Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blessing from a Disability

Past to Present

Three years ago on Tuesday April 27, 2009 I entered the hospital for what would be my 3rd back surgery.  I walked in of my own accord but what transpired next was something I nor any of my family had ever expected.  When I awoke in my room after surgery I was unable to move my legs.  My initial fear; I'm paralyzed.  But within hours I realized I just wanted to know what happened.  My family was distraught.  The next day I went for MRI's on my upper and middle back;  2 days later we still had no answers.  By Sunday  I was having additional MRI's on my lower back where the surgery had taken place.  Ah there's the problem, bones crushing the spinal cord.  My family was by my side day and night.  On Tuesday May 5, 2009, my husband, my mother, my children, my sisters, in-laws, uncles, cousins all began to accumulate in my room as we awaited surgery #4.  Late afternoon arrived and the time had come.  Family members kissed me as I passed the on the stretcher out the door.  

I lay in the pre-op watching minutes tick off the big clock on the wall.  First the nurse gathering information came over, next the anesthesiologist drifted by.  And after almost an hour my surgeon come in.  He marked my hip and talked about bone harvesting, rods and pins.  I think I was a bit shocked, I hadn't realized my surgery would involve so much.  I was awake all the way to the operating room where they immediately began setting up IV's and then the mask with made me feel as if they were trying to suffocate me.  But I lapsed into deep sleep very quickly.  The next several hours (about 7-8hours) were a total blank to me.    I was told that my youngest daughter was frantic at the sight of my face as it was so severely swollen.  She told me it looked like the whites of my eyes were bulging out of my head.  I had blood infusions, drainage tubes, broken veins, blown veins, morphine, Demerol,  and who knows what else.   A few days later I was fitted with a removable torso cast and lower leg braces which I had to wear every time I got out of bed.

   Well, that's really not important. What is important are the events that followed.   I saw the most beautiful angel.  I know most of you will think this is simply the drugs; but I disagree.  Once I saw the angel I had an unusual calm.  It wasn't the kind of angel you see in drawings or paintings, it was more of a white glow, the shape of a long flowing garment and wings that moved in an up and down motion  rather like a child creating a snow angel.  But at that moment I knew why this had all happened.  For several years I had been praying for God to give me patience, to help me relinquish my control issues (rather OCD) and to restore my marriage (which had almost been destroyed).  I had no control over anything except prayer and thoughts so I had to allow others to be in control.  The OCD was very much under control because I had to rely on others to care for me, especially in the most personal ways.  My husband and I learned a greater appreciation and respect for each other.  Also I developed a quick wit, and a better sense of humor.

After two weeks in the Main hospital I was transferred via an ambulance to the smaller hospital with inpatient rehabilitation facilities where I spent about 30 days.  I had to learn to put on my own braces &  torso cast.  I had to learn to transfer from bed to wheelchair. I exercised, and learned to be patient as other. Every time the physical therapists stood me up I passed out.  So I dubbed myself  "Scarlet O'Hara of Rehab.  Eventually I became better at just standing, then taking  a few steps.  There was exercise several times a day.  I eventually was able to walk a few feet with the aid of a walker and therapists.  As the days went by I was able to walk even longer distances.  We even had a bit of a "show off day" when I was able to walk 90 ft with my walker and a spotter.  And the day finally came that I could return home.  I can not begin to tell you the excitement and emotion that was in my heart.  

I spent an additional 3-4 months doing outpatient rehab, trying to build up  my strength so that I could function alone at home.  I am able to walk very short distances without my walker indoors; however outdoors is a different situation.  I use my walker for walking short distances at places such as church (car to door)  from car to house, etc.  On longer outings I use my wheelchair as my standing/ walking duration only lasts about 15-20 minutes.  My left leg is still very weak with nerve damage in the lower portion  and some deep vein thrombosis.  The right leg is okay with only minimal numbness in the right big toe.   

To add insult to injury my husband was fired from his job 25 days after I came home from the hospital.  There was conflict as to whether or not he should have taken more than 3 days leave during my first 2 weeks in the hospital.  Two months later my employer decided that unless I could immediately come back to work full time, full capacity I would need to contact the benefits office.  In other words, I was basically terminated but, offered disability retirement.    But I was okay.  I wasn't frantic as I had been in the past when faced with adversity.  We found a way to get through all of this.

Today, I'm a better, stronger person for having lived through all of the situations I faced.  But most importantly I have a stronger relationship with God.  Because God gave me the strength, the courage and the determination to excel under the life changing event that entered my life.  Most people want to know the name of the doctor who did my surgery but, that's not important.  I don't blame my doctor for the events that took place.  I look at it as a trial that God allowed me to endure to bring me to where I am in life right now. 

I just wanted to share this tidbit of information with you.  I hope you'll come back again because I plan to offer something for almost everyone including the business person, the grandmother, the brokenhearted, the down trodden and the joyful, happy-go-lucky person.  

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