Wednesday, March 30, 2011
“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” 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, I’ve 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 I’d 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 couldn’t handle the knee stress of the practicum portion, and unsure if I’d be able to finish my degree because I couldn’t 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 didn’t 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.
I’ve 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 can’t 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 “normal”! 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 “Attitudes are contagious. Is [mine] worth catching?” and I encourage you to ask yourself that as you live each day of your life. It’s my choice, one that impacts everyone I come in contact with. What will I choose?