Monday, September 27, 2010

So What's Going on NOW?!?!?!

Right now, I'm with my family in a hotel room in Fargo, about four blocks from Sanford South Hospital. Tomorrow I need to be there by 8:30 a.m. to be prepped for surgery...I'm finally getting a total knee replacement. It's hard to explain what the past few months, and especially the past couple weeks have been like. I sympathize much more with those who are in chronic pain. It is so hard to describe....I think of God's promise to us that in Heaven we will have a new sorrow. And I think that's part of why many of us go thru what we do -- so we don't get used to these broken down, sinful bodies we currently have.

For about the past week, if I stood for more than 5 minutes at a time, I was in agony. And last week, I was put to the test many times. Tuesday afternoon, I discovered our refrigerator stopped refrigerating (is that a word???). With as busy as Tony has been getting everything ready for the pumpkin parties, he realized he wouldn't have time to deal with it, so we called the local appliance shop Wednesday. It only took several calls before someone came out...the next day. It was pretty much shot as were several things inside that we didn't get transferred to his parents' fridge in time. Thursday, I also cleaned about a bushel of tomatoes and stuck 'em in the freezer so I could can spaghetti sauce after I'm back up on my feet. But...being on my feet cleaning them did a number on my knees. Friday I was in such pain my only plan was baking the cookies we needed for our first pumpkin party....after a long, hot soak in the tub to soothe my knees. Instead, I made the mistake of going into the kids' room for the first time in more than a week. YIKES! Two hours later, I headed back down, anticipating that long soak. I literally crawled in...only to hear a knock on the door ten minutes later. The new fridge that Tony picked out was being delivered without the promised call from the store warning us the men were on their way out. Rushed out of the tub, pulled out the condiments and bread that was left in the old refrigerator, cleaned off the top of it and all the kids' artwork hanging all over it...and they hauled it out...and I saw the floor and wall in the open space. So I got that cleaned up just as they brought the new fridge downstairs. After they left, it took about ten minutes to get the things into the fridge...and about 30 minutes to clean up the dirt, mud, and leaves from the delivery guys (okay, you know you would've done the same....regardless of the pain you were in!). But I also knew there was no way I was physically up to baking cookies now...and it was 4:00. Made a few calls, then prayed about it, and thank God the lady who runs our church kitchen, Theresa Henderson, was available and willing to bake cookies for me last minute!

I don't think I moved much after that except to finally crawl into the tub again...but when I checked email before falling into bed (about 1:00 a.m.), there was an email from one of my employees that she wouldn't be able to work the next day because she was sick. We were already short-handed, and I'd been hoping that I'd be able to be in just a short while, make sure everything was running smoothly, show the radio broadcaster around (we had a live feed our first pumpkin party), then head home...or at least sit for the rest of the day. Not to be! But...God once again provided with an employee who called me at 8:45 a.m. and said she could work all day! But then...our guy who runs the concession stand never showed up....he forgot about it being the first pumpkin party! So we were again short-handed, and except for about 15 minutes, I was on my feet all day.

I literally couldn't get out of the van when I got home with the kids Saturday evening. I cried, slumped over the wheel, for about 15 minutes before I had enough strength to get inside and collapse. Every bit in me was in agony. Even today, more than 48 hours later, I still hurt. Thankfully, though, I had a great massage Sunday afternoon by a local massage therapist, and my chiropractor worked me over good today. Needless to say, I am really looking forward to surgery in the morning!

During all this, you can tell the kids are unsure about everything that is going on. I've explained best I can what is going to happen, but I don't think their minds can quite grasp it all. Susi especially has been very antagonistic, horrible behavior, very aggressive. Luke has been chewing on his shirts. I do have to say, as I was slumped in the van Saturday crying, Susanna couldn't stop apologizing...made me wonder what she had done that she felt she had to keep apologizing! We have been listening to alot of praise music, and that's been helping us all. And Susi continues to entertain us while singing "Today is the day, You have made! I will rejoice and be glad in it! I won't WORTHY about tomorrow...." giving me a good chuckle :) Luke continues to be quite popular at home school co-op....there are usually several kids who clamor to sit by him, and I am meeting more parents who say "so YOU'RE Luke's mom!" And I think I mentioned before about Susanna's friend Jordan whom she introduces to everyone "This is Jordan. I'm going to marry him!" Good grief. What am I in store for????

So for now I'm going to sign off...get a good night's sleep...get ready for my new titanium knee. I'll try to update as soon as possible.....I can have my cell phone and laptop after surgery, not that I'll be doing anything with them for awhile afterward! Tony and the kids will head home after I'm in my room, and God willing, I should be released to go home sometime on Friday. And before you all start sending me comments, let me assure you....I WILL be taking it easy after surgery. I'm not planning on doing much beyond therapy and whatever the doctor tells me to do when I get home. I have a friend who will be coming in a few hours each week to do basic cleaning during October -- floors, bathroom, whatever needs done. And many others have volunteered to help with that, too. Our ladies' group at church has arranged for at least three meals a week for the first three weeks...and others have told me they're going to bring things by, too. I was hoping to get a few casseroles in the freezer this afternoon, not thinking we'd need to leave until tomorrow morning, but surgery was scheduled earlier than I there's nothing extra in the freezer, but I do have lots of home-canned goodies waiting, too! I am not allowed to drive for 4-6 weeks...and I won't be. I won't be at the pumpkin parties until at least our big one, October 23...and I will not be there if I am not up to it...and won't be there for the whole thing regardless.

Call me! Stop in and visit (but don't wait for someone to answer the door...I'm not climbing the steps to let you in!). Send me some mail. Take my kids for a few hours -- they'll need to get out of the house! But most of all, please keep me and my family in your prayers during this time!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Update! What is going ON with me???? (This is for you, Chuck!)

I've mentioned my good friend Chuck in the past. I love him and his wonderful wife Judy more than words can say...they're some of the sweetest people in the world. However, they are not on facebook (as many of my other dozen or so readers are), so they've not been keeping up with my quick and more frequent notifications that are easier to post on facebook! So...Chuck reminded me last week that it's been awhile (okay, two months) since I last did an update. Here goes!

Through out the years, I've had occasional problems with my knees. I remember as a scrawny, less than 100-pound teenager (wow, how things have changed!), my knee giving out on me on vacation and my brothers refusing to stand anywhere near me in photos because my legs were so bruised up. Well, my knees have finally given out. Starting in early July, actually during our county fair (which was during my last post!), my knees really started giving me problems. There were times I could barely get out of bed, let alone stand or walk much. I cannot even begin to describe the pain I've been in. I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic specialist who took x-rays and told me his wife's knees were worse than mine, and while knee replacement would have to be done, I was pretty young to have it let's get a cortisone shot, take four Motrin three times a day, and see my primary care physician to prescribe something for the stomach problems that would result. Oh, and get a custom knee brace made. That really infuriated me....yes, I'm young (well, compared to Chuck -- I LOVE YOU, CHUCK!!!), but did he even realize the pain? Did he realize that there are steps all through my house and that there is no getting around going up and down them several times a day (I mean ten steps going down from our bedroom to the dining/living/laundry/bathroom and six steps up from our bedroom to the kids' room which is sixteen steps from the dining/living/laundry/bathroom to the kids' room!)? Did he realize that I am on concrete pretty much all day when I'm at our market...which is pretty much where I am for 9 hours Monday thru Saturday from mid-May through the end of October? Did he realize that my bones not aligning and my knee cap shifting all over the place might not be as bad as his wife's, but it is a HUGE problem when my knee feels like it is going to bend...the opposite way that it is supposed to? And that I could feel my leg bones poking into my knee and my tush? to get a second opinion from an orthopedic in Fargo. Dr. Nelsen took one look at my x-rays and didn't even do movement tests on my leg...he told me he wanted to schedule me for full knee replacement as soon as possible; partial knee replacement wasn't an option, and he wants me off my feet as much as possible before then, the damage is so bad (yeah, like THAT'S going to happen...although I HAVE slowed down!). And seeing how I have NO cartilage in either knee and both legs don't have proper alignment, I will need to have both knees fully replaced. However, he is hoping that by doing the left knee right away (September 28), I can buy 2-5 more years before the right knee has to be replaced. His comment was that I am young to be having this done, but he can't begin to imagine the pain I'm going thru, that yes, I could delay surgery with cortisone and pain killers and a leg brace by MAYBE a year, but is it worth going through all that to delay for that long? NO WAY!

I have found that I tend to work through the pain and distribute it through my body without realizing it. A couple weeks ago, I finally broke completely. My entire body hurt just to breathe. I honestly wanted to die it was so bad. After sobbing for almost an hour, I called my dear friend Nicole who used to do massage...and she told me she would come over the next day and massage as needed. So, even though she had a friend visiting her from Florida, this dear lady came and did an almost two hour massage. I finally realized how long I'd been carrying the pain all over -- and have limited as much as possible what I am doing now.

My husband, God bless him abundantly!, has taken on many of the house hold chores on top of all his farming. And last Thursday he decided it's been too long since we've had cinnamon rolls at the market to sell (I've not made them since the end of July!), so he volunteered to make them for the Labor Day weekend. I'm still convinced it was partially selfish reasons since not only haven't we sold any...he's not had any to eat! I made up the dough and explained what needed to be done, and this sweet man went to work! At the end of it all, he thought maybe we should be charging more than what we are....but those rolls were GOOD!

Luke and Susanna have also been doing more things around the house. They already do so much to help out, but they're doing even more. Other than putting in the laundry detergent, they do all of the laundry -- putting things in the washer, transferring to the dryer and turning it on, and even folding and putting away the laundry. They continue to set the table and clear it off, help (sometimes) with making meals, and cleaning up. But yet, there are still things that don't get done and it bugs me...because I physically cannot do them and Tony doesn't have time to do them, and it's beyond Luke and Susi. So, if you ever stop in and visit, ignore the dirty floors that haven't been swept, vacuumed, or mopped for awhile -- I hired someone to come in last month and do them, but the daily wear and tear, especially with two little ones, a big one, a market to run, and the countless other things that need to be done, well, it isn't the cleanest place.

One of the many things I have learned through this all is an understanding of why some people are so difficult to be around when they're in pain. It is so easy to just snap and yell at people, only because the pain can be unbearable. And I've found myself doing that at times...but quickly pray that God helps me change my attitude. Because, I've learned, it IS a choice on how I'm going to deal with the pain I'm going through -- am I going to take it out on those around me? Or am I going to grit through it and realize they have no clue what I'm dealing with? And when it gets to be too bad, when I can't deal with the noise of kids or looking at the messiness of the house...I just go to my room for awhile, spend some time praying, reading, sleeping, or calming down by listening to music. I also know what I am going through is NOTHING compared to many, many other people out there....and I have no clue how they can deal with what they have to deal with. It has made me even more compassionate to what others are going through. After all, I see some of my friends -- one who has a two year old twin with a severely broken leg while she herself is pregnant...and has four others as well to take care of; one whose 10 month old baby is barely over 12 pounds and the doctors are doing countless tests to see what is wrong; others who are dealing with problems I cannot even begin to fathom, not just medical and physical but personal issues surrounding family and others. I see someone else who is close who is also young for the heart problems they are going through and the family supporting this person emotionally. And good problems are so minor!

Meanwhile, I'll update when I can...there are so many fun things going on with the kids -- like Susi who loves to sing "Today is the day, You have made! I will rejoice and be glad in it. I won't "worthy" about tomorrow, trusting in You today...." My kids continue to lighten each day for me (usually). Luke is reading and spelling and continuing his love of math. Susanna is more and more of a drama queen (good and bad!) each day. And Tony, ah, my Tony. He continues to rub Susi's feet when she plops them in his lap...and my back when I finally crawl into bed after wearing myself out enough where I can fall asleep without tossing and turning from the pain.

There are also other things going on -- I took Luke to the ER a couple weeks back with bad stomach pains. Even the doctor thought it was appendicitis and ran all kinds of tests on the poor kid. Thank God it wasn't, but she did run tests for four different tick diseases. Again, thank God they came back negative, but we still don't know why his blood count is off in many different areas and his lymph nodes are swollen (since January).

We're getting ready for pumpkin parties -- and a live feed from Q-FM for our first one on Saturday, September 25. And yes, I'll be at that one, but I'll be MIA from at least the next one and possibly/probably more beyond that. I'm learning to not only set limits on myself but to actually follow those limits!

Here's how you can help. Pray. I know that many of your prayers are what is helping me deal with what I'm going through already. Pray for the pain to be bearable, for a successful surgery, for a quick recovery (good will take a year to be fully recovered! although much less than that before getting around...but we're still talking serious time for recovery), pray that I don't push myself beyond what I should, both before and after surgery. Pray for the transitions that we'll be going through as we're also preparing to move into the farm house. I know God will provide for what we need, meals, child care, etc., through all this...He always does -- but pray that I'll not be freaking out with impatience as things get lined up for surgery. And pray that we can start our homeschooling and not get to off kilter thru this all!

And you know what? Another reason I love Chuck and Judy so much -- they've been through joint replacements, through major health obstacles, through so much...and Chuck still gave me his cell phone number with the admonition to call him whenever I need help! Oh, buddy, I appreciate you more than you know...what an awesome and genuine gesture that is....because I know you mean it! (wanna come over and scrub my kitchen and bathroom floor? I'm KIDDING!!!!)

So meanwhile, tomorrow is the annual canoe trip down the very crooked Straight River to LaMae's house...I'll be at LaMae's (unless I over do it at the market tomorrow...there are only two of us working the Market Monday and Tuesday), but I won't be canoeing. I'm gonna miss it!

I'm off for now...gotta work on payroll for our awesome employees and work on cleaning up the desk. Again, I'll update when I can, but it's hard to sit at the desk and type now. I have my laptop downstairs, but the keyboard has a mind of its own! I start typing things out and - poof! - it disappears!

If you're in the Fargo area September 28-October 1, pop in to Sanford South University Hospital (the old MeritCare on University) and tell me hi! They anticipate a 3-day hospital stay with surgery.

And there you have it......