Today marks exactly six months since the date of the accident. It feels more like six years in so many ways. To think it was just six months ago when I was in the hospital in Springfield doesn't seem possible.
There have been so many mini-phases...the hospital bed in the living room phase, the crab crawling phase, the Aaron helping me put on my prosthetic leg phase, the doing everything with my left hand phase...to the current phase where I am now which includes me getting to live much of my "normal" life. So thankful for all of the progress and support as I reflect back. And so hopeful the progress will continue.
Speaking of progress, I have a few things I'm excited to report. But before doing so, I will fess up to the hard parts of the last six weeks since my last update. I always try to authentically include the hard portions of my journey as you all know going through an experience like this isn't all sunshine and roses. We all have our own cross to bear. I also hope me sharing that the hard times can turn around bit by bit helps you get through something that may feel insurmountable to you in this very moment. Trust me, I've been there.
Specifically, I was there the first three weeks of January. It was a combination of factors that made that time period one of the most difficult I've had. Aaron traveling for work again. Me learning how to get back into my routine again (and remembering how much we do walk at Hallmark!...it's actually another form of PT :). Kids getting sick. Me getting sick. Us all getting little sleep the week everyone was sick. My birthday (which was salvaged by some awesome efforts from my family despite my funk). Dark, cold, yucky weather. I was admittedly struggling and focusing on all of the hard parts. So a little vacation was perfectly timed to turn that roller coaster trajectory back in the right direction...
Our (much-needed) vacation...
I planned this trip last March for Aaron's 40th bday (sorry I just told everyone you are 40, Aaron...actually almost 41 :). The two of us had gone to Puerto Vallarta Mexico before for a little vacation as I was told by a good friend it was a great location to combine my love of the ocean/beach and Aaron's desire for activity and adventure on a vacation. He loved the trip so much I planned a return trip for his 40th but this time included his sister and brother and their spouses as part of the birthday surprise. We settled on a January vacation which worked best for everyone's schedules.
When the accident happened Aaron's first reaction was to cancel this trip. I wouldn't have it - wanted to keep it as a goal though I wasn't sure if it was truly realistic. My doctor told us in October or so he thought I would be able to go by January so we decided to not cancel it after all though Aaron was pretty nervous about this decision. As the trip grew closer, I was nervous about whether it would truly be a good thing to go or not. I was having trouble not comparing what the trip would have been like if I hadn't had the accident. Once again, I was focusing on what I couldn't do and what would be different.
Before we left I willed myself to make the most of it. Celebrate what I can do. Celebrate the fact I get to go. Embrace 80 degrees, sunshine and some vitamin D. The attitude adjustment was a great start to the trip and it only got better from there. We did several activities and I was able to participate in pretty much everything. Aaron and I both celebrated the "let's just try and see what happens" attitude and it was awesome. We went on an ATV tour through the mountains one morning and I rode my own ATV and it was no problem. I will say my recovering right thumb did get quite a workout pushing the gas lever on the ATV for three hours (who knew? :). We chartered our own boat one afternoon for fishing/whale watching. I didn't know if getting on a boat again would be difficult but I did just fine and conquered that fear. And last but certainly not least I zip-lined through the mountains! This was a two and a half hour tour up a mountainside which included many, many steps on rough terrain and spiral staircases up tall trees in between thirteen different zip-lines you ride back down the mountain. The longest one is over 1400 meters, dangling you far above a rocky river below. I did it all with no assistance and it was exhilarating. I felt so triumphant as I zipped through the air! It was one of those divine moments where I knew I was going to be ok. I knew I was going to get to do these kinds of adventures with my kids. I knew if I could do this kind of thing five and a half months after this accident, I could do anything. I will never forget that afternoon. (PS - a big shout out to my parents for watching our kids while we were gone...they had just as much fun in Clyde as we did in Mexico though the weather was more like -8 degrees :).
Since we've returned I've conquered some other (daily life) things as well... To highlight a few samples:
* Going down stairs much faster, using only one leg per step most of the time vs. two legs on one step. It wasn't that long ago going down stairs meant sitting down and sliding.
* Figuring out how to use our gator/ATV plus snow blade to dig out of the massive snowstorm last week while Aaron was traveling. This included two days of snow-pushing activity and getting stuck and unstuck and walking through snow and up our snowy driveway. Silly, but I also had a bit of the triumphant adrenalin when I was able to move the major drifts of snow solo to get the kids and I where we needed to go vs. needing anyone to help me do anything. (I've also learned through this adventure how much I value independence :)
* Continuing to do all of the normal activities of life easier and easier every day...making dinner, putting kids to bed, going to their friend bday parties and events, walking around work, going to the grocery store, etc.
* Enjoying being back at work...as you all know, I love my Hallmark people. It's been so great seeing everyone again and getting back into the work groove. Working has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so getting to be fully engaged in it again is yet another factor that has allowed me to feel like myself.
I'm so grateful the last few weeks have been what they've been. I think God was watching out for me, filling my tank up as I prepare for another surgery this week. I've mentioned this surgery briefly before, but here are the quick details...
Surgery is Wednesday (2-12-14... those of you who know my #'s obsession can appreciate this even-numbered, 12-infused date!). This surgery is on my right leg. It's called a tendon transfer. In short, there are opposing tendons that connect from your legs into your feet on either side. The one on the right side/outside of my leg is damaged so my foot turns inward (as well as downward due to the loss of a key nerve as well). The surgeon plans to relocate the tendon from my left side to the center of my foot. This is planned to straighten my foot out as well as help hold it up a bit. It's called a static transfer as it won't work like a normal tendon would but will help keep things more in alignment. In a way, it's like moving my leg brace to the inside of my body. The overall goal is to help me be less reliant on the brace I wear on my right leg which will be great as my current brace can get uncomfortable when I'm standing for a long period. It's also cumbersome and bulky. I will still need a brace at times, but hopefully not all the time. Plus, it's possible I'll be able to wear a smaller type of brace when I do need extra support. It will take awhile to get stronger and use it all successfully, but this should also mean I can graduate to a few more shoe options over time as currently I can only manage to fit in tennis shoes with my bulky brace. I actually ordered 22 pairs of shoes (seriously, 22) from Zappos before the wedding on New Year's Eve...and none of them worked...so hopefully this surgery will change that dilemma! It's a good thing I'm not that girly or fashionable anyway. :)
Lastly, this surgery can also have the potential to help make my gait (the way I walk) get somewhat easier/more natural looking over time too. The magnitude of this benefit is debatable as I've heard different perspectives, but I am optimistic every little bit will help.
The recovery is estimated to be ~8-10 weeks all-in which means I'll be using crutches and scooters and such for the next several weeks. It also means no driving for ~4 weeks or so (thanks in advance those of you who will be hauling me around!). Needless to say I'm not looking forward to this temporary step backward but I know it's short term pain for long term gain.
I also know how far I've come so I can keep reminding myself I can get there again. And I figure it's better to get this over with when it's frigid outside and we all have to be inside anyway for the most part so I can enjoy spring and summer weather outside.
So if I haven't used up all of my prayer request favors yet, I would sincerely appreciate prayers for a successful surgery on Wednesday. I always feel better going into these things knowing you all are lifting me up from afar.
Thanks...for everything. Wishing you some triumphant adrenalin this week!