Along with the mental strength that came from learning to rely on my mind when I simply couldn't rely on my body, came a deep sense of worry. I consider it a weakness.
While learning to be mentally strong in the face of adversity, I was also realizing some sad truths about how fragile I am — about how fragile we all are.
The last two years of my life have changed me forever. I'll never be the same, physically or mentally.
My latest worry involves a new pain that started in my ankle just this past Wednesday, I'm waiting to see my doctor this coming week to determine what it might be. I never did anything in particular to my ankle to injure it. The pain seemed to come out of nowhere, much like the pain in my left hip that kicked off a downward spiral of health issues and surgeries. As much as I want to believe that it is not AVN in my ankle, it very well could be. So, now I'm dealing with pain in my left ankle and my right hip, which is still pending replacement.
At one point, I thought I might have cervical cancer and asked for a papsmear despite the fact that my insurance wouldn't cover it. Due to changes in insurance, they would only pay for one pap every five years. I didn't care about the cost, I just needed to know. I've worried about breast cancer. I've worried about blood clots and heart palpitations.
I've even worried that I'm worrying too much. Have I become a hypochondriac? I'd like to think not, because my symptoms are real and they stem from real events. Also, my worries, based on symptoms I've experienced, are not far-fetched. I've yet to be tested for most of things I worry about, because I know that even though I worry, I tend to think too much.
I do not share these things because I want others to worry. I share these things because I want others to understand the downside of the struggles, apart from the disabilities incurred. The upside was the mental strength that I gained; the ability to forge on and better myself in ways I never intended to before my AVN began. I have learned to appreciate all of my remaining abilities. I've learned to appreciate myself from the inside, out.
When I run into people and they ask how I am doing, it's easy to say "much better." That is the truth. I am back on feet and learning to spend equal amounts of time off of my feet to manage the physical pain. I'm able to work. I'm able to care for my children and be involved in their lives. That is leaps and bounds of improvement compared to last year.
However, I wouldn't dare go as far as to say I am "all better." My harsh lesson in fragility has affected me more than I even realized a few months ago. Sometimes, I just feel like I'm waiting for the next bad news. For someone else, ankle pain may mean little to nothing. It is likely that most wouldn't assume anything beyond a sprain or inflammation. That is the same non-chalant mentality that I had about my left hip before my AVN diagnosis. I thought it was childbirth-related. I thought it was inflammation. I never could have imagined where that initial pain was headed, and what impact it would have on me and my family.
I'm afraid that my days of a non-chalant mentalities are gone. I'm afraid that my ankle pain is going to be AVN.
I still have that inner spark of strength that gets me through. I know how to tap into it when I need it most. I attribute that strength to my faith and my family, and also to myself.
I've grown strong. But I've also grown weak. At times, it can be a struggle to keep the strong side of scale more weighted than the weak.
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
-- Psalm 73:26