Saturday, November 22, 2014

day 22... not sure...

Yesterday, I got back to my car after my escapade through the entire gym to reach a bike for 20 minutes, and I cried. I sat in the driver's seat feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and I cried. 

This morning, I avoided getting out of bed, because I knew the second I touched my crutches my arms were going to start burning and shooting pain. I knew that as soon as I touched the ground with my right foot, I would feel the weight of my body, running through the crutches, straight to my arms and shoulders. 

In class today, I was distracted by how badly I had to go to the bathroom, and weighing the cost of holding it to the very last second, as a better option than having to crutch all the way out the classroom, down the hall, into the bathroom, and back again. 

By about 1:00, I was spent, but I sat in class anyway, because it felt like the easier option to sit there than to try and make it to my car on dwindling energy and even less willpower. 

Within moment after I got home from class (after resting in my car for a few moments before I drove home, and again before I got out and made it into my house), I was asleep. Sound asleep. Cuddled up under 3 blankets - all gifts from people that I care about and that I know care about me. I slept like a rock, or a baby, or whichever sleeps more comfortably. 

Four hours later, I woke up, and I felt just as sore, and just as leery of trying to get off the recliner and move my whole being on one leg and two arms, but my mind felt a little stronger. My mind remembered, after a good long nap, that this is temporary, that things could be worse, that I am going to make it and if I stick with it, even if it means just lying around when my arms hurt too badly to move, I am going to come out healthier and more ready to take my life back. 

Today, I am thankful for long naps that come easily and are much needed, and a healthy mind that is stronger than my body right now. 

And, goodnight. 
~ j. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

day 21... catch up time...

About a year after I started my job, I met my dear friend, Shannon, the Art Teacher. We became fast friends... like, the kind that show up to work in the same outfit... 


This year, though, has been different. It's been busy, and crazy, and stressful for both of us. Ironically, we started out the end of summer being excited that due to new construction, Shannon's new art room would be closer to my room. However, along with a new art room, she got a new schedule, and it isn't a pleasant one that allows time to eat together or grab coffee together... ever... 

And so, this year, I have really missed my friend! In addition to her schedule, we have both been preparing for surgeries, and feeling the extra weight of preparing for a guest teacher to take over our work worlds. 

Tonight, though, Shannon took the time and came to hang out with me. We spent about 4 hours "catching up". Seriously - we should not have to catch up when we work together every day, but it was pure bliss. It was like getting together with a friend you hadn't seen in ages, and realizing that it didn't matter because you could just pick up where you left off. It felt like such a beautiful gift, because I think we had gotten so overwhelmingly busy and lost in our own craziness, that I hadn't even had the time to realize how much I missed her, even though every time I have seen her in the last month before my surgery, I know I spoke the words, "I miss you!" 

My heart is full - a little bit full because she brought cards from students and co-workers, a little bit full because we ate cheese and popcorn and grapes and drank a glass of wine - but a lot full because we were both cozied up under soft, furry blankets, and we spent the whole evening, uninterrupted, just being friends again. Something we haven't taken time to do since summer. Something I hope we get to do again soon. 

Thank you, Shannon. I am thankful for you!! 
~ j. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

day 20... kindness from strangers...

There is a whole new list today that includes... snail mail, pictures from my niece and nephews, two sweet friends that drove me to and from PT, my Physical Therapist who is becoming my friend, texts, phone calls, offers of meals, shoveling, gift cards, offers to help carry my bag, or get me a drink or a whole host of other sweet kindnesses. 

The one I have to document fully, today, though, caught me completely by surprise and it was such a gift. 


My agreement with my ride home from PT was that I would text when I made it down to the lobby, and she would pull up to the front door of the building and scoop me up. Honestly, people, I don't know that I have sweat nearly as much in the last two years as I do on these crutches. It's disgusting and amazing all at once. So, having my winter coat on, and getting from PT, across a long hallway, down an elevator, and back across the parallel hallway back in the opposite direction makes me over-heat. So, a quick stop in the lobby to text Nancy, and I was headed outside to wait on the sidewalk in the fresh, cool air. 

As I hobbled out the door, there was a man in neon traffic-control gear just across the driveway, standing along the first row of parked cars. He saw me and hollered across, "Are you going somewhere or waiting to be picked up?" 

"Just waiting for my ride," I replied, out of breath and almost out of commission.

"Good! That's what I was hoping you'd say," he countered with a smile. 

He walked across the road to me and stood right in front of me, like a brick wall. It only took me a second to realize that I was so close to the edge of the sidewalk, I was practically in the road, and he was protecting me. A car pulled up that was not the car I was getting in, and he made sure I was safe. I then scooted back and over to get out of the way, and I realized he was holding me by the back of my jacket. "Oh, I'm Ok, sir, thank you," I attempted to convince... 

"No problem, Ma'am," he said, "I would rather hold you up now than pick you up later. I mean, I would pick you up, but I would rather just hold you up." Now, maybe I have been single too long, but seriously, I am quite sure those were the kindest words that any man has spoken to me in a LONG time, and I so appreciated his awareness and his willingness to help me out. 

When Nancy pulled up, he opened the door for me, helped me with my crutches, made sure I was safe and situated, and closed the door once I was safely inside. The wind had stirred a tear in my eye, but as I was explaining the simple kindness of this generous stranger, I think the next tear that fell may have not been from the wind at all. 

~ j. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

day 19.... technology...

I am not the average person that is super thankful that there are a multitude of devices that I can be accessible by 24/7. However, today, it has been nice. 

Today, I am thankful that I could so easily call my grandpa on his birthday. I am thankful that my phone rang several times with well-wishes and pass-the-time chats. 

I am thankful that texts came in today that made me smile and feel loved. 

I am thankful that I had two computers nearby today - one to edit photos on and one to watch a few TV shows on. 

I am thankful that I was able to send some encouraging words to others today via email, and that I was able to do some research from the comfort of my recliner, leg propped, cuddled in cozy blankets. 

I am super thankful that my first day alone has pretty much come and gone and I can say that I had a great day. I didn't feel lonely or bored for a second, and if it weren't for technology, today, that would not be the case. 

:) j. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

day 18... my Mama....

So... a little insight into my "Right Now".... 
This was my way of capturing today's, "Bright Side" - I mean, seriously, who hasn't, at some point in time, wondered what it would be like to do your shopping from the scooter and have your basket right in front of you at eye level? Well, let me tell you, as a side-note, that it wasn't so fun. I couldn't reach most of the items on the shelf - they were either too high, or too low, or I couldn't get the scooter close enough or it was too close. And then, when it was time to unload the cart, I couldn't reach anything at the bottom of the cart, or in the half of the cart farthest away from me. It was a very disappointing "Bright Side," not gonna lie. Oh well... it was fun for the first 30 seconds or so... 

And now that I have fully shown that I am alive and well, even if I look like I have been trampled by a few large wild animals, let me talk about what my entire being is actually so incredibly thankful for today.... 

My Mama.... 

I cannot believe that I just had four full days alone with my Mama, and I do not have ONE groupie to show for it. What was I thinking?!?! I guess that is evidence of my brain on drugs. We all know there is no other way that would have happened. 

I wish I could explain how much I love my mom, and how I know how much she loves me, and how very thankful I am to have the mom that will drop everything and come stay with her daughter when her daughter needs her more than she actually even realizes. I joked, before mom came, that I had a to-do list ready for her so she wouldn't get bored while I slept. Well, I don't know that she did any of the three things on the to-do list, because she was too busy doing the things that were way more important, that I didn't even know needed to be done. 

In four days' time, my Mama: 
- drove 280 miles to be here just in time (I expect that to be the case someday when I have a baby, too, Mom)
- brought me a recliner, on a platform, so it would be just my height for easy ups and downs (thank you, Linda!) and put it together before we left for the surgery center
- she got me to my appointment on time, and didn't let me drive in the opposite direction of the surgery center
- she helped me fill out the paper work, because sometimes I revert back to being 12 and I don't even remember how to spell my name right, I swear! 
- she sat in a waiting room, and I know she prayed for every little detail of what was going on that she couldn't watch. 
- she came in and gave me a hug after I had gotten drugs, but before I went into surgery, and she KNEW the look in my eyes that the only thing that was going to calm me down was her telling me everything would be OK. 
- she was right there waiting for me when I woke up, telling me everything was great and asking me how I was feeling and what I needed, and reassuring me that even though I couldn't feel my leg, and I was pretty sure the doc accidentally cut it off, it was there and everything was OK. 
- she put my socks on (I don't even remember getting dressed, but I would guess she had something to do with that, too, even though I was wearing my baggiest sweatpants that she hates the most)
- she listened and remembered all of the details and instructions from the doctors and the nurses about what happened and what to expect and how to best take care of me for the next few days. 
- she brought me home and kept me fed, watered, iced, and medicated.
- she slept wherever I was - even if she wasn't in a comfortable spot
- she grabbed me before I could fall over when she knew I had lost my balance
- she cleaned my bathroom, my bedroom, my kitchen, my living room, and my craft room
- she shoveled
- she cooked
- she washed all of my laundry
- she helped me shower
- when I got sick? she pulled back my hair and rubbed my back and reassured me that it was going to get better
- she sat with me and just watched me sleep, and her calm presence allowed me to relax and just rest
- she welcomed my friends over
- she stained and varnished my new floor trim
- she played games with me
- she told me the stories from the previous hours that I didn't remember
- she got my house ready for a single lady on crutches - she moved my clothes into the bathroom in the closet so I could easily wash and get dressed in one spot; she put four bottles of water near every station that I have set up - the kitchen, the recliner in the living room, and by my bed - so I wouldn't have to figure out how to get water around my house without spilling
- she thought of everything
- she hugged me a lot

I cried when she left, not because I am scared of being alone right now - she left me in perfect condition to get through this - rather, I cried because it was such a beautiful time with my mom. We actually just got to be together - we couldn't be on the run, and we couldn't be busy with projects. We just had to breathe a little slower, move a little slower, and sit together a bit more than normal. And she didn't complain once. 

I love you, Mom. Thank you more than words can say for everything you have done for me in the last four days....   j. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

day 17... medical miracles...

It is day 3 post-surgery. I could not be more elated at my situation. I am pretty much stuck to an ice machine, a recliner, and crutches, making me pretty much stuck to my house, but seriously - I already feel better about my physical health than I have for the last two years.

Now, the fact that I feel amazing isn't a medical miracle. My medical miracles are all people. Each person that I have been in a medical relationship with for the last year-plus, who has helped to get me ready for this surgery is a miracle for me. I could not be asking for a better team to care for me than the team that I was so blessed with.

My physical therapist, Mary, has been kicking my butt, and supporting my mental health to get me ready for surgery since last winter. She is my side-kick. She keeps me laughing, and working hard, and she has helped keep my eye on the prize when I was pretty sure there wasn't going to be a prize. Today, when I walked into my first therapy appointment, she was amazed at the version of me that was standing before her. She said that in my first three days, I have made the progress that most patients have by the end of week 2. WAHOO! I have to say, I give her 85% credit for training my brain and my recovery muscles to have them ready to completely take over so my hip and everything around it can just rest. (My mom gets the other 15% for over-protecting me in the best way possible, making sure I never fell over on my crutches, and making me stay on the ice machine and in the recliner when I wanted to get water myself.) :)

My surgeon, Dr. Larson, has been PHENOMENAL. Of course, when he cancelled my surgery last spring and put me through tests that were horrifically painful, I maybe wouldn't have called him my favorite person. :) However, in the long run, I so appreciate that it was important enough to him to get to the bottom of my pain so he could fix it all at once, rather than just cut in as soon as he knew one piece of the problem. Mind you, there were four parts to my surgery on Friday, and in May, there was one part planned. He got a lot of work done between May and November to come up with a comprehensive plan. I also appreciate the fact that he hoped for the best and was confident I was a good candidate, but he never lied to me about the possibility of a poor outcome.

Dr. Larson's P.A., Kevin Anderson, was also fabulous. He was so calm and patient with me every time I had an appointment with him. He answered every question, didn't fill me with information that he wasn't sure about when he didn't know an answer. He followed up with information from Dr. Larson when he said he would get back to me. I felt so respected by him through the last couple of months.

My team of nurses on Friday were absolutely wonderful. I wish I could remember all of their names. (I remember an Olga, but mostly because in the moment I thought she might be from the movie Frozen, and then my brain kicked in and over-rode the drugs, and reminded me there was no Olga in Frozen - uffda.) But, the nurses at each point in my surgery, prep, during, and post, were so patient and caring. They paid close attention to me, watched and read my eyes and my body language to ensure I was comfortable and calm. It was wonderful to feel so out-of-control, and yet so safe.

The two anesthesiologists (the doc and the nurse) that took care of keeping me out of the loop during surgery were also great. Friendly and thorough. They talked me through the procedure of getting the block and even rubbed my head a bit to calm my nerves as I took those last few slow, deep breaths.

I don't remember much from the moments before or after - just a few little memories float in here and there, but what I do know, is that I did not have one moment where I was anxious about how surgery was going to go. I knew I was in good hands the entire time, and I couldn't be more thankful for that.

God bless Twin Cities Orthopedics.

~ j.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

day 16... each little moment...

I wouldn't have thought that these posts would come easily for me post-surgery. Let's be honest, I like to find my thankful moments hiding in my day so I have to really be on the lookout for them. This whole layin' in the chair all day bit could have gone either way. Luckily, because of my outlook on life, it isn't hard to be thankful for lots, it just isn't necessarily has eye-opening either. Everything that I have to be thankful for is quite blatant right now... I think.... 

- Mom
- Crutches
- Coborns Grocery Delivery
- Visits from Lara and Sharon
- Phone calls from lots of friends
- naps
- pain pills that I didn't use as much as I thought I would have to
- Rack-O
- good food - exactly what I was craving (grilled cheese and tomato soup, made by mom)
- the bright sun shining in through the windows
- music
- the neighbor, Mary, who came and shoveled my front porch and side walks for the mail man. 
- FaceTime, so I can see my niece and nephews and they can see me, and I can show them all of my "plug ins"
- Sleep and rest, both of which have been coming to me quite easily... 

So very thankful for the things listed throughout this week, and the things that have slipped my mind, thank you drugs, before I have had the chance to write them down!! 
:) j. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

day 15... another list...

So incredibly thankful for... 

My mom, my sidekick, my nurse...
My own house, so I am not in anybody's way...
My phone that has barely been quiet today...
The friends and family that have kept my phone busy today...
Rest... somehow I was granted with the ability to sit around and do nothing today without getting agitated.
Technology - so I can work, read, play, and stay "busy" while I rest... 
Medicine... and Ice Machines.... for keeping my pain to a minimum... 
For feeling good... no pain has been worse in the last 24 hours than any pain I have had in the last two years, which feels like a small miracle. Hoping it keeps up! 

Thanks, friends, for loving me well.... 
~ j.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

day 14... another list...

So blessed.... today is surgery day.... I made it... I never had a nervous/scared/anxious bone in my body.... well - that's a lie - I did get anxious just before surgery b/c I hadn't said goodbye to my mom. But, as soon as I asked if I would see her again before surgery, and the nurse told me YES, all anxiety was gone. So thankful for my mom and her calming presence in the hospital setting. And before I doze back to La-La Land, the list of the things I have been thankful for throughout the course of today: 
- good sleep, which came last night
- more love from friends by way of phone calls and text messages this morning to keep my mind busy and help pass the time that I could not eat before surgery
- Pastor Jim - for visiting me at the hospital and reminding me to trust in the Lord, and praying with me before surgery
- Jess - for helping make sure my mom was taken care of, with food, at the surgery center
- Dr. Larson, my two anesthesiologists,  several fabulous nurses that prepped me, monitored me, and brought me back to reality
- everyone that has sent a card, a text, an email, a facebook message.... man do I feel loved tonight
- pain medication, because while I feel the throbbing, I am too tired to care.... perfect. :) 

And with that... goodnight.... and also with that? If this post doesn't make sense, ignore it. Let's be honest,  I am not exactly coherent. :) 

~ j. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

day 13... thankful that I can't choose just one...

Today was good day. I am so tired that for the first time since I started back to school for my admin license this fall, I was having a hard time staying awake during class tonight (I blame it on my doc for taking away my Shakeology for the week, but that's another story). I am guessing I am tired from teaching little people and big people this week, and being in class, and prepping for 3 weeks worth of substitute teachers (3 of them) in my classroom. And I should probably add that I am tired because of the shoveling and the prepping and planning in order to have my house crutch-friendly. And I am probably tired from some of the worrying and wondering about all of the unknowns. So, the first thing I am thankful for? The fact that my appendectomy a couple of years ago was an emergency so I didn't have time to think about it ahead of time, prepare for it, or be nervous about it. What a blessing! 

So - that was the harder part of today - the final preparations and being tired. But it was a really good day. I am so incredibly blessed and surrounded by wonderfully supportive and loving people. I could not be luckier. Today, I am thankful for all of the ways that I genuinely felt loved. It was such a beautiful thing to watch people show me love and support in their own ways. It was so incredibly touching. Here are the examples I am remembering in my way-too-tired-to-remember-anything state: 

- the email from Tom suggesting I not fart on the operating table, as it would be embarrassing (oh how this made me laugh in a way I really, really needed to)
- the blanket from Courtney
- the book and the hug from Kelly
- the brief chat with my sister
- the way Laurie had to have my address and my cell phone number and she had to leave me hers
- my physical therapist, Mary, giving me her cell phone number so I could call if I had ANY questions this weekend
- the countless people that reassured me in passing that all would be well and they would be thinking of me (Nancy, Tammy, Leslie, Nina, and I know I am forgetting others...)
- the email from Kathy simply letting me know she will be thinking of and praying for me tomorrow
- the text messages from Lara, and Jess and Shannon and Mary
- the FaceTime time with my brother and family
- Cheryl's voice message, which tend to give me a happy moment any time she leaves one
- the gift card for Bite Squad from my team at school 
- one of my classmates offering to take notes and send them to me if I can't be at the next class
- my students - both the ones that told me they would miss me, and the ones that were more excited about the subs they will be getting than sad that I will be gone... :) 

And these are just the personal gestures... seriously - the professional effort that has been put forth by colleagues to help me get ready and support me has been ridiculously blessed. From my tech team at my building to the coordinator of my programming source, people have been so generous in their offer of help and support. I actually feel OK about having walked out tonight and knowing that my kiddos will be just fine. There is nothing better than that feeling. 

I am so, incredibly, wonderfully blessed.... and to think that I KNOW I didn't catch every moment from today, meaning this list isn't even a complete recap of all the things I have to be thankful for today..... seriously..... I am a lucky, lucky girl. 

~ j.