When I rise every day I take the medicine that I am unbelievably grateful to have, some of it extended release pain medicine which allows me to stand on my leg. I then reach for the compression stocking next to my bed and breath through the pain and pressure of pulling it on my swollen, purple leg. I have a love/hate relationship with these compression sleeves. They are like making a deal with the devil. You add pain & pressure to a limb that is already hurting in order to gain some mobility and use from it throughout the day.
This is because when the surgeons were saving my life by trying to extract the deadly clot in my femoral vein, they did destroy some clot, but they took all my valves too. It was another deal with the devil, you can live but one of the largest veins in your body will now be stripped of all the inner workings that made it function. We cannot give them back, we cannot recreate them. They are lost to you. So now when blood flows down to my foot, there is no valve system to bring it back up. The stocking is like a graduated tourniquet. It strangles the blood out of each part of my foot, then my ankle, then my calf, and up through my thigh to my hip where, past the three stents, there are working veins and valves. This process happens each time my heart beats.
I am so grateful to have it, and yet there are days that I wish I would have let them take my leg instead. You see, in the operating room, our incredible doctors knew the risk, they knew that my leg would never function properly again, they knew the lifetime of agony that this procedure would leave me with. That is the reason my first set if doctors advocated to let me pass away, then the second set offered amputation. They were wrong & I am saved but there were definitely days during recovery that I wished the first camp had won. I wished they had not chosen to save me, to deliver me into this life of daily torture.
I don't think that anymore. Ever. But there are days that I think, maybe we should have let them take my leg at least. Maybe we should not have tried to save a limb that was clearly ravaged. Those thoughts are not helpful though. What's done is done. The surgeons, myself, Nick alone in the waiting room, we all made the right choice. We saved my leg and maybe down the line there will be medical advancements that can finish the work that those doctors began so many months ago. There is talk of artificial valves being created in labs, there are rumors that those could be available for humans in as little as 5 years.
I just have to hang on. I just have to get every drop of life I can out of this leg, my beautiful purple leg, just the way it is. And the the sun will rise again and there will be valves for me & for the other survivors & the warmth of recovery will shine down on us once again.
Back in my mornings, the next thing I do is to drink a full 800 ml of water and/or electrolyte fluid because my body cannot process fluids properly and before I learned to stick to this system, often dehydration became so severe that I could not move. I then eat my prebiotic yogurt, take specific prebiotics to prevent the deadly infection that ravaged me in the past year, and eat the same bland breakfast that I eat each day (I kind of love it now, it's all what you make it).
Food has become such a looming presence in my life. There is so much I cannot process. I used to be such a lover of food & now looking in the fridge is like opening the door to a torture chamber. My body believes that the cells which make up my digestive organs are dangerous, foreign bodies so my immune system attacks the healthy cells, leaving behind torn, ravaged, and bloody intestines & colon that beg me for help each hour by sending shooting pains through my abdomen. When I go to the bathroom, I often lift my head towards the ceiling, begging God for mercy.
The thing to know is that mercy has come. It arrives in small ways on unexpected days and it flows through my life like a stream, becoming stronger, carving out more joy & relief and health along the shores until one day I know, there will be little pain or sickness left. None of us know when that day may come but I do know that the darkness of night is ending and the sun will rise in my life.
One of the ways that it is rising is through the building of a new home, designed to accommodate my leg and my stomach. Hallelujah! Built to make it possible for me to do things for myself each day, built to ensure that I don't need to ask for help or slide down the wall in the hallway, exhausted and sick, unable to carry or drag our laundry basket through the maize of our 1940's home. Nothing in our house now is good for a person with my limitations. It has become my cute little prison, my guided cage. Even the shower in our new home will be step-in style with a built in bench where I can sit & rest or elevate my leg so I can do those things we take for granted, shave my legs, wash & rinse my hair. Not have to drag myself out of the shower & lay on the bathroom floor, soapy hair hardening to my head & tears running down my cheeks. I will be free. I will be able. The sun will rise. There is even room for a bumbo seat inside the shower but outside the shower spray so our baby can sit safely and enjoy a shower with mom one day while I can continue to be a parent & care for myself at the same time. The rays of sun are poking out.
*Finally, I wanted to acknowledge that my Memorial Day weekend post did not include a Thank You to all the service men and women, to all the families who have sacrificed so greatly for so long. We know you, we love you, we are inspired by you, and we send our hope and healing to your bodies and minds in all the battles you face both abroad and back home. We all know that service does not stop once leave is granted. Gratitude, sympathy, and love to all service people and their families not just on days of remembrance but all days.
Lots of Love,
Here are some photos of that joyful day as well as a tour of my bedside with tips for staying strong through illness so that you can have days like this!