Overcoming Obstacles

When I was a kid, I truly believed I was the odd child who got the most quirks from both parents. I ended up getting my dad’s horrific eyesight (I would be a danger to anyone on the road without my glasses), I had to have braces not once, but TWICE with an expander, retainer, the works. That phase seemed to last forever. But the one that would turn out to be a curse and a miracle, was my feet. I developed severe bilateral bunions on both of them, thanks to my grandma and lovely mother. 😉 Every podiatrist I went to growing up, didn’t even suggest any homeopathic ways that might prevent surgery in the future. They knew they wouldn’t work; my feet were just that bad. But I was young at the time, maybe 12 or 13 and playing competitive soccer. I couldn’t just stop everything and take up to six months off. Plus, I couldn’t bare the thought of the surgery failing and preventing me from ever playing soccer again. They weren’t really standing in the way of me going on with daily life or playing premier soccer. Yeah, my feet would hurt after every game and I would have to go home and ice, but I could handle that. It wasn’t worth the risk at that time in my life. So, as I continued to press on, training twice a week and on my own, and then sometimes playing up to two games on the weekends, I was overwhelmingly surprised and encouraged by the fact that God continued to allow me to do it all. I was able to train for 90 minutes, I was able to play games at a high level for sometimes more than 90 minutes without really severe consequences. And anyone who looked at my feet, would have questioned how that was possible. In all reality, with my feet the way that they were, I shouldn’t have been able to play at the level that I did. And that is something that I’ll thank God for daily. Letting me play the sport that I loved, despite the hurdles that I faced, will be something that I will never not appreciate.

So now as an adult, who was done playing soccer competitively, I was seriously debating on what to do. Once I started working at the job I’m at now (physical therapy office), I began to work out a lot more on my own. Basically every day of the week. Getting back into shape and lifting weights to become stronger. I wanted to feel better in general. But as I was putting more strain and stress on my body, I noticed the ache and pain in my feet a lot more. Now the pain wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was enough to make my workouts harder and more strenuous on my body. I didn’t want that hindrance to prevent me from putting my body through the exercise that it craved. Not in an over the top way, but in a ‘this makes me feel good’ type of way. I didn’t want to loose that, especially since I hadn’t made it out to play soccer in months. So, after while, I brought this up to one of the PT’s I was seeing. He was treating my back at the time. That’s another long story. Maybe I’ll tell you guys about that story too some other time. 😉 I wanted to ask his advice on what he thought could be a next step. Because now, I didn’t have anything standing in my way of just getting the surgery done. But I wanted him to take a quick look at them and see if he had any further recommendations before I made a rash decision. He looked at them and I immediately could tell on his face, that he thought they were something else, to put it nicely. 😉

He recommended I go see one of the foot and ankle docs that referred patients to our office all the time. I figured he knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t send me to just anyone. I trusted him and his judgment. But I was also pretty sure of what he was going to say and I had to mentally get my thoughts together and see if I would be ready to hear it and move forward with it. That was in January of this year. I met with the doctor and immediately liked him. He was personable, he was funny, he made me feel comfortable. And what he said didn’t surprise me. He basically said that he had been doing this 30 years and yeah, they were bad. Surgery, again, was the first thing to come out of his mouth. At that moment, I had to assess and really figure out if this is what needed to happen. I prayed for God to give me a sign, any sign, of why I shouldn’t have this done, and I never felt like He did. I felt at peace with choosing to have surgery. I felt like that made the most sense as I looked towards the type of future that I wanted. I talked it over with my husband and my family to get their opinions because I valued what they had to say. This wasn’t just me asking if I thought I should cut my hair or leave it long. This was about having a pretty major surgery and I wanted everyone aware and on board. Once the consensus was pretty unanimous, I called and scheduled the surgery, May 1st 2019. Which was pretty funny because I had had a surgery two years prior on the same day. I began to think that that was just my designated surgery day. 😉

Once surgery was scheduled, I continued to work out and get strong so that my body would be in the best possible shape going into a surgery, when this would basically put me on my butt for the next 6 weeks at least. To me, that seemed like a semi decent idea at the time. Pretty soon, after 3 and a half months had passed, we were on the eve of my surgery and I was a bundle of nerves, not going to lie. I felt at peace going through with it but it was still surgery. There were still risks. Would I ever play soccer again? Would I ever run again? Would I ever walk normally again? Those were all the questions that ran on repeat in my brain. I tried not to stress about it. Putting things like this in God’s hands made life SO much easier. But for an athlete like me who wanted to get back to playing at the level that I did before surgery, it was hard not to.

We arrived at the surgery center at 7 in the morning before my 7:30 surgery time. I was thankful for my husband’s support and the prayers of those close to us. I definitely felt them. Surgery didn’t last too long, but I do believe it ended up being more complicated than they originally thought. But everything turned out as well as to be expected on the other side. And so began the start of my recovery. It all went well and continues to go well, but I don’t think I was given enough insight into what a bunion recovery would look like. My expectations were not where they should have been. I figured, okay, 6 weeks non-weight bearing, and then 10 weeks total until I would be feeling back to normal; at least according to my doctor. But it just took and continues to take a lot more time than I thought it would to completely heal.

I was in a splint right after surgery for 2 weeks and then they put a cast on for the remaining 4 weeks until they transitioned me into a boot where I could gradually put weight on it. But during that non-weight bearing time, I needed a lot of extra help. Crutches are a pain, if you didn’t already know that. 😉 I needed help carrying things, I needed help getting to places. All in all, for my independent spirit, those first 6 weeks were hard and painful. But despite it taking a much larger emotional and mental toll on me than I thought going into it, I decided to look at the bigger picture. I was going to feel so much better after I healed. This wasn’t going to last forever. It was only temporary. So during that, I decided to choose joy. No matter what was going on, no matter what obstacles I had to fight to overcome, God is still good.

I had to make the most of my limited mobility. I went to Tulip Time with my sister, we went to Ludington to visit my husband’s family, I even managed to figure out a way to shower by myself. Which you may not think is a huge thing, but when you have a splint/cast on your foot that you can’t get wet, it makes you think very creatively so you don’t end up falling or hurting yourself. Which I did end up doing. I fell down stairs, I fell trying to get out of the tub, I even fell while trying to maneuver my scooter around our bed. But anyone who knows me, knows that that was normal behavior. No one should be worried, I fall all the time. 😉 And the good news was, I didn’t hurt myself further and I didn’t do anything to slow down the healing process in my foot, so I call that a victory. There were many tears though (my husband can attest to that), as I stressed and worried constantly about doing something to mess up my foot. But I was/am so thankful for his constant support and encouragement. God blessed me with a good one. 🙂

After about 8 weeks, I was full weight bearing in the boot, which to me, felt amazing to be able to walk on both feet again. It was a major accomplishment in my mind. We were moving up in the world. I began physical therapy shortly after that and I was ready to push my body to the brink of what I thought it was capable of. I was ready to get back to what I was doing pre-surgery. But, my body/foot was just not at that point yet. Mentally, I had to reel myself back in and realize that I had to take my time. I had to ease back into it. Which is far easier said than done, but by that point, I was more in the right head space to be able to accept that reality.

So all in all, I am still doing physical therapy and probably will be well into November. My goal is to be able to run within the next couple weeks. The pain in my toe just has to get better when I’m doing my exercises. But we are getting there. It continues to get better and heal everyday and I feel so very blessed. God gave me the strength, energy, and peace of mind to persevere through this obstacle. And He will give you that strength too. Don’t give up just because the going gets hard. You are capable of far more than what you give yourself credit for. Continue to choose joy despite the obstacles, because God will continue to bring you through them. Power on and stay positive as we live beautifully broken lives together. ❤

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