Patience Is a Virtue


My plan was to update my blog every Tuesday. But it's Thursday.

This week has been rough ... or rougher than I would have preferred. After hearing how "strong" I was from many people after sharing my blog, I thought that if I just waited one more day, that I would feel "strong" again and not disappoint anyone.

But like I said, it's Thursday now. Saying that I feel "weak" would be an accurate assessment.

When I started this blog, it was meant to serve as a reminder of my journey. Years from now, I want to be able to look back on this and remember how hard it was. I never want to take my health or my physical strength for granted again. I want to recall the pain and the triumph. And I want to remember the feelings and what it took to make it through. I want to be reminded of just how deep I needed to dig.

For some reason, Avascular Necrosis has taken over my bones in my shoulder and hips and made things ... well, difficult. I had core decompression surgery on one hip and one shoulder. I will have surgery on my other hip in about a month.

The most common treatment for Avascular Necrosis or AVN, is a total replacement. But my doctor advised me to try core decompression surgery first. Since I'm so "young," he thinks it will allow my bones to heal themselves, without needing a replacement. The surgery, he says, has more than a 70 percent percent success rate.

Still, my mind has wondered from the positivity a bit this week. I can't help but think back to last summer, less than a year ago, when I could run, help my daughter in gymnastics, dance, exercise -- I was without limitation. But within a matter of months, everything changed. My body was literally falling apart and no one knows why.

In addition to the surgery, I started taking a new pill that is supposed to harden my bones. If you read my last post, then you know that my bone in my shoulder was soft. Unfortunately, the pill makes me miserable. I have to take it first thing in the morning and it makes me feel horrible and sick. I've had a hard time just getting out of bed. I stopped taking it two days ago and have asked my doctor for a substitute pill, if there is one.

I have always hated medication. I don't even like taking Tylenol for a headache. But lately it seems I have no choice if I want my bones to heal.

All I can think about is getting better. My left hip is starting to feel a little better. It's hard to tell when I'm in a wheelchair, but I do think it's improving. My right shoulder is not improving and sometimes I wonder if it is getting worse.

It's like having a broken shoulder. I know, because I broke my left shoulder when I was younger -- the price a cheerleader pays for being the "tiny" one. I never minded being in the air, loved it actually, and my broken shoulder healed quickly. But I remember not being able to lift my arm when it was broken.

My right shoulder is beyond broken. I can't put a hair tie in or lift my elbow above my shoulder. I can't brush my teeth with my right arm or really do much of anything with it. I always knew my right arm was important, but I don't think I really knew until now. Each day, there are new things that I realize I can't do. And other days, I realize I can do things I that I thought I couldn't.

Patience is definitely a virtue.

I can't wait to walk again. I can't wait to use my arm again. I can't wait to shake hands again and to hug my family and pick up my children. That's the problem ... I can't wait.

Earlier this week, I had some steam taken out of me when I went to a doctor who was supposed to help me find out the cause. He really didn't even understand why I was in his office. I want someone to want answers as badly as I do. But then again, I guess that would be in a perfect world. We all want answers, don't we?

I have asked myself a lot of unproductive questions this week. Why is this happening? Why couldn't it have waited until my children were older? Will this happen to my children, too? Will I ever be "normal" again?

I'd like to believe it's a rut. And that I've still got steam left. And I won't give up hope. But it's been a bad week. And though I like to be perceived as "strong," the fact is that I need to remind myself that it's OK to be weak, too.

I've been physically weak for months, but this week in particular, my mind had a chance to be brought down by my pain and my doubts.

Before the pain got bad, I was volunteering with the first graders at my church. It was something I thoroughly enjoyed, because as I was teaching them, I taught myself also. Not too long ago, I helped them to memorize this verse:

"But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

I will wait on the Lord to renew my strength. And I pray that I am able to wait more patiently. He has certainly had plenty of patience with me.

I started working from home this week. I am a writer and I love my job. I had the chance to interview a lady who had survived leukemia, a heart attack and a stroke. She was wonderful, kind and insightful. She was a survivor.

She shared a quote with me that she discovered along her journey: "The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us."

Repeat: "The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us."

Repeat: "The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us."

Repeat: "The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us."

Pray. (repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat ... )

Stuffed Animals & Squishy Bones


I don't remember anything about core decompression surgery on my right shoulder and left hip last Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 -- except that I didn't have it until about 5 p.m. and I wasn't able to eat or drink anything since midnight the night before. I was scheduled for surgery at 2:30 p.m. I remember asking a nurse for a cheesy puff and telling my husband he had four eyes and six nostrils. They had me nice and sedated ... that's for sure.

I don't remember the exact moment I went under. I had expected to since I had surgery once before to remove a cyst from my ankle and I remembered it then. I was about 10 years old. At that age, the idea of surgery really scared me even though the surgery was a minor one. To comfort myself, I took my favorite stuffed animal, a Scottish Terrier named "Scottie." (original, I know)

My dad brought Scottie back from Scotland when I was about 6 years old. Scottie was the greatest present I'd ever received in my short little lifetime.

Naturally, when I needed surgery a few years later, I wanted to take Scottie along. Scottie had since taken a beating. He had a small hole in his head where the stuffing was coming out. Still, he was good as new to me. The doctors and nurses allowed me to take Scottie into the operating room with me.

"Countdown from 10," they told me as I was going into surgery. "10, 9, 8, 7 ... "

That was it. I remember getting to "7." I woke up and felt happy. Of course, the medication helped with that. The doctor came to my side and told me that Scottie had surgery with me. They had stitched up the hole in his head. Together, Scottie and I had survived surgery. That made Scottie even more special to me.

At 32, and with no shame, Scottie came along with me for surgery again. He wasn't allowed in the operating room. I guess stuffed animals are only for children (ho hum). But still, he was there, waiting with my husband, parents and parents-in-law.

I didn't remember a countdown. Maybe countdowns were just for children, too? I woke up in a recovery room. I knew it was late and I was the only patient there. I peeked my head up and around to see if anyone was there and finally, I spotted a nurse and she saw me. She came over and talked with me and I was happy to be back in the land of the awake.

I could barely talk, but I managed to ask her for some water and chapstick and she gave me both. I was in Heaven on Earth. I think I must have asked, "Do I get to see my husband now?" about 4 or 5 times. I bet that was annoying.

When I got to my hospital room, my mom and Scottie were there waiting as my husband walked along with me from downstairs. The nurse ordered me french fries, a grilled cheese and a soda. Yes, it was good to be back in the land of the awake.

The morning after surgery, my doctor showed me how badly my shoulder had deteriorated. He used a small camera to take pictures in my shoulder during surgery. I'm sure he'd expected some major damage after viewing my MRI. One image showed the "good" portion of my shoulder, the other showed the "bad." There was an obvious difference. Bone was missing from one ... huge pieces of bones missing. And the camera he used was pressing against the bone that was left and bending it in. Yes, bending my bone in. I had squishy bones. Weird and scary. But at least I was being fixed.

After the hospital, I had to adjust to being in a wheelchair at home. My equipment came late on the night before surgery and I had practiced getting around the house. I knew it was possible, but now I was being put to the actual test.

I think I've done well. I can hop into the bathroom on one leg, where the wheelchair doesn't fit. I'll scoot on the floor or hop up and down the stairs using the railing when I need to. The wheelchair is a breeze -- I push the left wheel with my left arm and use my right leg to move it where I need it to go. It's easier than it sounds.

The children have been more cooperative than I expected. My 2-year-old knows where my "boo-boos" are so she can avoid hitting them and she does a pretty good job. She calls my wheelchair a "whee-chair." My 11-month old doesn't seem to know the difference, but loves exploring my wheelchair. My 11-year-old is stepping up and helping out around the house and he enjoys pushing me around from place to place (even though he bumps me into the walls a lot).

God bless my husband for his support and care. And God bless my parents and parents-in-law for taking care of our children and me in the days following my surgery. No doubt they will continue to be invaluable during my recovery -- they always are. Friends and family have brought us dinners and we have been well-fed. Flowers have brightened up our home.

All in all -- I'm realizing I CAN do this. And I got two thumbs up at my post-op appointment today. Everything's gonna be alright.


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