A Journey of Thankfulness

MRI of Tendon“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  Confucius

For me, it began with a misstep.  A month ago I was visiting friends and ministry partners in New York.  The day had been wonderful and long.  I visited my home church.  I saw many incredible saints who have been part of my journey for most of my life.  I saw new-to-me saints who are part of the church, and, therefore part of the journey.

My afternoon was spent with some of those long-time journeyers.  I babysat their kids when they were little.  Now the baby is looking at colleges and the oldest is married.  It was a wonderful time of reconnecting.

When I returned to the home of the friends I was staying with, we turned on the Bronco’s game.  They were winning!  And then they lost.  We decided to go pick up some pizza and a movie.  As we were walking down the porch steps I thought, “I need to be careful not to miss a step.”  As soon as the thought flitted through my brain, I was rolling on the ground in immense pain.

I knew I should be crying, but I wasn’t.  I knew the pain was there, but it wasn’t registering as immediately as I thought it should.  It took a while, with the help my friend and his brother, but we finally got me back in the house.  Iced and elevated my ankle finally let the pain messages all the way through to my brain.  It was not a happy moment.

I finally got permission from the insurance company to go to the hospital, and away we went.  After a few hours there with very little attention, the doctor proclaimed my ankle sprained and urged me to see an orthopedic doctor when I returned to Colorado later in the week.

I saw my orthopedic surgeon on Friday.  He took x-rays, found bone chips and declared, “I’m a knee guy.  You need to see one of our ankle guys.”  That didn’t prove as easy as it sounded.  One of the ankle guys was out of the country.  The other was running both their schedules.

When I finally got to see my ankle doc, he decided I wasn’t healing as well as I should be.  He thought the bone chips may have lodged in the tendon, so he sent me for an MRI.  I had the MRI.  They called me a few days later to come back for more pictures further up my leg.  I didn’t figure that was a good thing.

I saw the doctor again Tuesday.  He assured me it wasn’t a good thing.  He pulled up the MRI images on his computer and showed me how I’d ruptured my Achilles tendon.  There’s a 6 cm (about 2 1/2 inch) gap between where my tendon should be knit together and where it’s separated from itself.   I’m scheduled for surgery next Tuesday.

So, why is this a journey of thankfulness?  Let me tell you!  (I’m so glad you asked.)

1. I fell with people around to help me.  I could have fallen when I was alone and had no means of getting to my phone.

2. I have insurance.  I have high co-pays, but it’s still much less expensive than paying for the whole thing.

3. I blew out my left leg and not my right one.  I can still drive . . . at least for now.

4.  Every doctor found a good reason for me to take the next step in the journey of finding out what was wrong.  Many times I thought things were probably unnecessary.  I didn’t really think I needed another x-ray.  I thought an MRI was probably excessive.  I was wrong.  Both times.

5. My knee doctor knew his limitations.  He didn’t try to take care of something that was outside his area of expertise.

6. My ankle doctor is the expert on this surgery.  He wrote a chapter in a medical textbook on how to do this.  I doubt I could find a better qualified doctor.

7. I have amazing friends who have offered to do kind and generous things to help me recover well.  My friends who are taking care of me right after surgery are sacrificing their vacation to move into my house to make sure I have what I need and am not tempted to try to do things on my own.

8. I have an amazing family who also sacrifice for me.  My brother was willing to turn their house upside down so I could go there and recuperate.  (It was a little impractical for the immediate post-op visits.  Colorado isn’t exactly a quick trip from California.)  My parents have switched their whole lives and plane tickets for Christmas around so they can be in my home to help me do the things that will be difficult for the next few months.

9. I have a massive amount of sick time and all my vacation still on the books.  I won’t have to worry about taking too much time off.

10.  Everywhere I’m going there will be wi-fi, so I can do some work when I’m off the heavy pain meds and ready to challenge my mind.

11. Everyone has been more than kind and understanding with the trips and plans I’ve had to cancel because of my upcoming immobility.  I’d planned a trip to Turkey after Christmas to speak at a conference and hang out with some amazingly cool TCKs.  That’s not happening for me.

11. I love and serve a God who is kind, gentle, and always good.  He is not surprised by this injury.  It is not a punishment.  Perhaps it is a way to help me slow down.  Perhaps it is a way to help me learn to ask for help.  Perhaps it is a way for me to spend more time with him.  I’m not sure what purpose this serves, but I know it is for my good and his glory.

These 11 things are just the surface.  I choose to be thankful for all the things that God provided to make this rough time sweeter.  I’m pretty sure there will be moments when I lose sight of gratitude—when I’m sidetracked by pain and limitation—but for now, I choose to continue to see the way God provides and to be thankful.

photo courtesy of Simon Barrat

I’m participating in Faith Barista’s Faith Jam.  Every week she’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith related topic.  Today’s post is my riff on “Thankfulness—your journey.” If you’re interested in the notes others added to this Faith Jam, go check out her site and follow the links.)

12 responses to “A Journey of Thankfulness”

  1. Oh Sheryl, I’m so sorry this happened!! – but I love your thankful spirit, and I am thankful for you and with you. You inspire me! Thank you for letting God use you to speak to us today.

  2. Thanks for the condolences and the encouragement Lori! I’m thankful my words meant something to you. I love it when God can use something I write to speak to someone else.

  3. You have a great perspective! Keep it going and these weeks and months will fly by. God is in control, he has a reason, and you will be a a blessing to all those who serve you in this time. Sit back. Relax. Enjoy being pampered! You deserve it! : ) (Though I would have much rather you used the money that will be spent on medical bills to spend a week on a tropical vacation). And just think, it’s a good thing RC is not in January anymore!

  4. Thanks, Tirzah! Oh my goodness! I hadn’t even thought of the blessing of not having RC in January. That might have pushed me over the edge—but you thinking of it made me laugh! Ahhhh—I’ll just have to imagine myself at a tropical beach for vacation.

  5. I like this “It is not a punishment. Perhaps it is a way to help me slow down. Perhaps it is a way to help me learn to ask for help. Perhaps it is a way for me to spend more time with him. ” Its never punishment…He allows – what we would call inconveniences, because He loves us. I wouldnt surprise me at all if God used this injury to bring you to Himself for more “quality time.” Sometimes we get so busy that when we actually stop we realize that our busy-ness has intruded on time alone with God. I hope you recover soon!!

  6. Thanks for stopping by, Kelli! It’s going to be interesting to see what God brings in the midst of this and on the other side of it. I just had a friend write and tell how this same injury changed the life course of one of her colleagues.

  7. #8 choked me up. That REALLY is a blessing. Many people don’t have that, even if they have a lot of money or possessions. I know you’re going to be seeing so much more, with such a heart of thankfulness. 11… wow. Your faith inspires me, Sheryl!

  8. Oh, you don’t know the half of it Bonnie! I’m so incredibly blessed to have the family I do. They’re all amazing and wonderful. I love Christmas not only for celebrating God’s gift of Jesus but because we all get to spend a few weeks together. Sure we have to learn how to live with each other again, but once we figure it out—it couldn’t be better.

    I’m no giant of faith. I’m just living out what I know. That, too, is a privilege.

  9. Wow! First of all, praying for safety and a quick recovery for you. Secondly, you are an inspiration. You seem to be taking this all in stride…no not in stride, with joy. Thank you for reminding me to look for the positive in what, to most, would seem like a very negative situation.

  10. Thanks for praying, Melissa! I truly appreciate it. I think writing out the list of things to be thankful for in this time of pain and being set aside was an important task for me. Now when things get tough, I can remind myself of the truth I identified before surgery.

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