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.)

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