Happy New Year friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and some amazing supporters I don't even really know :). I hope your 2014 is starting off well.
I thought I'd give you all an update from our snow-covered home. Here goes...
the general headlines...
- Continuing to make physical recovery progress. I can walk all day with no assistive devices. I still have to proceed with care on uneven terrain, over curbs, etc. but I manage to get creative (like grab the car when I'm stepping off a curb...sometimes not even my car-ha! I'm going to set off an alarm someday...). When things are firing on all cylinders, I can function pretty darn well all things considered. Still working on strength, comfort, normalizing my gait (the way I walk)...but making progress!
- I spend a great deal of time at physical therapy and doing my PT homework. It is ironic that I've never been a good worker-outer person and now I do it like it's my job. Some of the work is more what you'd probably imagine and some is quite tedious yet difficult. I had never been to PT before, but if you have, you know the printouts they give you with the recommended exercises. Between my two legs and one hand, I have stacks of those sheets and try my best to keep up.
- Continuing to emotionally and mentally heal from all of this craziness. I have more good days/moments than bad which is great. The trajectory is heading in the right direction. I can go for a good stretch of time if I keep purposeful, try and stay in the moment and focus on believing I'll be successful on the other side of this journey. As Robert Frost said, "The best way out is always through".
- I have checked 10 goals off my goal chart since my last CB update. This is helpful to acknowledge as progress can feel slow sometimes when you're living it every second of every day. But drawing those big check marks with my Sharpie is a pretty glorious feeling.
a few specifics, limb by limb...
- Left leg: overall been doing pretty well. I continue to get more and more used to the prosthetic leg. I have had issues with a discomfort/sometimes painful feeling that will radiate up the back of my leg. It is generally assumed to be my sciatic nerve not liking the pressure from the prosthesis. Both my doctor and prosthetist say this is a rare issue. Good news is the problem is quite manageable most days as I usually have a little wiggle room to soften the pressure. Other sore spots will show up from time to time but they tend to go away as quick as they appear. I did get a second socket (the part your limb fits into as part of the prosthesis) before Christmas as I had shrunk more than a full inch in circumference and was wearing 18 ply of socks to fill in the gaps. The new socket was challenging at first as it was so tight it bothered my nerve (no wiggle room) but that has improved as I've continued to shrink as is the process year one. I'll probably have this socket for another ~4-6 months. I did put some decoration on it - see the picture section.
Right leg: I've been told consistently since day one my left (amputated) leg will be my good leg, which is a little hard to fathom. As I've mentioned before, my right leg was wounded on the outside middle of my calf, resulting in several inches of fibula bone gone as well as loss of muscle, tendons and a key nerve (peroneal). What this means is my foot turns in and down and my leg has a significant "gap" in it. With all that said, my leg has healed amazingly well (thank the Lord for great doctors all along) and does work for me. It is definitely the stronger of the two legs for now when I'm doing PT or navigating stairs or whatever, so I try to flip the dilemma of thinking how crazy it is my prosthetic leg might be my good leg to thinking this must be just an indication of how darn good a prosthetic leg can be in the long run. I guess if you look at it logically, a prosthetic leg is strong and fully functioning once you learn how to use it vs. an injured leg which has some work-arounds. Today my work-around is a big brace I wear that helps my foot turn out and up, the opposite of it's current tendencies. I have an upcoming surgery planned that is intended to help lessen my overall reliance on the extreme bracing by doing an internal tendon transfer. More detail to come in a future update on this surgery as it's complex (but has some exciting potential possibilities).
- (Right) hand: it has healed really nicely since my revision surgery. Scars are flatter, thumb is still up. :) I'm now working on getting the strength and power back in my hand and thumb. I was able to turn the key in the ignition using my thumb and forefinger (like normal vs. using my other fingers)the other day, a little milestone for me. Playing with that silly putty PT stuff is really paying off. :) My handwriting has improved dramatically as well. Net/net, I'm hopeful my hand will get as close to fully recovered as possible.
- First of all, I want to publicly thank my amazing Hallmark family for the outpouring of support you have given me and my family over the last few months. The cards (of course!), words of encouragement here on CaringBridge, the meals, the wishes and hugs sent from afar...simply amazing.
- I also want to share a wonderful gift a group of Hallmarkers made for our family. It is a custom comic book about the four of us, featuring our unique superpowers. Mine includes an awesome "armour upgrade", aka prosthetic leg. This book was the most creative and thoughtful gift imaginable. I plan to get jpegs of each page I plan to share in the photo section in the coming weeks so you can all see the brilliant talent put forth. This gift was also accompanied by an amazingly generous donation to CaringBridge in my name. Have I mentioned Hallmark people are thoughtful? Would you expect anything less? :)
- Tomorrow I start back part-time so am looking forward to seeing some of you in the halls, meetings, etc. It's a little surreal to imagine going back in tomorrow as the last time I left those four walls I had a different plan in mind which included a Monday morning return just days later. But I'm excited to jump back in and help our awesome team accomplish our goals. Goals that don't include any more PT work-out sheets. :) (of course I'll still be working those PT goals in the other days of the week...my other job for now! :)
it's a new year...
- Probably needless to say, I'm hopeful 2014 brings great things to our family and allows for an end-of-year recap full of major recovery progress!
- The year did kick-off well as we got to celebrate the wedding of a wonderful friend of mine and her perfect match. It was a very memorable wedding, full of love and laughter. Aaron and I enjoyed ourselves and it was a welcome change to get dressed up for once (including very creative wardrobe innovation on my part :). I added a picture of us at the wedding in the photo section too. One of my 10 goals I checked off the list per the above included dancing with my husband, which I did on NYE. We enjoyed one slow dance to ensure I could check that off!
- I sincerely hope each of you gets blessed in 2014 with whatever it is your heart desires.
I always close with a thank-you but it never seems like enough. This won't be either, but here is a bit more...
Thank you to my husband, parents, sister, closest friends, in-laws/out-laws and all inner circle people for continuing to cheer me on and take more than your fair share of the struggles along with the triumphs.
Thank you to the Hallmark people. Like I've already mentioned, you are an extraordinary bunch.
Thank you to our kids' daycare/preschool teachers, administrators and staff. So many of you regularly go out of your way to make our lives easier. We always knew it was a special place, but this is a whole new level.
Thank you people of Clyde & Howells. Aaron and I both love and appreciate being from small towns and in times like this, I think people can see why.
Thank you, this Caring Bridge community, for caring about me. For caring about us. For taking time to read these updates. For offering up support and prayers on our behalf.
Good night! Better get to bed, I've got to get to work in the morning. :)