This is not necessarily a new topic for my blog, but it is weighing heavy on my mind and heart and I feel the need to share, if for no other reason than to pour myself onto the proverbial paper as an escape for my pent up emotions and feelings. I have been feeling incredibly frustrated and angry lately. Not with any person, but with my foot, the chronic pain, and how it has impacted nearly every part of my life. I express myself better through writing and considered this would be a safe place. I feel somewhat unsure in general about sharing my frustration and anger. I have received some blunt criticism on other platforms for sharing the negative feelings that come with my experience. I work very hard to share my truth with as much optimism as possible. Lately, however, and much to my disliking, my feelings and negative attitude have gotten the better of me. In attempts to find my courage to write this, I began searching online for quotes and encouragement about “sharing my story”. I came across a website that said, “Sharing Your Story Is Heart Work.” I immediately connected with that statement because “heARTwork” is what I do. I went on to read this:
“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage.” — Alex Ellehttps://healingbrave.com/blogs/all/quotes-about-sharing-your-story
I don’t know who needs to hear my story but this is my truth and I pray that my truth will find those who need my light, my warmth, and raging courage!
I have a great life! Big picture, I feel I am a well balanced, well adjusted, loving, kind, friendly, and an overall compassionate human being. I love my family, friends, and people in general. I give, a LOT, and have plenty of blessings to count and reasons to smile.
Speaking of BIG, do you know Goliath? Goliath was a giant from scripture that was defeated with a single stone, fired from a sling shot by a young boy named David. Obviously, I’ve never met Goliath, yet he has come into my life in many ways. Over the last 5 years or so, he has been disguised as unrelenting chronic pain and along with that, this recent anger and frustration I feel. I’m not so young, nor am I a sling shot yielding young boy from the Bible, but like David, I do receive strength and courage from God. The Goliath in my life hasn’t been defeated yet, but I know God provides what I need to persevere.
I don’t typically curse and there are a few not-so-nice words I feel like screaming, but I still cannot bring myself to use foul language, it’s just not how I operate. However, I am so angry, frustrated, and exhausted, at my foot and because of the pain. I agreed to and have undergone seven surgeries on my right foot over the course of the past six or seven years, believing each one was the next right thing to do. Five of those took place in Northern Virginia. I truly believe that doctor did all he knew to help correct my problem. But despite what I believed were his best efforts, I was a mystery. I was living in pain and wasn’t getting much, if any relief without prescription pain meds. He is a great doctor, award wining in fact, even if it is a one of a kind award I made for him!
Moving to Florida in late 2018 meant new doctors of course. I was referred to a new foot doctor by my insurance company, and what a fool I was for thinking a referral implies qualified experience of that or any doctor in my network of providers. Hindsight is a great and often bitter teacher as my minimal research and naive trust in the system and that doctor only proved to make things worse.
I had surgery in December of 2018 that was supposedly going to alleviate my pain. A short year later, I was still in pain that seemed to have shifted into high gear and came at me with a vengeance. According to the doctor my bones were fused and healed. With an “I don’t know why you’re still in pain”, a referral to physical therapy and pain management, I felt incredibly discouraged and dismissed. The doctor didn’t have answers and didn’t know what else to do, so of course, by all means, just pass me off to someone else.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
There had been some other things at play during 2019, including physical therapy and pain management. I had an amazing pain relief experience with a trial spinal stimulator that disrupts the pain signals to the brain. The week of relief had me walking pain free and excited to have a permanent implant and get on with life. The permanent implant procedure proved to be difficult. I was in surgery 2 1/2 times longer than planned and was sent home still half sedated! Within a short time frame after the permanent implant procedure, I was no longer getting relief. There were setting changes, equipment adjustments, but still no relief.
Not long after, an X-ray revealed the reason it wasn’t working. The implanted electrodes had moved and were pulled away from their intended location, taking with them the possibility of the much needed pain relief I was so hoping for.
The doctor said I would need another surgery to correct the problem. Why would I put myself through that again when it obviously wasn’t done correctly the first time? The process and time involved with all of it was not something I was willing to endure again. I was told I might want to consider alternative treatment but there was not much more they could do for me. Again, dismissed. The doctor got his money but who really paid the price?
So it’s now heading towards 2020, and at the recommendation of a friend from church, I had started seeing another pain management doctor. I trusted her, not only is she my friend but she works for that doctor and can speak to what a kind and compassionate doctor he is.
I felt this doctor listened to (and heard) all that I has been through and genuinely wanted to help get me some relief. I felt at ease with him, from early on and was so thankful he trusted me enough to act quickly to relieve as much pain as possible while he came up with a long term plan. The doctor had me in several different therapies in attempt to provide pain relief. Then in March, just before the country’s dive into the pandemic and after a significant withdrawal from our bank account, I underwent stem cell therapy. My own cells were harvested from my abdomen, processed, and injected into my foot. I can’t say the stem cell therapy has provided any pain relief but I personally believe it provided a boost in my immune system at very critical time…Covid time. God be with us.
Even with all the therapies and efforts of so many medical (mostly) professionals, my gut instinct told me that something still wasn’t right with my foot, I sought out two other doctors, on my own time, for a second and third opinion. Both were of the opinion that the last foot surgery performed was unnecessary and even though it was done, it was done incorrectly. Two of the three joints involved were NOT healed. I don’t know if the doctor that made such a mess of my foot simply didn’t know what he was doing or just flat out lied to avoid potential ramifications. Either way, the consequences fell on me in the form of a great deal of pain and mobility issues.
The 2nd opinion doctor, while very helpful, quickly moved towards a different type of stimulator. In and of itself, a stimulator may have been a solution, I just didn’t want to live with an external device, battery pack and wires.
My third opinion doctor, in my mind, was my last chance for solutions. Thankfully he was in my network of providers, and came highly recommended. He works in a highly respected and well established facility with a long list of credible doctors and a history of excellence. I got on this doctors calendar and with my first appointment, my confidence was boosted and I finally had a glimmer of hope. Leading up to that appointment I was ready, willing, and on the verge of finding someone who would do an elective amputation. YES, you read that correctly. Unrelenting chronic pain had gotten me to that place. I’ve witnessed amputees that live a more active life than I do. While I understand an amputation comes with its own set of challenges, at this point in my journey I could have been one foot down and a prosthetic away from living the active lifestyle I desire.
The only logical solution, in this doctor’s opinion was corrective surgery. So in early November of last year I had yet another major surgery. Hardware was removed, joints cleaned up, new hardware installed, even had a major nerve severed with the hopes of diminishing the pins and needles pain of neuropathy. I spent just shy of 11 weeks in a cast and on crutches. Fast forward to this past week…I’m in a boot and trying to wean off of crutches. It has been a struggle physically, mentally, and emotionally. Due to some fairly intense, weight bearing pain and lots of uncertainty, I called the doctor. He expressed no concerns about healing as x-rays just two weeks ago confirmed I am healing well. He did recommend I take it easy for a few days and give my foot a rest. I feel a bit of relief (mentally) and am praying the emotional roller coaster I have been on will find the straight smooth path to an exit. I do my best to have a positive attitude and trust God, even though I don’t see my good Doctor’s long term plan.
There’s a lot to my Goliath story. He has shown up in many ways over the course of my life and for now, my Goliath is my foot. He hasn’t been defeated yet, but through God’s mercy and love, I have discovered my inner “David”. My “David” is the tremendous clarity and spiritual growth that has come with my battle through chronic pain and being forced to slow down. Experience is an incredible teacher, especially with God leading the way. Despite this valley I have been in, I still look up and thank God for every step (and hobble) of my journey. I still hope and pray for complete pain relief. God has certainly shown me the strength only HE provides, through faith, when the way is smooth and especially when a Goliath is looming along my path.
God promises many good things. He doesn’t promise the way will be easy or devoid of struggles, but He does promise eternal life for ALL who follow Him. I don’t know what my future holds but I know who holds my future.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
Is there a “Goliath” in your life? Are you able to see the blessings despite your struggles? Do you trust God to strengthen you and provide for you or are you relying on your own strength? I pray you feel God’s presence and guidance in your daily journey.