Titus 2 Thoughts #3 and Surgery Update

I have been home since Monday evening. I cannot remember a time when I was more exhausted than I was on Monday night. My meager post-surgery strength did not match the demands my body required of me. That night I deeply second-guessed coming home instead of going into rehab. I could barely move, much less properly engage the specific mechanics required of me to consistently keep the weight off my right leg.

My week was filled with focus, practice, adjustment, and caution. I had little to no pain in hospital, but as my previous painkillers worked their way out of my system and I reduced the amount of new painkiller I was taking, my pain increased slightly. Was this a bad sign? Was I doing something wrong? Should I cut back on physio? Increase it? More meds? Less? Not sure.

The surgeon wanted to see me two weeks after my surgery. After returning home I called to make the appointment. I discover that the ortho clinic will be closed two weeks after my surgery, and closed for the entire week. My follow up is now 3.5 weeks after surgery. Will this be ok? Will my dressing last? What about my staples?

As the meds work their way out of my system, I struggle with fatigue, ennui, enervation, and depression. I hesitated to write about this, but it is my reality. When we share what is going on in our lives with the body of Christ, we do not share only the blessings, but also the struggles. The love and prayers of God’s people are a great encouragement in times of struggle.

Slowly I am seeing improvement. I am better able to hop using my walker and keep most of the weight off my injured leg. I discovered I tend to hold my breath when I am concentrating. I need to talk myself through the steps. Remember to hold in my abs, breathe, hold my arms straight, and move forward, keeping my foot barely on the ground for balance. And again. And again.

How did my appliance fail? How did I go so long without knowing it? Did the doctor do something wrong? Was it something I did wrong? Am I doing something wrong now? Is it even possible to find the truth about this?

Why hadn’t my hip itself hurt? The last month before the x-rays I felt crooked and was unable to stand straight. I felt the tightness in the muscles of my back and in the thigh of my right leg, but when I poked the hip area, nothing hurt. I thought it was my fibromyalgia. I now realize that not every muscle pain is fibromyalgia.

I become aware of many others who are struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually, and I pray for them. Sin has touched and cursed us all. We all need Christ and His truth and His salvation. We need to speak truth to each other in times of sorrow and in times of joy. We are family. We rejoice and we weep with each other.

Today as I heal and continue to work to strengthen, I am enjoying some special blessings. My family has arrived from China and I get to hold and talk with my grandchildren, listen to their dreams, join in their imaginings. This morning my grandchildren picked the first of my garden peas to share with me. Well-formed, sweet and delicious, they are consumed with gratitude and satisfaction.

I am abundantly blessed through this ordeal to have my daughters living nearby ready to sacrifice to help in any way possible. God has also blessed me with many children of the heart who visit and write and stop by to help. They bring their little ones, my ‘adopted’ grandchildren, to visit Purple Grandma and hand me sweaty fistfuls of flowers or grasses or other treasures selected just to cheer me.

Truth is, just like many others who suffer unexpectedly, I may never know why this happened. God chose it for me for His glory and my good. I do not understand what that looks like right now or how it helps me and the body of Christ overall. I struggle to rejoice in infirmity. I struggle against self-focus and negative thinking. I struggle to rejoice in the Lord always, but by God’s grace, I am not content to be disobedient.

The prayers and love of God’s people are very precious to me. Thank you to each of you who have prayed for me and continues to pray with me. I pray God will bless you for your love and concern.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Fibromyalgia: “What exactly IS wrong with you?”

Over the years I have had many people ask me, “What exactly IS wrong with you?”  My family all love that question.  “How much7-16-10 Yew tree near Ormiston 9 time do you have?” they joke.

My rheumatologist tells me I have fibromyalgia.  Some people, mostly well-meaning people, tell me fibromyalgia is not a real disease.  Well, something has been wrong with my health on and off for over thirty years.  The same set of symptoms have waxed and waned throughout this time.  My current family doctor calls these ‘on’ times flares.  I’ve been in a flare now for two years.

I think it’s sad that most fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble speaking up for themselves. When you feel so sick so much of the time it’s hard to clearly verbalise what is going on in your body.  Some of the best advice I ever received from a doctor was, “You have to advocate for yourself.”  It’s true.  I don’t need a psychiatrist, and I am not making up my symptoms nor am I looking for attention.

Frankly, I don’t care what they call it.  Over the years I have been told I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, colitis, IBS, and allergies.  I’ve been tested for Celiac multiple times, all with negative results. When a flare would end I was told I must not have really had the diagnosed disease, until the next flare which would bring a new label.

Right now no one definitively knows what causes fibromyalgia.  Hopefully in the future research will discover that it is caused by SOMETHING specific:  a vitamin or mineral deficiency, microwaves, a hormone imbalance, a parasite, global warming, Tupperware, vaccinations, dental fillings, barometric pressure changes, or space aliens – SOMETHING. I don’t care if they decide to call it bibbity bobbity boo, snicklefritz, Jabberwocky, or Persimmon’s disease.   My symptoms are real and something is causing them.

Learning to advocate for myself has required a leap of faith on my part. When you have minimal energy you can’t afford to chase down everything which may possibly help you. I have been greatly encouraged this past year by going gluten-free, taking magnesium supplements, and having allergy and food sensitivity testing done.  I have learned that specific foods, preservatives, and additives cause me to have a violent physical reaction and I have learned to avoid things which are obviously poisonous to my body. Right now I’m also working on shifting to a more alkaline diet.

I have also become a label-reader to make sure I am avoiding the foods and additives that I know cause me to throw up, have pounding headaches, or suffer from severe gas, bloating and the runs.  I lived almost thirty years of my life with serious digestive issues and accompanying nutritional deficiencies. Having relief from that downward spiral has been liberating.

My muscles feel achy, weak, and sore when the weather is cloudy or when it rains or snows.  Restful sleep, a regular schedule, and proper nutrition help me to be more productive, even in times of flares. I also have moderate to severe osteoarthritis and am waiting for a hip replacement.  Sometimes it’s hard to separate the fibromyalgia symptoms from the arthritis symptoms. Maybe there is an organic connection, maybe not.

Friends and even acquaintances share ‘causes, cures and remedies’ with me.  I really don’t mind; they might be on to something.  But honestly, there is no way I can even begin to afford buying and trying everything suggested to me.  If I’m feeling half decent I’ll do some research and make a decision about trying something new based on that. If I’m feeling very ill with a flare, I’ll say thank you and wait to investigate until a time when I am stronger.

Next time:  a little more on my background and the beginning of the symptoms.