Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

It was four weeks ago yesterday that I went in for my first arthroscopy and lateral release. As I recorded in a few previous posts, the days and weeks that followed were simply about healing and resting. Recovery was moving rapidly and I was feeling like Superwoman. But that was then...

And this is now... I had the arthroscopy and lateral release done on my opposite leg 6 days ago. Even though the surgery was smooth and predictable like before, recovery has been much different this time around. The change began almost as soon as I was awake and coherent out of anesthesia. My assigned nurse started rattling off my post-op orders, which unexpectedly included "no weight bearing" on my operated leg until my follow-up appointment ten days later. If I asked her once, I asked her a million times to confirm. Are you SURE??!, I whined. She never could tell me the reasons why, but only that those were the orthopedic surgeon's instructions.

Since then I've been bearing full weight with the help of crutches on my 4-week-post-surgery knee that is still very tender and sore. And that means that this recovery week has been so very sloooooooooooow and frustrating, completely opposite of my first experience. And to add insult to injury (literally), yesterday I severely strained my IT band (iliotibial band, which is the tissue that is "released" in the procedure) while trying to stand up from a motorized cart after grocery shopping. The pain I felt in that moment was on a scale that I'm not sure I've ever experienced in my life until this point. Absolutely excruciating. That injury-- combined with non-weight-bearing orders on my left leg-- has pretty much left me sentenced to stay in bed. Five feet to the bathroom is as ambitious as it gets until Friday morning.

*insert a really sad, depressing song here for background music* 

I've also been paranoid about taking Oxycodone this time around after a scary spell of having my blood pressure plummet when getting out of bed too quickly (which can be a side effect of the drug). Another terrible episode that I don't ever desire to experience again! But the otc meds unfortunately don't mask the pain the way narcotics do, so I'm having to cautiously continue them for now.

So, I sit...
and wait...
and sleep...
and binge on Netflix and Pinterest...
and ice...
and medicate...
and elevate...
rinse and repeat...
all the while praying that the longterm outcomes of these two surgeries will be worth the present difficulties.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back (2 Weeks Post-Op)

It has already been two weeks since my arthroscopy and lateral release knee surgery. I'm glad to report that recovery is still going incredibly well. After coming off of crutches last week, some soreness and minor swelling set back in so I had to go back to relying on one crutch and Oxycodone for a few more days. That was a tad bit discouraging when I had been pulling off a rockstar status at physical therapy. We've also had a lot of rain and humidity in our area of the world this month, so I'm convinced that I am a total granny it has been contributing to the achiness. But good news is that I was able to go back to full weight bearing without crutches (and a little Advil) yesterday and have been doing great since.

At the end of each day, my knee continues to be pretty sore and stiff. I imagine that will be the case for a while since the lateral retinaculum that was cut is a delicate tissue that takes a good while to heal. I'm trying to find a healthy balance between not doing too much (cleaning, standing, lifting, driving, etc) and pushing my knee a little more each day in order to prepare for my next surgery in 8 days. My currently-operated leg will then have to bear full weight for several days, which ain't gonna be easy! (Eight more days... WOW!)

On Friday I'll be seeing my orthopedic surgeon once more before he does the same procedure on my other knee next Wednesday. Hopefully healing will continue to go smoothly and consistently until then.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Time For a Checkup (Post-op Day 10)

It's so hard to believe that a week and a half has already flown by and it was time for my post-op appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. This whole experience thus far has been relatively comfortable and quick... Which is completely opposite of what I read beforehand during late-night google sessions... And which also tells me one thing that must be told to everyone:

Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

I know, I KNOW!!! Shocking, right??!

Anyway, nothing but great strides took place today in my recovery process:

• The doctor says I'm healing incredibly well and fast and is impressed with both the minimal amount of swelling and strength of my leg already.
• He declared me finished with the leg immobilizer (brace) and mostly finished with the ace bandage wrap. Will keep it on hand in case swelling increases. This step also officially cleared me to drive again!
• Stiches came out and steri-strips were placed for the next few days.
• I was able to come off the crutches completely this morning.
• Biggest take away from this morning's appointment: Knee #2 is on the books for an arthroscopy and lateral release in TWO weeks. So glad we'll get this in right before my kids get out for summer break!

Tomorrow will include another session of some physical therapy to keep rehabilitating these leg muscles to keep my knee cap in the right place. Hopefully each day will continue to bring a little less soreness and swelling.

Friday, April 26, 2013

She Stinketh No More (Post-Op Day 4)

Hooray, hooray! 
Today was "you get to take a shower" day!

• Goodness, a simple little shower is such a wonderful thing after laying in the bed for 4 days! So glad the smell of funkiness radiating from my body has ceased. I even sat in a chair and fixed my hair! It's the little things, folks...

• Completed my 2nd physical therapy session this afternoon. The PT has said that she is "very impressed" with my progress so far. I'm bearing the majority of my weight with the aid of crutches and even made full revolutions on the stationary bike for several minutes. My range of motion is returning quite rapidly! Even though I was kicking butt and taking names at physical therapy, my knee reminded me very soon afterwards that it had only been four days since surgery and forced me to get back in the bed, ice, elevate, and pop some happy pills (read: rockstar status was short-lived).

• Had an unplanned visit to the OS office yesterday due to some weird circulation issues going on with the foot on my operated leg (turning red, tingling, feeling hot). Good news is that the ultrasound they ordered came back all clear which ruled out the possibility of a blood clot. In the midst of that itsy-bitsy setback, the doc was incredibly pleased to see the minimal amount of swelling present around my knee. One of the particular procedures he performed (a lateral release) apparently has a reputation of causing incredible amounts of swelling for weeks, even months, at a time for some patients. It's definitely encouraging to hear from both the OS and PT that my knee is grasping for an "overachiever award" at this point.

• All of these "wins" have confirmed further my reasoning for documenting my post-op journey. Before my knee surgery, I spent a lot of time doing internet searches of people's experiences with arthroscopy and lateral release. What I found was that the majority of people who took the time to record their experience publicly were the ones who had the worst (and sometimes bizarre) outcomes. My hope through this is that I can contribute to the many stories in internet world and document both a positive experience and outcome from a procedure that has been given a bad rap.

We shall see! So far, so good...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just 36 hours ago... (Post-op Day Two)

...I was being wheeled into the operating room for my much-talked-about knee surgery (Arthroscopy and Lateral Retinacular Release, to be exact). It was actually a great morning that went off without a single hitch, despite its lack of my two favorite things: coffee and food. Seriously, the whole process was so incredibly smooth and quick. My procedure was scheduled for 7:00am and the first thing I remember from waking up from anesthesia was a clock hanging directly in front of me that showed 8:15am. An hour after that, they kicked me out and we headed home. Well, maybe not as extreme as "kicked out." They did tell me they were very impressed with all of my post-op schtuff, so they saw no need to keep me around. After a last pump of Dilaudid and Zofran, we were on our way. And this has pretty much been my view ever since we arrived home:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Hundred and Ten Percent

About 9 1/2 months ago, I wrote a post about my "amnesia" tendencies that like to attack and knock me down for the count. Throughout the months that followed, God faithfully provided and saturated my memory with unforgettable blessings to suffocate my amnesia episodes. He really hit home promises in His Word, such as Be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:4), Fear not for I am the One who helps you (Is 41:13), and one of my favorites, how MUCH MORE will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matt 7:11). 

In so many ways God has proven to me that when He gives these promises to His children, He means them. REALLY means them. If his wisdom and love provided a way to meet my greatest need ever- to be saved from His wrath and reconciled to Him-- then He can surely handle the details of a month with little to no income. Or a broken down car. Or a struggling marriage. Or a knee surgery...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Straight Paths: Thoughts on Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, 

and do not lean on your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge him, 

and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

The Scripture verse above is one that is quite familiar to our ears and frequently repeated from memory by many. It only takes a few moments of walking the aisles of retail stores to see it decoratively reprinted onto coffee mugs and greeting cards. Most of us enjoy the way these particular words easily roll off our tongues to offer wise-sounding advice. Many people often gravitate towards positive-sounding verses like these in Proverbs as a quick self-esteem boost, while others may use them as an explanation for undesirable circumstances in their life. Once we cast aside our flawed glasses of self and put on the lens of the good news of Christ, we can then see that these two verses are much more than a simple formula for worldly success, but actually a heavenly calling for eternal life. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

His Common Grace

Yesterday I was reading about the doctrine of common grace for a theology class that I've been taking for the past 7 months. The reality of those truths washed over me like a tidal wave of both conviction and worship. Did you know that the only reason we all woke up this morning-- believer and unbeliever-- and are breathing each breath is ONLY by God's grace?

God's Word tells us that the ONLY thing we deserve is death (Romans 6:23). Each moment we continue living, experiencing thousands of indulgences each day, is because of His astounding grace. A tweet from Paul Tripp this morning hit this truth further home for me:
Even pleasure preaches God's grace. Every day we all enjoy a symphony of pleasures we could've never earned the right to enjoy.
As humans, and especially as Americans, we are bent towards a happiness paradigm that distorts our motives and actions. We are so clouded by our sense of entitlement that we spend most moments of each day mistaken that we deserve all these pleasures and then foolishly covet the ones we don't have.

Lord, may your abundant and undeserved kindness lead us all to repentance today. Give us eyes to see that all of these blood-bought gifts are pointing to You and your glory. Your grace is truly amazing...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Something Great to End With

While thinking through and writing out the bits and pieces of my mini Promises for Hurting Wives series, I came across a 3-part series that Paul Tripp had also been sharing this week. Because it is SO GOOD (aka- much better than anything I could attempt), I've decided to share the links to his 3 posts here as a conclusion to my own. I hope you will read every word of what he has written and share them with others women who need encouragement in their marriage.

Love... in a Fallen World (part 1)It's not an accident that you're conducting your marriage in this broken world. It's not an accident that you have to deal with the things you do. None of this is fate, chance, or luck. It's all a part of God's redemptive plan.

Love... for a Flawed Person (part 2): You and I just don't get to be married to someone perfect. It seems obvious enough, but many people get married with unrealistic expectations about who they're marrying. Here's the point: you both bring something into your marriage that's destructive to what a marriage needs and must do. That thing is called sin.

Love... with a Faithful God (part 3): Realistic expectations are not about hope without honesty, and they're not about honesty without hope. Realism is found at the intersection of unabashed honesty and uncompromising hope. God's Word and God's grace make both possible in your marriage.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Promises for Hurting Wives- Love

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; 
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; 

he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Holy God,

My prayers go out to hurting women today... Women whose Valentine's Day will be marked with tears and pain. I ask you to quiet them by your love. May your message overshadow every lie that they'll be fed today by the media. May they hear you singing loud, love songs to their hearts. Help them hear and believe your promises of joy and hope.

Help all of us today to view our relationships through the price of a suffering Savior on the cross, not the price tags of fleeting, material gifts. The greatest of all that remains is love-- YOUR love. Give us the courage and desire to love others the way you did. To love sacrificially, in spite of how we feel. Help us put US to death and truly love others today.

Thank You for being forever faithful to your promises. Thank You for hearing this prayer.

Read the introduction to this series HERE.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Promises for Hurting Wives- Hope

Lamentations 3:21-24

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

In the midst of our pain and brokenness, it seems easiest to dwell on our failures. To wallow in our regret. To sink down into the pits of depression for fairytale dreams gone wrong. "But..." we don't have to stay there. "But..." there is a powerful antidote to our defeated thoughts. "But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope..." What is the this that offers such hope?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Promises for Hurting Wives- Joy

Read the introduction to this series HERE.

When looking back down former roads of marital pain, what stands out the most to me is a chronic condition of disappointment. In my mind, my husband was always dropping the ball and consistently falling short of my self-enthralled kingdom. Sure, I prayed for change to come... but just for him. Not me. I had my life together. It was too bad that no one else around me was as self-sufficient and capable as I was.  **insert eye roll**

Now with a regenerated view, my eyes can look past those days of struggle which I foolishly thought were birthed by a premature decision to marry. That entangling thread of disappointment and bitterness had been weaving itself through every life event that had already occurred. I wasn't being unfairly denied the treasures of marital bliss that both television and movie screens had promised throughout my life. This religious do-gooder was missing THE Treasure.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Promises for Hurting Wives- A Series

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in ALL our affliction, 
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, 
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Hi, my name is Carmen. Maybe you know me in "real life," or maybe you've just been a follower of my blog for a while. One major thing I'd like for people to know about me is I have a hard-core passion for wives who are hurting. Admittedly, I've been on both the receiving end of the hurting and I've shamefully gone over and above to issue the hurting. Almost two years ago, God took this angry, religious, hurting woman on a permanent detour from her high (and lonely) road of self-preservation and ran her smack into a Savior. THE Savior. He miraculously saved me, then my marriage, and now grants me the grace to share this eternal hope with others.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Remember Your Destiny

Well, it's the last few days of January, which means that the majority of New Year's Resolutions that were made for 2013 have probably already been thrown out the window for most. I'm always fascinated to see the surge of do-better chatter that strikes up the first week of each new year. The fact that the same few items top most lists repetitively (ie, lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, save money) can even be pretty humorous... because, let's face it- these things usually do not change. And I'm not chuckling at everyone else while I'm sitting back proudly admiring my accomplished list of try-agains. Nope. I laugh mostly at myself and the fact that I honestly can't recall a single year that I've actually seen any of my resolutions all the way to completion.

It's because of this repetitive pattern each new year that I've decided to end my perfect "crash and burn" record. I didn't make a list of things I wanted to change, try, lose, or do-over. This time my approach was much different. There were no specific goals set but there was a simple commitment made to three words:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Necessity of Scripture

Today we find ourselves in the midst of a significant period of time. It is an era that has popularly come to be known as the “Information Age.” At the push of a button, click of a computer mouse, or a touch of a device’s screen, we have more information instantly accessible to us than at any other point of history. Hundreds--even thousands--of books are available for any person to gather information, whether true or false, on any given subject. Even for those who deem themselves part of the Christian population, there are multiple publishing companies and retail stores that offer information on any topic or doctrine. As valuable as this wealth of information can be, these instant resources unfortunately have a tendency to lead us into believing that the written Word of God is no longer a vital resource for followers of Christ. In this particular post, I would like to share a few brief points from Scripture itself that I believe prove that not only will Scripture always be necessary, but that excluding it from our personal lives and ministries is eternally dangerous.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Gracious Thing

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 
1 Peter 2:19-20 

A lesson that seems to stay on repeat in my life: 

Learning to embrace those circumstances that force me to confront the promises given in God's Word.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snore No More!

Back when I was a college student, around the age of 20, I had found myself in a cycle of recurring upper respiratory illnesses. Because I was heavily involved in vocal music back in those days, chronic colds and throat infections made singing quite frustrating. I finally reached the end of my sniffling-coughing-sore throat rope and saw a specialist. Very soon after, out-patient surgery was scheduled and my tonsils and adenoids were removed. Thankfully, this procedure- for the most part- ended almost all of my ongoing illnesses and complaints. I was amazed at the huge difference it made in the way I felt day to day once I had healed.

But what I did NOT expect of that particular surgery was how indescribably painful it would be. OH! MY! GOODNESS! I can still remember the intensity even 14 years later. It was agony, I tell you. And not just for a fews days, either. More like 20. Two and half weeks of hardly any eating, little drinking, sleeping only while sitting straight up in a recliner, and barely any talking. Misery. Of all the surgeries my body has required (including gall bladder removal and 2 c-sections), this was the tip-top of the totem pole of torture. Once I made it through those long weeks, I knew it had been worth it. I'm still certain, years and years later, it was worth what I went through that particular August.