she got to the tender spot.  Then, she wiped the area with an alcohol wipe.  Y’all, I may have had a few tears in my eyes, but they didn’t come out – because I’m brave like that.  She proceeded to remove the staples from the other side.  This wasn’t nearly as painful . . . until she used another alcohol wipe.  Ugh.

She applied strips to both sides.  They’ll fall off in about ten days.  Until then, I cannot keep my foot submerged in a bath.  Dang.  I was sooooo looking forward to a hot bubble bath.  Guess I’ll have to wait a little longer.

The PA came in after the nurse finished, and we discussed my surgery – how sick I’d gotten – what a rough time I’d had all week.

Then, he took a look at my ankle and told me that it looked really good.  I asked him a few questions – I only had three, if you can believe that.

One thing that has become an issue is that my pointer finger on my left hand has gone halfway numb.  It’s as though it’s in that in-between stage of wanting to wake up after having fallen asleep.  The PA had no answer for what might have caused it.  I assured him that my finger was fine before my surgery, and that I’d read that having a cuff (blood pressure) on that same arm could cause it.  He didn’t agree because he said that the cuff wasn’t on the entire time.  He also told me that they had not numbed the left side of my body; however, I remember that before I passed out in the OR, I started losing feeling in my left arm.  Hmmm.  He told me that although he didn’t think it was from the surgery (I think it is the result of it), I should get back feeling eventually, after the anesthesia comes out of my body completely.  If it stays numb, I have to let them know.

The PA discussed what I’m allowed to do for the next few weeks.  I have to wear the boot for three more weeks.  During that time, I’m only allowed to work on range of motion exercises, with no board or bands.  After I’m out of my boot for a week, I can start low-impact exercises, such as walking.  I am not allowed to do any jumping.  He said that I could do some of my at-home physical therapy exercises.  I’ll have to go back in six weeks and have another x-ray to ensure that my bones have filled in.  We will discuss if I need physical therapy at that point.

I also have to start massaging my incision areas with Vitamin E oil to prevent scar tissue from forming.  I’ll do that as soon as the strips fall off.  The massaging is actually a painful process because I have to dig hard into my skin.  I didn’t do so well at this last year.  I hope to do better this time.

I asked him if I could have the boot section of the practice loosen the sides of the boot since the friction was causing me a lot of pain.  He fixed this by removing the cushioned part that had been attached to the inside with velcro.

Y’all, my jaw just about dropped to the floor when I saw what a simple solution this was!  I’m a rule follower as far as my ankle rehab goes, so I never even considered (or knew) that this thing could be removed.  When I put my boot back on after he’d wrapped up my leg in yet another ACE bandage, all was good, and what pain I felt was simply from the irritation that my inner ankle had been undergoing since the staples were removed.

The PA commented on my bright Tweety sock

I was able to walk out of the office without using my crutches at all!

I felt so much better that Chicky and I ran by the mall.  She needed to exchange a pair of shoes, and I wanted to do a bit of looking / buying at a store we don’t have in Podunk, Florida . . .

I spent the afternoon at Super Sis’s house chatting while she made up a batch of vegan vegetable barley soup.

I feel as though I turned a corner today.  I’m still sore, even without the boot on, but that’s to be expected.  I had twelve pins and a plate removed from my ankle, and tissue and bones need to finish healing.  I slept in a bed for the first time in a week last night, and the pressure from the covers made my ankle hurt – to the point where I had to stick my leg outside of the blankets for part of the night.  I tossed and turned and actually had to lift my ankle each time I rolled over.  I know that this will get better with time, but I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since before my surgery, so I’m a bit weepy if I think about the word “sleep.”

I’m also desperate for the feeling to return to my finger.  This is aggravating and, at times, painful despite it being partially numb.

This recovery has been a long, long road – one I knew I’d have to travel down immediately after learning the name of my injury.

I’m learning valuable lessons that I’m actually putting into practice.  I’m listening to my body and letting the pain be my guide.  I’m giving myself grace to rest when I need to.  I’m not pleased with not being able to exercise, but honestly, I’m too exhausted to do much, so there’s that.

As always, I am so thankful for the prayers that my friends and family continue to lift up on my behalf.  One of my church’s pastors told me, on Sunday, that he’d been praying for me.  I’m very much an introvert, but his words touched my heart.  My church has watched me struggle these past thirteen months, as all of you have.  I’m still struggling, but at least I know that I don’t have to do it by myself.

#findingjoyinthejourney continues to be one of my mantras as I walk into this final phase of my healing process.

Day 1 Post-Op

Wednesday afternoon, the Mr. and I headed out of town.

I’d tried to pack lightly but . . .

The Mr.’s parents, brother, and my sister live in the same city as my surgeon, so the plan was to stay with the in-laws.  We thought my report time was going to be at 7:30, according to the patient portal account I’d set up.  I had to call the surgery center after 3pm my time to find out for sure.  It wound up that my report time was 10:00 . . . still early but not too much so.

After eating dinner with the hubby’s parents, I headed over to Super Sis’s house to watch the Survivor finale.  She and her hubby are big fans of the show, and we were all rooting for Ben to win.

What a finale it was too!  Did you see it?  We were shouting at the TV, cringing at stressful moments, and praying like crazy (God says that we can pray for anything).

In the end, our guy won!

I had a hard time sleeping that night.  It wasn’t that I was worried, but the anticipation and uncertainty of what, exactly, I’d be feeling after the surgery kept me tossing and turning.  I finally gave up around 4am and opened up my First 5 app for my daily devotion.  The opening lines brought tears to my eyes, y’all . . .

I don’t know why I’m always amazed when God shows up in such tangible ways.  ❤

After I finished reading, I got up and did my physical therapy exercises.

I’d been told that I wouldn’t be able to do lower body workouts until my boot comes off . . . FOUR WHOLE WEEKS.  Sigh.

This was my view as I did lunges and squats . . .

Isn’t the tree gorgeous?  I’ll miss sitting in front of it on Christmas morning this year.  The Mr. is on call for the first Christmas ever, so we are going to have to wait until the 29th to do Christmas with his parents and our siblings.

When I finished with my workout, I grabbed a shower.

Y’all, I’m going to have to rely on the Mr. helping me get semi-showers, where I sit in a chair, drape my right foot over the side of the tub, while he holds the nozzle over my body.  This is what we did last year, and I was miserable . . . while he chuckled each and every time.

Yeah, so the shower yesterday morning was amazing.

It wound up being a good thing that I’d gotten up so early because I got a phone call from the surgery center at 7:30 asking if I could be there sooner – at 8:30.  The Mr. was still sleeping, so I woke him up, and he got ready really fast.

While he was driving me there, his dad went to pick up my post-surgery pain pills, which he and the Mr. had dropped off at the pharmacy the night before.

The hubby dropped me off so I wouldn’t have to walk very far while he found a parking spot.

They called me back quickly, and I had the joy of peeing in a cup for them to do a pregnancy test – something they do for all non-menopausal women.  Ha!

Then, I changed into my gown, and they brought the hubby back to sit with me while the nurse put in an IV and got me to sign off on more paperwork.

I love the staff at my orthopedic center.  They are very gentle and tenderhearted.  They see patients at their worst, suffering from so much pain.  Their care is top-notch.

It didn’t take too long before I was wearing compression and no-slip socks, waiting for my surgeon.

I took pictures of all sides of my foot just to compare with what it will look like when I get to see it post-surgery (it’s currently wrapped up in thick bandages) . . .

My nurse checked in frequently, and I had to call her three times to help me to the bathroom to go potty.  Nerves were starting to kick in big time.  When I returned to bed each time, I was cold.  She patiently gave me a new blanket every time.

Warm blankets from the blanket heater are the absolute BEST!

I was told that I was my doctor’s second surgery, but we still had to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait.  This doctor is very popular because he’s got mad skills.  I was glad that I wasn’t last in line like my first surgery.

The Mr.’s dad came back and waited with us, cracking jokes along the way.

The surgeon finally came to visit, went over the procedure, and marked my right foot with his customary smiley face.

Then, I got to wait a while longer.

Finally, the OR nurses appeared and whisked me off so quickly that I barely had a chance to bid the hubby farewell.

Things were so different from last year.  When I had my first surgery, I went into a pre-room first where they gave me something to sleep before administering my nerve block.  I guess we skipped this step since I refused the option for the block.  Last year, after I’d gotten my cast off, I’d experienced a burning sensation that ran down my big toe and across that toe’s knuckle.  The pain was constant and had me in tears for days.  I’d also been numb down the rest of my foot for weeks.  I didn’t want to go through that again despite the relief from pain that the block promised.  Talk about a catch 22!

So, instead, I was wheeled directly into the operating room.  It was FILLED with nurses and other techs, and I said hello to all of them.

I helped them move me from the gurney to the operating table, and they got my surgical cap on for me.  Then, the anesthesia nurse began giving me good oxygen.  At the same time, I could tell that they had put the anesthesia in my IV, although I was surprised that I wasn’t out in two seconds flat.  I’m a lightweight, don’t you know.  I keep breathing deeply and finally felt myself drift off.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room.

My mouth was so dry (the result of not having anything to drink since the night before as well as the anesthesia).  They brought me Gatorade.

They gave me the hardware that they’d removed, sterilized and sealed up in a bag.

See that long bar with the holes? That’s the plate. It doesn’t look anything like what I expected! It’s also a lot smaller than what I’d thought from feeling it in my leg (a strange feeling indeed).

If you look closely at the next picture, you’ll see the LONG pins that were used on the inside of my ankle.  There were THREE of those, to be exact and played a big role in the swelling that stayed with me on the inside/top of my foot.  The doctor had told me, back during my last appointment, that once I healed from this surgery, the swelling would eventually go away.

I was in a LOT of pain down the right side (outer part) of my ankle.  The next picture reflects just how badly I was feeling.

I couldn’t feel a thing on the inner side of my ankle, and my toes were numb, but that right side was something else.

Now, I’m really not one to complain much, but I did some advocating, let me tell you.  I knew that I shouldn’t be feeling that kind of pain.

They gave me two Oxycontin and promised that I’d be able to tell the difference within thirty minutes.

They didn’t touch the pain.  I was in tears.  The Mr. was beside himself because he remembered how I had not felt anything for a day and a half last year.

The anesthesiologist came by and mentioned the nerve block and another medicine.  I opted for the second thing (I have it written down somewhere but can’t get to it while I’m writing this).  He said that the medicine would make me a little sleepy.  I was all for that.

The nurse had to administer it slowly, in two batches.  I felt the effects of it immediately and began to relax quickly.

It seemed as though it took forever to get discharged; instructions had to be given, and the IV had to be taken out.

She also gave me a folder that contained the x-rays the doctor had taken during the surgery.

The first picture is when they were halfway done.  You can see, if you compare it to the next picture, that there’s no hardware!  It looks like he used staples instead of stitches.  I’m glad because they are easy for the nurse to pull out, and the pain when she does it is like pulling out hairs from your leg.  They will remove the staples on Thursday.

No hardware!

We finally got to leave and headed back to the Mr.’s parents’ house.

That’s when things went south.

I had started feeling sick as I’d gotten in the car.  I made the Mr. pull over while he was driving so I could throw up.  I didn’t, but the feeling remained.

Ugh.

It was just awful.

I couldn’t get into his parents’ house fast enough and crutched my way to the bathroom as fast as I could.

I still didn’t throw up though.

Oh Misery, you and I got well acquainted.

I tried to eat a few crackers, but my mouth was so dry, it was a struggle.

We stayed about an hour before heading home.

The Mr.’s mom sent two Sprites (or 7 Ups) with me, along with more crackers, but I still had a hard time.  I sipped on the drink but mostly tried to sleep.

The first half of the drive was okay.  Not so much with the second half.

As I rode, stretched out in the back seat, I struggled.  As I sat up to take a drink, I got super sick and threw up in one of the bags the Mr. had put back there with me.

I never want Fruit Punch Gatorade again.

I felt better and rested more; however, as we pulled into the garage, I got sick again before even getting out of the car.

More Gatorade.

Ugh.

The dogs were happy to see me.  Although I wanted to love on them, I just couldn’t.  It was all I could do to get to my recliner.

The Mr. helped me to the bathroom a couple of times where I threw up more.

The protein bar I’d eaten in the car came up.

Along with more Gatorade.

Total misery, I tell you.

The nurse had told me to start taking my prescription pain pills when I got home, so I took two; however, the Mr. started comparing what the directions said with what I’d taken last year and discovered that I had taken fewer pills with each dose after my first surgery, so we decided to go down to one pill every four hours to try to alleviate my sickness.

I was exhausted and turned out the light around 8pm.

Thank goodness for my new recliner.  It’s incredibly comfortable, and although I woke up nearly every hour, I slept well when I was sleeping, if that makes sense.

The Mr. got up and helped me to the restroom around 11:30.  I still had a lot of nausea, and my stomach hurt.  When I got him up at 5:00 to help me potty, the nausea was gone!  I stayed awake and haven’t been sick to this point.  I’m praying that this side effect is gone permanently.

And so this is how things currently stand . . . or should I say recline.

The Mr. had to work today.  A couple of days ago as we were discussing the rest of the week, I was very apprehensive about him not being home today; however, because the nausea is gone, I was able to tell him to have a good day as he left this morning.  He’ll be home around noon to check on me and wait for Best Buy to deliver a new dryer (a story for another post).

I am so thankful for all of the prayers that people are lifting up on my behalf.  I put in a request on the military support group page I’m a member of on Facebook and have gotten dozens and dozens of supportive comments.  My friends have been texting me, and I’ve been in constant contact with my family.

Of course, there’s the Mr.  He’s been his usual wonderful self, fussing at me because he’s worried that I’ll do too much, all the while caring for me without complaining.  He’s a good man; I am very undeserving of him.

Thank you for the kind comments you’ve left as I’ve traveled down this challenging road.  Your prayers and words of encouragement always make me tear up in joy and gratitude.

I’m still #findingjoyinthejourney despite how difficult it’s been.

God is so good.

God’s plans are perfect.

God’s love for me is steadfast and true.

Here I Go Again

. . . cue in Whitesnake . . .

Tomorrow, I’ll be going under the knife for the second time in just over a year.

This time, my surgeon will be removing the hardware he used to hold three of my ankle bones together after I broke them last November.

This is a surgery that I’ve actually been looking forward to.  Just admitting this says a lot because I am a person who is deathly afraid of needles.  Just the sight of blood makes me feel faint.

Over the last year, I’ve developed a strong stomach.  I’ve kind of had to considering all I’ve been through.

I had my pre-op appointment Tuesday afternoon . . .

I asked a lot of questions.  I’m glad the Mr. wasn’t there because he would have cringed.

I’ll be in a boot for four weeks while the holes in my bones, left from the pins and plate, fill in.

The doctor said that it will take between six and eight weeks to complete the healing process.

Heck, what’s another two months?  I’ve been through thirteen of them already.

My prayer is that the pain and swelling that have been a part of each hour of each day since 11/13/16 will gradually become a distant memory.

I’ve been ordered to take it very easy the first week, keep my feet up, and simply rest.

You know that’s going to be hard for me to do.

Still, I will baby my ankle because of the stitches/staples that I’ll have.  I don’t want to do anything that will make them pop out.

The doctor did say that I could do upper body exercises if they don’t require putting pressure on my foot.  It’s a good thing my weights are close to my recliner.

😉

Seriously, though, I really will be good.  Listening to the Mr. fuss at me is never any fun.

I’m supposed to be weight-bearing; however, I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk much at first – especially while I still have my stitches/staples.

One of the things that makes this a little hard is knowing that I’m going to be taking some steps backward as far as my fitness goes.  I’ve worked really hard to get strong again, so the possibility of almost starting over has me a little down.

Oh Piyo, how I love thee.

Still, as Super Sis told me on the phone a few days ago, I can draw strength from the knowledge that I have already come back (sort-of) once from my injury; I can do it again.

I sure would appreciate your prayers for the surgery to go smoothly, for the pain to be bearable, and for the healing to be complete.

Thank you! ❤

Marking Time

Last week, I wrote about the one year anniversary of my ankle injury.

Well, today marks one year since I underwent the surgery to fix my broken ankle.

I had to wait a week from the day I broke it because I’d broken the skin when I’d scratched my leg after they took off the splint that the ER had put on it the night I broke it.  The doctor couldn’t operate until that scratch healed because of the risk of infection (the incision was going to be right where I’d scratched my leg).

It had been a long week of waiting filled with a lot of pain, boredom, and tears.

When that day finally came, I was more than thankful.

Chicky made the long drive to be with me and to support the Mr., who was more than a little stressed.

I woke up in comfort; the medical staff was incredible, their tenderness so evident in even the smallest details of my care.

I was dismayed, however, to learn that the surgeon had discovered that my bones were in bad shape, thus making the surgery extremely challenging.

I went home with what I’d like to call a bionic ankle, minus the superpower abilities that should accompany such hardware.

 

My surgery, a mere four days before Thanksgiving, made for a less-than-holiday(ish) week as I struggled through the initial days of extreme pain and sickness from my medicine.

The Mr. was such a trooper and doted on me, patiently waiting out my frequent burst of tears in between decorating the house for Christmas.

I don’t know that I’ll ever approach Thanksgiving the same way that I did before breaking my ankle.

I am so very thankful for the smallest things – things that most people take for granted – being able to walk (ok, so this isn’t a small thing), taking a shower unassisted, and being able to sleep under the covers (I spent over two months sleeping on my back with my right leg laying on top of my blankets and sheets).

I’m still learning to go with the flow and not feel resentful when things don’t work out like I planned.  That word “plan” makes me chuckle because clearly things can change in an instant.

#findingjoyinthejourney isn’t just my hashtag.  It’s my mantra.

I constantly remind myself to find a reason to be happy in whatever circumstances surround me.  Even when I’m disappointed or hurt (physically or emotionally), there’s always a reason to be joyful.

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