Monday, October 29, 2012

There Was This One Time...

....when my doctor told me not to Google CRPS. He was quite adamant. 

So I didn't. And, I told other people now to (or at least not to tell me anything about it) You can read about that day here

I started physical therapy. I went to the pain doctor. I gathered my own information along the way. I read my body. I learned A TON from Jess, but I stayed away from the dreaded Internet.

Until....this one time.... about two weeks ago when I decided that it was alright. I could Google it, and I'd be just fine.

You know what I learned? Doc was right. He was so wise in telling me not to Google it right away. I was already freaked out enough with my diagnosis, and reading about long term care, support groups, and how to talk to your friends and family about chronic pain would have most likely put me over the edge.

I had no idea at the time what I was getting into--and in this particular case, I think that was best. I needed to have a fighting spirit. I needed to be positive. I needed to be encouraged. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. 

So, do I regret Googling CRPS? Nope. It's all about the timing. I feel like I've learned so much at this point, and I understand what's going on in my body so much more, so I was pretty sure that reading something on the internet would not freak me out.

I actually found it quite interesting. I read many different sites. And no, I didn't believe everything I read. I was able to read the information through the eyes of my physical therapist who studied CRPS extensively, my pain doc who just returned from an international convention on CRPS, and of course, through my own eyes and experience.

One thing that popped up on many different sites that I hadn't heard before is that CRPS can change the pattern of nail and hair growth in the affected area.

***Lightbulb***

I had just noticed days before my Google-fest that the hair on my foot had started to grow in the opposite direction. I thought it quite strange at the time, but I figured it was CRPS-related, as most of my strange symptoms are. Strangeness confirmed. No big deal.

However, just last week, the area to the right of my big toenail started to hurt like crazy (more than normal) and turn a lovely shade of red/purple (more than normal). Ingrown toenail? Yup. Joy to the world. 

I went in to see the foot doc this morning--quite nervous I might add--completely unsure of how my foot would react to him "fixing" this little problem.

He "froze" the area--I felt like I had just stuck my foot in Antarctica. He put two extremely long shots into my toe--it stung and bled. He waited a bit and started cutting. Guess what? WACKO nerves were not numb! Another shot. More waiting. Slightly more freak out.

I closed my eyes and talked to him about my weekend. Fortunately it didn't take very long and I was ingrown-toenail-free.

I felt a bit woozy after (typical CRPS reaction), but I made it out to my car and eventually home.



I sat and waited for the numbness to wear off, hoping that the foot wouldn't completely freak out.

About an hour later, I was told to soak it in lukewarm water with Epsom salt. I knew the lukewarm part wasn't happening--this foot can't handle change in temperature--so I used room temp water.



Aaaaaand.....it still freaked! Not surprising considering the trauma it endured earlier in the morning.

Poor little wacko footsy. 

I put it up and stayed away from it. I'm glad to say that it's much calmer now.

I just pray that this "change of nail growth" CRPS crap doesn't lead to another in-grown nail. But, at least I'd know now what to expect. Live and learn, right?


So, now if you're still interested in CRPS and you'd like to Google it, I give you my permission. :) Just don't believe everything you read--feel free to ask me whatever you'd like.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Red Ribbon Week

Last week we celebrated Red Ribbon Week at school. I dressed up every day--because it's awesome. Monday was lame (Hawaiian day), so I have no pictures to share, but enjoy the rest of the ridiculousness!

Tuesday: RED day. I made a bleach pen red t-shirt with anti-drug slogans on it (stay off the grass being my favorite). I wore a red tutu, red glittery leggings, red rainbow sandals, and red toe-nail polish. My class even won the spirit award that day. :)



Wednesday: PJ day. BEST EVER! Who wouldn't like wearing their pjs to school?!?


 I had quite a few girls wear footy pajamas that day. 

Thursday: Super Hero day. I just wore a Captain America t-shirt (not very exciting), but Bella looked AWESOME! She's the bestest super hero doggy ever! 



Friday: Neon/80s day. Jess (my physical therapist) helped me make this AMAZING neon tutu. I wore a neon green shirt, neon orange running shorts, the tutu, neon hair clips, and neon toenail polish. I looked like a hot mess of neon (but the kids sure loved it).



 Others were quite jealous of the tutu. :) 


Oh! And Kevin McCarthy came to speak to our students on Friday. And yes, I kept the neon outfit (and tutu) on--even when I went up to shake his hand. :)





And now back to the professional teacher look. Booooring! ;) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The New Normal.


One day last week as I was walking through the office, I distinctly remember thinking—I almost feel normal again. I honestly surprised myself.

What exactly is normal? The way I was before surgery? Before CRPS?

It can’t be…because I’m definitely not there. I had to really stop and think about it for a few days.

I do feel like I’m starting to get my life back again. Hallelujah!  I’m able to walk so much more. I can drive some. I have more freedom.

But, I’m not back to normal as I used to know it.



I suppose I’m just beginning to embrace my new normal.



My new normal is living life with CRPS (at least for now). I praise God that it’s not nearly as debilitating as it once was, but it’s still a large part of my life.  I’m learning how to adjust and accommodate. I’m learning how to read my body—what to do and what not to do. This is becoming my normal.  

I can’t just sit around and wait for it to go away. I can’t put my life on hold because of it. I have to learn to live with it until God decides to take it from me—if He decides to take it from me.

If I’m healed, to God be the glory. If I’m not, to God be the glory.

I know God is sovereign and good—even amongst diseases and disorders, sicknesses and syndromes.

So, with God’s grace and strength, I’ll try to embrace my new normal. I know it won’t always be easy. I know I’ll still have bad days and good ones—bad hours and good ones for that matter—but such is life, right?

So whether it be normal or new normal or not normal, I’ll live it—ever more grateful for the small victories along the way. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stop Human Trafficking.

TWO children are sold into slavery every MINUTE. 

Help stop human trafficking. 

Do yourself a favor and go see Trade of Innocence. Please click HERE for more information about the film and to watch Mira Sorvino discuss modern day slavery on CNN.


Click HERE for more resources on the film more information on human trafficking.

And, click HERE to HELP!

You can watch the movie trailer here. YouTube link here


Yes, the movie is hard to watch. Yes, it will break your heart. 

IT SHOULD.

Don't use that as an excuse to turn a blind eye. Make yourself uncomfortable. These innocent children deserve it. 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


As I watched the movie, I not only saw the beautiful faces of the little Cambodian girls, I saw the faces of the girls I fell in love with in Romania, the girls Children to Love serves in India, and the girls I teach every day. 

Click HERE to read more about Children to Love and how you can be involved! 

Incredible people are working tirelessly around the world to help these children, but with an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide, more has to be done!



Did you know that between 14,500 and 17,500 are trafficked into the USA annually? 




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Progress.


It’s difficult to notice and appreciate progress when it’s slow and in your face.

Take a kid for example. They grow like weeds, but someone that sees that kid everyday may not notice the subtle changes. On the other hand, an aunt or uncle or grandparent who hasn’t seen the kid in a few months is often surprised by how much the child has grown and changed.

Or what about hair? We can’t see or don’t notice our hair growing, but someone who hasn’t seen us in a while may comment about how long it has gotten or how it has changed.

It often seems more difficult to see things right in front of our faces, doesn’t it?

Like…progress.

Confession: Over the last couple of weeks, more often than not, I’ve gotten frustrated rather than encouraged every time someone has commented on how well I’m doing.

I smile and agree and go on my way… But, on the inside, I’m protesting—sure I’m walking better, sure it looks like everything is great, but my foot still turns wacky colors, it still doesn’t have normal feeling, it still makes me hot and sick, wah wah wah!

Ok, Amy, slow down and think about this for a minute.

Yes, those symptoms are still present, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?

I made myself scrol back through the pictures on my phone. Honestly, I was surprisedand it’s my foot! The thing is attached to me!

This is what my foot looked like shortly after I got my cast off:



And this is what it looks like these days...

...in the morning when it's a bit upset...

 ...and at night when it's mad.


But, here is what it normally looks like during the day:

Almost like a real foot!



Like I said before, it’s difficult to notice progress when it’s right in front of your face.

I was so focused on the symptoms with which I still struggle that I couldn’t see the progress that I have made.

How could I forget? Just look at that nasty thing!

My little foot may still turn into a plum on occasion, but it certainly doesn’t look like a deformed eggplant anymore.

And when will these symptoms go away? –a question I ask myself far too often.

Who knows. They may not. But, I remember a point where I honestly couldn’t fathom walking again—and look at me now.

God has brought me this far. He has walked with me and for me. He has been healing me and strengthening me.

Who am I to doubt that He’ll continue?


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good Slappin'

Sometimes we need a good slap up the side of the head. 

Unfortunately, I don't have my brother close by to offer that service anymore, so I have to get my slappin's from other places.

Today (as it often does) that came in the form of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Being the stubborn/busy/distracted/fill-in-the-blank person that I am, I didn't pick up the devotional today until I was about to leave work.

Here is what I read:



Amazing how it always seems to fit perfectly....


I can't tell you how many times I've complained or grumbled to other people--especially before going to God with something. We are sinful and selfish people, and our first reaction is often to grumble or whine or complain. And what good does that really do us? None other than strangle us with self-pity, anger, rage. Hmm...no thanks. 


It's not easy. 

We forget. 

We falter. 


But, God gets it, and He always welcomes us back. He loves us unconditionally. He offers us an out (if you will)--Him! As we run to Him and pour our hearts out to Him, He will fill us with His perspective, thoughts, song, and love. 



For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.
-Jeremiah 31:25


Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world...
-Philippians 2:14-15

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I Was On the News.... Again.


Last night we went to a fundraiser for Relay for Life at Camino Real restaurant on Truxtun. The news team from Eyewitness News acted as hosts and servers and greeters--well, Leyla did most of the serving; the others hung out and helped out. We had an absolute blast getting to chat with them and eat some great food. 


Here we are with Lisa Krch and Leyla Santiago! Love them!

And of course, the news camera was there. Here we are on the news! Thanks for the shout out, Cambi!

video

Thanks for a great night Camino Real and Eyewitness News team!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two Month-iversary-- Looking Back

It's amazing how two months can feel like ages ago and just yesterday at the same time... 

A little over two months ago, I wrote this post about my upcoming foot surgery. I was not looking forward to it at all! Here are a few sentences from that post:

I just have to hold onto the fact that God is in control, and He will carry me through it. He is good all the time.

Little did I know.... :) 

A few days after my surgery--which was quite the success the doc said--I wrote this post after a few rough days. Here are a few sentences from that post:

I'm pretty sure that the worst of this part is over (hopefully). I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm able to better manage the pain and the swelling (and the nausea and the showering and the boredom).

Again, little did I know... 

About a week and a half after my surgery, I wrote this post. I believe this was after the surgery pain was calming down and about or right before the CRPS set in. This was probably the "highest" point of the last couple of months. 

This post was written a few days after school started. CRPS had set in by this point, but I had NO idea... 

And then, THE BOMBSHELL. This post was written on August 29th, four weeks (minus a day) after my surgery. Here are a few lines taken from that post:

I trust that He will carry me through this. I trust that He can work a miracle. 

You just never know. Things can change in a minute. I knew I'd have a long road ahead--I just never imagined it'd take this turn.

So I'll keep letting God drive, even though it's not easy. I have to lean on Him, because I (literally) don't have strength of my own. I'll let him work a miracle and heal me if He wills.

I'll hang on. Pray for me? Thanks. :)


As we rounded into September, I wrote this post about how God had already started to work in mighty ways, this post  about a really rough day, this post featuring my awesome physical therapist, and this post about what God had been teaching me through this process. 

On September 15th (a month and a half after surgery), a breakthrough happened. I began "walking," and things really started to progress with my foot. You can read about that here

It wasn't easy. I was scared. It hurt like crazy. But, God has promised strength, rest, light, grace, help, sympathy, and love. 

Things continued to progress, slowly but surely. I began walking more and more with the help of a walker. You can read about it here (more upbeat) and here (quite discouraged). 

God continued to work. I continued to progress and learn and grow. God humbled me here, showed His amazing grace and love here, and continued His incredible and miraculous healing here

And here we are--two months later. And where do I stand? Anywhere I want--kind of. :)

Physically: I'm walking--on my own and with a cane, depending on the time of day and my pain level. That's huge considering I didn't think I'd be walking even two weeks ago. I'm still in physical therapy three days a week. It still kicks my butt, but I still love it and adore the people there. I still have CRPS, but the effects of it have definitely eased up a bit. I still experience nausea, hot flashes, sweating, and of course, pain, but usually on a much more manageable level than I used to experience. I saw the pain doc yesterday and he was quite pleased with my progress. He said physical therapy was definitely the right thing to do. He added a couple of meds to Lyrica to help with the pain and nerve control. He actually just returned from an international convention on CRPS. As soon as he has gathered and organized all of his new information, he's going to invite all of the CRPies (his words) to the office to meet and discuss it. I'm so interested! I'll let you all know when that goes down. 

Mentally/Emotionally/Spiritually: Today, I feel good, although tired. I'm encouraged with my progress. I know that God has done a huge work in my life and continues to work. Praise the Lord! I'm looking forward to what He'll do throughout the rest of this roller coaster. I have learned a lot, and I know that I'll never be done learning.  But, I'd be lying if I said that I always feel "good." If you've been following this process with me, you know that's not the case. I have bad days or hours or moments. There have been some really dark days and some really encouraging days. I have breakdowns and breakthroughs. 

However, through it all, I have to go back to the words I wrote before my surgery two months ago:

I just have to hold onto the fact that God is in control, and He will carry me through it. He is good all the time.

He is working. He is healing. He is teaching. He is stretching. He is loving. 

And thanks for your continued prayers and encouragement. I couldn't have made it this far without you all. :)