Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Life on "The Shelf"

This comes to you from "On The Shelf." A place that few want to find, but so many can learn lessons that can not be learned anywhere else.  Being "On The Shelf" is where you are when God works in your life to teach you to find your worth in Him and not in what you can accomplish.  My shelf time started 7 months ago, but really intensified after my recent C section.

Recovery from a C section is not a walk in the park - especially from an emergency C section!  Did you know that they only have minutes to get the baby out after a general anesthesia is given to the mother, or the baby will get the general and be born unconscious?  That means that they have do much of the surgery prep before the mother is unconscious (this can be (and for me it was) very painful).  This also means that once the mother is unconscious, they get to the baby as quickly as they can - for me this meant a lot of bruising.  Also, because you have a general, you do not have an epidural/spinal so you are not all...ever.  And because you are unconscious they can't give you morphine until you are awake.  This means you wake up from the surgery with no pain meds on board. This was more pain than I had ever experienced in my life - I now have a new "10" for maximum pain.  So recovery was slow and painful (if I stayed on top of the pain with meds, I still had pains when doing things like turning over in bed, coughing and sneezing).   Add to that we found out that I am allergic to sutures - I had mini abscesses all along the incision - not cool at all.  But it was all worth it to have Carese here, safe and sound...our miracle baby!

After 3 weeks I was finally able to manage with only Ibuprophen (prescription strength).  At 4 weeks we tried my first Walmart shopping trip.  I wore out very fast and ended up waiting on a bench for the girls to finish the shopping.  Then on the way out I mentioned to the girls that I still felt all loosey goosey in my hips and knees (from the hormone "relaxin" which prepares your body for birth).  When I got into our truck, my right knee made a snapping sound and hurt a little.  One week later I could barely put weight on that knee so I went to the doctor - they said I had a torn meniscus, gave me a knee brace and referred me for physical therapy, planning to do an MRI later if it didn't respond well to PT.  The therapists did some tests on me and determined that I did not have a miniscus tear, but a probable ACL tear (definitely a worse injury than a meniscus tear). So I went back to the doctor and requested an MRI so we would know for sure what we were dealing with.  After over a week waiting for the insurance to approve it, I got my MRI last Thursday.

Friday we got the verdict - it's damage to the medial articular cartilage (the cartilage at the end of the femur, on the inside of my knee).  There is a "defect" that goes through to the bone in one area, plus the overall surface is irregular and thinning and there are marginal osteophytes (commonly called bone spurs and "is most common from the onset of arthritis - great!  I'm to young for arthritis!) at the edges of the cartilage.  These types of problems are what eventually lead to knee replacement, not good!   I was at the therapists office when I got the call, but only the assitants were still in. They recommended that I use a crutch over the weekend to reduce weight bearing.  I did some research and found that "RICE" is recommended for this injury - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation - so I worked on those over the weekend and found some relief (Thursday night after shopping at Costco I was in bad pain - an 8 on my new pain scale, now I knew why).  Finally on Monday I heard from the doctor's office - no weight bearing and they wanted me on two crutches.  So for over 4 weeks I've been walking on this knee - probably causing the irregular surface problems in there from shrapnel out of the hole I put in there at the original time of injury.  Tuesday I went back to PT and got to talk with him about my diagnosis...he let me know that an ACL tear would have been better.  He has advised me to get a referral to a orthopedic surgeon to get surgery (microfracture surgery ) to repair the defect before it gets larger and possibly deal with the other two problems in there.  We had to change some of my exercises, and they added a new one since I can't bear weight on that leg now.  It started to sink in when one of the assistants came over and said to me - "I'm so sorry about your knee"...this was someone who thought I had an ACL tear - that really didn't make me feel very good about this at all!

So, I am doing very well on recovering from my C section, but it has definitely been complicated by the knee injury.  My kids are having to help their invalid (I like to say in-valid) mother still - I can't even carry Carese around unless I have her in a front pack...can't carry laundry...

Way back in October, when I had been down with a cold for 3 weeks, I commented to one of my closest friends that I hated being laid up and that I felt that God was bringing this into my life to teach me to learn something, but I wasn't sure what is was.  I was hoping that this learning session would be over soon....little did I know that I would still be laid up 7 months later with no quick end in site.  I went from cold to worse cold to sinus infection after sinus infection, to limited activity due to high blood pressure/high cardiac output, to recovering from a C section and now a knee injury.  I've learned to delegate more than ever in my life, to be content with less than perfect housework, to not jump in there and do it for them when they are not doing a "mother's level cleaning" but to talk them through what they missed or leave it alone).  I've also learned to appreciate good health and I'm hoping to have it back again someday.  But I think this time of trials is more that just about me - this is developing many Christ-like qualities and practical skills in my family.  They are learning to be helpful, considering others before themselves, learning to be diligent workers.  I have not been able to do any housework (except for my laundry, and now I even need help with that) for 8 months, and they have had to step up to the plate and do everything.  The tasks are spread out, even down to Elizabeth, our 6 year old.  They are not working all day, but they do have more chores than ever before.  They are doing a great job.

But more importantly, I am learning to find my worth outside what I can accomplish.  I have always found worth in what I can do...Daryl has called me his Amazon Woman for years.  I loved to tackled big projects, and would recite to Daryl when he got home what I had done that day.  Now, I'm happy if I have my laundry cared for, Carese fed and clothed.  That's about all I can physically accomplish these days, but it has to be enough.  I need to let the rest go and find my worth in what I can do for my family in non-physical ways - spend time with them, play games, read together (I need to start doing this), watch them play and be there for questions, advice, and listening to their stories.  But most importantly, I need to find my worth in Christ and what He has and is doing for me.  I am His and He is mine.  That should be all I need.  Even if I were bedridden for the rest of my life, I would have value because Christ deemed my life valuable - so valuable that He died on the cross for me before I could even lift a finger.  This is a hard lesson and I'm only grasping a fraction of it...I know I have much to learn and much to unlearn after a lifetime of being influenced by our world that only values beauty and great accomplishments in people.  So if I come to mind, please pray that I would be content in the new place He has placed me (discouragement seems to be lurking, just waiting for my weak moments to come rushing in to devour me). Also that I would learn these lessons well and that He would get the Glory and I would grow in grace under His loving Hand.

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