More Knee Pain

August 2, 2004

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to test you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” I Peter 4:12

“In every trial, there are gleams of light and relief, but full deliverance is often delayed by our anxiety to obtain it. God Himself and not the deliverance is to be the satisfaction of His servant. Consequently, the deliverance is often postponed until we are without prospect or expectation of it. Then it may happen in a manner so far beyond our conception that we must see and understand the love and interest which surrounded us during the whole period of our trial.” -None But the Hungry Heart

As I begin my second week of recuperation here at home after my knee surgery (arthroscopy), I am so thankful for this encouragement from the Lord. Dr. E., my big boss, was so kind when I talked with him this week. He said to take all the time I need to recover. He knows I’m not hanging out in the Bahamas:) He asked if I have osteoarthritis, chondromalacia (rough knee cap), or torn meniscus (cartilage). I told him that I have all three which shocked him. He said he was at a loss for words to say something to make me feel better, but God is my comfort and strength.

I spoke with one of the nurses at church who had her knee replaced. She encouraged me to have it done as soon as possible so I don’t ruin the other one. She was able to drive ten days after surgery, but said the pain is intense the first few weeks.

August 9, 2004

I tried to return to work last Thursday for four hours, but it was really difficult because I became so weak. I’m afraid the stress of surgery has made my adrenal glands crash again. It took me three hours to do one admission and see nine patients. I can only stand about 30 seconds, so I went back to work too soon. I am going to write out surgical guidelines for myself for the next surgery to help me remember. I spoke with two nurse friends at church who both work in orthopedics at the community hospital. They both recommended Dr. R. who did my first two knee arthroscopies.

I tried to go to church yesterday, but became so weak after driving two blocks that I had to turn around and come home. So I laid on my couch and listened to a good Bible message on thinking right. I keep asking God to help me to see this exercise in my life from His point of view and to help me not to wrestle, but just nestle in His loving arms today.

August 14, 2004

I saw Dr. R. for a second opinion on my knee. He needs the operative report and and photos from Dr. M. He’s not too eager to do a total knee replacement on me because it only lasts 8-10 years on someone my age. If I can wait 11 more years until I turn 60, the knee replacement will last 15-20 years. He ordered water therapy in the pool which I did yesterday and today. I am still getting weak and dizzy once or twice a day, so I’m not sure when I will be strong enough to return to work. I’m off work without pay now since I used up all my sick and vacation time. I know the Lord will provide.

Dear Lord, Carry me this day. I give it to You in all my weakness. Thank You, that this path of affliction is for Your glory and my good. Help me to trust and rest in You. In Christ’s Name, Amen

August 26, 2004

“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

God is so gracious in carrying me along this week. The endocrinologist and naturopath both agreed that my adrenals are my main problem causing the weakness and dizziness and have restarted the cortisone and other supplements. I am getting custom inserts for my walking shoes to try and align my knees better since my knee caps point out instead of straight ahead.

Dr. E. called me again to say hello and see how I was doing. When he worked in internal medicine, he had a patient with adrenal insufficiency and said he knew what a difficult problem it is to have and treat. He assured me that they will not replace me and not to worry about my job or come back too early. If I need to come back just 3 or 4 hours daily, that can be arranged. It was so nice of him to call and reassure me.

I thank God so much for the compassion of Dr. E. and Dr. S. and allowing me to work with these two men. They are so refreshing compared to my two previous nurse managers at the LPN school and the insurance company. But I realize that none of this will matter 100 years from now, so I’m just trying to keep the big picture. I now qualify for disability since I have been out of work for over a month. I thank God so much for His encouragement today.

September 30, 2004

“And after you have suffered for a little while the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ” I Peter 5:10

After taking the cortisone for 9 days, I was finally able to return to work a couple weeks ago, but the knee pain is intense. Dr. S., my boss, ordered forearm crutches for me to walk with as these give the most relief from knee pain. My patients are so sympathetic as I make rounds on them and we joke about our mutual aches and pains. I’m connecting with my rehab patients on a new level.

My knee pain was so bad that I needed to walk with forearm crutches at work.

I saw Dr. R. yesterday about my continuing knee pain. He reviewed the surgical report and photos and said I need a total knee replacement if I don’t want to end up in a wheelchair. I don’t qualify for a partial knee replacement because my bones are soft and I have triple compartment arthritis. I will need about 10 days in a rehab facility after the hospital stay since I live alone. He recommended two facilities and said I should visit both before surgery to see which one I preferred. I will need to be off work for three months after surgery. He is very comfortable dealing with people with adrenal problems, so they will give me a huge steroid dose the day of surgery to prevent my adrenals from crashing again hopefully. He is going to order the newest and most expensive titanium knee for me that is supposed to last 30 years. It costs $30,000! I sure hope it lasts until the Lord takes me home.

Dear Lord, Help me to relax with the pain right now and rest in Your everlasting arms. I just want to line up with Your plan and not my own. You plan this surgery and use it for Your glory and honor. In Christ’s Name, Amen

Reflection

And so God prepared me one step at a time for a very difficult surgery. Many days it seemed like I would never be pain free again in my life. I realized even more what a blessing health is, but many times He teaches me the most when I am so very weak and can do nothing but lean on Him. This very difficult time in my life gave me much greater compassion for the health problems of my patients.

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Why am I so weak?

Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner – August, 2002

I have now been working in this very busy clinic for 4000 employees of the insurance company for several months. One of my duties is to give routine vaccinations to employees when they request them. During an unusually slow afternoon, I checked my vaccine stock to see if I needed to order any more. I am praying about doing some medical mission trips, so I decided to give myself a Hepatitis A vaccine. Hepatitis A is common in many developing countries and is transmitted by unclean food or water.

The next morning, my alarm awoke me at the usual 5 a.m. I tried to move and get out of bed, but I ached all over and was overcome with weakness and dizziness. By 6 a.m., I felt the same so I called my boss and said I was too ill to come to work today. I knew there was no way that I could survive a busy clinic day.

The terrible weakness, dizziness, and aches continued, so by the third day I went to see my personal physician. He drew blood tests and said my blood pressure was low and to try and drink more fluids. I was thankful my friend from church could drive me to and from the appointment.

These symptoms continued day after day, until a month had passed. After the first week, I had no paid time off remaining since I had only worked for the company a short time. My physician could not determine the cause of my symptoms, so he sent me to a neurologist, chiropractor, and endocrinologist. I became very discouraged and cried out to God for mercy in my weakness.

September 17, 2002

On September 17, my doorbell rang. The postman had me sign for a registered letter from my employer. I sat down on my couch and opened it with trembling hands. “We regret to inform you that due to your prolonged absence, you are no longer employed at this company. You may begin collecting unemployment after you recover from your illness….” Because I had not worked for the company for 12 months, they were under no legal obligation to continue my employment.  The tears flowed as I asked God to help me and teach me all the lessons He had for me. I asked Him to give the doctors wisdom in finding out what was wrong with me, heal my body, and provide my every need.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

I began reading books by other Christians who went through their time of suffering with victory. Corrie Ten Boom was imprisoned in the concentration camp during World War 2 because she sheltered Jewish people. She suffered from starvation, cold, beatings, and watched her sister die. After Corrie was released due to a clerical error, she wrote a book called “The Hiding Place” and traveled the world telling people that no matter how deep the pit, the love of God was deeper still. She also said,

Faith = Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him!

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been confined to a wheelchair because of a diving accident when she was a teen, wrote, “People with disabilities are God’s best visual aids to demonstrate who He really is. His power shows up best in weakness. They persevere. They love, live, trust, and obey Him. Eventually the world says, “How great their God must be to inspire this kind of loyalty!”

September 30, 2002

“Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:4

God encouraged me with this verse.

“Your weakness will be your strength if you accept it with a lowly heart. Trusting in God is a simple resting in God’s love, as a baby lies in its mother’s arms. The point of trusting God is not to do great things that you can feel good about, but to trust God from a place of deep weakness. Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears. All I ask is that you rest in faith with a teachable spirit.” Fenelon

“Lord, give to me a quiet heart that does not ask to understand but confidently steps forward in the darkness guided by Thy hand. Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. Let the Lord of the Universe do the worrying! Wide soaring gives wide seeing! Keep looking down from your heavenly position.” – Elisabeth Elliot (widow of Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain…. Having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content.” I Timothy 6:6-8

Reflection

And so began the most difficult time in my nursing career and in my health. After many tests, my endocrinologist finally determined that I had developed adrenal insufficiency from the Hepatitis A vaccine. The adrenal glands control all the hormones in your body. If a person does not produce enough of their own natural steroid, they experience low blood pressure, severe weakness, and dizziness – all my symptoms. I had to take a low dose of steroids for the next six years. How I thanked God that I finally had an answer!

I called Dr. A., my former coworker at the psychiatric hospital who also conducted vaccine research. He confirmed that in very rare instances, vaccines can effect the adrenal glands like this.

After much prayer, I decided to sell my dream house that I had built a few years previously. By God’s grace, I made enough profit on the sale of the house to pay cash for a small condominium where I lived for the next four years. It was a huge financial relief to be rid of a mortgage and a good lesson to hold everything with an open hand to God. My real home is in heaven above with Him for all eternity! After six months, I recovered enough strength to seek employment part-time. Next post, I will tell you how God wonderfully provided again.