Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lessons in the Valley: Part 1

My injury happened one month ago this past Saturday, 5 weeks ago yesterday.

I used to think that a sprained ankle wasn't really that big of a deal. I had heard numerous times about people getting a sprain, maybe using crutches for a few days, and then being back to normal. 

I've learned a lot about sprains in the last few weeks.

The most common type (which I just referenced) is a simple rolling of the ankle that heals quickly. The inversion sprain happens when the ankle rolls outward, the foot turns inward, and the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured. An eversion sprain is the opposite, causing damage to the inside of the ankle, and is much less common. 

The least common is the high ankle sprain. This can happen when the leg twists forcefully while the foot is planted. The ligaments that connect the leg bones together are stretched and torn, resulting in a severe injury and lengthy healing process. This sprain can happen alone or along with an inversion or an eversion sprain. 

(You didn't know you were getting a medical lesson today, did you? Ha.)

So where do I fall (no pun intended) in this list? I managed to get all three types of sprains at once. The dreaded high ankle sprain along with both inversion and eversion sprains, as well as damaging additional ligaments through my shin--because if you're going to do something, do it right. To make matters worse, they were grade 2 sprains because there is a significant level of tearing.

I quickly learned that sprains can be a big deal. In fact, I was told multiple times that it would have been better to break my ankle than sprain it the way I did. My healing process can take anywhere from 2-6 months. 

To read the facts is one thing, but to experience the pain is something completely different. 

I have a high pain tolerance. But this was different. It wasn't so much the initial discomfort, but after 2 solid weeks of throbbing, shooting, radiating pain, I was getting weary. My foot, both side of the ankle, all through my lower leg--everything hurt immensely. And constantly with no reprieve. Then when I pinched a nerve and caused sciatic pain to pulse from my hip all the way through my toes in a continual tingling sensation, I was near tears. 

It was agony.

It was so excruciating that it woke me often each night, both from the pain itself and the nightmares that it caused. The most gut-wrenching, disturbing, fear-inducing dreams I have ever experienced. I'd wake up breathing heavy with my heart racing. Had I been taking pain killers, I would have attributed the horrors to them, but there were no drugs in my system. 

Why? I know, reading that it seems foolish to even me, but I'm stubborn. I don't take pain meds unless I absolutely have to. And I figured that if I didn't take it in the beginning when the pain was potentially the worst, I surely didn't need to take it now. Every day was a little better than the day before. If I got through that, I can get through this. Leighton tried multiple times to get me to take something to lessen the pain, if for nothing else than to allow me to get some sleep. But I was determined to complete the whole experience without a drop of drugs. Why? Just so I could say that I did. (Again, I know it doesn't make sense, but, stubborn, remember?)   

I couldn't put any weight on it for those first 2 weeks, not simply because of the pain, but also because the torn ligaments just could not hold the weight. If I tried to stand, the ankle would buckle and I'd have to catch myself. I spent my days using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method of recovery. I dutifully set my timer for icing: 20 minutes on, 60 minutes off. I was determined to do everything right in order to heal as fast as I could. I have 5 young children; I need to be able to care for them.  

My purpose in explaining this is not to complain or get sympathy. Before today, I didn't tell anyone but those absolutely closest to me what was happening in such detail, mostly because they could see it anyway. I believe that your attitude affects your situation. You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your response to them. That's why even when things are rough and we've had a difficult week, I make sure to still post about what made me Smile. Because, no matter what, there's always something good. 

So, what's my good in all of this. 

It's easy when you're in the mountaintop living. Things are going right, and you just coast along without much thought. But it's those valleys that can really teach you. It's in those hard times when you may be searching for God and just feel lost. 

That was me.  

It was so much more than the physical pain I was experiencing. It was helplessness in caring for my family and our home. It was disappointment in not being able to partake in annual seasonal favorites (like canning bushels of tomatoes and apples, geocaching with the family, and more). It was worrying about things I knew better than to worry about. It was feelings of guiltiness for getting injured and putting extra responsibilities on others. My thoughts became my enemy.

I was starting to become depressed. Not just discouraged, but depressed. I'll spare you the details, but it was very unlike the positive, "there's always something good" person I try to be. That's when I really sought after God, not just my typical daily prayers, but begging for His help. I knew my situation wasn't going to change overnight, but I needed help in changing my perspective. God began to work in my heart. He helped me to be grateful for the blessings, to recognize the good things.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, 
to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Lessons in the Valley: Part 2 explains those good things--and also the huge mistake I made that reinjured the leg and set my recovery back. There are many lessons I'm learning through this experience.

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