ANKLE UPDATE

Good news: the surgery went well and I am on my way to recovery! I am so grateful to all of you who prayed for me, thought of me, visited me, contacted me, sent me cards and flowers. The reality that I have a global community in Christ was so apparent through the diverse amount of support I received during this difficult time. Thank you.

In this post, I’ll fill you in on how the surgery went, what was done and the progress of my recovery; but first, something from those I left behind. Because I had to leave early, my wonderful friends at SPO Texas sent me this adorable video to affirm and encourage me! It lifted my spirits when I needed it most.

As for my surgery, it went as well as it possibly could. If you don’t have time to read all of this, here are the Spark’s Notes. Otherwise, enjoy the lengthy version with all the juicy details!

SPARK’S NOTES:

  • Surgery was successful, but future ankle fusion is still a possible necessity. Continue to pray that it heals according to plan!
  • I now have titanium screws and a plate in my ankle that will stay there always, which forever changes the way I’ll listen to Titanium by David Guetta.
  • After a week of recovery, I have gone from sleeping all day to being a semi-functional human being!
  • Next up: stitches out and switching to a cast on Monday.

My surgeon, Dr. Perez, is incredible. She took great care of me. I was at the hospital all day Monday and most of the day Tuesday last week. The surgery itself took nearly five hours, and as mentioned, it was successful. That being said, there is still a chance that it won’t work, and that I’ll still need to fuse my ankle down the road. The only way to know that, however, is to wait and see. So keep those prayers coming!

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Just before surgery
What they ended up doing was similar to what we expected, with a few additions. First, they had to attach some sort of extender in my heel and above my ankle to make room for them to work. Then, making two large incisions down the top of my ankle and foot on either side, went in–cutting some ligaments to get through–and cleaned out the dead bone. Once in, they realized that the pieces of my talus had begun to heal crooked, which they had to re-break in order to twist back into place. Using bone marrow from my heel, they created a mixture to graft new bone that will hopefully grow to replace what died. To piece together what was left of my viable talus, they put multiple screws and a titanium plate in, which will stay there as long as I live.

Everything went smoothly going in; it was only in recovery that I had a hard time. I woke up in so much pain, and when I opened my eyes, the whole room spun and I felt nauseous. I had to keep them closed for hours. My mom and sister came to visit me before going home, and my dad stayed with me through what would be the longest night I can remember.

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My recovery room at the hospital
I was up every hour to take more pain medicine and other things that my nurse would inject into my IV. Everything is a blur now, but I vaguely remember being exhausted, delirious, in pain and frustrated with my inability to do the littlest things like turn over in my bed. As dawn approached, my nausea finally went away, so I was able to open my eyes for more than a few seconds at a time and eat breakfast and lunch.

The worst part was transferring home in the afternoon. My pain medicine had worn off, but I wasn’t allowed to take more yet. I was moving about for the first time, which made everything sensitive, and every bump in the car sent stabs through my ankle. When we got home and I waited for my next dose to kick in, I remember writhing on my bed in the most pain I’ve ever experienced, sobbing uncontrollably as my little siblings held my hand. It felt like a blade made of fire was cutting off my foot. I also had a couple anxiety attacks, one when I got out of the car and was simply terrified to move, and again later I was terrified to go to sleep by myself. But my family was with me through it all.

The next few days, I slept. I just slept and slept. I’ve never been one to sleep past 10am, so it felt really weird for me to be in bed all day, but I couldn’t help it. I had no energy. My sister would come at the ring of a bell to help me into a wheelchair for bathroom breaks, but that was all.

Then, gradually, I was able to do more. My naps were fewer, and I was able to wheel myself around without help. I reduced my dose of pain meds, and increased my activity. Within a week, I felt like a semi-functioning human being again! Some little victories have been:

  • Taking a shower
  • Changing into non-pijama clothes
  • Eating with the family at the table
  • Sleeping through the night without extra pain meds
  • Going outside
  • Getting through a whole day without a nap
  • Doing my hair
  • Using crutches again

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First time outside, in my beautiful backyard!
I still haven’t been able to leave the house except for my doctor’s appointment, but we’re hoping that I’ll be able to go to Mass with the family this Sunday instead of having the Eucharist brought to me. My appointment on Wednesday left us very hopeful, as well. The sutures look great and there is very little swelling. Next Monday I’ll get my stitches out and switch from a splint to a cast.

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Dr. Perez checking my stitches
Thank you again for walking with me in this journey, and for your continued prayers. Know that you are in mine as well, and I’ve been happy to offer up my pain for various prayer requests. So if you need me to pray for anything specific, let me know. I’ll touch base again soon. Love y’all!

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