Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thoughts - Six Weeks Post-Op

I was thinking back to the Grand Canyon today - we vacationed there this past July with our children. That was the beginning of the end [as far as my back is concerned]. I have a distinct memory of being on the mule ride and wondering how am I going to climb off of this animal?

In the one week between my return from Italy and standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, things got bad - really quick. So yes, as I was riding on my mule and enjoying the views [see photo above], I was a little worried. Luckily, at the end of the ride there was a kind cowboy who helped me off - and my pain was kept to a minimum.

That was July 7th.

By July 22nd they were ordering an MRI and shortly thereafter I was scheduling to meet with a neurosurgeon about operating on my spine. Because, my injury was one that couldn't heal itself.

In the [almost] 12 weeks between that mule ride and the operating table, I experienced some of the most crippling pain I could ever imagine. I never talked about it much because I don't like to complain, but it was excruciating. In fact, the only thing that I can think to relate it to was the time, several years back, when I went in for a root canal. They were having trouble successfully numbing me and every time they would start drilling I would feel them hit the nerve. Ouuuuchh!!! This was that kind of pain - but for 2+ months. I don't think anyone will ever truly understand just what I went through - except Donald - because he was there to hear me scream night after night after night.

I can remember one night in particular where I got up and just stood there, staring at my bed. It looked so soft, and comfortable, and inviting. Oh, how I longed to crawl into bed and drift off to sleep. But to me - at that time - crawling into bed meant torture. So I stood there and stared and thought of all the millions of people who were comfortably dreaming away at that moment, and I longed to be one of them.

As the weeks passed I deteriorated quickly. My back became deformed and I started to walk with a profound limp. And then one day I actually collapsed and I knew it was time to get a cane. The cane helped keep me from falling, but even with its support, I couldn't stand upright. It was something that physically I could no longer do.

But despite it all I kept living. Because what other choice was there? I am a mother and I have a child with brain damage, so shutting down for two months and feeling sorry for myself just wasn't an option. So I kept busy and luckily the days ticked by. And finally, September 27th came.

I will always consider that one of the greatest days of my life because I went into the hospital as a cripple - and I walked out restored to my original state.

And I just can't get over how wonderful it is! I can walk, and I can stand. And I also can't stop thinking about the fact that if this had happened to me at any other time in the history of the world, I would have been doomed to remain a cripple forever. But I live now, and I live here, and I am so incredibly grateful for modern medicine. Because I needed to be fixed - not for my own sake, but for Elisabeth. She needs me - I am her mother. And trust me, I was no good to her as I was.

So I am happy, and I am grateful. With every step I take I am in awe. And every night when I crawl into bed I just lay there, and soak it all in, and think how beautiful the moment is. I love being able to sleep. I love being able to walk. I love being able to stand. And because of what I went through I will spend the rest of my life appreciating my body and its ability to function. It's something that may seem very common to some - but to me it's a miracle.

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