It was an exhilarating time! We were preparing for a two-week tour of sacred sights in France. Little did I know a slight twinge in my left buttock was the harbinger of a life interrupted. My plan was to share our incredible journey to France with you on our return. It never happened and I have been absent from blogging since April. It is the unanticipated journey I now wish to share with you.
That slight twinge, which began prior to our departure to France on May 23rd, increased to periodic severe stabbing buttock pain during walking, following our arrival in Paris. Stopping frequently to elevate my left leg provided some relief. In Normandy, we walked (I limped) over 3,000 steps a day, so there was no time to rest, or heal, this unknown injury I had somehow suffered.
Two weeks later, following our return home, I continued to limp because of the pain in my left buttock and thigh. My daily activities became increasingly limited. I was working with my homeopath and taking remedy to support healing, but, as walking became progressively difficult, I required the use of a cane and finally a walker.
At the end of June, I experienced sudden unbearable pain in my thigh, requiring a trip to Urgent Care and an overnight stay at a nearby hospital. An MRI of my spine revealed a left lumbar disc protrusion, which was impinging on the left sciatic nerve root. After seeing my chiropractor for several weeks with no decrease in the persistent excruciating thigh pain, he suspected a hamstring tear. A second MRI of the pelvis confirmed his suspicions – a hamstring tear at site where those three tendons connect to my sits bone. No wonder I was unable to sit in chair or lie on my stomach!
I began a program of physical therapy but discontinued it after two months because of increased pain following each session and absolutely no functional improvement to show for it. I was still unable to shower, dress the lower half of my body or do any of my daily routine.
That agonizing pain persisted from the end of June through November. Five months bed-ridden. I couldn’t sit, or stand independently and walked only with the aid of a walker. I would never in a million years have anticipated my life would have been interrupted to this extent.
From the moment I began this unexpected journey, I knew there were lessons in it for me. After all, I had been stopped in my tracks! That had to mean something! My intention was to remain open to whatever it was I needed to learn.
“Don’t be afraid of challenges. Let them take you somewhere new.” – Siri Masetti
I know I haven’t even begun to learn all the lessons, but there are a few I wish to share with you.
I have learned that when one can no longer function in the same capacity to which friends and family expects of them, you learn first hand who is willing to hang in there with you, and to what extent, regardless of how long it takes.
I learned that my husband, Tom, is both willing and capable of being the ultimate caregiver. He lovingly, generously and without complaint, gave up his life, as he knew it, to become my full-time caregiver. He cooked, cleaned, brought 3 meals a day to me in bed (remember, I couldn’t sit up), bathed my back, legs and feet because I couldn’t bend over and even washed my hair. He couldn’t leave me for longer than an hour because of my chronic pain and physical vulnerability. He gave up a season of nature walking, playing tennis and bike riding. I was totally dependent on him for five months. No one can know the extent to which their husband or partner is willing to go until they are in that situation.
My dear sister, Joyce, who lives in Texas, was, and remains, a constant companion by phone. She and I love to go to Estate Sales so last July and August, off we went! Joyce would text me when she was stopping at a sale and then send me photos of items she knew I would love. Talk about the ultimate distraction (shopping) from my situation when I was most in crisis! If I Okayed a particular item(s), she would negotiate the price. I have a bedroom lamp, bookends, and other items I don’t recall, now waiting for me in Texas! A road trip is in my future!
We know how important friendships are, but during challenging situations, we don’t always know
who will show up. I was blessed to be the recipient of friendship in its various forms, all of which have contributed to the healing process. Because I could do nothing but lie in bed, phone calls, texts, and visits were welcome diversions. Friends shared their gifts of healing, prayers and practical solutions for physical restrictions (ask me about Go Girl!). Food, flowers, books, laughter and encouragement frequently made their way to our home. What struck me was no one asked, “What can I do?” They just took it upon themselves to do what they felt moved to do and it was always perfect!
And then there is one friend whose generosity is off the charts! A massage therapist, body worker and healer, she asked if she could be a part of my healing team. Little did I know she would singlehandedly become the healing team. In September, she started coming to our home once a week to treat me and, with her skills, love and dedication to healing, continues to guide my slow return to normal functioning.
With independence temporarily taken from me, Patience became my new guide. And, with all I’ve been blessed to receive, Gratitude has become my closest companion.
“Why is patience so important?” “Because it makes us pay attention.” – Paulo Coelho
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”— Albert Schweitzer
My experience provides me the opportunity to share with you that it is a MUST to be your own advocate in your health care! And absolutely have someone who knows your wants, needs and wishes in case you are unable to advocate for yourself. My primary care physician did not believe my Chiropractor’s impression that I had a hamstring tear and refused to order another MRI! In frustration and desperation, I called an MD with whom I used to work and highly respect to explain my situation. She listened and, within three days, an MRI was scheduled, revealing the hamstring tear!
I am learning the importance of listening to my body to avoid squandering my energy. While I am an advocate of “listen to your body,” I didn’t practice what I preached. When my body said, “I’m tired!” I responded with, “Just this one more thing!” I repeated that enough over the years that my body finally took over and stopped, giving me no more chance to ignore it.
Every so often we are forced to learn our lessons the hard way; they are gifts to be cherished.
“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” – Bernie S. Siegel