WALKING for the first time in 3 years! What?!

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Greetings, friends!

WOW! WOW! WOW! I have exciting news to share with you! For the first time in over THREE years, I have walked on my own, without my crutches. Without holding onto my PT or OT’s hand. Without holding onto the wall, a cart….

It will take a while to get to where I need to be, but it will happen! For now, I can take about 30 steps on my own and everyday I continue to work hard. For all of the moments (and there have been MANY) where it has been tears of frustration-sweat-heartache-pain-setbacks-blah-blah-blah, I DID IT!!

I wish I could explain to you how it feels to fully weight-bear on this fragile leg of mine and take these precious steps. It’s just … Odd. Different. Weird. With every step, it’s as though my mind is telling me that I am doing something wrong because it’s so abnormal to “walk” on this leg.

The first step is the most difficult as I have to talk to myself in my head and will my leg to move. I am sure with time and practice, it will become easier. Eventually, I hope my leg will function normally, or much better.

Hard work pays off my friends. You have to put the work in if you want to reach the finish line or anything close to the finish line. And.it.is.not.easy! I get it, I really get it. When you work for it and you see results – the feeling of pride – the triumph – it is truly indescribable! It also feels like – Freedom. Happiness. Peace. Achievement.

Even when your goal seems insurmountable, keep going. Never lose hope and never stop believing in yourself. When you reach milestones, it is amazing!

Three years is a long time to deal with a medical journey like the one I have been on, but it is worth it to fight the good fight. On the days where I doubted my strength and confidence,  my soul never wavered. Your soul knows the answer. When you quiet your mind and listen to your soul, you will find the strength you need to power through.

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I have a long way to go to reach my finish line but I can promise you this – even on my darkest days, I will search for the light to lead the path so I can continue on.

My wish for you is the same. May you listen to your soul and find the light you need to keep going. You can and will get there!

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

Reality check

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Hello friends!

Sometimes you need a reality check to focus and regain perspective. More on this in a bit.

Dislocating my hip really rattled me and I have been in a constant state of anxiety and fear. Fear of something else happening. Fear of the unknown. It is exhausting! I cry at the drop of a hat and have a difficult time sleeping.

Two weeks ago at PT, I walked for the first time in over THREE YEARS without my crutches! I was pushing a cart for support, but I did it! It was ah-mazing! Such a weird feeling to fully bear weight on my damaged leg. When my OT stood me in front of the cart and took away my crutches, I said, “Okay, now what do I do?” We all know the response was, “walk!” Easier said than done. How do toddlers make it look so easy? My leg didn’t want to move at first so I had to will it to move. Walking down that hallway without my handy-dandy leg sticks felt fantastic.

The next day when my nurse came and we took down the wrapping on my leg and foot, there was a little blood. Immediately I got nervous and thought, “here we go again.” Over the next two days, there was more blood and some drainage. We took pictures and sent them off to the nurse practitioner that I have become friends with so she could share with my surgeon. (One of the MANY benefits of having this beautiful soul in my life.)

I was off to my local wound center the next day so they could determine what was going on. Thankfully it is only a minor issue and we are hopeful it will heal. Each time something  like this happens, I make myself sick with worry and panic.

My doctor and I have discussed the possibility that I am exhibiting signs of PTSD. This never occurred to me but makes sense. It’s been a long road and perhaps things have finally caught up with me. It’s not to say that I can’t cope with situations, rather, I have been through a traumatic experience and over time, this anxiety and fear has crept in.

When I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon, I asked why I can’t get to the finish line without setbacks. I just don’t understand why I have these milestone moments and the other shoe always has to drop. He said that it is an unrealistic expectation to think there won’t be setbacks. Again, I asked, why?? He explained that I am doing things (like fully bearing weight) that I haven’t done in years and of course there may be setbacks.

At first, I was thinking, “what a jackass!” He hasn’t walked in my shoes or had to live through these last three years as I have. But you know what, friends? The more I thought about what he said, the more I realized that he is absolutely right.

I haven’t walked on this leg in over three years. The skin on my foot is fragile. With each new goal I reach and the more weight I bear on this leg, the greater the opportunity for setbacks.

The conversation with my surgeon was a reality check. It reminded me that I just need to breathe. Let things happen as they will. I am making progress. Life is not always rainbows and butterflies, but life is moving forward. It may be slower than I would like and it may be filled with setbacks, but I need to remember how far I have come.

So I am going to work on easing my fears and anxiety. I am going to continue to work hard at PT and work on regaining my confidence. Things happen, folks, and you just have to roll with the punches.

If you are struggling with things in your life, I wish you well. I wish you peace. Fear and anxiety can eat away at you and I don’t wish that on anyone. Stay strong and know you are not alone.

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

 

 

 

When will the worry and fear go away?

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When you go through something as significant as I have over the last three years, it has a tremendous impact on you. Without even realizing it, it seems my body starts reacting to situations before I start to process it. My subconscious starts preparing me for what is about to come – or what is possibly about to come.

Since I can’t drive, I am fortunate enough to be able to take paratransit to and from therapy. This is transportation for disabled people. The unfortunate part of it is that you could be on the van for a very long time before you reach your destination.

 Monday was one of those days when I was on the van for almost 1.5 hours. After about an hour, my leg started hurting from sitting in that position with my brace on for so long. By the end of the night, I was getting a little worried, thinking maybe it was more than just sitting on the uncomfortable seat.

I went to PT & OT the next day where I told my therapists that we should take things slow just to be safe. We were careful with therapy but my hip started bothering me as the night progressed. By the end of the night, I made myself physically sick with worry.

I started thinking, “Is the hardware failing because I have been putting so much weight on it? Is my hip going to pop out again?!” It is such a terrible feeling to always worry about these things. When you experience so many setbacks and emergencies, I think it’s normal to worry. Right?! (By the next day, my leg and hip felt fine!)

Some people may not understand how I feel and I am okay with that. I feel as though some people think that I need to get a grip, but they haven’t walked in my shoes, nor have they experienced what I have endured.

Will I ever get to the place of not worrying? Will the fear disappear? I certainly hope so. After coming this far, I need to continue moving forward with peace in my heart. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

My hope is that as time goes on, I will be more comfortable when something silly as sitting wrong doesn’t seem like a big deal, and more comfortable in my own skin. I long for the days where I don’t have to scare myself by thinking something is wrong.

Useless worry, my friends … it stinks. Unnecessary sleepless nights … gotta stop!

If you have experienced something like this, please share your tips and tricks with me on how you overcame the worry and fear.

Until next time, go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

Never stop trying – keep moving forward.

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Greetings, friends!

I get a little nervous now talking about my triumphs because it seems that once I do, something happens and I take a few steps back. But I am “throwing caution to the wind” as they say, and I am excited to share my progress with you!

In physical therapy last week, I started practicing walking with only one crutch! ONE. CRUTCH. It may not seem like a big thing, but man, to me it sure did! I mean, it was only for a brief time but progress is what we strive for. My physical therapist and I were high-fiving with excitement! (Thank you, Anita! – BEST physical therapist ever!)

Things like this give me the encouragement I need and allows me to see that things will eventually come together. It is taking forever, I know, but if the end result is me being completely healed and walking again, well, the steps backward are bearable.

I do get nervous when I put additional weight on my leg and hip as I worry that my body isn’t strong enough to accommodate what we are doing, but it needs to happen. The prosthesis cannot fail. This leg has to get use to having my full body weight on it again. My body needs to get stronger. So I take a few deep breaths and move forward.

Do you remember the scene from the movie, Rocky, when Sylvester Stallone’s character reaches the top of the stairs and he throws his arms up victoriously? That’s how I feel when things come together and I make progress. I feel like, hell yes, I can and will do this!

It is such an odd feeling though, putting more and more weight on my leg. It’s almost as though my brain is telling me that I am doing something wrong because it has been so long since I have been fully bearing weight on this leg. Often times I wonder if I will get to the point when I can walk around freely, sans my crutches? I would settle for walking around with a cane or one crutch if it means that I can fully function.

That’s a tall order though. We have to get this swelling under control in my leg so I can have a greater range of motion. Bending my knee at a thirty degree angle won’t get me far. I need to be able to bend my knee enough so I can drive and do the normal things that I was once capable of doing. It would be awesome to be able to fit into a shoe and be able to bend enough to actually tie that shoe, along with many other things.

The days can be frustrating and there are tears shed, but still, I rise. And I always will.

Stay strong my friends! We are all in this together!

Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

 

 

 

Ability, motivation & attitude…

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Greetings, friends!

Happy Spring! Here in the Northeast, we have had crazy weather! On April 1st, it snowed. Yes, you read that right. But that’s why we love New England, right? Before we know it, the warm weather will be here. The flowers will bloom, the grass will grow green and everything comes back to life.

Everything renews  at some point, including our hope and our spirit. As y’all know, I was feeling a little woe is me for a short time after dislocating my hip, but I have rounded the corner and my faith has been restored.

Physical and occupational therapy is slow going, but moving along nonetheless. It is so important to surround yourself with people who encourage and motivate you when you are going through tough times. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you that you are strong enough and brave enough to carry on.

And so, a big shout out to Anita, my physical therapist, and Lisa, my occupational therapist. These gals motivate and support me, and they are fabulous! The hip remains in place and we are working on my range of motion, weight-bearing, and my upper body strength by using weights and weight machines. We are careful and nervous about the hip popping out again!

Recently, a fellow blogger reached out to me and told me how she was just diagnosed with cancer.  She said that she hopes to be able to share her 32 year cancer story someday as I have. I started crying. Crying, because I have been where she is and I know exactly how it feels to be in “the cancer club.”

Being diagnosed with cancer is scary! You have no idea what will happen but you hope and pray you have the strength to get through the difficult days. I literally wanted to reach out and hug this person that I don’t even know. If you are reading this post, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong and keep your positive attitude!

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Life is a series of ups and downs and we must stay resilient as it ebbs and flows. We have the ability to get through the painful times if we stay motivated. It isn’t easy but we have to fight the good fight! The struggle we are in today absolutely gives us the strength we need to carry on.

Until next time, go out and do a random act of kindness.

Jewels

 

 

Three years … seems like a lifetime.

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This part of my journey began three years ago. When I was walking down stairs, my leg broke. And, well, y’all know the rest of the story.

March 22, 2014 seems like a lifetime ago at times. Three years of hospital stays, surgeries, missing time with my family, not working, not driving … you get it. The other part of this journey has been meeting the most beautiful and kind souls. People who have become like family. My family and friends who have blessed me beyond measure.

I started this blog with the hope that I could inspire one single person who may be going though a life changing journey. It is intended to inspire, provide a little bit of hope, and spread kindness. So when people I don’t even know contact me to say, “thank you for your post, it made me feel a tiny bit better,” I realize that perhaps I was meant to go through this journey to somehow help others. Or maybe things just happen and there is no rhyme or reason, but I prefer to think that we can somehow connect by our trials and tribulations.

It is a heavy burden to carry when you feel as though you are going through something alone. It doesn’t matter what it is – we all need someone to lift our spirits. Someone who can identify with how we feel because we are going through something similar. Someone we can laugh with through the ridiculousness that can become overwhelming.

The world is a kinder place when you have someone to lean on. My hope is that you have that someone in your life. My hope is that no matter what obstacle is set before you, you know there are people you can count on to support you and say, “Let’s do this!” (Cough, cough … Serena) We all deserve that.

I started physical therapy (again) yesterday after dislocating my hip. While I don’t know the staff that well as I was only there for two months before the whole hip thing, these people cheer me on and provide hope that I will get to where I need to be. It is remarkable to find that you connect with people who genuinely wish for healing for you, and offer words of encouragement! PT kicked my butt yesterday! My knee only bends to 30 degrees now. It was at almost 60 degrees prior to the dislocation so that’s a bummer. Clearly, I have work to do.

Friends, this time it is physical therapy for-the-win! The last time was just practice. It will be interesting to see how I progress in PT with the hip abduction brace. Stay tuned to find out!

One thing that I have been reminded of throughout these last three years – we can’t move forward if we are looking back. The past has already happened; it is the present that we live in and the future that has potential. Let’s focus on that!

Until next time, go out and do what? A random act of kindness, of course!

Jewels

 

 

 

 

Let’s try this again. For the win. Seriously.

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They do say that if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Right?

I had my follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Anderson (love her) and she has given me the okay to get back to physical therapy. It will be limited to weight-bearing and really just “moving” more as I have strict hip precautions, but I will take it.

There is something about actually being in a rehab facility – working with an awesome PT – that makes me feel as though I can accomplish the goal of walking again. Perhaps that sounds silly, but in my mind, I think it makes me feel better.

When I saw my orthopedic surgeon, she said the hip is still in place and that I will continue to wear the brace. The general rule of thumb is to wear the brace for 3 months after dislocating your hip. That is fine by me as the brace provides stability and will hopefully prevent another dislocation.

With that being said, the brace has some disadvantages as well. It has created major swelling in my lower leg. There are times when the straps on my boot cannot close! Between not being able to elevate as I need to and being limited as to my range of motion, it has created this “crazytown” swelling.

When my doctor entered the exam room and took a look at my swollen leg, she immediately paged my vascular surgeon and they did an urgent ultrasound to check for a DVT. That was not pleasant at all! The technician had to apply so much pressure and the hip joint area was very sensitive. It felt very uncomfortable! After 30 or so minutes of trying to get images, the technician said he was having a difficult time ruling out a blood clot because the swelling was making it difficult, so he had two doctors come in to assist.

Thankfully there was no clot! They sent me to the physical therapy department so they could wrap my leg and I was able to go home. Now I must be vigilant about elevating as much as the brace allows, keeping the leg wrapped well, and I can start to use the lymphedema pump if I am very careful getting in and out of it. Later this month I start lymphedema therapy as well. Hopefully between that, elevating, wrapping, and getting back to PT, we can get this under control.

My doctor asked how I was handling everything and I was very honest and open and told her that the hip dislocation has left me very discouraged. I find myself being negative which I can’t stand. March 22nd will be THREE years since breaking my leg! Three years of ups and downs and setbacks. Three years of not driving, working, volunteering, blah blah blah. See! Right there – stating the negatives!

I have tried so hard to remain positive through these last three years and the stress it has put on my family. Trust me, it has put a tremendous amount of stress on them, to say the least. This makes me feel guilty even though I can’t control what has happened. My family and friends are a blessing and have gone above and beyond to help me so many times.

These setbacks steal a piece of my confidence and make my soul feel a little troubled and sad.

However – I will keep pushing through and I will lift my spirits! It is time to dust myself off and start again. Physical therapy – this time – this time it is for the win! Let’s do this!

Until next time, go out and do a random act of kindness. The recipient of that act of kindness will appreciate it.

Jewels