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Reflecting on My Life a Year After Life-Changing Surgery

I made it. I may not officially be cleared of all of my doctors’ appointments or know if my bones are completely back together yet (three months ago breaks were still visible), but I made it 365 days with a completely unexpected life change, and that in itself is something to be celebrated.

A year ago, on November 16, 2017, my mom and I loaded up my car at 3:30 in the morning to drive up to the hospital for a tibia and fibula derotation osteotomy where my doctor severed and rotated four of my leg bones, putting them back together with multiple rods and screws so my legs would resemble a “normal” straight alignment. What should have been an hour and a half surgery turned into three hours in pre-op, six-and-a-half hours in surgery, and eight hours in PACU just to find out I was tachycardic. I have at least 12 physical scars (and a few emotional ones as well) that my camera and pants have a great way of hiding at times. I will forever be proud to own both types of scars.

We had the understanding that I would be in the hospital for two days and recover a total of three months at home. At day 365, I can definitely attest to the idea that when I left home on November 16, 2017, I left everything I knew behind. On day eight of my hospital stay, my doctor realized the main way I lived my life independently was by crawling. I got in and out of the shower on my knees. I crawled to the bathroom and lifted myself on the toilet with my arms. I got dressed on the floor. I made my own meals by crawling to the kitchen. I got in bed on my knees. I did anything and everything independently for 20 years on my knees; that’s all I knew. So when my doctor told me I could no longer crawl in fear of reforming my bones in a bad way, and enrolled me in a month long rehab stay to learn about my new life, I thought my entire world came crashing down.

I was forced to drop courses at school halfway through a semester. I lost my scholarship for a period of time. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital away from my brother, stepdad, puppies and Mom’s home cooked meals. I spent quite a few months with a smile put on by “strength” while hiding my anger, and crying at home improvement shows after I just finished saying everything was going to be fine. I was begging for my old life back because I could not yet understand how I was meant to be as successful at a life I knew nothing about.

It took five different physical therapists, a proud doctor, very caring friends and family, and a solid 10 months for me to realize a new start still allows for goals to be met, but harder work often leads to a more successful outcome. I have a while to go still, but a year definitely does a lot and the strength I found is remarkable. Happy life day to all of those who went through a life-changing situation. Your story is important and your future is bright.

Getty image by Amawasri.

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