Faith, Goals, Attitude.
This is my answer when people ask me how I manage, or when they wonder how I can be so happy through losing my leg. It is a choice I make everyday when I wake. Hold on, I just realized that most of you don’t know me, or my story, and that I better back up and give you insight to the last 6 1/2 years of my life. It hasn’t always been easy or filled with goals being reached, but my God has undeniably always been there for me.
I am the youngest of 5, three of those siblings being brothers. I grew up defending myself, fending off football tackles and outrunning them to avoid being the bottom of a dog pile. I grew up determined and stubborn, always looking to prove myself.
I married my high school sweetheart and have two handsome sons (yep, I’m biased!). At 40 years old I decided to get back to karate, and worked hard to get through my testing for my 2nd degree black belt. That’s when my life changed, forever, and when I needed to rely on faith and God to save me from myself.
During the sparring portion of my testing I heard a pop in my knee and felt a pain like I had never felt before. This is were “stubborn and determined” came in… I continued with the rest of my testing, not able to stand on my left leg, so I used it to kick. I wanted this so bad! I did finish my testing, but the next day the doctor told me I had torn my MCL. The good news was that this didn’t require surgery, just some PT for a few weeks. The bad news, after four weeks of PT I was no better, actually worse. THIS was just the beginning. In July, I had hamstring augmentation surgery to fix my MCL, with a meniscus clean up. In September I had a manipulation to break up scar tissue plus ANOTHER meniscus clean up, and by December I had a femur resurfacing! No one knew why I struggled to heal. No one knew why I was in so much pain, it just didn’t make sense.
This was the beginning of my challenges but also the beginning of my faith journey. This was when I knew I had to rely on something more than myself.
Fast forward a few years and I had now been to several surgeons, and had multiple surgeries to “fix” what was wrong. I had done a full knee replacement by 44, and a full revision on that knee by 45. That was when I noticed in my reports the use of the word Arthrofibrosis; hyper-scarring. I started to do research on this condition, only to find out that there wasn’t a lot you could do for it. There were just a few doctors throughout the United States that even dealt with it, but NOT if you’d had a knee replacement. I had tried everything to “fix” myself, and I mean everything! I did PT for 6 1/2 years, I had done needling, acupuncture, cupping, eastern medicine, scopes. If someone suggested something, I gave it a try. I had surgeons astounded at all that I had done to help myself, but there was nothing else for me, nothing else I could try. I couldn’t bend my knee past 40º, and couldn’t straighten it past 20º. I had no range of motion, and all the pain. God help me if I caught my toe on a rug! The pain that I would experience would be excruciating. I could no longer go for walks with my dogs, no more skiing with my family, forget hiking, and there was no more biking as I couldn’t bend my knee enough to pedal. The more I walked the more swollen and painful my leg would get. This is where I feel God really came into my life. I mean, I knew He was always there, but there was something different now. There was a connection like I had never felt before, a closeness.
I spent most of these years trying to get better, trying to find a way out of this mess. I kept myself busy with appointments, PT, and homeschooling my two boys. I kept looking for the positive, trying to keep my chin up, but there were a few moments that I remember standing in the shower, tears rolling down my face, wondering why this had happened and blaming myself. Regret that I had screwed up, and that I wasn’t a good enough wife or mother because of all the surgeries and times laid up.
God brought me to my knees.
I had been reduced to nothing, and that’s when I really started to see and feel God’s presence in my trials. They say when you are in a valley that all that’s left is looking up. And that’s what I did.
Was it easy? Is it easy? No way! I am human, and I am weak. I stumbled back to fears and guilt and worry, but I fought for my relationship with God. I felt that He had something more for me, for my life. I needed to go through this to fulfill His plan for my life. That was when I embraced the journey, and that was when joy was restored.
I continued on the path of surgery, PT, healing, decline, back to surgery and all over again. Sometimes I felt discouraged, A LOT of times I felt discouraged, but I kept plunging ahead. With each new direction I took, with each new surgeon who would look at my case, and with every person I encountered along this path, I realized I was meant to meet them, and my life gained new meaning, this journey gained a purpose. I could start seeing how God could and would use me, if only I continued to have faith in Him. I chose to see God working in these moments, it almost became a game to see where each new encounter would lead me or how each person would contribute to this path I was on. It wasn’t until more recently that I saw how God used me in their lives as well.
I knew, without a doubt, that His plans for me were unfolding. He used the fact that I was an active person, who tied up my identity in being strong, athletic, and self-reliant when in reality I just needed to identify as His daughter. I have been humbled and broken, so I could be remade. This is my story.
To be continued…
Where are you in your life? Who are you in your story, in your journey?
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”