Wednesday, March 30, 2011
ďAttitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?Ē Anonymous
This quote, or something to its effect, has been on my mind since last Thursday. Let me explain the situation that led to this quote being stuck in my head. As most of you probably know, Iíve been dealing with a torn tendon in my knee that has been causing me pain. At the beginning of March I saw my physiotherapist who decided I should go back to my specialist as I had slipped on the ice and had swelling but virtually no pain. So, I made the appointment and Thursday I saw the specialist.
All last week I prayed about the appointment, asking God for resolution. I did not ask for healing, whether medical or miraculous, I only asked for resolution. I was tired of living my life unsure what my knee could handle the next day, unable to go hiking with friends, unable to walk on the sidewalk without worrying that Iíd slip on ice and injury it further, unable to exercise without seeming to cause more pain, unable to take some of my courses because I couldnít handle the knee stress of the practicum portion, and unsure if Iíd be able to finish my degree because I couldnít do my necessary practicums. I was ready for the entire ordeal to be over, whether that meant surgery or something else.
I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to be seen within 10 minutes (almost unheard of in Alberta!). My appointment lasted a whole 10 minutes more than that. Basically, I was told I could have surgery to tack my kneecap into place (which guarantees me arthritis in my 30s), or continue as I have been with the injury. He told me that I have lost most of the pain sensors in my knee from repeatedly injuring it (mostly before I had my diagnosis and only had some pain). So I have swelling, but no pain even though nothing has been further injured. He was also able to dislocate my knee with his fingers and without me noticing. When I told him I didnít want the surgery for a number of reasons, he told me I can return at anytime and he will get me surgery.
I left his office knowing that my knee is probably permanently injured. I have little to no hope of it healing, all I can do is strengthen muscles around it to try and reduce the chance of injury and swelling. Having worked in the field of disabilities and gone to school for 4 years about it I have learned the stages of grieving and expected myself to go through them at the news. I found myself skipping all the emotions and going straight to acceptance. It was on my way home that this quote came to mind and stuck.
Iíve now had a few days to think about the implications and my attitude. I am probably permanently disabled as the injury itself cannot be healed, however I can still live a full life. I have settled on some realistic goals for myself including actually losing the excess weight instead of just not adding to it (which has been the reality of my situation for months now), hiking again in a couple years and finishing my degree despite my injury. I have also set some extreme goals that I have told to a couple family members who I know will support me but will not go beyond them until I know I can get the support (through specialty knee braces) to accomplish them first. I have been in the field of disabilities long enough to know that nothing is a limitation unless you make it one. I refuse to make this a limitation for me. It is a hurdle on the track of life in front of me, one that may be more difficult to jump over but that I will overcome and continue to run full-tilt for the finish line that God has set before me.
I have talked to a few people about the results, many family members and friends were praying for me and were informed within a couple days, and their comments always surprise me. My aunt has two children with severe mental delays and her only question was if I am okay with everything. I told her, and will continue to tell others that I am ecstatic about the results of this appointment. I know that too many of you that may seem strange. Really, who wants to be permanently disabled at 22? However, there are many reasons to be joyful. I have resolution; I know where I stand, how much I can and canít do, what I need to work on to minimize the overall effects on my life, and I am learning and have learned many ways to adapt my lifestyle so that I can still participate in activities without causing damage. I also know that through this experience my trust and faith in God and His unending faithfulness has grown. I would not give up the changes in my relationship with God for anything, not even to be ďnormalĒ! I also know that this has become part of my testimony and witness as a Christian. I believe that the 2 years of pain and appointments has led to my trusting God that this will work out, and therefore the acceptance I have felt since Thursday afternoon. Without God, my attitude would not be as cheerful as it currently is.
For now, I start a real exercise regimen and focus on losing my extra weight as well as strength training, with a positive attitude knowing it will all work out in the end.
I need to remind myself everyday that ďAttitudes are contagious. Is [mine] worth catching?Ē and I encourage you to ask yourself that as you live each day of your life. Itís my choice, one that impacts everyone I come in contact with. What will I choose?
Monday, October 11, 2010
I stepped on the scale this morning and looked at it with relief and some disappointment. Yesterday my family celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. We had the traditional meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry amd a traditional family salad (which is NOT healthy at all). So, it was with some trepidation that I stepped on my scale this morning, trying to assess the damage I had done. I was relieved to discover that I only put on 0.3 pounds yesterday, which is huge since until last year I had gained weight at every holiday. But there was also disappointment. Since I've earnestly begun my quest to get healthy and lose weight in July I've lostonly a little over 3 pounds. I know that some of it comes from a very busy schedule with school and work that can make it difficult to find time to do more than 20-30 minutes of cardio. Unfortunately, full-time classes and three part-time jobs (two with only one shift a week) does not leave much time after homework is done. However, I haven't gained anything and have lost about 0.5 pounds since school started. I felt for a little that my efforts this summer to really get active and workout had been wasted. I'd been eating healthy as well, but haven't lost the pounds. Then I realized that my clothes are looser, and I've gone down about 1/2 a size in my jeans. So, out came the tape measure. Turns out, although the scale's not moving the inches are coming off. In a little over three months I have lost 9.5 inches all over my body! Wow! Talk about attitude turn around. I think this experience has helped me to lose my focus on what the scale says and instead on what my body is tellling me.
This also excites me as I will be a bridesmaid in a strapless dress in December. Even now, I'm more comfortable being part of the bridal party and knowing that people will be looking at me. I also know that I'll have more energy that day and that my knee won't bother me as much since I'm gaining strength in it while losing the inches. I'm actually excited to see how the dress looks after all of the fittings are done. Praise the Lord!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Iíve been home for a few days now from a visit to Grace Childrenís Home (GCH), a place that is a second home to me. GCH is a home in Tijuana, Mexico for children that have either been removed from their parentsí care or are orphans or abandoned. I spent two months there in 2009 and have been back twice now, once in May 2010 and again last week. This time I had the opportunity to bring my sister with me and introduce her to the girl that she sponsors. It was definitely a highlight of my trip.
Despite the anticipation I felt, I was also worried about maintaining my weight and my knee. My asthma was also a worry, although a minor one. I knew that at Grace I would be tempted with lots of yummy food (I love Mexican cooking), however Mexican food is not low-fat or overly healthy. A common breakfast down there is tortillas or bread with beans and cheese. Not exactly my idea of a good breakfast (especially since I find that carbs make me sick in the morning). However, thereís lots of cheap fruit in the market, and I love to wander the market and practice my Spanish. Through watching my portions this time and making sure that I got enough fruits and veggies (which can be difficult as they are considered expensive and therefore looked at as dessert for the most part. The extra exercise I got chasing and playing with the kids, as well as walking on the beach or around the neighbourhood with the older girls, replaced most of my workout regimen that I normally follow, although I took everything I needed to continue doing my physio. Through this I managed not to put on weight for the first vacation in many years!
Praise the Lord my knee did not bother me either. One day I was asked if Iíd like to go for a walk with some of the kids and one of the house moms. I said yes without asking how long/far or where. Not so smart. At about 5 miles my asthma decided to flare up. As it is exercised induced it did not like the exercise I was getting, nor did it like the dusty air apparently. Thankfully the Spanish word for asthma is almost the same as the English word. I walked the last mile home, got my medication, and after 30 minutes my asthma calmed down and did not cause me any more problems. Shockingly, my knee did not cause me any problems that day or the next (when I returned home). I have not walked that far in the last year because of my knee. However, the days since then have been filled with pain. Itís been all I can do to get through my daily physio exercises, cardio has been out of the question. Maybe tonight after work Iíll get 10 minutes of cardio in.
All-in-all the trip was great. Despite everything I got to spend lots of time enjoying playing with the kids. One of the girls down there is five and my special buddy. She pretty much attached herself to me for the week, taking every opportunity to sit on my lap and get hugs. I love it! I have missed snuggling with her during staff Bible study or a movie. I also had the chance to help an American team to introduce her and the other kids to Símores. I was good, I only had one and Iím sure I wore it off within ten minutes as I chased the five year old up and down the play yard.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I've been overweight since I became a teenager. I've found I'm most comfortable with a book in one hand and chocolate in the other, or in the last couple years, a book on the bed with my knitting in my hands :). I'm introverted by nature and can go weeks without human contact if I have my books (and if my parents didn't remind me that it was Sunday, which has always meant going to church, and has always been a highlight of my week).
By the time I reached my last year of high school I was 180lbs and 5 foot 7 inches. I've always carried my weight well (to the point where a ski rental guy thought that the scale was broken when he fit me for skis because he couldn't believe I weighed that much). Unfortunately, that made it easy for me to ignore the problem for years. I realized I had a problem when I reached 180lbs. I weighed more than my mother (who doesn't care her extra weight as well so who looked like she should be heavier than me). I managed to maintain my weight through that year, despite going through a really rough time in the fall.
I also maintained 180 through my first year of university, no freshman 15 for me. Unfortunately, that more than caught up to me the next year when I gained 20 lbs from September-July. School was rough that year, and I'm an emotional eater. I starve myself to the point where I'll go an entire day without remembering to eat when I'm studying during exam weeks and then reach for the chocolate when my hunger finally registers. Christmas that year my left knee was injured at work. My doctor told me that it was a ligament injury that would heal itself. A few problems with that: no tests were ordered (not even x-rays to confirm), I should have been in physiotherapy for a ligament injury (according to my uncle - a paramedic), and it wasn't my ligament that was injured. The increased pain in my knee did not encourage me to exercise more than my job required of me (I work with children with special needs). I also spent May and June in a Tijuana orphanage eating fatty (but delicious) Mexican foods. I got home and realized that I had hit 200lbs. I'm not the kind to cry, unless I'm laughing really hard. Instead I looked at that and decided to do something about it.
I increased my exercise and began to eat healthier. I became adept at packing healthy lunches and dinners as I was working two jobs 6 days a week, my average day was 14-16 hours at work (no time to go home and cook between jobs).
In September I began my third year of university. I honestly enjoy school, I like to learn even if I don't always enjoy being tested after. The second week of school the pain in my knee was so intense that I went to a walk-in clinic with the sole purpose of getting some kind of pain meds. I still thank God that He sent me to a doctor who asked questions and then refused to give me a prescription. He got me tests as quickly as possible, I had x-rays the next day and an MRI at the beginning of December (I'm in Alberta and we have universal health care, so it can take longer to get tests done), I also began to wear a knee brace whenever I was awake. I found out just before Christmas that I had torn the tendon in my knee, which proceeded to let my kneecap slide and rub the ligament which was causing the pain. I was sent to a sports specialist who I saw at the end of January. He told me that tendons never fully heal, but that with physiotherapy I could regain full use of my knee by strengthening the muscles around the injury.
February was the beginning of my physio. I have a great therapist who pushes me while encouraging me, and who believes in me. In May I began to fall due to my knee giving out while I was walking. My therapist sent me back to the doctor. I was then informed that it was a symptom of the same problem, but because of it I may not regain full use of my knee. Time will tell, was what I was told.
I was shocked. I have worked with children with disabilities for 9 years, and never dreamed that I may eventually be labelled as permanently disabled. However, that job has also given me to see medical miracles as children and people around me have defied all of the odds. I am a stubborn person, so instead of going through the normal grief cycle associated in school with news like that I decided that nothing was final except God and death. So I turned to God for strength and help.
Since then, I've done two hours of physio a day, and clung to the verse "I can do everything through him who gives me strength". Since September I have lost 10lbs, and am now looking to lose 54 more in order to help my knee heal and for more energy. I am so thankful that my random internet search led me to SparkPeople, and that God has guided me to the right people to help me accept and deal with both my knee and weight.
Leaning on Christ,
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