It's been 4 years since my latest blog post...either I have been locked away in a dank dungeon with a few skinny rats as my only friends, or I have just been living this wacky rollercoaster that we are blessed to call life. It's the latter, of course!! And much has definitely been going down. We moved back to Gabriola from Winnipeg Beach in April 2016 and couldn't be happier about it. We left in hopes of finding drier weather to help fight this daily and chronic pain I have. Well, turns out the dry is nicer on my aching body but I cease to live loud and proud as I can't go out to play in -30 degree weather! Yikes! I am thankful for those three years on beautiful Lake Winnipeg though. 4 distinct and most gorgeous seasons to be enjoyed and witnessed. The winter, it was actually my favourite, in terms of photography. An ever changing landscape of white and glassy ice...eye candy all day long! Grateful for all that I saw...I explored so much.
Time still moves along. As has my pain. Unless you live with chronic pain yourself or with someone who suffers with it, you really can not understand what life is like. It is a daily battle of getting out of that bed even though your body is telling you to continue to lie still. My sleep averages about 3-5 hours a night of broken and unsettled rest...I am constantly mentally and physically exhausted. It's just the way it has been for about 14 years now. Who knew that one could literally get used to always being in pain. But, to everything there must be a flip side...and I hope that I have found mine.
So, here is my latest update in this pretty big part of my life...
Can you notice that slight curvature of the spine there? It’s actually a result of what I like to call; a "Medical Science Miracle". Up until I was the age of 24, that slight curve was more like the hook of a J. I had severe scoliosis and pretty much stood up straight like the leaning tower of Pisa. You see, I was born with a few slight differences. One of them affected my left leg, resulting in it being shorter by 6" to the right leg. A few days after I was born, a paediatric ortho surgeon suggested to my already stunned mother, that she should have my wee little "deformed" (the dr's referred to me as unfortunate and deformed in the clinical notes, back in 1974) baby leg amputated. What?! Thanks to my beautiful wise at so young an age mom for seeking a second opinion. My first surgery was on my knee at the ripe young age of 10 years old. My orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Hubert, removed all four of my growth plates to slow the growth of my right leg helping my left leg to grow closer in size. This surgery left the gap at only 2 1/2” by the time I stopped growing at 13 years old. As a teenager I thought it was really cool that I no longer needed to wear a 6“ lift on the bottom of my left shoe. I still needed a lift but it could be mostly hidden inside my left shoe with a little on the outside. Phew. 🙂
The remaining leg length discrepancy left me to continue to suffer from shin splints and back pain, I eventually headed back to my doctor at 22 years old. He referred me to his son, an orthopaedic surgeon also. Once he moved back to Winnipeg at the end of 1997, the young Dr. Hubert said he could help me by shortening my right leg. Shorten my leg?! This, I was greatly astounded by and was ready to have my leg sawn in half to make this happen. And on September 9, 1998, he performed an new and improved femoral shortening surgery on me (I was the first person in MB to have this new procedure done), removing 2 1/4 inches from my right femur through a hole up near my hip. By drilling the inside of my femur out, he was then able to take a circular saw and cut out the 2 1/4" section of bone. With another saw, he sliced this fragment in half, pushing it to the outside of the bone, closing my two sides of femur back together, placed a titanium rod down my femur and screwing it into place through my hip and knee. All I have is two little scars on my right hip...wow! Amazing technology...Medical Science!
I remember the first time standing up, having both my feet flat on the ground and hips at almost the same level...miracle!!! I had to learn how to walk again...that was strange. I had always walked either with a lift on my shoe or being on my tiptoe. And actually, more painful than sawing my leg into two pieces, was teaching the muscles/tendons in the back of my left to actually work as they were meant to. They had never been used in nearly 24 years...ay yi yi that was painful!! But, I now walk with a fairly normal gait and my scoliosis is almost gone. That is awesome and so worth all of the rehab to get me back to happy and free. No leg harness, no cane, just me running free baby!
I never once hesitated on choosing to do that surgery. I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that I wanted to be able to walk properly and never, ever wear a stupid lift on my shoe! ha!
In January 2017, I was faced with another surgery decision to make. But this one was quite a bit different...I was told that I need to have surgery on my one and only beloved shoulder. My only arm...my arm that has been my all and everything. My sidekick that has had my back every single time I announced, "I CAN do it!" I basically have spent my life always wanting to do everything anyone else did, but do it bigger. Like I had something to prove to everyone else. And I did. I also spent most of my life hearing people say, you wouldn't be able to do this Pam... Well, I showed them! And through it all I seemingly ruined my super strength arm...bah! Oh pride, I have felt thy awful and penetrating sting. What is the life lesson there? Do not overdo it, ever. You need not prove yourself or your capabilities to anyone. Do what you want for you because it serves a purpose. It's incredibly important to have self confidence, this is true. But never let that confidence exceed a healthy and humble perspective in life.
My first meeting with my new orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Landells, left me with such high and great hopes for an easy sew up job of a labral tear in my shoulder joint (this is the what causes me the greatest pain...I can feel it tear when I move my arm too much). After seeing so many doctors since 2001 to figure out what is going on with my arm and why I was having troubles, this sew job seemed so easy and I was all for it right away. He gave me hope when I had almost lost it all. Thing was, he needed a new MRI as he was basing this thought on an mri I had in Manitoba in March of 2014. After getting the report back from this latest mri, all of a sudden things became "complicated" and my surgery was now a "challenge". Ugh. I have a couple of things going on in my shoulder congenitally which causes my surgery to be a greater challenge than usual. My shoulder joint already has osteoarthritis making an easy, arthroscopic sew job not so easy. It will exacerbate the arthritis and I will need a full shoulder replacement sooner than later. Hearing the words 'complicated' and 'second surgery sooner than later' absolutely tossed me overboard in a stormy and angry sea. I was filled with such great fear cranking my anxiety up to a level I was unable to handle. I couldn’t even think straight. The thought of my arm never working again or worse never working…well, I just couldn’t compute that thought. I was literally driving myself crazy with fear, self loathe, feelings of anxiety and utter hopelessness. I mean really, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal having surgery on your shoulder. Yet, when you only have the one shoulder attached to one, beautiful and helpful arm...it's scary as heck! It really just threw the biggest curveball into my brain. Simple answer, I wasn’t ready for it. My decision to not move ahead with surgery disappointed some people in my life. They truly believed that it was what I should do for myself if I am suffering so much. For, if I don't do it, my pain must not be so bad. You can't even imagine how that makes your heart sink so deep into the pit of your bowels...so hurtful. Ouch. I know they just wanted the best for me. We really must choose our words so carefully when someone is going through a struggle. The simplest words can cause the most damaging effects when someone is in great inner turmoil. Always be kind and mindful of your words coming out of your mouth. If you don't know what to say...just love. Love on people hard. Love can change everything.
Bottom line, never do something you are not prepared for. EVER.
I’ve gone through many changes over the past 18 months. Research showed me that a vegan diet will help with pain from inflammation. Ok, I stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs...it really DOES help! Hallelujah! I decided to stop hating myself, feeling sorry for myself and wanting to disappear. Instead, I began telling myself that I am a good person who deserves happiness, peace, less pain and a beautiful life. I started wearing a sling anytime I was up and about. It took weight and stress off of my exhausted shoulder and gave me great comfort (I am still getting used to going out in public with it for it attracts many questions, statements and judgements. I am just trying to take care of me). I started going to pilates classes. This helped me with my balance when I was tripping a lot with my arm always slung. It helped me use my body in different ways when I am doing things alleviating stress all over my tight, sore and exhausted body. Right now, in this moment, I am feeling pretty fabulous mentally, emotionally and physically. I have decided to go ahead and have this surgery...whatever surgery it ends up being. Even now, at this point they still don’t know what route they are going to take (sew job or total shoulder replacement). I had a ct scan yesterday morning that will give my newest surgeon the best look at what is going on in my wacky old shoulder joint.
I really am thankful that I waited on making this decision. In the past 18 months, Dr. Landells (who has 30 years experience, worked on olympic athletes at the 1992 Albertville Olympics and is a highly respected shoulder surgeon) has decided to retire from surgery. What!?! Yeah...I was shocked too when he told me. I had based much of my decision to go ahead with surgery on him, his talents, experience and olympic athlete fan base. I had to hold back fear tears when he gave me that info! But he is not leaving me. He is going to be a co-pilot in this surgery. My new surgeon, the pilot, is an incredibly talented and highly recognized doctor who just came back to BC after working alongside some of the top surgeons in the world, in France. (Dr. Saliken...his track record is pretty good from what I garner from ye good ole world wide web.) I mean, how can this not be good news? All because I chose to prepare my mind, body and heart for such a crazy undertaking, I now have a larger, way cool medical support team now looking after me. Two amazing specialists are going to work on my shoulder, doing what is best for ME in the long run. I truly am so happy that I waited! 🙌🏼😆❤️
Fear is definitely one of our own worst enemies. It is us that puts it there. We have to pull those fears out of us and face them. Challenge yourself daily to do things that scare you or make you a little nervous. It will broaden your world and open up parts of you that you never even realized were there. We are all superheroes you know!
I’m so thankful that I have gotten over my fears and pushed through to get to a point where everything seems all right. I don’t know what my future holds in terms of my BFF left arm...whatever happens, it’s going to be ok. 🌟 It’s medical science! They make miracles on a daily basis. 🙌🏼💙
Life is so darn good! It’s so much easier to just be happy and hopeful than living in the shadow of fear and anxiety. Getting to the place where you feel happy, free and at peace with life can be tough. But there is great strength inside all of us to do it. Changes are so important. That’s the first step in finding peace.
Believe in yourself! 😍💪🏼❤️
Wow man… I did not expect to write so much. If you actually got to this point, I commend you for your patience. 😆😘
And I love you for caring enough to read it. So much love… SO MUCH LOVE!! ❤️❤️❤️