Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflections on the Summer of 2013

I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Pinterest.  Around Labor Day I began noticing a trend in the blogging community- everyone started posting their reflections on their summer.  I read many of them. I really only liked one.  This particular blog post did the obligatory indexing of summer activities, but toward the end, the writer began to look back over summers past.  The blogger ended with a charge for the reader- think back and remember the summer that changed you.

As I thought about it, I realized that at least in recent memory, the Summer of 2013 is that summer for me.

But I can't categorize it easily.  I can't say it was the worst summer of my life, but I certainly can't say it was the best, either.  As a matter of fact, I feel like I wasted the whole thing.  If I had known at the beginning of the summer what I knew by Labor Day, I'd request a do over.

So- what about the Summer of 2013 changed me forever?  On August 7 I woke up from a routine colonoscopy and found my right leg pretty much useless.  Apparently, during the procedure I suffered a stretched nerve.  I had no feeling from my knee down.

I don't remember much about that first day.  The doctors all reassured me that it was temporary and the feeling would return- but it might take a while.  I vaguely remember 2 ladies coming to see me about physical therapy.  I spent about 15 minutes with them and received a pair of crutches and a wheelchair ride out to the car.

I remember everything about the second day.  It was awful.  I was hoping to wake and find out it had all been a dream.  But it wasn't.  I laid in bed all day and ate nothing.  I was trying to maintain my composure, mostly for Devin's sake.  I could do nothing by myself.  I could not walk well on the crutches, so I could not walk to the bathroom by myself, I could not shower because I could not stand very long with all my weight on my left leg.  I laid there and thought about having to start work in 4 days.  I thought about the fact that I live in a 2 story house, with both bathrooms upstairs and the only TV downstairs.  It was hard for me to think about the situation as temporary- considering I had a dead leg and no other information.

On the third day, I decided I needed to advocate for myself and call the hospital.  I called the office of the surgeon who had performed the procedure.  I told her that I didn't feel like I was being helped very much.  I explained about the severe limitation to my mobility and my general state of mind as far as not knowing anything about what was going on with my leg.  She was very helpful, and immediately phoned in some medication to help me sleep, then set up a physical therapy appointment for the next morning.

Physical therapy was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I go 3 days a week and will probably be continuing therapy for the foreseeable future.  At that first appointment I learned how to use my crutches the right way, and I received a boot for my foot.  The boot has made all the difference in the world.  While wearing it, I have a right leg.  I can put weight on the leg and even walk quite a bit without the crutches.

A month went by, and I hadn't seen any appreciable improvement in my leg.  I went to a specialist to confirm that I wasn't dealing with something more permanent.  The second doctor assured me it was temporary, but could take the better part of a year to even approach normal functionality.

Luckily, in the last 2 weeks, things have taken a turn for the better.  I can wiggle all 5 toes a little, push down slightly, and with the help of electrode therapy, lift my foot just a skosh.  Sensation in the calf and foot comes and goes.  I have a constant feeling of pins and needles when I put pressure anywhere, and my muscles twitch and ache, depending on how much I've been up on my feet.  But these are all good signs, so as aggravating as they can be, I am thankful.

I think everyone, at some point or other, makes deals with God- even if they profess not to believe in one.  I'm sure they all sound similar to the deals I've been making.  "If you'll give me back _______, I promise to___________ (exercise more, lose weight, volunteer, quit smoking, etc)."  But I really do think this situation has changed me permanently.  If I ever get back to normal, I have quite a bit of work to do.

What will be different when I can walk again?  For starters, I'll do it more often.  I would give anything to be able to climb my stairs or walk around the block.

I will do more and sit around less- give up some TV.  Travel.

I will quit putting things on my Bucket List for some unknown time in the future, and start planning to tick a few things off the list now.

I'm even thinking of doing some volunteering with the physical therapy people at the hospital.  Maybe I could bake muffins for them to take to patients when they have sessions.  My therapist, Randi, has given so much of my life back to me, I feel like I should help her help others.

So right now I'm healing and exercising and trying to stay positive.  I am surrounded by wonderful people and I will let them help me through this.  My husband has been amazing through all this.  My friends here in Rifle have brought dinners for us, covered duty for me so I don't have to stay on my foot all the time and most importantly, kept me laughing.  My students have also been great.  They volunteer to run errands for me, practically run the classroom by themselves, and don't mind me sitting behind my desk with my foot propped up on my trash can most of the day.

My friend Chris convinced me to write all this down and put it out there for others to read.  He reminded me of the many things for which I am thankful.  Mostly, I feel thankful for him and for my friends and family who are always there to help me through the tough times.

Who are you thankful for today?


Anonymous said...

It's like Daryl Hall and John Oates used to sing--I don't care if you ain't got no legs, dance on your knees!

(Sorry, it was horrible on Big Bam Boom, and it's horrible now).

The living situation sounds hideous, but your house isn't swimming down some gorge, so, let's call today a win.


Kris Williams said...

Mimi, I had no idea you went through all this. I know how thankful you must be that things are finally improving. I would have to agree that this past summer was a major life changer for me, with what happened with Mom and Michael, and losing my job. But I always feel you have to look at the positive side of things as much as you can, and work on changing the negatives in whatever way you can. I am glad you are getting better, and that you have such a great support system. That is what gets us through the tough times. Helping those who don't have a support system is also a great way to give back. Love you girl!

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