bone-deep gratitude

“If the only prayer you ever said in your whole life was ‘Thank you’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)

Today on Facebook a friend posted in gratitude on the fourth anniversary of his heart and kidney transplant. Definitive proof that miracles happen everyday, to people we know and love.

A smaller miracle happened to me, recently, when I had my first foot surgery. My midfoot was a mess–there are a lot of small bones and cartilage in that area–and so my surgeon had quite a bit of repair work to do, culminating in a fusion stabilized by several plates and screws. Lisfranc fractures are by definition nasty and complicated to fix.

I knew about most of this prior to the surgery, although I didn’t appreciate just how much skill would be needed to fix this mess and how lucky I was to have to surgeon I did.

What I did not realize, however, was that I would receive the following notice in my post-surgery information packet:

Dear Patient:

During your recent surgery, you received a tissue graft from MFT. [Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation] This graft was made from donated tissue (bone, tendon, ligament, or skin), which is now your own. The tissue was donated at the time of the donor’s death. Many donors and their families choose donation so that they and their family member may matter in death as they mattered in life. Today, you are a recipient of this gift.

I am able to walk again only because some thoughtful, generous person and their family chose to donate part of their body after death. It really is that simple: it was a nasty break that couldn’t have been repaired without donor bone chips.

And I love my walks, need my walks. My walks keep me sane. They clear my mind and lift my mood, they keep me connected with nature, with God’s creation. And of course walks are terrific therapy for fibromyalgia.

I’m in the process of writing a thank you letter to the donor family to tell them just how much their gift has affected me. I’m planning to send them some photos me at some of my favorite places to walk: Lake of the Isles, Dorothy Mary Park, The Stone Arch Bridge, Minnehaha Parkway.

I keep looking at my foot and thinking about what a difference a few chips of bone have made.

And I’ve emailed the MFT to let them know that I am interested in being a donor. I’m already an organ donor, but until my surgery, tissue donation had never occurred to me. All of my life I’ve wanted to make a difference…perhaps this is one chance to do so.

If you are interested in becoming a tissue donor, or finding out more about the program, contact the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation at linkinglives@mtf.org or call them toll free at 855-554-LINK (5465).

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fibro frustration

Really, frustration should be listed as one of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. I’m too tired and sore to feel rage, which is what this feeling would morph into if I felt better…although of course my not feeling well is the cause of the frustration, so there you go. Another example of the crazy spirals and cycles this disorder causes. Please excuse me, gentle readers, for giving into the temptation to vent. One of my goals for this blog was to be genuine, which I haven’t been, because I haven’t been honest about my physical or emotional state of health.

I didn’t even write about breaking my foot last October–a break that required two surgeries, thousands of dollars out of pocket, and is still causing me pain. I was stuck in bed for over two months after the break. And all I did was fall in the kitchen! Thanks to the fibro…I have dizzy spells and last summer I actually blacked out a few times. Unfortunately, I was rushing to let the dog in when I fainted this time, and twisted my foot as I fell, which caused a complicated break called a Lisfranc fracture. A fracture which almost always requires surgery. One thing I can say for certain though, is that I have a husband who truly loves me! And a dog who considers it her duty to take care of me whenever I’m sick. Fiona stuck to me like glue the entire eight weeks, while George waited on me hand and foot (excuse the pun).

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Nurse Fiona caring for the patient

I finally got back on my feet–both of them–in January, but I had some extremely painful nerve damage in my second toe. Thankfully, that has gone away, perhaps because my anticonvulsant (gabapentin) that I take to control my seizure disorder also helps with neuralgia (a side benefit to seizures I never considered, but actually the same medication helped when I had ongoing pain from the shingles too). The second surgery, which was March 18, was simple, just to take out one of the metal plates from the first surgery, but that too turned out to be unexpectedly painful and to make life even more interesting, I developed a nasty, painful, blistering rash on my upper foot and ankle, on Good Friday no less. Time for antibiotics.

Well, it’s all over but the pain. The pills took care of the rash, my post-op X-rays looked great, my stitches are out. And I should mention that my surgeon was terrific, skilled and kind, as were all of the nurses, anesthesiologists, etc., involved in my care. My surgeon thinks the residual pain in my foot may be due to fibro; I can tell it’s not bone pain, and he did have to move a lot of tissues and nerves around during the surgery to get the plate removed. So fibro makes sense as a cause.
Damned fibro.

I’m also having a nasty, cruel depression relapse (probably partly tied to the fibro and vice versa…don’t you love it) and trouble with anxiety over finances. Major anxiety. I’m looking at filing for relief from my student loans on the basis of total and permanent disability, which makes me cry every time I think about it. And every time I think about the blood and sweat and tears that went into that master’s degree.

Too tired to write anymore. I’ll finish this tomorrow.

 

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