'Twas the Night Before Surgery


WHOA! I don't even know where to begin with this one. I just got off the phone with a nurse who informed me that, not only was my hip being operated on tomorrow, but my right shoulder as well. I took the news lightly since I can't use my right arm anyways. Might as well operate, right?

The past few months have been a total whirlwind of declining health. I've always been "healthy" with no real concerns that I was aware of. I was blessed to go into the doctor's office and be able to check "no" to the form questions that I've filled out so often.

Within such a short time, so much has changed. I'll have to check "yes" to many things.

I've felt like a science experiment this week after bone scans, blood tests and another MRI.

Good news -- AVN was detected in my left shoulder, BUT it was so insignificant that surgery is not necessary unless it worsens. Also, my bone scans only showed AVN in my hips and right shoulder. I was already aware of that. So - no new problems with my bones and joints!

My phone has been ringing off the hook! Doctors, nurses and everything in between have been scheduling things and calling me with updates. Like I said ... WHOA!

I guess the worrying hasn't settled in yet and maybe it won't. I'm at peace with the situation and looking forward to my recovery. I'm still focusing on the doctors words: "Short-term crisis, long-term benefits."

Without a doubt, the hardest part has been not being able to fully care for my children. My husband has certainly been working overtime. He started a new job on Monday and doesn't get much of a break when he returns home. He's a great father and husband. I don't always give him the credit he deserves. And in some ways, I'm honestly jealous that he is still able to do things I want to do.

I enjoy being independent. But after surgery, I'll be totally dependent on my husband, my parents, his parents, nurses, co-workers, friends. I'm beyond grateful for them. I just wish I could do it all myself.

At work, I've been told I'm being overly optimistic about returning to work soon after surgery. That's probably true, but it also drives me. I don't want to feel useless.

Hopefully tonight I can get some good rest. I can't eat or drink past midnight tonight until after my surgery at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY since I'm used to eating every two hours or so.

I thank the good Lord, that I did receive some good news this week. And that I do have a support system to be dependent upon. I'm thankful that I feel at peace with myself and my condition and I give all the credit to the Man above. I can do this ...

Short-term Crisis, Long-term Benefits


Today has been an extreme rollercoaster ride! I usually enjoy them, but this one had a few too many loops.

My husband was laid off from his job in early December. We remained optimistic that the right opportunity would come along for him. For two months, he has been taking care of our youngest two children at home (2 years and 10 months old). He's been taking care of me, too, since I've haven't been able to physically do much around the house.

He had an interview this morning and he was offered a job. It's a great position for him that utilizes all of his talents. We couldn't have been happier. He was told he would start on Monday.

In the afternoon, I had a doctor's appointment to schedule surgery on my hips and to hear the results of an MRI on my shoulder. Low and behold, I not only have AVN in my hips, but also in my shoulder. If you didn't read my first post, AVN causes a blockage of blood to the bone and joints and causes the bone to deteriorate. I am now dealing with that in both of my hips and my right shoulder. It is probably in my left shoulder as well, but yet another MRI will need to confirm that.

When the doctor walked into the room, he wasted no time. No "hello." No "how are you?" Just "It's AVN in your shoulder, too." It was what I needed to know. But certainly not what I wanted to hear.

It's been difficult to be so physically limited. I can't run or pick up my children. I can't lift them out of their cribs. My oldest son does not like the amount of pain he sees that I am. I try to hide it, and I actually think I do a pretty good job at that, but I certainly have my moments of weakness -- especially in the morning when it's time to head out the door and go to work.

Life certainly does not pause for a moment, not for any circumstances. It goes on and that means, I have to go on, too.

Originally, I thought I would have surgery on both hips and be in a wheelchair for 6 weeks. I had dealt with the idea of that. I had not dealt with the idea of 3 to 4 surgeries and three months in a wheelchair, which is what I am facing now.

The doctor advised me to do one at a time for surgery. That way, I can still put some pressure on my other leg to transition in and out of the chair. If I did both, I'd probably just be on bed rest for recovery.

Though bed and rest sound wonderful, bed rest for 6 weeks sounds like a nightmare.

Tomorrow I will go in for all sorts of blood tests and bone scans. I am also being referred to UVA for further research. I hope that will determine the cause of all of this.

My gut (heart, shoulders and hips) tells me that it was my birth control. My doctor agrees that is a possibility. I don't know anything for sure yet, except that I need to be fixed.

The doctor told me to think of this as a short-time crisis with long-term benefits. I'm trying hard to stay focused on those long-term benefits, which simply include me being me again.

My husband getting that job was a blessing. And I've learned to count my blessings as they come.

I've also learned that some of the greatest blessings can be wrapped up in "bad news" wrapping paper. One day, I'll be able to open up that gift.

A Reason to Believe


Life is good. Great, in fact. Because I choose for it to be that way. I certainly have my hurdles. As a wife and mother of three, those hurdles can be extensions of myself. But they can also be reasons to jump higher than ever before.

Physically, I'm struggling. My hip pain began in September and progressively got worse. Since it came so soon after the birth of my third child, I brushed it off as "not a big deal." By December, I had trouble walking. An MRI revealed that I had Avascular Necrosis or AVN.

This meant that my blood was not circulating to my hips and because of that, my bones were (are) deteriorating. I was in total shock, as was the doctor who said this was a typical diagnosis for people in their 60s. I'm 32.

I don't know why I have AVN. None of the known causes (long-term steroid use, deep sea diving, radiation, etc.) matched up. I may never know why and I'll come to terms with that in due time.

Since my legs felt useless, my arms went into overdrive, mainly with my picking up my two youngest children. I've lost ranges of motion in my right shoulder. An MRI this week will reveal the problem. I hope it is not AVN. It is possible to get AVN in your shoulder, though not likely, according to my doctor. We shall see.

I kept much of this information to myself. I didn't want others to think I was seeking their sympathy and certainly everyone has their own issues to deal with. But I was urged to share this with my friends and I did.

Their wisdom never ceases to amaze me. Granted, my family is always there, doing so much. I am so blessed to have this type of support. But the responses I received from my friends was nothing less than perfect.

One friend shared an appleseed analogy that concluded: "It is a FACT that your body is broken right now," she said. "But it is the TRUTH that God wants you well."

Another friend shared the importance of laughter. I couldn't agree more. I would go completely insane if I couldn't find the humor in life. She also shared a verse from the Bible (John 14:13-14): "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."

It's important for me to believe that. Without my faith, I would be lost. I understand that we all must find our own ways. We have to, because we simply have to believe in something to keep going.

After core decompression surgery to both hips (and possible surgery to my shoulder), I will be in a wheelchair for six weeks. I expect those six weeks to serve as some of my greatest lessons in life. I welcome the challenge. I know it will be difficult in my inaccessible home with one fully functioning arm and a full-time job to keep up with.

I'm positive that I will fully recover. I will pick up my children and run with them again. I will give my family and friends strong hugs and not weak ones.

Until then and beyond, I'll laugh as much as possible.


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