November 4, 2008

Whew! (3)

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.  
Oh, no!  

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.   
Jeremiah 29:11-12

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!!!


Tracey said...

What an incredible story! Your family continues to bless everyone that knows you..May God continue to hold you in the palm of His hand..and may your manly man enjoy this hunting season to the fullest!

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing the whole story! I only heard the highlights along the way, and it is such a sweet testimony to hear the details. Great pictures, too!

AJ said...

Oh My Goodness!!! What an ordeal! Here's to another uneventful October, November, December....

Rambling Girl said...

Awhh what a great ending! God is good! I know it had to be hard on your family but so happy everything turned out for the best. Looks like you all are doing the Happy Dance now!

edie+steve said...

Wow what a story! I am so happy for your family. We serve an awesome God.

Gigi said...

What a horrific ordeal for your husband and your whole family! I got a chuckle thinking of your poor parents and their foiled travel plans :)

Praying that your husband's leg will remain healthy and whole.

By the way, you are truly an excellent writer. This has been a gripping story! So glad it had a happy ending.

My Place of Peace said...

Thanking God with you while I wipe a few tears of my own! His gracious care is so amazing. Thanks for sharing.

new every morning said...

Thank you ALL for the words of encouragement.
It was an ordeal for us, but we also know that many families go through much more devastating circumstances than this.

God's grace is sufficient, every time all the time.

Mrs. Dunbar said...

Your journey of faith is beautiful. What a blessing it is to have a husband who know's he has a God to cry out to. Thanks for sharing.

dixie said...

Watching you all live through this experience was and continues to be such a testimony of God's faithfulness and your trust in Him. I am so glad you took this time to record HisStory for the blessing of your readers and your children and those yet unborn. You know you are so precious to me.

Empty Nest Full Life said...

I totally understand how you feel about the year. My daughter has a cronic condition and when we made it to the first year without a hospitalization we were so thankful. This past August was 2 and I am still thanking and praising God for all he has done for her, but those are tough times. I am praising God with you. Jackie

Mom said...

Being the "absentee parent" didn't minimize the agony we went through with you. But we also have the joy of going through the healing with you & seeing God's faithfulness in our family. We are so thankful for our precious son-in-love & the way he has responded to God's refining process. How awesome is our God!!

Sarah said...

Thanking God with you!

Also thanking him for the valleys so that we can appreciate the mountain top!

Lacy said...

Wow! I love how you give all the glory to God. I am so proud of you for sharing the story of hadships with blog world. I continue to love your blog for the ministry and lessons you are teaching me. I am so happy this October was a joyful one!

Shannon @ Silver Trappings said...

Wow, what a story! I'm glad this October was better!


Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

So wonderful to have a happy ending on this day after election day. :)

Haley said...

WOW! I cant even imagine! You have a strong family to make it through all of this! God is so good!

Jessica said...

What a couple of troopers you two are. I am so happy he is doing well. Thanks so much for sharing your story, I enjoyed reading it. It's a great reminder to me of prayer and faith. I SO enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Great is thy faithfulness.

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing your valley along with such a beautiful description of the peak.
-- Brandi

Kellie said...

This was an incredible story. I had heard bits and pieces of this through school, but now see the whole picture. I love your analogy of going through the valleys to see the majestic peaks. God does many things to change our perspectives on life. Sometimes it isn't so pleasant, but we become more like Him through the process. Thanks for sharing all of this!

Sandy Toes said...

What a great glad he is doing well!! What a year for you all and especially him!!! Wow!!!

-sandy toes

Laurie said...

Wow! What a story. My manly man is up in a tree stand as I am writing this. I showed him parts I and II (my manly man didn't know that you could read hunting stories on girlie girl blogs :O)! I am so glad everything has turned out well and am encouraged by your faith and looking up at the peaks when you were down in the valley. Thank you for sharing your story with us...