This is the telling of my surgery story. If you would like to know how I am doing now and how you can pray for me, keep reading. If you love me but you don’t have time for this now, save it for another day.
Many years ago while spending the summer in the Philippines, I was playing on the beach with some friends. My ministry partner, Kathy, was on my back when I tripped. We fell into the sand and laughed hysterically. A couple of days later when I tried to get out of bed I found that I could not get up without excruciating pain. I spent the rest of the day in my room getting ready to return home the next day. I had a lot of luggage and I had no idea how I was going to manage the work it would take to get me and my luggage back to Kentucky. I spent most of that day praying earnestly that God would heal whatever was wrong with me so I could get home the next day. I woke up the next morning and He had done it. I had no pain and I could move freely without consequence. That was my first episode.
Over the years I had minor flare ups that would last a day or so but once I started having children things changed. I struggled sometimes for weeks at a time just to walk around. I started seeing doctors, getting shots and taking various kinds of medications. This went on for about 5 years before things started to go downhill again. Then, about a year ago the pain set in and almost never went away. Sometimes, by the grace of God, I would get one day without excruciating pain and just have dull pain. Those days were few.
A few months ago something changed again and I suddenly I couldn’t walk without dragging my right foot. I was tripping a lot. I couldn’t drive my car. It was so much easier to crawl than to walk so that’s what I started doing. After about 3 days of crawling around my house it occurred to me that this was not going to get any better and I needed some serious help. Before I could arrange to see someone about my problem things changed again. I had a night of crazy muscle spasms and once they subsided I could no longer feel my right leg from the hip down. It was numb through and through and my entire leg hurt like crazy.
Finally I got into see a surgeon that had been highly recommended. He looked at my MRI and told me the obvious, that I had a disc fragment pinching a nerve. He told me to lose some weight and go to physical therapy. I asked him to cut me open and fix me. I had already done the therapy thing and it did help immensely but only for a few months. I had been trying to drop some weight for quite some time but it gets difficult to lose weight when you can’t move very well. He agreed to operate and set me up for surgery the next week.
It was a long week. I could not sleep and I had major anxiety, which I had never in my life experienced. I was afraid I would die in surgery or he would accidentally cut my nerve in half or there would be some other irreversible damage. When the day of the surgery arrived I was ready. I just wanted to get it over with. When I got to the hospital and finally got into preop, I asked for something to calm me down. I was given something through the IV. I don’t know what it was but it was good and I was so thankful to God for the relief it brought.
Going into surgery is a humbling process. You are naked, scared and totally out of control. You are literally placing your life and well-being into someone elses mortal hands. When I was rolled into the OR I was astonished at how many people were there. They all had reassuring looks on their faces. Some of them spoke to me, told me I was going to be fine. Others remained focused on the task at hand. I said a final prayer, got a mask smashed into my face and the lights went out.
My surgery lasted one hour and forty-five minutes. I was in recovery about 4 hours. I don’t remember much about that. I remember waking up and thanking God that I was alive. I remember recognizing the absence of pain in my back and down my leg. I remember itching. I was still very groggy by the time I got to my room. Then my family came in. My parents popped their heads in first and they looked so relieved to see me. They Shane came in with my baby boys. They kept hugging me and kissing me and telling me that they had been praying for the doctor to fix me.
The surgeon came to see me shortly after I got to my room. He asked if I had pain. I told him I was pain-free but still numb. He said not to worry that would go away but it would take a long time. He began to explain what he found once he got into my back. The disc at L5S1 had herniated and ruptured. He had to remove 4 disc fragments, which were not revealed by the MRI, that were pressing my sciatic nerve to the roof of the vertebrae above it. He kept reiterating that it had been tedious and difficult. He told me hid didn’t understand how I had been coping with the kind of pain such damage would have caused.
By the time I had the surgery I had been numb for about 35 days. During that time there was no transfer of communication from my spine down my right leg. The nerve only heals about one millimeter a day. It would take a long time to heal.
I have been back to see him twice since the surgery and am still not released from his care. They would like to see more improvement in my foot and have now suggested that there may be another fragment impinging a nerve. Until yesterday I had experienced no sciatic pain since the surgery. Yesterday I had two minor flashes of pain down the right leg. Today I had one. While I do wish I was further along in the healing process I am so grateful that I am not where I was. I can walk around pain-free. I can play with my kids. I can drive and go to the grocery store. I can do things with and for my family that were not possible prior to the surgery.
I have realized over the past few days that this recovery is more of a marathon than a sprint. I am praying that God provides total healing. I am grateful to God for His provision, for his companionship through this process and for his presence in my life. So if you want to pray for me, please ask God to heal me completely. I have a leg that is partially numb, a foot that is numb and won’t work properly and some toes that won’t move. I am asking God to heal all of this just like he healed so many people in Scripture.