Life lessons

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There have been many life lessons that I have learned during the last 3.6 years.

One very important life lesson: Every story is different. There isn’t a single person who can say they know what you are going through. Doesn’t it annoy you when you are sharing your story and someone says, “I know EXACTLY what you are going through.” No you don’t, and here’s why.

I am the only person who knows the feeling I get in my chest when I go for an appointment and it is overwhelming. Overwhelming because there are so many factors when trying to figure out what to do to get me where I need to be. Where I want to be.

How can I go from having my leg wrapped every single day in layers of foam and short stretched bandages, to being in a compression garment to control the swelling which will allow me to get back into a shoe? It sounds easy, however, I am such a “unique” case, that the answer is complicated. And just for the record – can we find a new word to describe me and my situation? “Unique” is getting old.

One person may think a custom garment will work if it is lined in silk and has silver in it, and then another person will disagree. What do you do? One person may think a new custom carbon fiber brace will work which will allow me to get out of the orthopedic boot and into a sneaker. Another person will disagree. What do you do?

Let’s not forget one very important piece of this – I am on a hip restriction for life which presents many limitations. How will I be able to get these compression garments on by myself? They are hard enough to put on for a person without any restrictions. The “easy” answer seems to be that “someone” can simply help me. I didn’t realize that the magic fairy will deliver that “someone” to me. It isn’t easy to find someone to swing by each day and do these things.

The list goes on but who really needs a laundry list of issues? The road has been long and I put on my big girl pants each and every day and give it my all. Some days the smiles come easy and other days the tears replace the smiles.

Another life lesson I have learned: At times, I walk the journey alone. Especially in my heart and soul. My family, friends, medical professionals, et cetera, have been wonderful. Amazing, really. But I am the only person who feels the stress and the overwhelming feeling of “will I ever get my life back?”

I do know the only way to figure out if something will work is to try it. That can be terrifying when there is so much to worry about. The darn what ifs can make a girl stressed out! “What if my foot opens up again?” “What if I need another free flap surgery?” “What if I can never drive, work, be “normal” again?” It is easy to get up one day and decide, I am not going to stress or worry about x,y, or z and then the next day the worry and fear set in. It’s just a part of life.

Every story is different. No one person knows exactly what you are going through. One day may be tough but hopefully the following day will be better. Trust me friends, my journey started with a limb salvage situation and I am so thankful that we saved this leg and foot. There are truly no words to express my deep gratitude for what my amazing surgical team has been able to do. But! That doesn’t mean the journey has been easy.

Every day is not rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it is okay to say, it sucks. It hurts. I am so confused. I want to move forward but I am stuck in limbo.

One of the most important life lessons: NEVER GIVE UP. Today may have been overwhelming, but tomorrow will be better. We are going to figure these things out. Trial and error. Tears and smiles.

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

Jewels

 

 

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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

 

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

 

 

 

 

It’s getting closer…

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grateful as: “Feeling or showing thanks to someone for some helpful act.”

My heart overflows with gratitude for so many beautiful people who have been a part of this journey with me. Two years and three months of needing so much help from so many. “Thank you” doesn’t seem adequate enough. I am very blessed and it is not lost on me.

I have now met with my Orthopedic surgeon, and I am ready to move ahead with the aspiration. The aspiration procedure is fairly straightforward: they remove fluid or tissue from the hip and femur to ensure there is no bacteria or infection. It takes about 7-14 days for the results to come back.

If those results come back clear, we can move ahead with the big surgery! Infectious Disease (ID) requested to see me as well during this visit, which always makes me nervous. I hear “Infectious Disease” and I cringe!

Generally, ID doctors help manage difficult, unusual, or complicated infections. Previously, my conversations with ID had consisted of needing a PICC line, so I braced myself to hear those dreaded words… for the third time in two years!

Guess what, folks? I was pleasantly surprised! My conversation was quite different this time. The expectation is that I will NOT need another PICC line! The ID doctor  just wanted to check in so that we are all on the same page for the surgery, as to what antibiotics I will need during my surgery and throughout my hospital stay. PHEW!!

Of course, if I do need another PICC line, I am prepared for it! Whatever it takes to make this surgery a success, I am in!

It’s getting closer, friends. The big surgery is right around the corner. Walking again after almost two and a half years… what will that feel like?!

Wearing a shoe?! Driving… oh, driving – how I have missed you so! FREEDOM. Going back to work! Living my life again…

There have been many lessons learned throughout this journey. One thing that I will say to you is this: Stay positive during a trying time in your life. Don’t ever give up hope!

There will be long and dark days where you want to scream that it’s too much. That’s normal and it’s OK. Scream and cry because it’s good to get it out.

Always remember that tomorrow is a new day filled with new hope. Hang in there and rely on your family and friends to get you through the tough days.

As I have said before, life is a beautiful journey. Embrace it. Find the lessons in the darkest of days.

Tell me, what one word describes you at this moment? Grateful, that’s my word. 

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

Jewels

 

Photo – my own. In case you couldn’t tell.

 

 

Major Progress!

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It is June already?! How did that happen?! This year is flying by, friends!

I met with my plastic surgeon last week and I am happy to announce that my foot is healed!

For two years, I had a hole in my foot. At one point, my Achilles tendon was exposed, I had osteomyelitis (infection in the bone), several surgeries, and now…my foot is healed. This is pretty amazing!

Between my vascular surgeon clearing the blockage and keeping the blood flowing, and my plastic surgeon performing several surgeries while recommending hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, they pretty much performed a small miracle. Dr. Guzman and Dr. Iorio, y’all ROCK! Thank you!!

Having spent so much time with these surgeons, and now at the point when I no longer need to see them on a regular basis, it is a weird feeling. I am relieved and grateful for what they have done, but in a strange way, it’s a little…what’s the word I am searching for? Scary? Unsettling?

Maybe that sounds silly, but I had gotten into a routine of seeing these surgeons every two to four weeks. That created a sense of comfort, knowing they are ensuring nothing is wrong. I felt the same way when I had my last visit with my nurse.

My doctors must think I am losing my marbles when they notice that my eyes are tearing up as we discuss moving forward to the next step. This is great news, so why do I feel so emotional? The answer of course, is because the next step is the big surgery. Gulp. Inhale. Exhale.

I now move forward with my Orthopedic team. The big surgery is the hip/joint replacement and megaprosthesis of the femur. It was one thing to know I needed it. But for a long time, that procedure was somewhere off in the future.  Now, we are almost at that point. Gulp. Inhale. Exhale.

Before we can proceed, my doctors and I need to figure a few things out. For example, it has been more than two years since I walked on my leg. After surgery, weight-bearing is important. However, that will be a wee bit tricky.

I haven’t put a shoe on in two years! (Did I mention that I haven’t walked on my leg in two years?) With my atrophied muscles, this will not be an easy task! Rehab will be an intense process. While I am up for the challenge, I know it will be…frustrating. Difficult.

When I have those there-is-no-way-in-hell-I-will-walk-again days, I need to remember that I have been endured a tremendous number of medical procedures (20 and counting) already. I’m still here, and I will NOT give up! Ever!

We all go through trials and tribulations. It is how we respond that matters. And this girl is ready!

I am ready to have this behind me. Ready to walk again and get my life back.

I look forward to driving again; going for a walk with my Livy Goose; working; traveling, and maybe perhaps dating.

For now, my focus is on getting through surgery first!

Please share a few words of encouragement on how to stay focused during the frustrating days I know are ahead. Thank you!

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

Jewels