Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Hard Ugly Truth Begins

If there's anything better than sharing the hard, raw, ugly truth and then being prayed for and well loved despite it all, I just can't imagine what it is.

Our truth began unraveling and reweaving itself into something new last spring.  It began small, with a knee surgery for our fifteen year old wide receiver, Simon.  My husband Jeff and I had hoped surgery would never have to happen.  After all he was young, he was in "football physical shape," and this was his knee -- he needed it to work well for the rest of his life -- it was not something we wanted to just rush into surgery with. Only after visiting several different surgeons with as many different ideas, months of rehab, and finally, an MRI, did we learn that knee surgery needed to be scheduled.  And what was needed turned out to be so much more than we could have imagined.

Surgery involved three separate surgeries taking place all at once on the injured knee.  We learned that both knees were naturally deformed from birth and many parts of his legs had overcompensated for the deformities so they worked just fine for him.  Until one of his knees was dislocated.  The surgeon's plan involved sawing bone and resetting the knee and screwing in tendons that would learn new jobs in their newly appointed places.

We were amazed and scared.  It involved bringing home a 20 lb  piece of technology that began flexing his leg in small degrees from the moment he arrived home and gradually increasing over the next six weeks.  It involved a small contraption hooked to his leg brace with four little electrodes to send electric pulses to help with pain management.  It involved copious amounts of medication, ice bags, note taking and timing everything perfectly to keep swelling and pain at bay for the first two weeks.  It involved setting up a bed in our family room so he could have visitors and also so I could sleep on the couch at night in case he needed anything. It involved perfectly piled pillow mountains to prop his leg on and getting used to watching hours of TV to relieve boredom.  It involved setting an alarm every few hours for new medications that had to overlap with certain medicines but not all of them.  It involved changing raw dressings, attaching and reattaching electric probes, buckling his leg into and out of the brace, swinging it straight out and helping him everywhere -- the shower, the restroom, and eventually up and down the stairs.  It involved little bits of sleep all day long, a lot of hand holding, and even more soul searching.  Mostly, it took away pretty much all of his independence.  I held onto 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 and offered it to my teenage son.  In it, the apostle Paul wrote , "I pleaded with the Lord to take it [a thorn in my flesh] away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in my weaknesses, my hardships, my difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'

I thought that it was all a bit overwhelming even when we just took baby steps everyday, until I added to that burden the suddenly sad but still very athletic teenager I now had on my hands.  He believed his future looked much less bright as he looked out the window each day.  Laying or sitting all day long in bed without exercise is not a good thing for a young man who needs to run, to move, to lift weights for stress relief, who thrives on getting things done by himself.  His bed was pushed against the window so he could see the sun rise and set over the backyard or moonlight spilling in through blind slats like a natural nightlight.  He could look outside whenever he wanted, the problem was the world out there looked the same and kept right on going at the same pace, but for him it felt like everything should've come to a grinding halt. 

Just when I thought we had a rhythm we could handle going, a summer storm moved through and left us without power for twenty four hours after our first few days at home. In an 87 degree home, it's hard to keep ice bags or temperaments cool for long. There was no CPM to keep his leg flexing and the sticky June humidity closed in.  Everyone became a little surly.  Still, I had so many dear people who reached out to help.  Dinners from friends came in three times a week.  A surgical nurse I knew from church was on call just for us, even at 1:45 in the morning when he threw up ten minutes after he'd taken his next dose of heavy pain medication.  (Now what?  Redose?)  Luckily, I had help in figuring it all out, calmly and smartly though I was feeling foggy and exhausted.  Our neighbors stretched out a electrical cord from their generator the next morning to run a few things from our home. Like Simon's CPM and the freezer full of ice.  I spent time on the phone with another neighbor I barely knew, but whose son (a friend of Simon's) was recovering from a devastating athletic accident where both knees had undergone similar surgery eight weeks earlier, though his surgeries were done in an emergency situation.  The owners of the pool company where Simon planned to work told us his position was open all summer for him, even if all he could manage was to sit in the guard shack and check people in by late August, they'd schedule him to work.  Mostly, I think we had loads and loads of prayer which kept us going when we encountered each bump in the road.  I reminded myself to breathe through it all:  This was challenging, but this wasn't impossible.

And then two new and worrisome things slowly began. Just weeks from a scheduled mission trip to Africa, my hair began falling out and worst of all, my normally healthy mouth began aching.

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