I will admit before going much farther that I get frustrated easily. I try to be efficient with my time; and when out-of-my-control events happen, frustration is always brewing underneath my calm exterior. Having to recuperate from surgery is high on the list of brewing frustration.
I never thought much about having two legs. Now that I’m without one leg temporarily, I feel amiss at not recognizing the value of “standing on my own two feet.”
Anyone reading this who has been without a leg or limb a
large part, or most of his/her life, I don’t mean to offend you in my recent
epiphany, but to honor you for your patience in what is surely a frustrating
Even before “the day after surgery” dawned, I had to travel to and from the bathroom two times in the darkness of night. I used my scooter, which squeaked and moaned, and had to be backed up, turned, and navigated in my groggy, half-awake state.
It was difficult to keep my leg propped up on a pillow all
night, but I didn’t have pain, and that makes all the other frustrations
I had an appointment with Dr. Badger’s physician’s assistant at 11:00 AM. I had to drive myself there. But even more difficult than that, was getting out of the house and into the car. That however, was still easier than getting out of the car and back into the house. There is definitely going to be a lot of right-leg hopping in my future.
Amanda, Dr. Badger’s PA removed the splint and revealed my frankenfoot underneath.
A removable splint was put on my foot, and I was told I
could remove it for showering and/or applying ice. My ankle is pretty ugly, and
was quickly covered up with surgical tape and a plastic cover which I am asked
not to remove. I can shower, but not bathe. No soaking of the foot.
Later this same afternoon, I had to teach a class in
Sammamish. It was hard enough to just get in and out of the house earlier in
the day, but now I had to take teaching supplies with me. Whew, what a workout.
I was seriously sweating when I finally, yet safely, made it into the car.
The picture above is the way my foot has looked for the past several months. It’s obvious the left ankle is swollen due to an OCD lesion injury. (Osteochondral Defect)
The day of surgery arrived, May 8, 2019. I checked in at the surgical center by 10:30 am, having eaten nothing since midnight before. No water either.
After spelling and saying my name and birth date several times, I changed into a hospital gown and waited. I was given a sharpie pen and asked to write “yes” on the injured ankle and “no” on the healthy one. When Dr. Badger came in to see me before surgery, he actually signed his name on the injured leg.
I met the anesthesiologist to learn the drugs they would be using. Propofol, Fentanyl, and some gases. I wouldn’t be intubated completely, but would have a mask on my face the whole time.
When I was taken into surgery, I laid down on a hard table. Then, they put a warm blanket on me. Ahhhh…..That is the best part.
The mask smelled horrible, like a harsh chemical, and I felt slightly claustrophobic breathing into it.
“We’re administering the Propofol now. It may burn in your arm for a second…”
A few seconds later….
“Jackie, you’re all done. Can you wiggle your toes?”
Sipping some water, I noticed my throat was dry, and felt a little rough. I was so thirsty. No matter how much I drank, my mouth remained dry.
Dr. Badger came in to explain the lesion was much larger than expected, but that everything was fixed now and should heal nicely.
I don’t remember the IV coming out, but I was dressed and ready to leave the surgery center by 2:30. My foot was wrapped in a splint I would not be allowed to remove until my appointment the next day.
I wasn’t in any pain all day, and into the evening. I tried keeping my foot propped up and iced as much as possible.
I realized very quickly using the scooter and crutches I’d borrowed were going to be a real drag.
In my previous post I told you about an ankle injury I sustained when saving a child from a burning building.
Okay….not. I did something slightly less heroic to cause my
ankle injury – I stepped off my front porch and rolled my ankle.
It is true that for several months I waited for it to heal, and it never did.
I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon – a family friend – Dr.
David Badger. He has done surgery on my husband and my son. When I saw him on
April 9th, 2018 I fully expected he’d want an x-ray. I was right.
Dr. Badger noticed there was fluid around my ankle. The x-ray didn’t show a break, however Dr. Badger thought my pain could be caused by a small broken bone on the back of the ankle, which is not always visible in an x-ray. He was certain the ligaments were problematic.
Dr. Badger suggested the next step was an MRI to more
clearly show the full injury.
A week later the MRI was completed and I heard the diagnosis.
“Your foot is bad, really bad. I’m actually surprised.”
I was diagnosed with an Osteochondral Defect (OCD), and torn
ligaments. Dr. Badger explained that when I stepped off that porch and landed
strangely on my left ankle, I broke both cartilage and bone in the joint where
leg bone meets foot bone. (Tibia and Talus).
Sounds like a jazz duet doesn’t it? Tibia and Talus.
Secondly, the ligaments were torn and would not heal back without SURGERY. Yes, he said the word: SURGERY.
Oh, man. I didn’t want surgery. I hate drugs and the way I
feel under their influence. I worried about the down time – which I can’t
afford to take, not to mention the worry of being a klutzy person on crutches.
Not a happy thought.
Nevertheless, I was scheduled for surgery on May 8th.
I was told I’d be in a splint for three weeks and would NOT be allowed to put
any weight on my ankle during that time. After three weeks with the splint, I
might wear a boot for another three weeks.
Sunday, December 23rd, 2018. The day it happened. My husband and I had been hosting “Christmas Camp” with our four grandchildren. This was the day we’d planned to take them to the snow in Easton. Our son lives there. He and his wife were looking forward to seeing their nieces and nephews.
As grandpa (Bub) kept the kids occupied with playing a game, I was doing what grandma’s do – packing up the car for the one hour trip. I had an arm load of coats, ski pants, blankets, etc. and headed out for the umpteenth time to the car in the driveway.
Without seeing the step, I must have miscalculated the distance, and with my left foot stepped onto what I thought was the first step. Only, it was the second step. My foot landed harder than I was ready for, and my ankle didn’t like it.
My foot rolled inward, and I stumbled down the driveway. Thank goodness the minivan was backed in, and not far away. If it had not been there to break my fall, I would have gone all the way down.
The pain was instant. I could barely breathe. I probably
cursed out loud, although I can’t be sure if I only thought about doing so.
After taking a moment to catch my breath, I placed the coats (still in my arms) into the car. I limped painfully back into the house.
“I twisted my ankle” was the only description which came to mind.
I had to be strong for the grandchildren. I didn’t want to ruin the fun they were looking forward to.
“Of course we’re still going to the pass,” I replied in answer to my husband’s question.
The outside of my left ankle immediately began to swell. My
husband (a former ski patroller) wrapped my ankle and provided ice. He then had
to complete the loading of the car.
The car ride was miserable, but by the time we arrived, the ibuprofen had begun to take the edge off. I limped around in the snow that day and played with the grandchildren as best I could. My son and his wife handed out gifts for the children, and we had a fun day.
Within a few days, my entire left foot was swollen and bruised. I believed I had twisted my ankle and it would take time to heal. I limped around for about a week, but most people probably wouldn’t have noticed.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia more than 30 years ago,
and therefore daily pain is my constant companion. My left ankle was still sore
and swollen even weeks later when I started working out with a new trainer. I
was practicing patience in healing. I was sure the Fibromyalgia would slow the
process, but I expected it would happen.
By the first part of April, 2019 I made the decision to see a doctor about my ankle that wasn’t fully healing. It was still swollen, sore, and often caused pain. I was certain I’d hear:
“You’re getting older, and it takes our bodies longer to heal.”
“The mind does not act only through conscious choices…many of its effects are achieved directly on the body’s tissues, without any awareness on our part.”
This is a quote from Dr. Bernie Siegel’s book Love, Medicine & Miracles. In reading his book a second time (I first read it while going through therapy for childhood sexual abuse), I find his suggestions, ideas and research have a lot of merit. I believe my own mother developed Alzheimer’s in the same way that his book suggests many people develop cancer.
“One of the most widely accepted explanations of cancer theory states that cancer cells are developing in our bodies all the time but are normally destroyed by white blood cells before they develop into dangerous tumors. Cancer appears when the immune system becomes suppressed and can no longer deal with the routine threat. It follows that whatever upsets the brain’s control of the immune system will foster malignancy.” ~ Bernie Siegel, MD Love, Medicine & Miracles
It is my belief that malignancy does not have to be cancerous. We cause malignancy of mind and wellness when we refuse to forgive and harbor anger or hatred. When we see ourselves as victims of circumstance rather than searching for ways to be victorious over our circumstances, we develop malignancies of character. We don’t empower ourselves, but actually undermine our God-given power.
“The body responds to the mind’s messages…these may be either ‘live’ or ‘die’ messages.” Besides the fight-or flight response, we also have a “die” mechanism that brings us closer to death when we feel our life is not worth living. ~ Bernie Siegel, MD Love, Medicine & Miracles
My mother is 87 years old. She has lived a life of sadness, fear, and heartbreak. That alone does not cause malignancy. It is holding onto the sadness, fear and heartbreak that cause, first our mind to be depressed, then our physical body to take hold of a “die” mentality. I’ve seen it! I’ve lived with my mother, and I witnessed rare times when she escaped her challenges and focused instead on helping someone else with their challenges.
Perhaps the only way my mother had to escape the regrets in her life was to forget. Why wouldn’t anyone with the same experiences want to forget? There have certainly been times in my life when I wished for emotional Alzheimer’s. How wonderful it would have been to forget all the hurt and pain.
I realize all of us live through tough times, but the difference between my mother and me is that I have learned to forgive and let go of the sadness, fear and heartbreak. I don’t want to forget it, because every experience has shaped my character, and I am confident that my influence has been of worth to others.
Not everyone who suffers a tragic loss, stressful change in lifestyle, is abused as a child, or experiences sadness, fear and heartbreak will develop an illness. The deciding factor seems to be how one copes with the problems they are seemingly powerless to escape from.
“Depression is a partial surrender to death, and it seems that cancer is despair experienced at the cellular level.” – Arnold Hutschnecker The Will to Live
I worked for years to overcome the hatred I felt for my abusers; the hatred I had for myself; and the desire to die so I didn’t have to deal with it. It hasn’t been easy, but as I included supportive people in my healing, it allowed me to let go of it and face it, all at the same time. My mother was never able to do that, and therefore her mind did it for her. If you watched the video associated with this post, you know that she no longer remembers me, nor most of her family. It’s sad, very sad. The saddest part of all is that I truly believe she could have prevented it. In other words, our state of mind has an immediate and direct effect on our state of body. If we ignore our despair, the body receives a “die” message. If we deal with our pain and seek help, then the message is “living is difficult but desirable” and the immune system works to keep us alive.
Self-healing comes from the ability to love self. It comes through SELF centered-ness, SELF-ishness, and SELF reliance. SELF is the acronym I use in my book for the characteristics of exceptional leadership.
When these traits are mastered, we have healed our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. We don’t have to worry about emotional malignancies, and we can lead others for good through our influence and intentions.
I’m so grateful I saw my mother when I did. Even though she did not know me (but for a moment) I’m not sad for her. I’m not sad for me. She is happy. My mother is the happiest I have ever seen her. Her memories, experiences, and personality traits may be gone. Yet, so are her regrets, pain, and fear. She needed Alzheimer’s disease.
Have you learned to forgive and let go of the sadness, fear and heartbreak? Instead of trying to forget, just forgive. Every experience you’ve had will shape your character, and your influence for good will be of worth to others.
Interested in reading my book? It’s onAMAZON. When you purchase through this link, part of the proceeds will go to ORAL CANCER CAUSE to fight malignant cancers of the mouth and throat.
SELF Centered Leadership: Becoming Influential, Intentional and Exceptional