Category Archives: Health Stuff

Gallbladder Pain, Surgery & Recovery Tips

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Well, if pain isn’t an effective teacher, I don’t know what is!  It’ll make a believer out of you, that’s for sure.

Abdominal pain sent me to the ER on January 20th and subsequent, persistent pain led me to have a HIDA scan, which confirmed my gallbladder was only functioning at 36%.  Big surprise there.  I was in pain and I knew something was amiss!  Thankfully at my follow up appointment with my primary care doctor, he suggested I immediately make an appointment for a consultation with a good surgeon.  He gave me the name of the same surgeon who performed my daughter’s appendectomy this time last year, so I felt like I was in good hands there.  His office was able to schedule my laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) within days and I am happy to report that just a week post-op, I feel like I have a new lease on life!

Because surgery is such a big deal to those who are generally in good health and because knowing some useful tips can aid in the recovery process, I decided to post a few ideas that helped me.

So, here we go:

  1. Be your own health advocate!  Research the best doctors and hospitals in your area.  No one has your best interest at heart more than you.
  2. If something doesn’t feel right in your body, do not delay seeking medical treatment.
  3. Communicate effectively with all involved in your health care.  I prefer to type up my own “Medical History” information sheet, which includes herbal supplements I routinely take, thorough surgical history, allergies, etc.  I give this to each and every specialist I visit to ensure we are all on the same page.  I have found my efforts to be appreciated by the providers.
  4. Research but don’t over-research!  Searching medical advice out online can be a catch 22 situation.  First of all, everyone is unique in their symptoms, previous medical history and surgical outcomes.  Just because someone else has a horrible reaction to a particular drug, doesn’t mean you will.  And just because someone else has pervasive digestive issues post-op, doesn’t mean you will either.  Take everything you read with a grain of salt and discuss any concerns with your doctor.  This will temper science fiction with reality.
  5. Once your surgery date is scheduled, try to occupy your mind with useful tasks in the meantime.  Don’t spend your days worrying yourself into an ulcer.  Trust that the hospital and surgeon will do what they do every day – and that is, care for you in the best possible way.  And don’t forget to pray.  Ask God to give you peace.  He will.
  6. One thought that helped me a great deal leading up to my surgery was the fact that I would go in at 6:00 a.m. on that Monday, surgery would commence at 7:30 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m. it would all be over!  What a comforting thought!  Within hours, I would be on the recovery side of things and on my way to feeling better!  This thought process helped me tremendously!  This way, I didn’t solely focus on how scary the looming surgery seemed to me, but instead, on the positive side of things.
  7. Ice chips!  I have never in my life (well, outside of giving birth) loved ice chips more than post-op!  They soothed my throat, which was a little sore due to the breathing tube during surgery.  I was on ice chips only for the whole day post-op and they helped me so much.
  8. If given the option, stay overnight post-op!  My surgeon left it up to me and I really needed to stay based on my pain level and the fact that I had been also battling a raging UTI.  The nurse gave me a shot that helped to counteract the occurrence of blood clots, plus they attached these inflatable wraps on your legs to promote adequate circulation.  Both gave me a lot of peace.  Blood clots post-op are serious and can be fatal.  I wound up staying in the hospital for a day and a half.  Although I didn’t get much sleep, I did receive wonderful care.  It was a blessing to have my husband stay the night with me as well.  I think he slept better than I did.
  9. Pain meds … If you experience any unusual side effects at all, call your doctor.  You are not bothering them.  This is the job they signed up for.  I actually felt like I couldn’t catch my full breath on the first pain medicine they gave me after taking it for a little over a day.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, I finally called my surgeon to see if they could prescribe something else.  Don’t just live with the problem.  It could be serious.  Thankfully, I got a different pain medicine and only needed to be on that for a day or so longer before switching to Advil.   —   Going into the surgery, I thought I’d need to be on the prescription pain meds longer, but by Day 5, I was off of them.  I don’t like how they make you feel anyway and was overjoyed to be done with them!  (I plan on letting my primary care doctor know about the side effects of the initial pain med for future reference.)
  10. Bloating & Fluid Build up.  Because they fill your abdomen with carbon dioxide and the after affects from the surgery in general, your middle will be very swollen.  Expect this.  Plan on wearing the loosest clothing you can find post-op!  The first few days I definitely preferred wearing a gown.  It seemed to me that I appeared 9 months pregnant!  Ah!  I weighed myself once I got home from the hospital and I was up 12 lbs.  This is Day 7 and has gone down to only being up 1.5 lbs.  I expect to be at my pre-op weight very soon, if not below, based on my current diet.  The bloating will pass.  Give yourself time.
  11. Get up and walk around!  This seems like cruel and unusual punishment initially post-op, but it is crucial to recovery.  My husband and I did a couple laps around the hospital floor, pulling the i.v. cart and all that first night post-op.  I was glad to have my husband there with me since they didn’t want me to walk alone.  Even once I was at home, I continued to get up and walk to the living room and kitchen a couple times a day.  Do as much as you can tolerate…and proceed slowly.  Stop when you feel tired to rest for a moment.
  12. Sleeping.  Ah, this is the tricky part post-op!  At least it was for me!  I slept propped up in a sitting position for the first five days!  This felt best for me.  I also had a pillow under my knees for comfort.  While the pain medicine made me sleepy, it also had this undesirable side effect of making me feel “on edge”.  So, my sleep was really broken up (even more than usual) for the first several days.
  13. Burping and Carbon Dioxide.  Surgeries kind of throw proper etiquette to the way side.  I have never burped so frequently in all my life as I have post-op!  This is one of the ways your body expels the carbon dioxide they fill your abdomen with during surgery.  Of course, air exudes out of both ends naturally.  Many people experience intense shoulder pain post-op due to the carbon dioxide getting trapped.  A heating pad can help ease this.  I only had a little of this pain, thankfully.  I did, however, keep the heating pad close by to use on my rib cage.
  14. Bowel Functions.  Resuming normal bodily functions post-op is top priority, for sure.  Apparently, general anesthesia temporarily halts bowel function, in addition to the pain medicine’s common side effect of constipation.  (Of course, prior to gallbladder surgery, I had constipation due to it not functioning properly so the stage was really set for me.)  I was so glad the surgeon suggested Miralax as it is GENTLE on the stomach and will not cause further pain as it works.  I mentioned that I had Senna at home and was going to take that and he noted that it tends to cause cramping.  So glad we had that conversation because I didn’t need to add insult to injury!  Miralax worked like a charm and the best thing about it is, it does not contain gritty granules that are hard to swallow.  It is flavorless and can be mixed with water or juice.  I chose to mix mine with apple juice and I honestly couldn’t tell there was anything in my juice!  Be patient with yourself.  I am accustomed to my body working like “clock work” and begin to worry when it doesn’t.  But it is important to allow your body time to adjust.  Obviously if things do not begin to resume normal function in several days to a week, it’s time to put in a call to the doctor.  Allow common sense to prevail.
  15. Diet.  My post-op dietary instructions were to resume a “normal diet”.  I can eat whatever I like.  Stop.  Wait.  However, because the previous pain I experienced when my gallbladder issues were raging placed me on a chicken noodle soup, crackers and fruit diet, I hesitate to deviate far from that so soon.  I prefer to err on the side of caution and delay eating fatty foods, meats in any real quantity and any processed foods.  This is simply my preference.  I also have recently learned that I have a (non-alcoholic) fatty liver, so that is a factor for me.  Of course, we know that fatty  and processed foods place more of a demand on the digestive tract, so I’d like to ease my system back into optimum health.  Obviously this is a personal choice but I am choosing to eat bland foods, soups, fruits and vegetables and generally, as healthy as I can.
  16. Stay hydrated!  I keep two cups of water on my nightstand at all times right now.  This way when I empty one, my husband or kids do not have to go racing to refill my cup.  Plus, it encourages me to drink more.  The prescription pain meds dry out your mouth so much, you will want to drink anyway.  But, because our bodies are primarily made up of water, it is imperative to the healing process.  I do drink a cup of coffee in the morning, several cups of apple or cranberry juice throughout the day but primarily water otherwise.
  17. Shower as soon as you can.  My instructions were that I could shower pretty much right away.  This makes a world of difference in how you feel.  Even if you are still in pain, it helps to make you feel human again.
  18. Moods.  Your post-op moods may vary from euphoric to feeling a little sad.  I think this has to be normal in most cases, based on the medications and the surgical experience.  You will likely feel back to your normal self very soon.  Give yourself grace and focus on better days ahead as your body heals.  Obviously if low moods drag on, consult your doctor.  Again, common sense.
  19. When friends, neighbors, family want to help … Let them!!  Now is not the time for pride.  If someone asks if they can drop off a meal, graciously allow them to and thank them from the bottom of your heart!  Your family will thank you.  Be sure to write out thank you notes once you recover for all the thoughtfulness others have shown.
  20. Schedule your follow-up appt!  My surgeon wants to see me two weeks’ post-op, which means I will see him next Monday.  At that time, he will ensure my four incisions are healing nicely and offer the surgery pathology results.
  21. Primary Care Physician follow-up … Because my white blood cell counts were elevated upon discharge, I will follow up with lab work with my primary care doctor in a few weeks.  This is probably a good idea after any surgery just to ensure that your body is healing properly.

{Note:  These tips and ideas are based solely on my experience and my health history.  I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on T.V.  I offer this advice as considerations if you or a loved one has to undergo a similar procedure.}

I hope this list is helpful.  If you’d care to add anything, please do so in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!  Here’s wishing all of us good health!  God bless!

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Surgery in T-4 Days…

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The next four days cannot pass soon enough!  I’m focusing on my recovery period more so than the upcoming gall bladder surgery.  (at least that’s what I keep telling myself)  The truth is, no one wants to have surgery, but, in this case, I so want it behind me so I can move toward better health!  I’ve been on bed rest for the last three weeks since my ER visit and this is entirely contrary to my normal routine.  I’m usually very busy, so this little “vacation” of sorts, a miserable one at that, has been very strange.

The nurse called from the hospital yesterday to review my medical history, etc. and really put my mind at ease when we discussed my past vasovagal response.  She noted on my file for them not to place the i.v. in my hand, but in my arm rather.  What a huge answer to prayer this was!!  I really did not want to pass out again in pre-op, like I did previously with another surgery.  This offers a great deal of peace of mind for me and is so comforting to know they will respect my wishes.  Of course, I may have to remind the pre-op nurse of this on the morning of my surgery, but now I feel comfortable making my preference known and knowing they can accommodate it.

It is never a good feeling being out of control and that is exactly what a vasovagal response is.  It’s an involuntary reaction to pain or a situation that your physical body wants to escape.  And so, you pass out – sort of a self-preservation response.  So, I’m very glad to remove this scenario from possibly reoccurring altogether.

I’m so looking forward to feeling better!  I’ve been trying to reassure my kids (16 & 18) that this is a very routine surgery and I may be home the same day, etc.  They’ve been so concerned about me but I think they’re relaxing a little now.  I hope so.  I don’t want them to worry.  First of all, I know ultimately I’m in God’s hands and there is a great peace knowing that!  Secondly, I believe the surgeon is highly skilled and the hospital is very competent.  So, I believe my surgery should go smoothly and I’ll be on the mend very shortly.  This time next week, my body will be in the healing phase! Praise the Lord for that!

Then, I will recover for a couple months and have a hysterectomy.  (glutton for punishment, huh?)  Again, while I’m not looking forward to the surgery itself, I am excited about my recovery.  2016 will be a humdinger of a year but I know that God is walking beside me each step of the way and that gives me great peace!  I also am confident that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  (Romans 8:28)

My husband and kids have been wonderful caretakers of me and I’m grateful for that.  I am, however, looking forward to resuming my normal responsibilities once I recover.

Last night our Bible study leader brought chicken, rice, salad and cupcakes for dinner, which was very thoughtful.  The kids were very excited.  And a couple neighbors have offered to bring dinner post-surgery too.  And our Bible study leader will bring dinner again next week.  We appreciate their kindness so much.  I think the last time we had someone bring us dinner was when our daughter was born – 18 years ago!  We are so accustomed to blessing others that sometimes it’s a little strange being on the receiving end.  Although if there ever was a time when someone needs a blessing – it’s when they’re going to have surgery, I have to say.

If you would, please say a prayer regarding my surgery and for peace for our family.  Thanks so much!  Blessings!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”  ~ Psalm 46:1,10

 

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Waiting for Surgery

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Surgery is such a common occurrence these days that it is possible you or someone you know will have surgery in the near future.  As I find myself in that category, I thought I’d offer some useful tips for both the patient and friends and family.

To the patient first – 

  •  My best advice is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible regarding the type of surgery you will undergo.  The more you know, the less you will worry.  The fear of the unknown is a terrible thing.
  • Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Prepare your household (stock up on groceries, make sure things are taken care of in advance that usually rely on your efforts.)
  • Pay all bills and make sure spouse knows where important papers are.
  • Pamper yourself a little.
  • Pray and leave the surgery in God’s hands.
  • Relax.  Before you know it, the surgery will be history and you’ll be on the road to recovery!

To friends & family –

  • Ask your friend or family member how you can best offer assistance.
  • Plan to prepare a simple meal to drop off after surgery. (Don’t linger.  They need rest and are likely in pain.)
  • Offer to do light grocery shopping.
  • Write a thoughtful get well card.  (Everyone loves to be thought of, especially when they’re not feeling up to par.)
  • Give a little thinking of you gift. (lip balm, lotion, word search puzzle book, etc.)
  • Pray for their healing, comfort and peace during this time.

 

I hope this was helpful.  If you’d like to add any tips, please leave a comment.

Here’s wishing all of us a healthy year!

 

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Lobster Bisque & Update

My thoughtful and kind husband was at the grocery store on his way home from work this evening.  He picked up rotisserie chicken and sides for dinner for himself and the kids.  I don’t have much of an appetite these days so I didn’t know what I wanted to eat.  Not much is appealing to me.

He really surprised me when he came home with lobster bisque and saltine crackers.  I must admit I didn’t know if I’d like it.  Boy, was I mistaken!  It is one of my very favorite soups now!!  I have a feeling this may become a standard item hubby picks up for me.  🙂  I told him that he has good taste!  😉  This was a real step up from the standard chicken noodle soup I’ve had for the last week.

My future daughter-in-law picked me up this morning and drove me to my GYN appointment.  During my ER visit last week, the CT scan showed a sizable fibroid tumor, so today was my follow-up regarding this new discovery.  We were there for over two hours!  It certainly was a comprehensive visit, I have to say!

First of all, I love my GYN doctor!  The entire facility is very elegant and modern.  The waiting area is set up with many groupings of comfy couches, chairs and coffee tables.  It has an overall very relaxing feeling.

We discussed the options I have regarding the fibroid tumor and I think a hysterectomy is the best course of action, given my symptoms.  It was great that they could do a sonogram right then as well.  They also took some blood to run a genetic cancer screening test, which will determine whether or not she also removes my ovaries.  Very interesting.

It was a great comfort to me having my future d-i-l by my side throughout the entire visit.  My head was swimming with information, which she helped me recall later.  She works in the ER at an area hospital and is a good person to have by your side.  If we hadn’t bonded before, we have now!  😉  She’s wonderful!  If I had to walk through all of this alone, it would’ve been far more daunting.  I didn’t know I even needed or wanted someone to go with me.  It never crossed my mind really, but when she offered yesterday, I quickly accepted.  I’m so glad I did.  She helped me raise questions to the doctor and just was an overall blessing to me.  (I think my son chose well.)  🙂

Regarding my gall bladder issue, the next step is the Hida scan in about a week and a half.  Depending on what that shows, we’ll see whether or not I will require surgery.  Naturally, I hope not; but whatever the case may be, I just want to feel better!  I just had another round of blood work done a couple days ago also, so the G.I. doctor will review that as well.

So, as soon as I get these “maintenance” issues taken care of, I’ll be good as new!  It is a lot to face all at once but I am so thankful that the Lord always makes a way.  He is a good and loving God who takes care of His children.  I’m so thankful for that!

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1st of 3 Dr. appts. this week…

“Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.”  That’s what the ER Dr. said last week as she reviewed my CT scan results.  And that’s summation of my G.I. doctor’s appointment today.

Do you want the good news first?  … I thought you might.  Well, the pain I’ve been experiencing has nothing at all to do with the diverticulosis or fatty liver that I have.  A proper diet of high fiber, lots of fruits and veggies should help both conditions.  She really didn’t seemed phased by either of those diagnoses.  I was deeply relieved on many counts, namely that I’m holding tightly onto the years I have left before turning half a century, thus receiving this magical card for an honorary colonoscopy.  No thanks.  Delay.  Delay, please.

The bad news is … The pain I’m having may be due to my gall bladder.  Sigh.

So, she’s sending me for a Hida (Hepatobilary) Scan to test the functionality of my gall bladder.  They inject a dye via i.v. and you lay on the table for an hour while a camera takes pictures.  Oh joy.  Do I sound excited?  I thought my excitement might shine through.  😉

I am glad to undergo further testing and hopefully get to the bottom of my pain; however, I do not relish the thought of laying on a table for an hour.  She’s also sending me for more lab work.

All in all, I thought it was a very thorough visit and plan on resting until my next appointment.

Earlier I Googled gall bladder symptoms, etc. and came across this hilariously insulting but possibly true statement by Jordan Knowlton on Livescience.com:

“Those prone to gallbladder disease usually fall into the five F’s:

Fair, Fat, 40, Female & Flatulent.”

Nice.

I’ve just been summed up in one sentence.  😉

 

 

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My Recent ER Visit

I had my Land’s End red, flannel pajamas on and had settled in for a long winter’s night. My blue eyes had been asleep for about an hour and woke up as my husband was brushing his teeth, preparing to go to bed himself.

A gnawing pain in my abdomen grabbed my attention, along with the fact that I was now shivering uncontrollably.  And it wasn’t because I was cold.  It seemed my body was really going through something.  I wrestled within myself as to whether or not I should go to the emergency room.  I really didn’t want to go.  However, my then 17 year old daughter just had an appendectomy last year and I was worried it may be my appendix!

My husband discarded his green and blue plaid, flannel pajamas for jeans and we proceeded to the hospital at 12:30 a.m.  I had to literally hold my jaw closed on the ride there just so my teeth wouldn’t keep chattering.  I had never had anything like this to happen before.  I’m the healthy one.  I generally don’t get sick.  Mom has to stay strong for the rest of the bunch, right?

Fortunately, once I completed the necessary registration paperwork, the nurse called me back to triage.  It was pretty miraculous that the waiting room was completely empty!  From there, once she took my vitals, she got me situated in a room in the ER.  She had me change into the hospital gown, which, by the way, is entirely frustrating to wrestle with!  Upon shifting in the bed, this gown literally could choke you.  I pondered a better design…maybe an elastic neckline?  After all, the patient is already encumbered by a plastic tube in their arm, otherwise known as an i.v.

The cheery nurse brought me morphine for the pain and a medication for the nausea. Interestingly enough, despite the morphine, I could still feel the pain.

My poor husband was restlessly attempting to nap on two, hard chairs beside my bed in the midst of all the circus.  I don’t know if he ever got more than two winks.  He was up all night and still went to work!  I felt so bad for him and prayed for strength.

It took a couple hours before the doctor came in and then more waiting for my blood work to come back.  Depending on the results, she would order an MRI if it was my gallbladder or a CT Scan if it was my appendix.  I was also feeling nauseated, so I think everyone concluded it was likely my appendix.  I even was preparing myself mentally for the possibility of having emergency surgery.

Around 4 a.m. the male tech wheeled me down to radiology to have a CT Scan.  The nice tech noted that we shared the same birthday.  He injected a dye in my i.v. for the scan and I forgot the odd sensation one receives along with that.  Glad when it was over.

Well, we finally got the news from the doctor that it was, in fact, not my appendix.  Everything looked fine.  For a split second, I felt a little silly there, laying on the hospital gurney, having abdominal pain for nothing.  Until the doctor explained…

There were some “incidental” things noted on the CT Scan.  For one, apparently I possess a “fatty liver”.  I thought there must be some mistake.  I don’t drink, never have.  It’s called “Non-alcoholic fatty liver” and from what I’ve subsequently read, 1 in 4 Americans have it.  They likely just don’t know.  It’s when more than 5-10% of your liver is fatty.  The heartening news is that it is completely reversible through proper diet, lots of vegetables.  But it can take over three years to rehabilitate.  Untreated, it can lead to sclerosis of the liver, which can lead to liver failure.  Well, that’s good news in the wee hours of the morning, isn’t it?

I thought I was having appendicitis… But, wait, there’s more …

I also have Diverticulosis, small holes in my colon.  If those holes become infected, then it becomes Diverticulitis.  Both, not good.  But, with a proper diet, can be treated.  Well, looks like a more stringent diet is on my horizon…  But, wait, there’s still more for this 45 year old body…

Gee, apparently, I’m not as healthy as I thought!  Ironically, despite the fact that I am overweight, I eat very healthy.  Probably the most healthy I ever have.  My now 18 year old daughter preaches, lives and breathes healthy living to all of us.  How can I not?  No, the truth is, because I lost my Mom to breast cancer when I was 23, I have been on a quest for optimum health ever since.  But, I digress…

So, the third bit of good news this ER doctor shared was that I have a sizable fibroid tumor.  Upon further research online, this explains so many other symptoms I’ve been experiencing, but I had no idea.

So, I have three doctor’s appointments scheduled for next week: the G.I. Dr., my primary care physician and the GYN.  I’m looking forward to having many questions answered.

My husband and two children have been wonderful, taking care of me as I try to rest in bed.  Even my daughter, who has POTS, has made hot tea for me and brought me snacks when she’s up to it.  Today is not a good day for her, so hubby and my son are filling in.

Now that I’ve given hubby instructions on how to operate the dishwasher, he loads and our son unloads.  Last night, the kids collaborated on dinner.  Part of the time I heard fussing and the other part was mutual laughter.  It’s always interesting how things come together when mom is out of commission.  I call them kids but they are 16 and 18.  I’m thankful they both know their way around the kitchen very well and are very kind and thoughtful.

I’m so thankful for my family, for good health care, for our home and for the hope that I have in God.  The hope that He is with me every step of the way, even if that includes upcoming surgery.  He is a God who walks beside me and that gives me great comfort.  I also know that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  I will not fear the future, but will rest in knowing that God is already there, for He transcends all time and space.  Nothing catches Him by surprise.  And all my days are planned by Him.

 

 

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Healing Process

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Photo Credit: Darling & Talented Daughter

So today was Day I lost count of physical therapy.  I never knew cracking my neck and back could feel so liberating!  My trapezoids have been in the tightest of knots and with a couple movements, the chiropractor set my muscles free!  Well, most of them anyway.  I must admit I came into this therapy process with some apprehension of being worked on by a chiropractor.  But, today changed all of that.  🙂  I had a throbbing headache last night and this morning because of the tense muscles, so hopefully it eases.

As the tech was doing an ultrasound on my elbow, we began to talk.  She’s usually the receptionist and exceptionally pleasant and kind.  I was surprised to see her in the back doing physical therapy until she explained that she’s worked there for many years and has trained quite a few of the staff as well.  She showed me pictures of her four beautiful children, who are stair steps beginning with age nine on down.  It must be my age showing but I could hardly believe she’s a mother of four!  She looks so young!  Bless her heart!  She also shared that she’s in school to become a psychologist and wants to help abused women and children.  She escaped a decade long abusive marriage and wants to offer hope to other women.  Wow.  I was blown away that all of this was inside of this young woman!  She’s beautiful and appears happy.  I guess she is.  I’m sure she feels like she has a new lease on life.  Well, now I know how to further pray for her, along with the other staff.

I was really glad this lady performed the ultrasound as there’s one tech who I think would rather be anywhere but at work.  There’s a third tech who usually works with my kids while I get the unfriendly gal.  She’s not just unfriendly; she has zero facial expression and is almost as if she’s floating around but no one is home emotionally.  I just think that if you’re dealing with people in pain, which is why they’re doing physical therapy, that one should have a compassionate and caring disposition.  Call me old school, I guess.  I told my husband about there being two techs, one is awesome and the other one… well, you’ll see what I mean when you get there.  He came home last night and he told me right away that he knew exactly what I meant.

The chiropractor and physical therapy staff almost feel like family since we’ve been going three days a week for three weeks now.  I love how positive and cheerful the chiropractor’s demeanor is.  It’s almost as if his disposition promotes healing in and of itself.  How dreadful it would be if his attitude was like that tech!  I’m not sure we’d be progressing as well.  There are so many facets to physical healing.  I think faith has a lot to do with it.  Expectation.  Attitude.  Gratitude for even the smallest strides of progress.  Grace – giving yourself copious amounts as you heal, taking things slowly.  Peace in the midst of the storm.  If you have all sorts of inner turmoil, that can’t help your body heal as well, especially tense muscles and ligaments.

I’m so thankful to God for His healing power that is at work within our entire family!  So grateful for His matchless peace and grace.  There’s nothing like it.  Nothing in this world compares to knowing Him, to walking with Him.  We can search out the pleasures of this world, but they all lead to paths of destruction.  The things this world calls exciting and enticing are selfish and unfulfilling pursuits.  Nothing can satisfy like a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He loves us so!  We are the objects of His affection, the reason He sent Jesus to die on a cruel Cross, to be a propitiation for our sin, to stand in our place.  Salvation is a gift.  All we have to do is receive it.

There was a lady in the waiting area today that was in severe neck pain due to a recent car accident.  She spoke with a husky, smoker’s voice.  Apparently, she was relaying the details of her accident to one of the staff and my daughter was listening intently as I joined her in the lobby after my therapy.  Once again, we are reminded of God’s grace in sparing us from a more tragic accident.  As much pain as we’ve endured, we often see how much worse it could have been and our hearts are flooded with thankfulness to God!

God is a good God!  That’s all I have to say.  He’s good.  He’s merciful.  He’s the friend who sticks closer than a brother.  “Though weeping endures for a night; joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5)  His favor lasts a lifetime!

Only God knows why these things happen.  I surely don’t.  My daughter said today that between the accident and a recent workshop put on by an insurance company about teen driving, safety, etc. that she will be a much safer and mindful driver.  I know she will be.  She shared this statistic about teen driving –

“80% of teens involved in fatal accidents were not wearing seat belts.”

Wow!  That’s unbelievable.  So preventable.  She also told me that she recently told some friends they should really put their seat belts on when they got in the car from school.  She said it in a friendly way as to not appear bossy, but was surprised how complacent they were about it initially.  It’s typical for teens to be casual about these things, but the adults in their lives must insist on this basic safety measure!  The fatality statistics involving teens and driving are staggering, and now with the added distractions of smart phones and texting, it’s only increasing sadly.

Saturday marked one year since my darling daughter’s friend, Emily, died in a tragic car accident.  I don’t know the details aside from the fact that she hit a tree and it fell on her car.  I can’t imagine the pain her family has endured these last twelve months.  The blessing is that one day they will be reunited in heaven.

Today on the way home from physical therapy, the driver of a burgundy sedan wanted to become attached to my rear bumper as I drove along a small country road with a speed limit of 35.  My first thought was – “I was just rear ended by a drunk driver.  Can I tell you how uncomfortable your lack of distance feels?”  My second thought was – “We just got the SUV back from the auto body shop yesterday.  Don’t send it back!”  And thirdly – “You’re so young, fella.  Life will teach you to slow down and how fragile life really is.”

Vulnerable is what I feel when I’m driving these days, but also safe at the same time.  You know why?  I’m safe in God’s hands.  Nothing happens in my life or my family’s life (or yours) without His notice.  God is in control, even when I am not.  In that, I will trust and give thanks.

“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

 ~ I Thessalonians 5:18

 

 

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Physical Therapy & Recovery

cherry blossom

Photo Credit: My Darling & Talented Daughter

Today was Day #Umpteen of physical therapy since our auto accident three weeks ago.  It was a good day overall, one where we didn’t feel like we were totally falling apart, so life is improving all the time!  The chiropractor had me do exercises on a large exercise ball to kind of work the knots and kinks out of my lower back.  It’s a precarious thing balancing on that ball, but not bad once you get used to it.  As always, the electrotherapy and heat feel so good on my neck, shoulders and back, as does the ice on my elbow.  I’m just a mess!  😉  But today was a relatively good one.  I’ve developed headaches over the last few days but hopefully that passes soon.  Hubby begins physical therapy this week.  Can’t wait to hear his fun tales.

The chiropractor tickles me.  He has a French last name, so I assume he has some French lineage; but he has this affinity for style (of sorts).  For instance, today he was sporting a pair of white slacks with some sort of dress shirt (I can’t recall).  But, his shoes…those I remember.  They were snazzy … well, when they were in their prime, that is.  Who knows?  Maybe they’re new and are a throw-back style.  They had the Italian flag on them and were brown loafer type of shoes.  Definitely very European looking.  And, as my daughter so keenly pointed out, he always dons this brown, braided leather belt.  So, he’s stylin’.  He marches to his own drummer, let’s just say.  He looks very dignified and nice, just a little unique is all.  I noticed he had his shirt cuff turned over once and it had some snazzy design on the underside to complement the shirt pattern.  Interesting.  Can’t say I’ve seen a shirt with that design before.  But, his wardrobe makes our visits interesting if nothing else.  Haha!  … That said, since we do have to see a Dr. three times a week, he is a very nice person to deal with, thankfully.

The kids did their neck rotations on the occipital float (like a bean bag of sorts) and then had their electrotherapy as well on their necks, shoulders and backs.  After a painful weekend, today was one of my daughter’s better days also, which was a blessing.  Some days it feels like we take one step forward and two steps backward.

We had my dad over for lunch yesterday and it probably was too soon to do as much as we did, but it was good to see him after being away.  He has two Dr. appointments this week that I’ll be working into my schedule.  If they weren’t so necessary, I’d definitely postpone them.  His equilibrium seems to be way off and I want to get him in to see his regular Dr. to see about this.

The kids and I have a Dr. appointment next week and we’ll assess how much more physical therapy we require at that point.  I really don’t know what he’ll suggest, but I know we’re a long way from normal at this point.  We can be going along okay and then we try to do regular things and it flares up the injuries.  Just to do grocery shopping and laundry is a herculean effort.  Such as today … My darling daughter is attending a co-worker’s baby shower this weekend and needed to buy a gift.  It was all we could do to select diapers, wipes, and some onesies, along with our groceries without being totally exhausted and in major pain.  She will likely only stay at the baby shower for a little while as sitting too long is painful.  She’s also invited to her bff’s birthday party this weekend and will only stay a short while there also.  She was in so much pain on Saturday that she almost contemplated not even attending, which to a 16 year old is a huge deal!  I know she wants to see her friends, though.  The party is scheduled from 4-9p.m.!  That’s one long party!  There’s no way she’d make it that long.  She needs to pin a little sign to her shirt, “Please no hugs.  Air hugs only!”

I made a tuna casserole and peas for our lunch with dad yesterday.  And today I made meatloaf and my darling daughter made home fries.  We usually have a vegetable with dinner, but at this point, we’re doing well to prepare something that resembles dinner.  Two nights in a row!  We are making progress.  And, today I bought some chicken breasts and sour cream to make a Mexican casserole tomorrow night.  (I already had the tortillas, beans, cheese, salsa and corn on hand.)  Tic-tac-toe … three in a row!  Life is improving all the time!  One thing I know is that we can’t keep eating carry out and rotisserie chicken from the grocery store!

I finally took an inventory of our freezer and organized it last night.  You wouldn’t believe how much frozen fruit we have!  Three bags of strawberries, three bags of peaches, and some other fruit in a bag.  Darling daughter loves making fruit smoothies in the blender, but has been slacking off of late.  So, our stash has really accumulated and I guess I kept buying more not realizing how many we had!  We have one package of turkey burgers, four trays of ground beef, one box of shrimp that is begging to be eaten, some veggies, and a bag of mussels that is pleading to be tossed!  I nearly threw them away for the hundredth time, but my husband promises me that he’ll cook and eat them!  (Eww!)  At least now I know exactly what lives in our freezer (which usually is very hard to determine!) so I can plan meals to use it up.  We have a side-by-side refrigerator and the freezer space is very limited!  You might think there’s quite a bit of space, but if food comes in boxes of any sort, it consumes way too much valuable real estate!

And so it seems life is slowly but surely returning to somewhat normal.  We just have to bear in mind to be good to ourselves, take naps when possible, and take things slow.  It’s really difficult sometimes to not get ahead of ourselves and exercise patience with our rate of healing.  We’ve come so far since three weeks ago and are convinced our progress up to this point is a direct result of an incredible amount of believers interceding on our behalf!!  God is so faithful!

I am constantly reminded that as bad as our injuries are, they could be so much worse.  The four of us are true testimonies of God’s mercy and grace.  We will praise Him, even through the pain, because He’s so worthy!  He spared our lives and as far as we know, all of the others involved were spared also.  Mercy.

During times of great tests and trials, we often see God’s hand at work the most.  It is during these times that God’s power is on display and His presence evident.  In our weakness, He is strong.

I’d like to think of myself as pretty compassionate toward others, but after our car accident, I think my empathy toward others in pain has increased.  I’ve learned an important lesson through my pain.  I’ve been reminded that folks can look okay on the outside, but you have no idea of the battles that are raging on the inside.  They may be physical.  They may be mental.  Emotional.  Or otherwise.  The fact is, don’t judge a book by its cover.  Masks are everywhere and sometimes … many times … folks are fighting a war we may know nothing about.  People need love, no matter their appearance.  They may seem to have it all together or they may look like they’re falling apart.  Both may be in dire need of hope, grace, patience, and most of all Christ’s love.

And the greatest of these is love.  (I Corinthians 13)

Prayer – “Dear God, empty us of ourselves and fill us up with You so we can offer hope to a lost and dying world.  Help us to see others through the lens of your love.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

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Praise Report! … and food for thought

“I am confident to see the goodness of the Lord”  ~  Psalm 37

This has been my mantra since our car accident a little over two weeks ago.  I will see God’s grace and mercy revealed even in this!  What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around and cause it to be a blessing and a testimony for His glory and His alone!

Well, in previous posts I have outlined other praise reports related to the accident, but today I have two more!

1.) The drunk driver was underinsured to cover all of the losses (of course) and so we filed the claim through our insurance company.  Well, our insurance co. has decided to waive our deductible since the other insurance company has assumed liability!  Let me tell you what a huge blessing this is to our family!  We were looking at paying up to a $500 deductible when we pick up our SUV from the repair shop.  While it would’ve been reimbursed down the road, it’s a blessing not to have to pay it at all!!  So, this is a tremendous relief!  (Good news, my teenagers, you get to eat for the next two weeks!  Haha!)  God is good!

2.) Our vehicle was the only one out of the four involved that was not a total loss.  This is amazing considering our vehicle is the oldest (12 yrs. old!) out of all of them!  One was a shiny 2014, with a value of $30,000 at least; yet it was totaled.  That means three other families are shopping for vehicles.  Again, we are just thankful that our SUV is repairable and I always say that it will last until we’re ready to buy another vehicle.  The night of the accident, my husband was joking that it would last ten more years.  We both laughed, but, who knows?

We all stand in awe at the goodness of God in protecting us that night!  I believe the Lord dispatched angels from heaven to guard us and keep us safe.  There’s no human explanation of how our vehicle absorbed so much of the damage, yet totaled the mini van in front of us.  We were rear ended by a car and the offending SUV with an impact of at least 65 miles per hour!  It was the loudest crash you ever heard and the most unexpected!  We were sitting at a red light.  Everyone is supposed to stop.  Except those who cannot because they’re so impaired due to alcohol that they no longer have appropriate reflexes and are unable to process what red means, that is.

… I just searched online how many beers it takes for a 200 lb. man to exceed the legal limit.  It appears to be 4.  Wow.  Of course, many factors can affect this number.  For instance, interactions with prescription drugs, etc.  But, how one can decide it’s safe to climb behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming that much alcohol is beyond me.  Of course, I do not know the weight/size of the man who plowed into us, but am merely offering an example.  The greater the body weight, the more alcohol it requires to exceed the legal limit.  So, the scenario worsens.

According to the U.S. CDC, every 48 minutes someone dies as a result of a drunk driver.  It said that in “2010 nearly 1/3 of all automobile deaths were related to alcohol impaired driving.”  Those are staggering statistics.  Thankfully and mercifully, we lived.  Many don’t.

My daughter brought up an interesting note … She said, “Do you know how many people this one accident has affected?”  I’d been talking about the decision of one man to drink injured ten other people, in addition to himself.  She added: the first responders (who were so awesome that night!!), the helicopter pilot, hospital staff at two hospitals, those who were re-routed on the highway after it was shut down for hours, law enforcement, judges/staff, jurors, replacements in jobs that may have been hired while the injured recovered, families and friends of those injured, insurance agents/adjusters/staff, auto body shops, towing companies, Dr. offices, physical therapy and radiology facilities, churches, and the list is possibly endless.  I mention churches because during our recovery, we are unable to continue our volunteer work at our church.  Think of this replicated ten times over, potentially.  One alcohol related accident.  Affects hundreds of people, maybe a thousand.

This is an intriguing path because it demonstrates how no man is an island unto himself.  Truly.  Our decisions in life greatly impact others, even when we don’t realize it.  Perhaps none so dramatic, but influence nonetheless.  Now, that’s food for thought.

 

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A Little Perspective

…is all it takes sometimes.  We’ve had a rough few days around here with all our aches and pains.  What am I saying?  We’ve had a painful two weeks.  But it has reached the point where we’re tired of it!  Frustrated that we’re still in pain, tired of taking pain meds, Epsom baths, applying Biofreeze gel … and don’t get me started about the seemingly endless Dr. and physical therapy appointments!! … And, then she walked past us on her way out of the physical therapy office today…

She had some sort of brace around her rib cage and a cast on her arm as she spoke in a raspy voice.  Clearly she was in a worse accident than we were and her pain has got to be more severe.  I knew from the beginning of our ordeal how blessed we were not to have sustained far greater injuries and we are infinitely grateful to God for that!  But, today was an especially painful day for me where it hurts to sit.  It doesn’t feel a whole lot better standing.  And I didn’t sleep well and I have a lot of issues on my mind at the moment… And, and, and… Blah, blah, blah, blah… Well, you get the idea.  Not a stellar day for me.

But, when I saw this poor woman today, I couldn’t help but thank God once more for His grace and mercy over our lives!  Yes, we are all in pain from the accident still, but the good news is that we will recover in time.  Pain does crazy things to you.  Not only does it make one grumpy, but it also blurs the reality that the pain will pass in time.

I was sharing my accident story with the dermatologist this morning at my follow up appointment and she concurred how fortunate we all are that it was no worse.  That fact alone fills my heart with immense gratitute.  From the outside, we all appear to be just fine, but on the inside, not only are we still in a great deal of pain, we are also still processing the trauma of the accident.  That takes time too.  Since this was the first real accident I’ve ever been in, I never realized the anxiety that can follow a major accident.  I’ve gotten better each time I’ve driven or been a passenger since the accident, but I’m definitely uber cautious and aware that anything can happen.

My husband went to the orthopedic Dr. this morning and will begin his physical therapy routine this week.  He mentioned how much time all of these appointments are consuming and the fact that we have to get back to living our normal lives!  I couldn’t agree more.  I got to thinking how the actions of one person affected ten other people that night!  Because one man decided to consume entirely too much alcohol and get behind the wheel, he and his passenger were flown by helicopter to a shock and trauma unit.  The remaining nine of us were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.  He even still had alcohol in his vehicle, which I’m sure is one reason he attempted to flee the scene of the accident.  He received five citations.

This week alone I will have had six medical appointments, two on Mon. and Wed. and will have two more on Fri.  There have been no quiet moments since the accident.  The phrase, “No rest for the weary” comes to mind.  We just want normal life to resume.  Now.  Isn’t that our way?  We want everything instantly.  Apparently part of the reason for much of my pain is inflammation.  The Dr. advised to limit wheat and take fish oil (which I already do) to help.  I also came home and researched this a little and found out green tea, spices, almonds and many fruits can also help.

And, so my pep talk to myself today is that I will continue to take this healing journey one day at a time.  I will resist the urge to complain (too much anyway!).  I will count my blessings every day!  I will look to the hills from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord!  I will do my part to help the healing process and trust God to do the rest.  And I will continually seek out the good that will come from this accident.  I know there’s more good that hasn’t been revealed just yet.  I don’t believe God wastes pain, so I believe there’s a purpose even in this.  And I will yet praise Him!

Signed,

Just Me Being Real

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