Does anyone else feel like recently the days have been slow-moving, but also speeding by? Like there’s no ‘scheduled events’ and yet the days are packed full? I certainly do.
I’ll admit, the StefFindsNewRoads social pages have had fewer posts these days than they once did. Still, when I send a post out there to the online world, I’m never surprised to see the amount of support and love and encouragement from you all. I might not get to answer each comment, but I promise I do see them all and it always makes my day. The support I’ve seen from this group, this community… is beyond anything I ever imagined.
So, I thought the easiest way to reach you all, to go a little more into detail, was through a wrapped up blog post!
A new, but exciting challenge
I’ve gotten my new set of prosthetic legs recently. It’s like being back to the beginning – Exciting. Terrifying. Thrilling. Nerve-wracking. All at the same time. But jeez, I never knew it could be this hard.
A closer look into surgery
For almost 3 years now, my knee has been completely locked straight. I had virtually no movement in my knee joint. When my surgeon began the procedure to fix this, his always straight-face and tough, just-get-it-done demeanor, immediately disappeared.
I’d broken my femur in the accident. Now, I have a titanium rod in my leg, from my hip to my knee. What he saw was that my muscles, and formed scar tissue, had wrapped around this rod. Essentially, my muscles were tied to this metal. So, now it was obvious why my muscles couldn’t break free – why my knee was so tightly bound into place.
Immediately after surgery, none of us thought it was going to work. For all of those who have followed along, you saw me go back to Mass General Hospital after being sent home. You saw the massive piece of equipment screwed into place that I had to wear for months. You saw me spending many days in the hospital, receiving transfusions, and watching the wound carefully. I had infections, trouble healing, and the recovery was awful.
Then, in a follow-up appointment, my long-time surgeon said to me – “You have got to work hard now, or this will all have been for nothing.” So, that’s what I’ve been doing.
After fully healing I went for my last check-in with this same surgeon. I moved my limb up and down, proving the motion in my knee. He lifted his hand into the air, gave me a high-five, and said simply, “Proud of you sunshine.” After the two of us began this partnership – duo of surgeon and patient – working together for so long, it was a wonderful moment.
One step forward comes with its challenges
Then I got my leg, and I went to stand. Not only does it feel like being “back to the beginning,” but it’s harder than ever before. My knee, that now works, wants to collapse on me with every step. Those muscles that couldn’t be used for three years are weak. But I’m feeling stronger every day. In fact, I’m back to walking into my own appointments on my own again. Again, it’s terrifying, it’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking.
I’m publishing a book
While I’m learning to walk, and I’m going to prosthetic appointments two hours away, I’ve also been submitting my book for publishing. Publishing, it turns out, is more time-consuming than actually writing the book was. But I’m learning a lot, meeting new people, and fine-tuning the book down to a publishable word count.
Now I’m back to work
On top of all of this, I’ve started working again – for the first time since I’ve been hurt. It’s a huge step forward, despite it being a (very) part-time position. I remember being in the hospital, learning of my brain injury, spinal cord injury, and amputations, and thinking “this is it, I’m not going to accomplish anything. I’ll never work or be successful or be able to do anything.” I guess I’m proving myself wrong on that one.
What I’ve started doing is a contracted position of freelance writing. I’m researching, writing, and publishing. Hm… sounds familiar, right?
In June – July of this year, I am heading out on a hugely exciting opportunity. I won’t share much, but I will be soon… Right now, I’m just planning, planning, and planning.
Building a new home
As if I needed another thing on my plate… I am getting estimates, making plans, and moving forward with building a house! Well, I’m not building it, but you know what I mean. Can I just say, how excited I am at the thought of having a fully-handicapped accessible home? To live independently again? Again, another task I’d once believed I’d never be able to do again.
I am so, so, thankful to my family for getting me back on my “feet” again. For making our home accessible. For taking care of me. For doing all that I couldn’t. No child, no parent, no family ever expects to one day wake up and have to face life-changing, permanent disabilities. No one expects a vacation to go wrong like ours did, but my family has handled this with grace. They’ve never made me feel different. They’ve never made me feel like a burden.
It’s almost been three years, and sometimes I’m embarrassed by how long it’s taken me to get to this point of working and living independently, but I remind myself that I just had my last surgery less than 6-months ago. Sure, I’ve been out of the hospital for a while, but the surgeries (I think I’ve counted 45 now) have been pretty much non-stop until now.
Reflecting on the positives
I always knew that I had a supportive and loving family, but most people never get to see just how true that it is like I’ve gotten to. Sure, it’s been a hard few years, but how lucky am I to have been able to see all the good that’s come of it? To see that when my life changed in an instant, that there were family and friends and strangers and everyone in between (yes, including all of you reading this) that were there to pick me back up.