Friday, May 24, 2013

Patience and Pain

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
John Quincy Adams

Patience has never been one of my virtues. Just ask my husband. Most of the time I want something immediately. A conversation. A result. An answer. In order to get something taken care of quick I will shove it, force it, demand it. Now.

A healthy human being can not function well with impatience. People won't want to be around you. Pushing things (and people) into place breaks them.

Becoming a parent forces you to be patient, or at least face it. First of all, you should model and teach patience to your children. Children are the epitome of impatience. As a singer to my children I made up songs to help them learn certain patience.

"Let's all try to be patient.
Patient is a good way to be.
If I try to be patient
Everyone will want to be with me."

For the last two and a half years I have been a student of patience. The lessons started back in April, 2011. The previous October I began taking water aerobics classes as a way to get fit and healthy. Immediately I saw the benefits of this discipline. Everything was going 'swimmingly' until April. That is when the pain first started. At first I noticed the pain while sleeping. Or trying to sleep. The slightest movement would wake me up from the pain.

Soon walking became impossible without doing so in pain. That meant that walking my dogs each day came to a screeching halt.

In June I lived in constant pain. Sitting, standing, laying down....pain. My doctor at that time increased my Vicodin and began a regiment of cortison shots. These treatments dulled the pain but did not resolve anything. I continued my water aerobics classes and worked through the pain.

By August I was depressed and hopeless. By now even the 10 Vicodin a day did nothing to release me from the pain.

I demanded an MRI from my doctor. She suggested an x-ray. I insisted on an MRI.

My doctor sent me to the fracture clinic to discuss the results of my MRI. I was told that my knee was so bad that I would need a total knee replacement. However, I was too young and overweight. They could offer me a brace that would be fitted at an Orthotics clinic. As this was my only hope I jumped at this solution.

Within three weeks of receiving the brace I was 80% freer of pain and weaned myself from the Vicodin. I asked for physical therapy appointments so I could get ready for a knee replacement once I got older and lighter.

Unhappy with my doctor I began a search through the Kaiser system for someone closer to home and perhaps I could find someone who believed my pain assessment and would be proactive in helping me with my treatments. I found a physician's assistant who could serve as my primary care physician. Once she got to know me she suggested a second opinion on my knee. Terri processed my referral to an orthopedic doctor.

Dr. Rae examined my recent x-rays and looked at my MRI. After explaining to me that my knee was the worst he had ever seen, he also told me that my age would never be a barrier to getting a new one. However, the manufacture would not allow a replacement to be inserted unless I was under a certain BMI. Based on my current weight I only needed to lose 25 pounds.

The biggest barrier to my new knee had been my age and weight. I couldn't do anything to get older faster, and in my mind the weight barrier was big as well. Without seeking clarification I assumed the weight loss would likely be at least 75 pounds, at the time, a huge mountain for me to climb....impossible.

After a brief conversation with Dr. Rae I had renewed hope. The mountain had collapsed.

During the drive home my mind raced with possibilities. Impatience began to creep into my mind. I wanted to lose that 25 pounds immediately. I recognized that starting a drastic diet would be, well, rather silly and I would surely set myself up for failure. By the time I arrived at work I decided that my weight loss quest sould begin after the new year. In the meantime I would step up my exercise routine. Daily bike rides, water aerobics and weight training became my addiction.

Ten days into 2013 I downloaded MyFitnessPal to our iPad. Thus began my strict commitment to calorie counting, which turned into an awareness of what I allowed into my mouth and the importance of exercise. By March 25th I had reached my goal and immediately contacted Dr. Rae's office.

As I spoke with the appointment scheduler impatience snuck it's way into my mind...the first available date with the surgeon I had chosen was April 25, 2013. Hesitantly I accepted it but soon reason smacked impatience out of the way. My first grandchild was due April 7th. An earlier date would cause stress and a potential to reschedule the surgery at a much later date. We all know that babies have their own agenda. Surely he or she would have arrived by that time. The date was actually perfect. Hmmmmm......was somebody at work with me??

Sixteen days after Cyrus was born I had my appointment with Dr. Budge. He determined that I was a candiate for a knee replacement. The official process began.

Along the way there have been some bumps. An earlier post on my blog discusses the birth of my grandson, who by the way is thriving.

If God has had me on this journey to find the true meaning of patience, I wish he would have informed me. My joy and elation in passing the test to be a candidate for knee replacement soon collapsed at the next step in the process....scheduling the surgery date. Several days after my meeting with Dr. Budge I had not yet heard from the scheduler as Dr. Budge indicated. Impatience drove me to email Dr. Budge who affirmed that I should have already heard from the scheduler. He said he would contact her. Three more days went by and nothing. I began making phone calls and leaving messages.

When I finally heard from someone the news dashed all my hope. Looking back now I understand how silly it was to respond as I did. I cried. A new policy had been implemented requiring that before a patient (ha!) could be given a surgery date they needed to have medical and dental clearance. It was more than I could take. I cried. Hard.

As I worked to comply with this new policy, each day brought me closer to achieving their requirements. Before another week would go by I had a surgery date: June 24, 2013. Despite my fear and well laid plans, in spite of my own ideas.....the date is perfect.

Along the way I've learned a valuable lesson about patience. First of all, sometimes you can hurry things along in life and other times you can't. Secondly, a lot of things happen to us because of choices and decisions we have made...or haven't made. Thirdly, we are more impatient when things we have no control over affect our lives, but being rude to those people should not be an option, at least for me. I couldn't live with myself.

Being patient means being pleasant...ultimately realizing that what I do, or how I act has an effect on others.

Pain isn't fun to live with. Over the past three years I have often thought about my father. He had rheumatoid arthritis for most of his adult life and suffered at it's hands more than I can tell you. Yet, when I think of my father I think of the word patient. I'd also add the word joyful. He lived with pain much worse than I but was still patient and joyful.

In 30 days from today I will begin a new life, so to speak. Right now it is important for me to reflect on the lessons learned so I don't pass up the opportunity to grow through the last three years.

Oh, I know that I have not left the valley of pain and impatience. I have done my research. This surgery is going to be painful. The recovery equally so.

While living without pain is a good enough reason to have this surgery, there are other reasons that are more important. First of all, walking the dogs again.

But walking with this litte guy's finger wrapped around mine is the most valuable motivation for me to keep exercising and getting strong so he and I can walk together....and maybe we can take the dogs along. I can hardly wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your strength amidst the pain is admirable. Seeing that your knee replacement surgery is getting closer and closer i can't even imagine your excitement!! I know two ladies who also have had this done and both are so happy they did and recovery was not as bad as they were expecting!
Stay strong and before you know it you'll be strolling down the street with little Cyrus and the dogs :)