I'm celebrating a week of 'whew, we made it through October', so if you've just joined me, start here.
It had been a long 11 months. My Manly Man had endured more pain than I had thought imaginable. Our lives had been turned upside down. But things were starting to even out. By summer's end he was walking and getting strong.
He had lost almost 40 lbs. in the first 2 months. We joked that if I had been the one sitting in a recliner for that long, I would have gained 40 lbs! Even though he had lost that much weight, his arms were 'big guns' from using crutches for 4 months. The human body is an amazing creation. Time heals so much ... usually.
To celebrate Labor Day Weekend, we had taken a trip to (our favorite place) the NC mountains with some friends. We were excited, as this was the first time we were able to go and enjoy the fun stuff that we usually do, since the accident. We knew he wasn't ready for hiking, but we still enjoyed other things like kayaking and picnicing on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As we strolled along the streets of a quaint little mountain town I happened to be walking behind my husband. It occurred to me that his limp was getting worse. I brushed it off as fatigue until my friend, who was walking beside me mentioned it.
After 11 months, he was tired of people asking if he was okay. He just wanted to be normal again. So, I gently asked him if he was in any pain. "No, I feel great!"
But within 24 hours his leg was worse. While he was experiencing no pain, the area that had been 'fixed' was now curved. From front to back. A distinct curve where it should be stick-straight! We decided to make an appointment with the surgeon as soon as we returned home.
Although limping, my husband walked into the appointment pain free. The doctor took one look and said, "We need x-rays."
As we waited for him to return with the results, we tried not to think of what was ahead.
He returned, with a very grim expression.
"It appears that your leg is broken again. You are a medical mystery. You should be in severe pain and it is inexplainable that you can walk on it."
Broken again?! How did this happen?! He's been so careful! He has followed the doctor's instructions to the letter. I looked at my husband's stricken face and knew we were about to face another mountain. "Is it something I did?" he asked.
"No," replied the doctor, "after comparing the x-rays, it appears that when I released you to begin putting pressure on your leg and start walking again, the original x-ray did not reveal the strength of the bone. Basically, rather than healing in a solid mass, which is usually how bones heal, it was more like Swiss cheese. The x-ray could not detect that. So, for 5 months, all of your weight has been basically supported by the thin metal plates. While they are made to act as a support to bones, they are not designed to withstand movement. It is similar to a paperclip. You can bend a paperclip several times, but eventually it is going to snap. That is what has happened with the plate. The plate itself has broken in half and now your 'swiss cheese' bone cannot support the weight of your body."
"This is very critical. We need to do surgery now. We will need to do a bone graft from your hip to give your leg the support it needs. Let's plan on next week."
W-w-wait!!! This cannot be happening! It will be October next week. We just did this a year ago. Please. Not again!
Obviously my husband was having the same thoughts because he said, "what will happen if we don't do the surgery?"
"I don't think you understand the gravity of this. If the blood does not flow correctly and we don't fix this, we will have to consider amputation."
The word screamed in my head.
I was in a vortex again. That place I never wanted to be again.
"We are going to do all that is in our power to correct this, but you need to face the fact that we may not be able to save the leg."
No, no, no. You don't understand. My husband is a builder. He can't miss another month of work. He has to walk. He needs his leg to support our family.
If I thought my husband was broken before, this was shattered. "I can't do this again."
We held on to each other and cried out to God. We spent the evening in a fog. Tomorrow we would deal with all the logistics. Together we prayed, "We don't know your plan right now. We don't understand it, and if we are honest, we don't like it. But we know that You see the whole book and we are only looking at one paragraph. We trust your will. Give us strength and peace as we face the unknown."
The next few days were spent arranging childcare, bringing the extra bed back in, rearranging the family room. I had learned many things from the first go-around. This time, we put a cooler with ice next to his chair, now, when he needed a drink, he could help himself. We had a large piece of foam for him to put under his leg at night. We gratefully accepted meals and offers of help. This time, we had a little time to prepare.
Once again, my parents were out of town (Alaska) when we got the news about the surgery. We told them they may never leave the area again. Hehe! My husband mourned the fact that he would miss yet another hunting season.
On the day of his surgery, we knew that SO many were praying for us. We could feel God's comfort, love, and most of all, peace. We knew that no matter what the outcome of the surgery, He was still in control.
As I sat in the waiting room with friends and family, I realized that THIS is what life is all about. It's not always mountain tops and smooth sailing. Life has valleys. Lots of them. But it is in the valleys that we look up and see the glory and majesty of the mountains. While the view is great from the top of the mountain, we don't appreciate the grandeur of the peak.
The best part: my heavenly Father is with me in the valley and on the mountain top. Sometimes He walks beside me, sometimes He has to carry me. But that's what daddy's do, don't they?
The surgery was supposed to take 6 hours and it lasted 8. The surgeon came out with a smile. The surgery had been successful! He was very pleased with the bone graft and overall details. (Lots of words I didn't understand).
Because there wasn't 'trauma' to the leg as had been the year before, the healing process was faster. He still spent Christmas with his beloved crutches. :0)
We had a goal in mind. Our family was planning a trip to Disney World in March. That gave him almost 6 months to be off the crutches and cane. I think goals are good for the soul.
By the time we saw Cinderella's castle, he was able to walk down Main Street on his own. While he was busy watching our children's faces, I was captured by his. I rejoiced and shed a few tears. He was back. Happy and healthy. Whole.
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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.
We have now made it an entire year without surgery. My Manly Man has enjoyed hunting season to the fullest this year. Although, he defied the odds and went on crutches last year... you can't keep a good man down. A defining moment for him was climbing up in the tree stand where the original accident happened two years ago. I really didn't want to know. But it was something he needed to do ... with a safety strap.
So, WHEW! we made it through October without a visit to the orthopedic surgeon! Yipppeeee!!!