Pressing Onward

January 2, 2005

“…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:11

As I reread my journal for January 1, 2004 I realized how differently the year turned out than I anticipated. I was preparing to go to China at this time a year ago, and my dear friend was dying of lung cancer. Two knee surgeries, adrenal collapse, and missing 18 weeks of work has resulted in my job being on the line again. 2004 was one of the most difficult years of my life. But as a sister in Christ said at the New Year’s Eve service, the hurdles get bigger every year, but God is always there to meet me. He has carried me every step of the way for which I praise Him. So I must press onward and forward to know Him better and set my affections on Him in heaven above. God has given me many valleys so that I may grow and lean harder on Him. He doesn’t want me to look at the trials, but simply behold Him. I have no goals this year but to keep pressing on toward the mark, be a better student of the Word of God, and anticipate His soon coming.

Today at 4 a.m. I got up to get a drink of water. I had a terrible esophageal spasm that felt like someone was strangling me. It made me so dizzy that I fainted and woke up on my left side on the bathroom floor. I lay there a few minutes until the dizziness passed. I was able to scoot over on my bottom to the commode, roll over on my right knee, and pull myself up. I saw stars and had a bad headache. I thought I had a migraine headache for about 30 minutes until I felt the lump on my head. I checked my blood pressure and it was only 94/60 (quite low) standing. My head felt fuzzy, so I called the ambulance to take me to the emergency room. They checked me out and said everything was normal. My nurse friend who works night shift at the hospital brought me back home. At times like this, I wish I didn’t live alone, but God knows and took care of me once again.

January 15, 2005

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for Thee, O God.” Psalm 42:1

I finished physical therapy yesterday for my knee replacement that I had done November 8. I still have a little “lag” in my left leg which means I still can’t quite straighten it all the way. Climbing stairs is becoming easier. It’s still difficult for me to carry groceries into my kitchen, so I’m going to have them delivered through the winter. We have been having horrible ice, snow, rain, sleet, and fog storms all week. I’m looking forward to going to Florida next week to visit my parents before I return to work.

I had a number of medical tests to determine why I had the esophageal spasm and they said it was from acid reflux. So now I take medicine to reduce the acid and sleep on a wedge pillow to keep my head higher than my stomach. I thank God I haven’t had any more of those painful spasms since doing this.

I just read a chapter from F.B. Meyer’s book about the apostle Paul. Paul endured so much as a prisoner, being beaten, then shipwrecked, and finally arriving in Rome. “Do not fret at the limitation and disabilities of your life. They are required as the make weight and constitute your opportunity. Storm and shipwreck, centurion and sea captain, soldier and fetter, Caesarea and Rome — all are part of the plan, all work together for good, all are achieving God’s ideal and making you what in your best hours you have asked to become.”

Dear Lord, Help me not to shrink from these trials of weariness, pain, and weakness that You have ordained for me. Please carry me today. Thank You that Your ways are higher than my ways. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

February 5, 2005

I thank the Lord for the pleasant week He gave me with my parents in Florida. My dad is becoming more forgetful, but he and my stepmom still won when we played word games! We especially enjoyed breakfast cooked on the griddle in the center of our table at DeLeon Springs State Park, and seeing the giant manatee at Blue Springs State Park where they spend the winter in warmer waters.

DeLeon Springs State Park, one of my favorite places in Florida.

 

We cooked our own pancakes on the griddle in the middle of our table! So delicious….

 

The giant manatee, or sea cows, spend the winter at Blue Springs State Park in Florida.

My first week back at work went fairly well. It was very busy, but God carried me through. Dr. E., the main boss, is giving me two months of grace period and then they will evaluate Dr. S. and my billings quarterly. The goal is to bill $28,000 per month which is reasonable. If we don’t reach the goal, they will decrease my salary by 15%. If we exceed the goal, we will both receive a bonus. They are also moving my desk from the basement to the middle of the nurse’s station so I can be more visible on the unit. They also want me to teach in-services monthly for the staff, do emergency drills quarterly, and work on three research projects. I also will join trauma rounds of the trauma unit once weekly. I’m trusting the Lord to give me the strength to do it all in 30 hours weekly.

Reflection

It is rather difficult for me to reread my journal from this challenging time in my life. How I thank God that He won’t test us above what we are able to bear and that “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27) when He carries us through the valleys. Dear Reader, if You are going through a valley in your life right now, I pray that you will fix your eyes upon Him and that He will encourage you to keep taking one step at a time along the path, knowing that He wants to teach you many wonderful lessons in the darkness.

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Knee Rehabilitation

November 16, 2004

I thank the Lord for the progress I’m making here in the rehabilitation center after my knee replacement on November 8. I now only need Percocet for the pain every three hours which my stomach can tolerate right after I eat a snack. It was great to sleep 7 hours last night! I did better in Physical Therapy (PT) today as they walked me on a straight cane rather than the walker, but I am still a little wobbly. The Occupational Therapist (OT) taught me how to put on my support hose with a sock aide so now I can shower and dress myself totally independently. They even had me marching and raising my knees high! I met the recreational therapist and enjoyed doing an oil painting which distracted me from the pain for awhile. She said my church choir could come here to sing for the residents any time they like. I so appreciate the visitors from church and their sweet encouragement to me. I never realized before how much visitors help.

The oil painting I enjoyed doing in rehab which helped distract me from my knee pain.

November 21, 2004 – Sunday

I’m awake for now so I want to record snap shots from the past few days. I am now able to go 5-6 hours between percocet pills for the pain. At my request, they added magnesium and calcium to my medications. An hour after I took them, the deep burning pain went away and I could walk much more easily! I missed church so much this morning, so I turned on the TV and watched a couple church services. My nursing assistant, Angela, walked in and said she enjoyed hearing these men preach and that she had received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.

I asked her if she knew of any other patient who would like to sing, pray, and read the Bible with me? She said she would think about it. Thirty minutes later she brought Teresa to my room and the three of us had such a precious time together. We sang “How Great Thou Art”, “Rejoice in the Lord” and then I read Romans 5 from the Bible. Teresa had some questions about eternal security, so I tried to help her with that. Then we sang “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” and “It Is Well With My Soul” and Angela closed us in prayer. Teresa has cancer and will meet with her doctor and family tomorrow. She asked me to come to her room tomorrow and sing hymns again with her.

November 24, 2004 – Thanksgiving Eve

Home sweet home!! Mary brought me home yesterday afternoon. We enjoyed the most wonderful dinner together that she brought me. I slept fairly well last night, but it’s a little tough to get out of bed. Today PT comes. A friend will take me to the Thanksgiving service at church tonight and another friend has invited me to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year! Two other families invited me for Thanksgiving dinner, so I asked them to bring their left overs on Friday and Saturday nights so I have three Thanksgiving dinners in a row and fellowship with my friends. Dear Lord, You are so wonderful. Thank You so much for saving my soul, for Your loving kindness, and for all the help from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.

December 8, 2004

I had a good post operative visit with Dr. R. He was pleased with my progress of being able to bend my knee to 100 degrees now, do straight leg raises, and climb steps with 50% of my weight on the hand rails.  He said I could go to aqua therapy since my incision is well healed. I can also drive again even though I’m still taking Percocet for the pain.  He wants me to take the entire 12 weeks off from work so I heal well. If I go back earlier, I’ll be stiff, sore and swollen and may have a setback. My home PT showed me how to do all the water exercises at the local indoor pool, so that will save me money. I only pay $33 per month at the pool compared to $20 each PT session three times a week.

When I got in the warm whirlpool, it felt so delightful that I almost cried tears of joy. I am exactly one month out today from my surgery. We had an ice storm yesterday, so I had to cancel my endocrinology appointment. I don’t dare walk on the ice or snow yet because I certainly don’t want to slip and fall.

December 18, 2004

It has been a rough week. I’m having so much pain at night that I can’t sleep. I decided to go to outpatient PT to see if she can help me with the pain. Kimberly, PT evaluated me and said I still have swelling, I’m doing too many exercises, and I need to rest more. She instructed me to only do 2 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise just once daily in the pool or on land. She reminded me that a knee replacement is extremely painful and takes time to heal. I’m thankful that tomorrow I complete my twice daily Lovenox shots in my abdomen to prevent blood clots. My stomach is all bruised and tender from the shots. Dr. S. mailed me two fun books for Christmas. It was so kind of him to remember me.

Reflection

And so ended 2004. It was a year of stretching with two surgeries, an international trip to China, and adrenal collapse. But through it all, I could see how much God stretched me and caused me to know Him better through these trials. Truly He filters everything through His loving hands for His glory and our good.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing this, that the testing of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect  (mature) and entire, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

 

 

Total Knee Replacement

October 9, 2004

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 “What man is he that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose.” Psalm 26:12

If the Lord tarries, my total knee replacement surgery will be on Monday, November 8. I visited three rehabilitation (rehab) facilities and chose the nicest one with a private room and private bath. I have to pay $20 extra per day for a private room, but it is worth it since I am such a light sleeper. I don’t want to end up with a roommate who screams all night. This facility specializes in joint rehab and has an excellent reputation. My sister, Marsha, is flying here on November 6 and will be with me through the 15th. I am so thankful she can be with me during this time. My dad offered to give me money every month while I am out of work, so I thank God for my dad’s help also.

I thank God for all the valuable lessons He will teach me in this school of knee surgery that He has chosen for me. Here are the classes: Surgery 101, Inpatient Rehab 102, Home Rehab 103, Outpatient Rehab 104, Out of Work 3 months 105. I know He will throw in some surprise classes and pop quizzes. God encouraged me today with 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. God will not test me above what I can bear. Thank You, dear Lord, that You have it all perfectly planned out.

October 16, 2004

I went to an interesting class at the hospital to prepare me for surgery. They gave me a folder and had me watch a video by a TV actor who had both his knees replaced at the same time. He is now able to ride a horse, so maybe I can cross country ski a little next winter. Dr. S. told me not to give away my skis!

Yesterday I attended a conference for orthopedic nurses and many of the hospital nurses who will be taking care of me also attended. I learned much, but I’m not sure if it was good for me to hear about all the possible complications of knee replacement surgery. I am so thankful my two nurse friends from church will both be working the week of my surgery. It’s always nice to see familiar faces at the hospital.

October 30, 2004

I tried to donate blood to store for myself, but my veins collapsed. Two friends at church who have my blood type volunteered to donate on my behalf, so that was very generous of them. The Nurse Practitioner who was my first preceptor in graduate school now works for my primary care doctor, and she gave me my preoperative physical. It was great to see her again! I only have six days of work left. I am so ready to move onward and forward and have this surgery behind me.

November 4, 2004

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1

I read this verse before I attended our monthly practice meeting yesterday at the hospital. Dr. E., my main boss, asked to meet with me privately after the meeting. He told me they were granting me the medical leave of absence for a maximum of 16 weeks even though they aren’t required to legally because they are such a small practice group. The hospital lost $2.5 million last year and has had to lay off a number of employees. He said he might need to decrease my hours when I return. He wants me to make rounds on all the hospital units to increase the visibility of the rehab unit and to promote the rehab unit as enthusiastically as possible. He said the workload will be difficult for Dr. S. while I am off. They are not paying me any salary while I’m off work, so at least they are saving money that way.

Many changes lie ahead at work in the next three months, but I refuse to worry about it because God isn’t worried! I praise Him for the wonderful peace He is giving me going into surgery.

November 15, 2004 – 2:40 a.m.

I had my surgery one week ago, and I’m now at the rehab facility in my pleasant private room. Marsha flew back to her home today. She was my advocate while I was in the hospital when I could not think straight from the pain and anesthesia. I am so thankful for help from her and the nurses from church. I thought I would lose my mind from the pain right after surgery. I fainted several times in the hospital from low blood pressure caused by the pain medicine, so the doctor changed to another one. They put my leg in the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine which made my leg spasm, so I refused it.

My titanium knee xray looks similar to this.

Marsha drove me from the hospital to rehab in my car, but it was agony to bend my swollen knee enough to get it in my car. I think I should have come by ambulance instead. The rehab facility couldn’t obtain my pain medicine from the pharmacy for 12 hours after I arrived, so again the pain was incredible. Mary, my friend from church, visited me and held my hand when my leg spasmed. We sang one hymn after another to try and distract me from the pain. I’m so glad I brought copies of the words of all my favorite hymns with me. Some of the brethren from church came to visit me on Sunday afternoon which was a blessing. They sang “Rejoice in the Lord” and “Isn’t He Wonderful?” I am finding singing to be very therapeutic.

Reflection

And so I began my 10 day stay in the rehab unit. The intensity of the pain after surgery surprised me. I really didn’t know a person could experience that much pain. The experts say that bone pain is the worst kind of pain, especially in the knee joint because the swelling has no where to escape. People who have had both their hip and knee replaced have told me that the knee replacement pain was significantly worse. However, everyone experiences surgical pain differently. A few people only need mild medicine, but I definitely think I was at the opposite end of the spectrum. One probable reason was my age of 49 years and having intact nerves.