The Seemingly-Endless Recovery

This Monday marked 4 weeks since my second hip surgery. I would love to be able to write something nice and inspirational about my recovery, but the truth is, I’m just over all of it. I’m tired of not sleeping well because of discomfort. I’m tired of using crutches and getting stares from strangers. I’m tired of not being able to carry things. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of physical therapy, and I only started that last week! It feels like I’ve been going through this for a year, not just 4 weeks. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and have all of this behind me, but the reality is, healing takes work. Healing takes time. So I have to keep trying and keep waiting and pray for patience that feels so elusive.

Even as I write this I feel a check in my spirit because I know I’m being ungrateful. I should be grateful that my pain has a solution and hopefully an end date. I should be grateful that I have a wonderful support system in place to help me. I should be grateful that I have insurance that allows me to have good care. And I am truly grateful for those things, but I have let all the things that I’m not grateful for crowd out all of the good.

In these moments I keep coming back to my word for last year, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

The Lord wants me to thank Him for ALL things, not just the things I like. Though this seems like an impossible task, if I truly believe that He is sovereign and that all of my life is filtered through His hands, then I can give thanks for all things because He will work them for my good. That means that even stupid crutches are ultimately for my good, as much as I would like to think otherwise. So I will give my grumblings to the Lord and thank Him for making beauty out of a mess.

Remember

I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Psalm 77:5-12

Three years ago on this date, I was waiting to be admitted to the hospital after having spent a miserable 7 hours in the emergency room. I remember thinking at one point that I was going to spend the rest of my life waiting in that ER and would never hear my name called. I was so desperately sick and so desperate to know what was wrong with me. Of course, long time readers of my blog know that what was wrong with me is that I have ulcerative colitis, which I learned just a few days after I was admitted to the hospital.

I can’t think about this time of year without thinking about those early days of my illness. That week I spent in the hospital is one of the defining periods of my life. Though it was horrible and difficult, it was also beautiful because of the way that the Lord showered love and blessings on me. I spent a lot of time reading His Word while in the hospital, and the words became alive to me in a whole new way. Even though I was so confused and didn’t fully understand what was happening or how my life would change as a result of my diagnosis, and even though I was afraid of what would come, I felt a tremendous sense of peace and freedom from worry. And I know that this is a gift that could only come from God because ordinarily worry is my daily companion!

Counting my blessings while in the hospital

Counting my blessings while in the hospital

I feel that it is especially important for me to remember that time in my life right now, as I’m a week away from hip surgery. I’m facing another relatively unknown situation, and I’m unsure of how it will all turn out. I hope and pray that the surgery relieves my pain, but I also know there is a long road ahead of me, and I am not guaranteed success. So as I am tempted to worry and fret and imagine every horrible worse case scenario I can think of, I stop and remember. I remember the goodness of the Lord. I remember His steadfast love and faithfulness. I remember that He does not change and is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I remember that there is nowhere I can go that He is not there with me. I remember that He is my strength when I am weak, the Rock that I cling to. I remember that He is the lifter of my head. I remember that though my flesh and my heart may fail, He is the strength of my heart. I remember that He has given me everything I need for life and godliness. I remember, and I am comforted. I remember, and I know that the grace that has carried me through life with ulcerative colitis is the same grace that will meet me with every trial I face.

I am not promised a life free from pain. What I am promised, and what I know I can count on, is that God will be with me. What wondrous love!

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About My Hips

Have you ever tried to catch an ocean wave using a small plastic cup? It’s an exercise in futility. There’s too much water and not enough cup to contain it. That’s kind of how I feel about this blog. I have too many thoughts and don’t know how this little space can contain them all. But here I am, holding out my cup…

Two weeks from today, I’m going to have arthroscopic surgery on my right hip. I saw an orthopedic surgeon at Vanderbilt back in September, and he was finally able to give me definitive answers as to what has been causing the hip pain that has been my constant companion for over a year. After looking at my MRIs and xrays, the doctor told me that I have hip impingement in both hips, and this has caused bilateral labral tears. Basically, the ball and socket of my hip do not fit together like they should because of the size of my femoral head, so there is increased friction, which caused the labrum, or cartilage surrounding the hip socket, to tear. (There’s a much better explanation of all of this here.)  The surgeon will shave down the excess bone on my hip and then repair the labral tear with sutures and anchors. The surgery is what the doctor called “deceptive” in that it’s an outpatient procedure that will result in my having relatively small incisions, but the recovery is lengthy and will require lots of rest, time on crutches, and lots of physical therapy.

My lame hip

                  My lame hip

The bad news is that because I have torn the labrum in both of my hips, I will need to have surgery on both hips, and the surgeries cannot be done at the same time. This means that I will have 2 separate surgeries, several months apart (the length between the 2 depends on how quickly I recover from the first surgery, but he’s hoping to do the left hip 3-4 months after the right one). The good news is that if all goes well, there will be a day when I will no longer be in pain! I’m so thrilled about this but also really anxious about the prospect of having 2 surgeries and the possibility of them not helping or making my pain worse. I did finally manage to stop reading every blog post about hip surgeries that I could find online, which has helped my anxiety levels somewhat. (If there’s someone out there with a horrible hip surgery experience, I don’t want to know about it!) I wish I could know that everything will work out perfectly, but there’s no way to know that, so I have to trust that no matter what happens, God will be with me. That I do know I can count on.

I’m going to be laid up for a little bit after the surgery (and hopefully not breaking my leg while trying to use crutches!), so I may try to blog a bit more often. I’m not making any promises, though. Longtime readers know how that usually goes. 🙂

If you have any questions, leave them below, and I’ll try to answer them or at least point you to Dr. Google.

Beauty in the Broken

running shoes

Confession time: I feel a little sad every time I wear these shoes. I bought them while training for the St. Jude half marathon and then only a few weeks later had to stop running altogether because of problems with my hip. When I wear these shoes, they’re a reminder of what I didn’t accomplish. They’re a reminder of a dream unfulfilled (I know, it’s so unfair to my poor shoes to put such a weight on them!). I look wistfully at social media posts of runners posting about their latest run or their most recent race experience, and I remember when I used to do those things. Now I think of my running in the past tense. I WAS a runner.

It’s been 6 months since my last run. I don’t know when I will be able to run again, as I’m currently dealing with pain in both of my hips, pain that I experience with simple tasks like walking around the grocery store or sitting at my desk at work. It’s very tempting to live in a place of negativity and to let reminders of what I can’t do stagnate me. But I can’t let my discouragement about my health shape how I approach all parts of my life. I have to place my hope in what I know to be a strong and true foundation. Ultimately, all of our bodies are broken, and they will let us all down some day. So while my flesh and my heart may fail, I must let God be the strength of my heart and my portion forever. I must choose joy. I must choose hope. I must choose gratitude. I will ask God to redeem what is broken and make it beautiful.

And the next time I wear these shoes, they will remind me to be grateful for the body I have, for the legs and feet that support me, and for the faith that keeps me walking when I’d rather just give up.

Psalm 147:3: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.