The Sadness of Change

2015-03-28 15.56.26I had my left ankle replaced in 2003. It finally wore completely out. Yes, even prosthetic technology wears out.

I was hoping for an update – what they call an arthroplasty revision or a new ankle replacement – but alas, I had too many other problems in what was left of my own ankle area to have another replacement. After 20 years of avoiding an ankle ankle fusion, it happened.

I’ve gotten quite used to these surgical procedures. But I was not prepared for all of the grief! It’s always been slightly under the surface with each major anatomical update, but this one was infused with much more sadness. My gait would permanently change. The kinds of shoe I could wear would permanently change. My activity options would permanently change. It would be a permanent right angle ankle. The only thing left to move would be my toes and a teensy part of my forefoot.

On top of the changes that would take place, the whole procedure was barbaric. The surgeons had to chisel out my ankle replacement hardware which was grown into my own bones. Cadaver bone (I am eternally grateful for those who had that donor sticker on your driver’s license) was ground up and added to bone they took from another leg bone of mine. All those bone chips were added to a special glue concoction to fill in all the empty cavities once the replacement hardware was removed. A very high tech suspension spike was driven into my tibia (main shin bone) through my heel. The bone goop was placed around the spike. Measurements and x-rays and adjustments were made to line everything up. The goal was to have everything aligned so that when I did walk with my special shoe, there would be a fluid rocking movement from my heal through my big toe. Screws were inserted from both sides of my “ankle” to keep everything in place. A boot/cast was the grand finale. Let the healing process begin.

Once the drapes were removed in the operating room, the surgeons knew immediately the alignment was off. I’m missing some key anatomical landmarks (like a patella and patellar tendon) and I have a knee replacement. Plus, I’d had some major reconstruction on my ankle before the ankle replacement. In one of their own words, “They failed to appreciate the complexity of my leg.” They made everything right two days later.

There are no words for the gratitude I have for the expertise and attention to detail and the considerations for my well-being that my ankle team has displayed. I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act because I now have insurance and access to world-class medical care. I have Saint Sam, my supportive family, and so many other holding me in a sacred place.

When Saint Sam and Janet, my sister the nurse (at the same hospital), came to see me, I found myself getting very emotional talking about what was changing. I’ve already adapted and changed about so much in my life, why was this any different? There was nothing life-threatening about any of this, why did I have such sadness?

No doubt I will be exploring and meditating on this. This sadness didn’t just surface because of this surgery. I have some other “grief” that I have been aware of, but reluctant to share.

My Eternal Scheme Daily Word was “Flexibility” the day I came home from the hospital. Here is the prayer I wrote for that focused inspiration was this:

As the tree bends in the storm or the reed is soaked and bent to weave a basket, so may I too be flexible in all that I encounter today. Because I am rooted and grounded in your Divine care, I am able to withstand whatever blows my way. I may sway and I may bend, but I will not be broken or uprooted. Amen.

Make Me an Instrument

Some prayers are universal in nature. The prayer that is ascribed to, but not written by, Saint Francis of Assisi is one of those prayers.

Some prayers are so familiar it’s easy to recite them without giving any thought to the power of their message. Why not take a new look at this familiar prayer and actually meditate on it throughout the day. I suggest putting it where you will see it throughout the day. I have it on my iPhone and iPad for easy access throughout my day. At the end of the day take a few moments to see what difference being mindful of this prayer has made for you.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.

This anonymous prayer can be traced to France around 1912. It was distributed as a prayer for peace during World War I. It’s believed to first be printed in English in the Quaker Friends’ Intelligencer in 1927.