I glanced over at the needle resting on the table, which seemed to be almost a foot long. As I laid on my right side across the reclining bed in my orthopedic doctor's office with an exposed left hip, I instantly regretted looking at it.
"Uh huh," I replied and held my breath until a good dose of cortisone was done being injected.
That experience today had an intense Déjà vu effect on me. Last October, this was exactly how my journey with Avascular Necrosis began. The doctors treated me with the same injection for Trochanteric bursitis. But when the pain didn't subside after two weeks, the MRIs began and I was diagnosed with AVN.
One hip. Both hips. Right shoulder. Started in the left shoulder, but never progressed.
One, two, three core decompression surgeries. One hip replacement.
Wheelchair. Crutches. Walker. Cane.
Today, I found myself taking a deep breath in and out, and thinking, "Wow. I really survived all of that."
This time, I was receiving the shot because I've been experiencing pain in my left hip after I fell down some stairs in my home. I was worried that I had cracked my bone or that I caused the already-existing crack to become larger. But the X-rays came back clear, so that was a huge relief. The doctor said that Trochanteric bursitis is common after a hip replacement and that my fall could have inflamed it.
I am already feeling some relief from the shot, and I hope that relief continues.
As far as recovery goes, I'm doing well. We just returned from a week-long vacation to Florida to visit friends, and to attend our family reunion. I'm happy to say that I didn't miss a beat.
Still, after my appointment today and a follow-up appointment with my rheumatologist yesterday, I'm realizing that things will never be the same for me. I had more blood tests taken (about 14 tubes). Most of them are re-tests to see if anything has changed. Blood tests, observations and x-rays have become a part of my life, and will be for some time -- possibly the remainder of it.
I'll never forget sitting in the doctor's office after he told me that I had AVN in both hips. "It's a short-term crisis, with long-term benefits," he said as he began to explain my surgery options.
I'm still working on the "benefits" part, but one thing is for sure -- I look at life in a completely new light. Having a greater appreciation for life, for health, and for everyday abilities is priceless. Perspective is a powerful thing.
I am still limited. Daily, I have to carefully choose what I will or will not do. And I'm finally coming to realization that -- this is my life. It will never be the same. I can't just go and do anymore. I have to really think about it first and decide what I will be able to handle for that day. That's been difficult for me since I am very used to staying busy and being involved.
I decided not to run for PTO office again at my youngest children's school. I've had to take a step back from working with a non-profit, First Book-Hampton Roads, which is very near and dear to my heart. I've had to put off publishing my next children's book, because I know I don't have the energy to promote the book when it publishes.
Each day, I have to avoid things that most people do not think twice about -- a trip to the grocery store, lifting my children, sitting in the sand with them at the beach. I have to carefully plan out showers, outfits and events that I am able to attend.
It's hard for me to say "no" to things, but I'm learning how to do that the hard the way -- because I have to. Now, the biggest challenge is getting others to understand. I don't want people to think I am being "lazy" or "unmotivated." A positive mindset is key, but there's more to it than that.
Millions of people live with limits from some type of diagnosis. Maybe it's cancer. Possibly Lupus. Maybe you were injured in a car accident. It could be any number of things that causes you to sacrifice pieces of your life.
When people appear "normal," it is even more difficult for people to understand. And how could people possibly understand a disability that they can't see?
My heart goes out to people who struggle everyday with their health, in addition to struggling with a world that doesn't understand their limits.
Do you have limitless spoons?
"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from the bed of illness." -- Psalm 41:1-3 (NIV)