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Just say thank you.

This is my left ankle. It’s part God-given and partly from the hardware store. It’s all mine, for better or worse.  I had this X-ray taken today at my 6 week post-op appointment and I was given the good news that healing is progressing  well. I can now start physical therapy and start weight bearing on that foot again slowly. I also realized I was wrong. I have one more screw in the outside of my ankle than I had originally thought. I actually have 6 on the outside and two on the inside. Eight screws. That’s badass! 

After six weeks of being helpless I’m ready to live like an adult again, and just in time because my month of calendar-scheduled meals and caretakers is coming to an end. This calendar, that I initially turned down, has been our life support.  

When I was in the hospital both of my pastors came to see me to share comfort and wisdom. My Pastor Amy bluntly asked me how I was going to ask for and accept help. I will forever remember what she told me, (and I loosely quote in my own words) “Hospitality is a two way street. There has to be a receiver in order for there to be a giver. You’ve been allowed to be a giver many times, now give others the same opportunity.” Then, she took it up a notch and asked for specifics about to whom I would turn for help.  I said I would let my friend, Boni, put together the care calendar as she’d offered. To my horror, after Pastor Amy prayed with me and started to head out she said, “I’m texting Boni later to make sure she’s heard from you.” This forced me to accept the offer, no matter how uncomfortable. 

As physically painful as this injury has been, accepting help has been almost as painful emotionally.  I needed so much help for so long.  Every time I was given an offer, or someone signed up through the calendar, I had the urge to thank them and turn them down. Each time I just remembered my pastor’s words reminding me of my job; to be a receiver so others could give. 

I think the hardest lesson is yet to come: Learning to ask for help.  During the last 6 weeks the offers of meals, household help, and companionship have been handed to me. I only had to say, “yes” and “Thank you.” However, at no time did I have to seek it out.  But I think my day is fast approaching. Now I’m becoming independent. I’ll be able to walk and drive, no longer a home-bound lump.  But this is where I’ll try to do it all and exhaust myself. This is where I’ll push myself and have a setback day and I’ll need an ear and shoulder. This is when I’ll have to actually ask for help.

I’m so Thankful to my Pastor for giving me the wisdom that is allowing me to accept help. In a way, it’s the same grace extended by God. God offers up unconditional love and forgiveness and we just have to accept it. The next step is learning to ask God, through prayer, for help and forgiveness.  It turns out these earthly lessons have eternal meaning. 

There are two take away lessons that I can share. The first is that when you are offered help: Take it and just say thank you. The second is that when you know someone needs help just offer it, don’t wait for them to ask. 

There will be a third lesson about asking for help. Probably when I decide I can buy a full cart of groceries and then realize I can’t get them into the house alone. Or when I get sick of the stench and throw the dogs in the tub, not thinking through 65 combined pounds of soggy-doggy-mess. In the meantime I’m rejoicing in my progress, feeling thankful for the help we’ve been given, and looking forward to grossing out many more friends by making them feel the outline of my steel plate in my ankle. No really, you can feel it… isn’t that cool? 

~~Delaney 

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Do unicorns have ankles?

Today is a big day! This is one month to the day since I demolished my ankle. It is also four weeks to the day since my surgery. And what progress do I have to brag about on this big milestone? Nothing! My healing is in a holding pattern. It’s like trying to watch a video on your phone and being stuck in endless buffering. Maybe a few seconds run, getting your hopes up and then back to the flashing swirly circle of eternal streaming purgatory.

I went to my general practitioner yesterday to lament about my frustration and lack of progress. My complaints: blood pressure drops, nausea, not regaining strength or stamina, and pain.

Let me say how much I love my doctor and how much I love honesty. So when she looked me in the eye and said, “You didn’t just break your ankle. Your surgeon told me how extensive the damage was. Honestly, we rarely see patients get an injury like this.” (My rough quoting) This was not upsetting, but confirming and comforting.

I’m a mom. I do all the household mom stuff and it is really hard to see it go undone. I also troll google daily and read stories of people with broken ankles and feet. By one month post surgery these people are up and around, maybe limping in a boot or using a knee scooter, and pushing on with their lives. Here I am still spending most days in bed or on the couch. I’ve been feeling down, wondering if I’m just weak. Am I ‘milking’ this? Why am I not  getting on with my life? So I’ve been pushing myself to do more and get up more and in return I feel worse and worse.

I needed to hear my doctor tell me that my injury is in a category of its own and so my recovery will be on a different timeline. I needed to be told to not push myself and that my body is still in the acute phase of healing.  I might have the mind of a badass superhero but right now my body is a delicate, and wilted, daisy. 

It turns out my electrolytes are all out of whack so I will now be sucking down Gatorade and broth all day.  I stopped all pain meds two weeks ago because they make me feel sick, little did I know that constant pain also has negative consequences for the body.  I’m trying a new scheduled pain management. I have learned that I’m the opposite of a drug seeker as I beg and plead with my doctors NOT to give me narcotics! 

One of the best healers, way better than narcotics, has been the love and support of friends and family.  One of the stranger parts of this experience is how little I knew what was going on around me when I was in the hospital. Geoff only recently told me how many of my friends texted and called him with offers of help and asking to come to hospital. One of those sweet friends and I were so happy to see each other once I was out of the hospital and this was our text exchange:


I love that she so quickly validated my (very real) concern and readily agreed that I might be filled with magic unicorn dust. Maybe that’s why, in the words of another friend, I got a unicorn of an ankle injury- one rarely seen! Fitting given my obsession with one-horned-equines. I guess I have to just remember that I’m not your average horse and I won’t heal like one. I’m a unicorn and I have to slow down and let my healing take the winding magical rainbow path. 

For now I take it slow and trust that my body is doing what it needs to do. And the next time I see my surgeon I’m asking if he was shocked to open me up and find that I’m filled with rainbow glitter! 

~~Delaney 

Anatomy of an ankle anarchy

How the hell did you do that?  Wow, you don’t mess around, you go all out!

These are common comments I get about my ankle injury. Especially from medical people. Broken ankles aren’t uncommon. Breaking all three bones is a little more uncommon. Breaking three bones with a complete dislocation is even better. However, the vast majority of those cases involve the ankle rolling toward the inside. Not me, mine completely snapped to the outside. You guessed it. That’s worse.

I must have really flown down a lot of stairs, right? 

Nope. I literally just slipped and only went down 4 steps. This impossible scenario confused all who saw (and repaired) the damage. 

Standing at the top of the stairs and asking detailed questions about my landing position, a wise friend asked, “Do you think your foot got caught in the stair rails as you fell?” 

That proverbial lightbulb clicked on and suddenly it pieced together. I remember my foot slipping out from under me, but by the grace of our built in emergency response system it all goes blurry. I’ve quizzed my family and they all concur that my body landed with my freaky foot facing into the stair rails. We have a winner!

I’m going to break it down: (Stop now if you are squeamish.) My hubby and I were watching our newest tv obsession and the kids were face-in-phone in the living room with us. During commercial break I thought I’d get a snack (next time stay on the couch chubs!) I took dishes with me as I headed down stairs because we had no functional kitchen upstairs at this time. I opened the metal dog gate and took a step but my Dr. Who slipper socks failed me and my feet slipped up out from under me. I began a downward slide. As my body gained momentum my left foot must’ve gotten caught up on or in the railing on the left and came to an abrupt halt as my leg kept careening forward. SNAP! Almost right off my body. In the mayhem the gate crashed down around me and shattered the dishes over me like evil sprinkles on a sucks-to-be-you-cake. 

In related recovery news, I am super proud to report that as of today I am officially released from being house bound. My blood pressure finally stopped bottoming out when I stand upright. Today my home health nurse tested me and determined me trustworthy on a walker without risk of passing out and shattering another limb. 

 

HOLY CANKLE! This is the least offensive picture from my first post-op appointment. I was so relieved to see my foot back on straight again! My cute toes deserve the Deluxe Spa Pedi as soon as the thought of someone rubbing my foot doesn’t make me gasp in anticipated pain.

I’m officially on the path to being healed and as soon as I have a willing driver and some tennis balls maybe you’ll see me and my nifty walker out buying new pajama pants to replace the ones the ER doctor cut off my body… yeah, I’m still bitter! And I never got my other Dr Who sock back!

~~D

Nothing is normal

I gingerly rubbed lotion into my broken leg and foot today. I sobbed. It wasn’t painful, it was just the first time I’ve really and fully touched my bruised, swollen in some places, saggy in others, flesh of that foot since my accident. It has taken three days since the cast removal to work up the nerve.  I knew I had nerve damage and numbness, but wasn’t sure the extent. I knew it wouldn’t feel like ‘my’ foot but I wasn’t ready to get personal with my new foot. 

I’m off of the major pain medicines. The good news is that I now have a clear head and can make decisions and memories (so sorry I didn’t remember your visit, Ang, I’m glad you found that funny instead of offensive!) but the bad news is that now I have to process my injury and recovery without blurry, drugged, edges. Now I have to learn to live with terms like, limited range of motion, limp, orthotic shoes, and permanent damage.  Under the beautiful blanket of opiates I heard, “minimum six weeks no weight bearing” to mean that in six weeks I’d walk out of my doctor’s office. Now I realize that means they won’t make any predictions until reviewing what the six week x-rays reveal.  

I don’t have a new normal yet. The bathroom is so far away and my blood pressure is still f*^%ing unstable so even peeing is an exhausting experience. 

I’m not the same mother. My kids have to help me get food and drinks. They help me get dressed. I’m not upholding any of my previous doting duties.

I can’t be the same wife. My husband is always my rock of stability but now he is sole provider, sole active parent, and alone in orchestrating this household. 

I’m certainly not the same daughter who calls her mother everyday to check in and laugh about life’s quirks. I’ve exhausted my mother in ways I can hardly think about over the last few weeks. 

I’m not even the same friend. I forget who I’ve talked to and don’t answer texts or calls for days. I’m taking instead of giving. I’m not there for anyone because I’m not yet able to be there for myself.

So I sobbed as I touched my new, not normal foot because I have to make peace with the new, not normal me. I have to put all my energy into healing, gaining back my mobility, and forgiving myself for not being myself. My husband sat with me saying all the right things but I know he’s hurting and scared too, because he’s also mourning the loss of our ‘normal.’

A friend said that I’ll find my new normal. But not yet. 

I just keep thanking God for kids, and husbands, and mothers, and friends who are willing to give me so much when I have empty arms in return. 

~~Delaney

Please be kind 2017

Today is January 1, 2017 and I’ve already had two very good crying spells. Not the way to start a new year, in my opinion. Almost exactly two weeks ago I slipped on our stairs and broke my ankle. Now, when I say ‘broke’ I’m not referring to a fracture.  I mean broken. Shattered. I’ll never forget looking down and seeing my foot dangling off 90 degrees to the side of my leg and grotesquely deformed from displaced bones and swelling. I can’t get the image out of my head. Neither can my family, they all watched it happen.  My 15 year old called 911. This was 6 days before Christmas. 

I guess I’m pretty lucky that it took 42 years before I suffered a traumatic injury. Oh I’ve felt pain before. I’ve birthed two children and had two hip surgeries. Let me say none of those remotely compared to the pain of this injury.  It was a struggle to remain conscious through the pain. Even the maximum dose of morphine would only buy me a groggy hour before I’d wake crying again.  

Even splinted, any time I had to be moved I could feel the bones shifting inside of me and the searing pain made me scream involuntarily. I feel so bad for my poor family and one dear friend who had to witness any of it. 

I try to be a stoic person.  I’ve experienced some very difficult things in my life and I try to face situations with as much grace as I can.  But there I was, crying out in agony with three people trying to lift/position me every time I had to use the commode. It’s a level of vulnerability I’d never imagined. 

I’d suffered what is called a trimalleolar ankle fracture with dislocation. It’s basically the worst case scenario of ankle injuries. Three of the supporting ankle bones were snapped and my foot was left dangling like a tennis ball in a tube sock.  To save my foot, the ER doctor reduced the dislocation (under sedation) almost immediately.  Unfortunately there were snafus and setbacks that meant surgery wouldn’t happen for another three days. 

I was released from the hospital on Christmas Day and came home a house full of family and merriment, very little of which I actually remember.  The week after Christmas was a blur of charting medications, sleep, and visits from friends. 

How do I launch into the excitement of a new year when I can hardly leave my bed? My blood pressure still drops when I try to stand, so a wheelchair is necessary. I can’t cook, clean, drive, or care for my family and dogs. 

Now I learn the hardest lesson yet: helplessness and accepting help.  Now I learn to let my family take care of me for a change. I learn to let my house be in disarray. I learn to say ‘yes’ when someone offers assistance, because if I say no it might mean I lay in bed hungry and holding my pee until the next offer comes along. 

I’m learning that everyday brings healing and progress, no matter how slow. 

The Whole Truth and nothing but…

We humans are liars. There are a whole lot of reasons why and a whole lot of ways to go about it, but the bottom line is that our pants are on fire much of the time.

Sometimes in life we need to unzip our external skin of lies and let our ugly guts of truth hang out. It can be one of the most beautiful things we can do for other humans.

On September 13, 2001 I gave birth to six and a half pounds of perfection. I had planned and prepared for this glorious arrival. I brought him home to stacks of congratulatory cards and phone calls.

Something wasn’t right though. The cards all talked about sweet baby cuddles and giggles. The messages all mentioned the magic and preciousness of a new baby. Everywhere I looked in my house there were pictures of smiling, sleeping, or cooing infants.

Reality looked different. In reality my body felt swollen, painful, and eviscerated, I hadn’t slept for three days, and my baby was either crying or pooping out the side of his diaper. I was sad most of the time and pretty sure I’d already screwed up parenting.

When my son was two weeks old I took him to church for the first time. He was wearing a little Pooh Bear outfit and I was still wearing the same maternity clothes I’d put on sometime before he was born, I think. After the service the three pastors’ wives came up meet my bundle. I was meekly smiling and trying to play the role of glowing new mother. Finally one of the women said, “Oh I think all I did at two weeks was cry and refuse to leave the house.” Another piped in, “That’s about the time I thought I’d ruined our lives.”

One by one, those women started sharing stories of sleepless nights, infections, self doubt, and not having the time or sanity to cherish sweet little baby smiles and smells, if they even exist in those first few weeks.

I cried tears of relief, joy, and belonging. These brave women told it like it was. New babies are special and sweet. But there are a lot of really hard and scary moments in there too. I needed confirmation that I wasn’t the only new mom who felt that way.

What else are we not being honest about? I now have a teenager and a preteen. I can’t even be friends with anyone who doesn’t believe that their sweet beautiful child could ever be an major jack-wagon one day. I need people to say that yes, they too can’t stand to be in the same room with the child they birthed and would still willingly die for… in and instant.

What about mental illness? Marital strife? Self-esteem struggles? We are hurting so many people by denying that these are a normal part of life and are not indicative of failure.

I’ve learned to embrace the honest and genuine people in my life. The people who are less concerned with appearing perfect and more concerned with helping out and supporting others. Not whiners and eternal victims, but bad-ass real life warriors who can admit that they too have struggles so that we can encourage each other.

I’m still a liar.  But I promise to try to let my ugly guts hang out when you need it.  When you need to know that it is not just you, but that all of our lives are messy and ugly, and that it’s okay.  It’s more than okay, ugly messes are sometimes the best memories and at the core of all beautiful things.

It is a scary but wonderful thing to be honest about yourself with someone who needs it.

~~ Delaney~~                                                                                                                                                   One energy and one love connects us all; let’s protect it.

Tulips

 

Lady in waiting

Right now my life is all about waiting. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel.  It is a slow, painful, and messy process. I’m very excited for the finished product, but in the meantime I’m just waiting.  Most mornings I’m at home waiting for the workers to show up.  Right now I’m literally waiting for the drywall mud to dry.  I’m also waiting on our countertop slab to be cut to size.  So much waiting.

The rest of my house is in a state of waiting as well.  I can’t maintain organization in my home since other rooms are housing kitchen items at the moment. Cleaning is futile during the construction phase because of this layer of constant dust that swirls throughout our house. I can’t even decorate for holidays due to the mayhem and dust. There were no Halloween decorations this year, as we were waiting for the construction to begin, and no Dia De Los Muertos altar either.

I’m also personally in a stage of waiting in my life. I’ve expected, or maybe hoped, for some personal correspondence from a friend that hasn’t come.  I know everyone is busy this time of year and I know that I’m not the center of everyone’s universe, but days of a quiet phone and empty inbox start to feel mountainous and sad.

All this waiting. It’s almost perfect considering that this is the season of Advent.  Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas and it is literally the time for preparing and waiting. We are waiting both in the present and in the past.  We are remembering the wait leading up to Christ’s birth as we count down to Christmas Day but we are also still waiting for him to return in the future as promised.

Waiting is difficult.  Sometimes we feel lost or forgotten as we try to be patient.  Kids use the little chocolate-filled Advent Calendars to help them count down the days until Christmas.  It’s not so easy as an adult. I think it is harder because we have no control during the waiting phase.  I can’t jump in and finish my kitchen.  I can’t keep hounding friends for attention or quicken the delivery of mail.

Advent is also a time for preparation and reflection.  That is where the action comes in.  This is where we can make progress in our lives as we await big things to happen.  I have much to prepare for. I can have everything bought, wrapped, and carefully planned so that the minute my kitchen is done I can jump our household right into Christmas mode.  I can also be praying for my friends and family and thinking of ways to make their holidays a little brighter and easier, knowing that we are all stressed and busy this time of year. Waiting doesn’t have to be passive.  It can be active and fulfilling.  Christ’s second coming may or may not be in my lifetime but I can be seeking ways to deepen my faith while I wait.

What are you waiting for?

~~Delaney

advent-wreach

 

 

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