The Long Recovery…
I happened to meet a young man named Austin at the gas station today. He was wearing a familiar style leg brace with an adjustable locking mechanism on the side. I asked him what had happened to his knee and it turns out that he had an ACL tear and recently had surgery to repair it. We got to talking about his various sports injuries and I couldn’t help by share my own experiences with knee problems.
In fact, tomorrow, Friday, April 23rd, it will be three years since I had an accident and ruptured my right quad tendon. It’s very difficult to believe that it has already been that long! I’m healed now – but it took about two years for me to fully get to my new “normal.”
I didn’t have surgery to repair the damage until May 2nd; and during those nine days I was transported back to Carmel by our son, was pretty immobile and had already experienced atrophy of my right leg by the time the ortho people were able to get a place in the hospital for the surgical procedure. I’m not kidding when I say that it was a very painful experience. It was an outpatient surgery and during the first 24 hours post-op, I was instructed to take a huge number of pain meds that had the room spinning and nausea that was worse than the leg pain. So I stopped the massive doses that reduced the nausea but elevated the pain.
I had my first return visit with the surgeon later that day and learned about the next stages of recovery. I would be in therapy as long as 16 weeks, would gradually increase the freedom I had to move my leg and was advised that it was highly unlikely that I would have the same level of strength and endurance that I used to have.
I worked like crazy in physical therapy. I went at least 3 days a week and was diligent in doing my assigned exercises each day. I hated it but realized that it was the path back to my former world. I gradually recovered my range of motion – about 135 degrees. Taking showers, sleeping in a brace and dealing with the pain took a huge toll on the rest of the family as well. I felt terrible for my dependence on them for almost everything but I was most grateful, as always, for everyone to be invested in my return to health.
When the dust settled, and Christmas rolled around seven months later, it seemed pretty clear to me that I would never regain my former balance. In fact, I never thought that I would ever be able to walk up or down a staircase again without holding on to the railing. Putting out the decorations was very difficult for me on many levels. It was slow going and I was tired after only a few times up and down the stairs. And then there was the mental and emotional anguish of trying to figure out what my limitations were.
Slowly, during the next year, my strength increased and I made additional progress even though this is rare. Today, three years later, things are virtually the same as they were before the accident. Well, with several exceptions. My youngest brother died Feb. 29th of last year, we had a global pandemic and my business has changed significantly. Thankfully, my ministry work has increased and I am most grateful for that.
I would never have guessed that I would be as good as I am (except for the nasty scar on my leg) or that the recovery would take as long as it did. Three years is a long time and for several of those years, it seemed like I was existing rather than living life to the fullest. I remember my first walk down the street – about a block and I was exhausted to the point of wondering if I could get back home. Now Janet, Hank and I routinely walk several miles with minimal discomfort at most. I am grateful for the surgeons, the medical staff and those who helped me so much.
Our verse for tonight is from one of my favorite psalms. This particular psalm speaks to the awesome nature of God and how we are created. The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 139:13-16, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
My encouragement this evening is that God created us in His image and our bodies are awesome things. My prayer is that we will never forget the love God and the miraculous healing power that He has. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…