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

 

 

 

 

Sleepless nights and music

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How is it that we can function on so little sleep?

I know we all have different reasons for not sleeping. When my daughter calls and details her sleepless night because my granddaughter, Olivia, was up every hour on the hour, my mind drifts back to those days. It’s exhausting being a parent, especially when your children aren’t sleeping. My daughter has a pretty big full-time job, a part-time makeup gig, and runs Olivia to dance, gymnastics and swim class three days a week. She is the most amazing person I know! Ah-mazing! I just don’t know how she does it all on very little sleep some days.

When I was working, I sometimes had sleepless nights because my mind wouldn’t shut off thinking about the event I was planning, the new broker I was on boarding, and so on. The alarm clock would wake me shortly after I was finally able to drift off to sleep and I would bounce out of bed, ready to tackle the new day. I LOVED my job and going to work was exciting! Managing on a little sleep didn’t bother me all that much!

Now, I can’t sleep because I have a fractured hip, no hip-joint, and a collapsed femur. When I go to bed, if I can’t get my hip and leg “aligned” – forget it! I am in for a night of very little sleep, and that feeling of trepidation quickly settles in. Lately I have been experiencing a lot of sleepless nights.

You see, I live in a constant state of discomfort. The throb in my leg is always there, but I try not to focus on it as it has become my new “normal.” But at night when I can’t sleep, it seems as though I always feel the constant throb… and it is annoying!

When this first became a pattern, I thought that I would simply stay up late at night. It sounds logical, doesn’t it? I am exhausted! I’ll stay up late and by the time my head hits the pillow, I will be out like a light. Oh, to be so lucky!

I don’t like taking pain medication because I worry that I will become dependent on them, and that scares me. I like to fancy myself as having a high tolerance to pain. After all, I was the gal who broke her leg on a Saturday, didn’t have surgery until Wednesday, and had no pain meds until after surgery (with the exception of when they did the biopsy)!

So what do you do when you can’t sleep? I have tried reading, meditating, writing in a journal, and various other things like visualizing my goals, etc., etc.  Guess what? Those things did nothing to get me to fall asleep. The only thing that seems to work (after a while) is putting on my boogie shoes (not literally, but you know what I mean), and playing that funky music!

Music has a way of making my soul happy! I have over 1300 songs on my playlist, so there are plenty of options for me!

A few times when I was in the hospital, my plastic surgeon would stop in to check on me at varying times. I never had my TV on. He would ask the obvious questions, such as: How was I feeling? What did I eat that day? He would also always comment that my TV was never on.

Of course, there are always exceptions! On one occasion, when I was an add-on for surgery, we had no idea as to what time I would actually get into the OR. My plastic surgeon and the three dream team residents came into my room at 9:45 PM to wheel me to the OR. (Yes, that’s the kind of surgeon he is; when transport is busy, he comes to get you to the OR!) I was watching the season finale of The Bachelorette. I asked them if they wanted to wait until it was over so I could see who was chosen…sadly, they did not. Apparently, my surgery was more important to them then who Kaitlyn would give her final rose to. Go figure! (Thankfully, she chose Shawn, who had my vote!)

I always listened to music in the hospital. One reason is that it is so noisy (the beeping of machines and call bells). The nurses actually get “alarm fatigue,” which I completely understand. To this day, I promise you I still hear the beep-beep-beeping sounds!

If I was fortunate enough to have a private room, my door was always closed to act as a sound barrier. Once, I was home and I awoke in the morning to beeping noises. I leaped up, thinking my wound vac was alarming (which happened several times: when there was a leak, or blood was filling the canister), only to discover it was a truck backing up outside. And as a side note, at that point, I no longer even had my wound vac. It was taken off a few months prior! See what I mean about alarm fatigue?! Those noises haunt you for a very long time.

I would get lost in my music when I was in the hospital by myself. I could forget about the discomfort for a little bit, which I appreciated tremendously. Lyrics resonate with me for different reasons and brings me back to different times and places in life.

My music genre list is extensive. Stevie Nicks; Van Morrison; Nickleback; Justin Timberlake; Jennifer Nettles; Keith Urban; Jackson Browne; Shinedown; Faith Hill; Tim McGraw; REO Speedwagon; ELO; Lady Antebellum, and Lady Gaga have all kept me company and transported me to different places. If only Lady Gaga could see the dance moves my daughter and granddaughter have for “Poker Face” – priceless!

Sometimes, just a few lyrics could lift my spirit. Blake Shelton’s song, “God Gave Me You” reminds me of my daughter, who is my world, so just hearing the verse of “God gave me you for the ups and downs, God gave me you for the days of doubt,” would remind me that all would be OK.

If you know me at all, you know that Bon Jovi has always been in my life. I saw them five times one year – so you know I am a serious fan! For some reason when I had the playlist on shuffle, their song “Seat Next To You” always seemed to be one of the first songs to play. The first few verses always brought a smile to my face:

“Long slow drive down an old dirt road, you’ve got your hand out the window, listening to the radio, that’s where I wanna be…  On an old park bench in the middle of December, cold hard rain fallin; can’t find no cover, that would be alright with me… Hard days, good times, blue skies, dark nights…”

For the ‘woe-is-me’ moments, Gavin DeGraw’s “Where You Are” would remind me to stop the pity party: “Well everybody hurts, that’s where we’re all the same… We drive on through the worst, and we push on through the pain…”

So my friends, on these sleepless nights, I put on my music and try to focus on that instead of the discomfort. And each night I start with Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” simply because my sweet granddaughter, Livy Goose, loves this song and it soothes her. It reminds me of her, which in turn, soothes me.

It will be a beautiful thing when I have my hip/joint replacement and mega prosthesis surgery, and I can sleep again, pain-free. But in the meantime, I thank these talented and gifted songwriters and musicians for helping me along each night. As Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

What do you do when you can’t sleep? (Besides count sheep!)

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

Good night. Sweet dreams!

Jewels