Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

I don't have a specific reason for blogging today, other than to write! 😀 The past nine vacation days have been so great! From beautiful Christmas celebrations, to my "graduation" of in-office physical therapy (I'm SO excited to have that expensive habit deleted from my budget!!!), to unlimited time with my favorite people (Greg and our three children!) and endless reading of interesting and inspiring articles and blog posts (I pinned all the good stuff I found!), I feel completely rejuvenated and happy!

One of the happiest things I experienced this Christmas/New Year's week is when my husband surprised me with my biggest Christmas present: a new flat-screen TV for our unfinished laundry room! No, his gift to me didn't signify that I was slacking in my laundry duties (thankfully, he's not that kind of guy!), it's simply been a desire of mine ever since we moved back to Utah, and he was so sweet to make my wish come true! 😊

I had been using our old-school, enormous tube TV and it worked very nicely at helping me not be bored while folding laundry, but it definitely cut into my laundry-folding space—it literally took up about one third of the table. So when we cleared off the table (of all my filing projects) and set up my new TV, I was beyond excited because I had so much extra space! Plus, we used Greg's old computer monitor stand, so it made my view even better(!)—because my folded laundry piles won't get in the way!

After getting my table all set up, I realized that I needed to reconfigure my large wire shelving unit of laundry supplies. Previously, my laundry-folding TV had faced away from my washer/dryer, so I could only listen to it as I was loading the washer/dryer. But because my new flat-screen is so flat (hallelujah!), I positioned it so I can actually see it while folding laundry and loading/unloading my washer/dryer! So yeah, I made sure my wire shelf is nice and open so I can easily see my TV now!

I happily hooked up my old-school DVD/VCR combo and was thrilled that the connection actually worked on my new digital TV! Yay for technology! And yay me! for actually figuring it all out! Ha ha. At first, I was a little concerned it might not work, as it took a few minutes to get everything just right.

Yet I really couldn't believe my good fortune that my eight-year-old, very inexpensive RCA digital antenna (from when TV switched from analog to digital) actually picked up 37 channels(!)—and in our dungeon of a basement, nonetheless! Even though my TV showed it was picking up channels as it scanned, I was trying not to get my hopes up because I didn't want to be disappointed when my TV channels didn't work. Thus, I was near-tears (happy ones, of course!) when my TV channels all worked and the signal was completely and perfectly crisp! Yay yay happy day!

I watched "Gone With the Wind" for quite a while yesterday and loved every minute of it! Then I switched to regular television when I realized that our local PBS station was binge-broadcasting "Downton Abbey"! Can you say, "happy"?! #that'sme!

Needless to say, my laundry is completely caught up—which is a holiday miracle! 😄 I had a major laundry party in my basement yesterday, and I honestly had no desire to leave and go do something else!

Yes, my Gregor gets major Good Husband Points! for his thoughtful gift! Plus, I'll never forget how he totally surprised me on Christmas morning! I had no idea about my TV—which is saying a lot because I usually see everything that goes in or out of our house! Well, it was easier for him to get away with his surprise because he used a gift card he had earned from work—otherwise, I would have seen his purchase on our bank statement. Yep, Greg and I both win because of his sneaky generosity! Ha ha. #thesneakygifter

Another reason I'm so happy today is because I talked with my amazingly awesome 92-year-old Grandpa Charles for 39 minutes this morning! He is just one of my most favorite people on the planet and I'm grateful he took time for me today.

One of the fun tidbits about my paternal grandparents is the fact that they spent a lot of time getting to know each other in their high school journalism class. My Grandpa Charles was an excellent writer and my Grandma Ardis was their class' perfect typist. They were both the best in their class and their teacher's favorite students—I read their yearbook and their journalism teacher wrote as much! I strongly believe their love story needs to be written one day, but I don't know which one of their children/grandchildren/great grandchildren are going to be lucky enough to write it. Even if their actual life stories aren't all written, they inspire me to want to write a historical-fiction love story, for sure! 😊

This morning, I picked my grandpa's brain about journalism and today's crazy media. Grandpa Charles shared some wise words for our overly-editorialized media:
  • Tell it like it is.
  • Don't slant the news toward one side.
  • Stay away from sources with lobbyists trying to influence news production.
  • Realize that we, as individuals, can't change the media—it needs to change from journalists with integrity from inside each organization.
  • Research every news story we are interested in, or want to believe. See if what we believe matches up with what they're reporting.
  • Prophets have predicted the chaos and destruction of our day. We shouldn't be surprised it's here. We need to stay strong, despite what's going on in the world.
  • Opinions are okay to have, but people should present them up front as such, and not present them as fact.

Grandpa Charles continued his thoughts on our media today and how it influences us:
  • In the 50s, we didn't have instant access to the news like we do today. We had to wait for the 6:00 news, and even then, we didn't have every bit of information like we do now. Maybe we went along a little ignorant, but we were blissful because we only had our own lives to worry about.
  • We can't save the world, but we can pray for all the people who are suffering.
  • We need to realize that other people's trials are theirs, not ours. We didn't cause their suffering, so we can't let their suffering get us down when we watch or read the news.
  • We're all the result of our heredity and those things that happened in the past. We're not responsible for those things, either. All we can do is try our best to make our lives better [and better the lives of those around us].
  • People nowadays don't understand freedom. You don't understand what freedom really is until you're without it. I went into the Navy and suddenly I didn't have my full freedom anymore because I "belonged" to the government. People today need to understand how good they have it.
  • Our church does an amazing job of helping those in need. We are trying to do our part.
I wrote down a lot of my Grandpa Charles' thoughts today because his perspective is invaluable to me! 😊 He's seen so much in his 92 years on this earth! While he never went to college, Grandpa Charles is extremely intelligent. He's worked hard his entire life, and still maintains more than an acre of his five-acre property in beautiful Idaho all by himself! (The rest of his property is just weeds and rocks, so it doesn't need to be maintained.)

My grandpa is quite the writer, too—he wrote a book of poetry back-in-the-day(!), so I truly value his input when it comes to journalism/media and writing. Plus, Grandpa Charles never stops reading! As a child, I remember he was always reading something—Reader's Digest, other magazines, endless books, and scriptures—in his kitchen's corner-comfy-chair!

Grandpa Charles always has something interesting or funny to say. I can't adequately express how much I love the fact that Grandpa Charles positively contributes to every conversation without being intrusive or demeaning in any way. He basically makes everyone feel loved, valued, and like they are more than worth spending time with! My little family and extended family have been so blessed to have his example and influence in our lives!

Thus, today, it was quite the treat when (3/4 of the way into our conversation) Grandpa Charles said, "Speaking of journalism, you should write a book!" Shocked at his statement, I said, "Really?! What would I write about?!" He said, "I don't know, maybe your thoughts on life? You're just so positive and inspiring, you should write a book and influence other people!"

I about jumped through the phone and hugged my dear Grandpa Charles! He will honestly have no idea how much his words mean to me! I will never forget our happy conversation for as long as I live! 😁

I replied, "Well, Grandpa, I do write a blog—have you ever looked at it before?"—knowing full well that I've emailed him links to my blog posts more than a dozen times! And I included my blog's link in our Christmas newsletter this year! Ha ha. He said, "Nope, I've never seen your blog. I try to say away from that scary computer!" 😂

Could you "die" at how hilarious my Grandpa Charles is?! I explained why I blog, and what I hope to accomplish by doing so. He supportively agreed with my writing efforts and was so happy to hear I'm sharing my thoughts with the world! :) Yay! By the way, is "supportively" even a word? It sounds all right to me, but I couldn't really find a standard definition of it online...

After my delightful conversation with Grandpa Charles, I've decided that I'm going to print off one of my blog posts ("My Pioneer Sacrament Meeting Talk"—because it includes portions of our family history) and mail it to him! If he likes it, I'll print off and mail another post every-so-often for his reading enjoyment! I'm only slightly concerned that Grandpa Charles will be bothered by all of my typos/grammatical errors, but I'll survive because he's so awesome! 😇

The other huge bit of good news that I've been sailing on since December 19th is that Greg had a perfect colonoscopy! We'd both been more than worried because Greg's extended family has colon polyps in their genetics—on both his maternal and paternal lines. Not to mention, one of our family tragedies is that his mom, Anne, died from colon cancer at age 65. I was genuinely concerned that Greg would not only have multiple polyps, but that said polyps could be pre-cancerous, or even cancerous. I shudder to revisit my worries about Greg's colonoscopy!

So it was truly the best Christmas gift we could have received when Greg's procedure concluded without a flaw! His doctor gave us photos of Greg's colon and it was completely clear! In fact, Greg's colon looks better than anything I've ever seen online—and I've seen a lot of colons because I sadly researched colon cancer for five years while Anne was suffering from it. So when I say, "Greg literally has THE PERFECT COLON!" I really mean it! Ha ha.

It's become quite the joke when I greet Greg with, "How does it feel to be the man with the perfect colon?!" or "I hope my colon is as perfect as yours when I have my colonoscopy!" And sometimes I shout, "Greg has the perfect colon!" or I tickle him and say, "Ahh! Your colon is so perfect!" I could go on, but I'll spare you. 😉

The part of Greg's colonoscopy—and all that went with it—I won't ever forget is what happened right before we left for the hospital. I'd been praying for days about his procedure (there can be significant side effects), and wanted to sneak in one more prayer. After I finished my prayer, the Holy Ghost told me, "Greg will be completely fine. There will be no polyps. There will be no cancer. You have absolutely nothing to worry about."

In that moment, I was shocked at what had been revealed to me—but I believed it because I felt such utter peace and comfort accompanying my spiritual experience. I knew that my inspiration had come from the Holy Ghost because I had been nervous all week, and there's no way I could suddenly become completely peaceful all by myself—especially when I had been so worried for so long.

I found it interesting that the Spirit didn't say anything to me about the colonoscopy procedure itself—and the possibility of the doctor nicking his colon, as they describe in their warning literature. But logically speaking, if there aren't any polyps or cancer to be found in Greg's colon, there wouldn't be a need for any nipping/cutting in the first place! 😀 So it makes perfect sense that the Holy Ghost wouldn't say anything specific about Greg's procedure! Right?!

Having those wonderful, peaceful thoughts pop suddenly into my mind made me excited and happy because I knew they were not my own thoughts. Besides, if I had come up with thoughts about Greg's colonoscopy on my own, I would have thought for sure that he would have had polyps, or the early stages of diverticulitis—as his brother had trouble with that condition in the past.

The greatest part was being able to go with Greg to his colonoscopy without fear. I was calm and it was so easy(!) for me to wait for Greg to return from his procedure. I wasn't a nervous wreck and my waiting time passed very quickly! I give complete props to the Holy Ghost for preparing me in the perfect way—nothing could have calmed me down like He did! :)

Yes, I love the spiritual experiences I'm given by our Heavenly Father. The marvelous, heavenly gift of the Holy Ghost is one I've never taken for granted and will cherish forever! The Comforter truly is evidence of our Heavenly Father's and Savior's love for us. They want us to know we are not alone in our life journeys, and the Holy Ghost perfectly testifies of that glorious fact with His endless presence in our lives! And, as Moroni 10:5 states, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." I 100% believe that scripture because my experience with Greg's colonoscopy was precisely that!

Here's a photo from my extended family's Christmas celebration—two days before Greg's colonoscopy. I wanted to document our happy Christmas in the event he received not-great news that next Monday. Thank goodness we're still smiling...because everything is awesome! 😀


Well, my time is up for today, I need to go be a productive mama again. But I've greatly enjoyed my blogging time and I can't wait to come back again soon! Happy New Year to you and yours! 🎉🎇🎊

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Family-Focused Family Home Evening

For my family's family home evening this past Monday night, I chose two of BYUTV's amazing Turning Point episodes for us to watch: San Pasqual Academy and The Clarks.

After watching those two inspiring videos on my own, I felt so strongly that my children absolutely needed to learn life lessons from those sweet children in California's foster care system, and especially from the wonderful Clark family. And I knew that our family home evening was the perfect opportunity for us to learn together! 😊

While those Turning Point episodes show the immense value of solid/good personal relationships, they especially point out the vast importance of families—which begin from having good parents (and grandparents, whenever possible)!

When my family finished watching San Pasqual Academy and The Clarks, Greg and I had a fairly long conversation with our children about life.

Greg and I reminded our children how incredibly blessed we are to have each other in our very own eternal family! We already have everything those darling foster-care children were seeking and desired so deeply within their lonely, lost souls. No one can ever put a price on the earthly and eternal bond my family has!

We pointed out that San Diego County finally realized—after interviewing many foster-care children—just how invaluable the basic family structure is—including mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, etc. I wanted our children to internalize that those elected officials in California thought it important enough to recreate traditional families for many foster-care children who had lost all hope.

Greg and I helped our "babies" understand that if children are going to be successful, they always need good mothers and fathers in their lives that possess consistent and correct parenting skills!

We also discussed how the amazing Clark parents taught through their example that selflessness, pure love and endless dedication is needed in raising children well. Those same vital principles also apply to children contributing to the happiness of their families. The 21 loving, responsible, kind and cooperative Clark children were a sight to behold! And I've already hoisted Mary Beth and Scott Clark (the amazing parents) on a pretty sizable pedestal! 😉

Greg and I have talked with our children umpteen times about the great importance of parents having a good marriage, but we pointed it out again because we can never undervalue the fact that a solid, loving marriage is what keeps every family going in the right direction!

Our children understand that while no one is perfect, all of us can try to improve ourselves daily! And after watching those two lovely Turning Point videos, I dearly hope my darlings further internalized that family members really can help each other be happy and become better people!

Gratitude was also a big focus of our night. Greg and I really wanted our children (and us!) to remember to be sooo grateful for our lives and the opportunities we've been given! But we also wanted them to realize that even if people don't have the best upbringing, they can still make good choices and live productive, happy lives!

Most importantly, Greg and I helped our children see that each of us can make a very positive impact in this world! Even though we may feel like our lives are small, or they don't matter much, that's most definitely not the case! Every child, sibling and parent can make a difference in someone else's life—even if it's just our own life for a little while! Yes, sometimes we need to work on ourselves before we can branch out and help someone else. But I believe the ultimate goal of this life is for everyone to be happy and to love and serve others to the very best of our abilities—just like Jesus Christ did. 😊

As you may have guessed, our children weren't too thrilled with Greg and I taking away so much time from their Monday night of technology fun. Yes, my babies were very verbal about their unhappiness with our family home evening decision 😒. Yet I did not care how bothered they were because our FHE was worth every single one of those little frustrations! 😊

I love that I accomplished my goal of carving out our essential family togetherness time—especially when I knew it was going to be a battle to have such a l-o-n-g (in their eyes) family home evening. Yet despite my darlings' complaints, I know our family-focused family home evening bonded us and will be remembered for even longer—and that's what really matters!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are the wonderful Turning Point episodes—complete with beautiful, uplifting music(!)—that taught my children so much! *FYI, you can turn off the closed captioning by clicking on the "cc" sign and clicking the "on" to "off."

San Pasqual Academy:



The Clarks:



P.S. Please feel free to use this FHE lesson idea and pass it along to others! I know it will impact your family for the better! 😀 Plus, I'd love the entire world to fully internalize just how important good parenting is! Let's spread the word that there is nothing better than having dedicated, Paramount Parents!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

I Love Dresses and Skirts!

If you've ever looked at my public Instagram account, you already know how much I love dressing up—especially in modest dresses and skirts! Yet modest fashion hasn't always been what it is now.

I remember when I was a teenager, it was difficult to find modest dresses and skirts that were also cute and stylish. Thankfully, our modest fashion world has improved dramatically, and I'm ridiculously happy about that fact! :)

The fashion industry, in general, has become so much more open to every type of style, so people don't stick out like a sore thumb anymore if they wear modest clothing. I'm so grateful to all of those wonderfully artistic clothing designers who imagine such beautiful and modest pieces for women of all ages!

Obviously, I love wearing dresses and skirts to church and special occasions the most! But I definitely don't need a special occasion to wear my dressy-best! I try to wear my lovely dresses and skirts as often as possible. :)

Yet sometimes in my daily stay-at-home-mom life, dresses and skirts aren't always the easiest choice for all the housework, organizing and running around that I do. There are many days when only skinny jeans or stretchy exercise pants will do! :)

The only problem with modest fashion I've run into is not having enough money to purchase all of the amazing clothing I love! Ha ha. :)

But in all seriousness, there is one teeny little problem with modest-dress fashion that exists within my beloved church's social structure: judging. Because my church has scripture verses that include thoughts about not "being lifted up in pride" and not "wearing costly apparel"—i.e., we're not being as humble as we could and should—some people find it their unfortunate business to judge what others choose to wear to church.

It's interesting because, over my 19+ years of marriage, and my family's many moves (11), I've seen two ways that Church members view church clothing: 1. The nicer and fancier the better, in order to show ultimate respect for the Lord when going to church. They believe we should wear our very best clothing for Him. In other words, we wear our best clothing when we go to the best places. (I fall into this category.) 2. We shouldn't wear costly (i.e., fancy/high-fashion) apparel because we're not being truly humble enough if we do so. We should put our extra money to better use by helping others. There might be other ideas about church clothing, but those are the two veins of thought I'll be focusing on for this post.

In regard to those different ways of fashion thinking, I've come up with the following:
  • We shouldn't spend more money than we can absolutely afford for appropriate church clothing.
  • It's most definitely not our business to judge what anyone else wears to church, or how much it cost.
  • The term "costly apparel" can mean something totally different to different people with different budgets. One woman's $40 dress is another woman's $400 is another woman's $4,000 dress.
  • I love the idea of showing respect for our Heavenly Father, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our congregation by wearing our very best clothing to church and the temple.
  • We honor the bodies we've been given (by our Heavenly Father) by dressing well and taking good care of ourselves—physically, mentally and spiritually.
  • We create a world of loveliness and possibly inspire others when we dress up. That idea might sound absurd to some, but I believe everyone honestly appreciates beauty! :) And I love remembering how classy everyone looked and acted back in the old days—before the 1960s came along. *By the way, I found a most-interesting article about how our clothing style as a society has changed. "Why and When Did Americans Begin To Dress So Casually?" is a great read!
  • When we dress well, we subconsciously want to behave better. That might sound too basic to some people, but I believe it's true.
  • Clothing shouldn't be the main focus of our church-going experiences. You might laugh at that, but I've seen a few women more interested in their fellow ward members' latest fashion statements than the sacrament.
  • We can positively contribute to our economy by buying nice clothing—for church, or otherwise. Think of all the people who share and strengthen their talents by creating beautiful clothing! Think of all the families we support when we buy their amazing clothing creations! :)
  • We can donate older clothing to charity that we don't wear anymore. This helpful habit benefits both the giver (less stuff) and receiver (beautifully clothed)! :)
  • Dressing nicely isn't bragging, even though some people view it that way. Many people genuinely want to look their best for church—it has nothing to do with showing-off or being prideful.
  • It's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed! :)
As you can tell, I feel strongly that dressing our best makes such a positive statement and can only benefit us! :)

Finally, here are my favorite fabulous quotes I found about dressing well. I wholeheartedly agree with and love them all! :)

"Looking good isn't self-importance, it's self-respect."
– Charles Hix

"Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered."
– Giorgio Armani

"If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you do good." – Georges St-Pierre

"People will stare. Make it worth their while."
– Harry Winston

"You can never be overdressed or overeducated."
– Oscar Wilde

Stay tuned for my modest fashion companies reviews—photos included! I can't wait to share!! 😊

P.S. As you can see from my previous sentence, I just realized that Blogger added "insert special characters" to its functionality! I'm so excited for smiley-face emojis! 😍


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thank you, Pinterest!

Lately, I've been pinning a lot of links to Pinterest. As you can probably tell, I love researching everything my brain desires to discover. :) Interestingly, I'm pretty sure I don't use Pinterest in the way the creators intended. I don't use it as a social media tool to continuously keep up with my friends and family. In fact, I don't usually look at what others are pinning, I just really enjoy pinning everything I've researched, or find uplifting! :)

I really like what Pinterest has to offer in terms of organization, clarity and beauty. Yes, I have my handy-dandy bookmarks bar on my computer and smartphone, but they're sort of boring to look at. :) Plus, my smartphone bookmarks aren't organized in any way—my bookmarks page just shows the most recent link listed, at the bottom of the list. Thankfully, my PC has organized bookmarks—so that helps me easily find what I'm looking for, but Pinterest wins—hands down—for their way of organizing and presenting links! :)

Whenever I go to my personal Pinterest page, I am greeted by pictures of my favorite things I've ever read, researched, listened to, or watched! I might have missed a few links over the years, but when I do remember, I find and pin them right away! My Pinterest page is truly one of my happiest places to visit on the internet! :) I love the colors, pictures and words that my Pinterest page presents. I also really love knowing that someone, somewhere might possibly find something that I've pinned to be interesting or helpful! I greatly enjoy sharing my likes, loves and helps with our grand universe! :)

Another reason Pinterest is so choice is because you can tell a lot about a person from their Pinterest boards. Granted, I fully get that people might just be posting their hopes and dreams for the future. Maybe people are putting only their best face forward and don't openly share their deepest-darkest secrets on Pinterest. Yet I still think it's a good place to start trying to understand someone—based on the types of links they pin. :)

And how many times have we Googled something and found exactly what we were looking for on Pinterest?! I love seeing a great deal of our world's resources available in one organized, beautiful place on the www! :)

So, dear Pinterest, thank you! Thank you for helping all kinds of people find wonderful and uplifting ideas! I love visiting the space you've allowed me to create of my favorite files in my life of knowledge and inspiration! I hope you never go away, or I will be very sad indeed!

P.S. I'm trying to get back in the habit of blogging more frequently. I've missed blogging so much these past couple of years! It might take me a while to get a hold of my Blogger reins again, but I'm trying! :) 

Friday, November 11, 2016

I Love Physical Therapy!

(This is my sixth post in My Fankle Journey.)

This past month+ has been filled with many things that have kept me busy, but the newest addition to my life is physical therapy. Five days after I met with my podiatrist for my last appointment, I was scheduled to meet with my new physical therapist—on October 11th. Being that I'd never been to physical therapy before, I was nervous. Even though I had no idea what exercises I would be given, I totally worried about how much my ankle would hurt.

After my first meeting with my physical therapist, I was pretty hopeful! :) We talked about everything related to my injury and recovery—up to that point. I was so pleased to learn of his years of experience—he really knows his stuff! Although, that sounds so silly to say because any licensed physical therapist must go through a lot of university schooling/training—they can't get a degree otherwise. (Check out the University of Utah's physical therapy program: PTAT Doctor of Physical Therapy.) I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at his level of expertise, but I was. So let me rephrase that: I was pleasantly surprised with my physical therapist's extensive knowledge—it gave me hope!

Another thing I appreciate about my physical therapist is the fact that he's an athlete. Thus, he totally gets how important it is for me to become as active again as I possibly can. Knowing he totally understands my desire for being physically fit makes me very happy! That said, I've done my research and sadly discovered that a true, full, complete recovery—returning 100% to the same level of activity I was before my injury—just might not be possible. :(

You see, the possibility of re-injuring my posterior tibial tendon is something I'll have to be careful of for the rest of my life. I'm also very aware of the fact that once a person badly sprains their ankle (like I have), it's highly possible for them to sprain it badly again. Both of those injuries—a sprained ankle and torn tendon—come much easier the second time around. So, yeah, I think my carefree "My body can do any athletic movement I wish!" days are over. :'( I'm still trying to come to terms with that idea. If I sit and really think about it, I lose my breath and want to cry.

All of that said, I'm incredibly hopeful and very prayerful that my body will repair itself to the very best of its ability!

When I think of the steps I've taken to ensure a complete and strong healing of my posterior tibial tendon, well, I absolutely know I've done everything I possibly could. And I will continue to do exactly what I'm prescribed by "my" medical professionals. Thus, if anything goes wrong with my posterior tibial tendon in the future, no one will be able to say that it was my fault because of something I did or didn't do. I have absolute confidence that I've done everything right—as prescribed by my podiatrist, physical therapist, and the "They" of Internetland! Ha ha.

So, I have to put those I won't be able to be as active as I want fears in a box in the back of my mind and have faith that my life will still be as wonderful as it always has been—even if I can't jump endlessly on a trampoline with my three darling children, and my extended family members...

I'm not exaggerating when I say that a trampoline-park employee once admiringly told me I was the most talented and fun parent he'd ever seen at the trampoline park! :) At the time, I so appreciated his words(!), but didn't think much of them five minutes later. Yet now...oh, what I wouldn't give to be able to do my famous, endless toe-touches and run like lightning from one end of the trampoline park to the other! If you don't believe me, my mom has me on video. :)

I won't bore you with all the details of my physical therapy exercises, but I will say:

Physical therapy is a marvelous tool for every human! It gives me at least an hour-and-a-half—sometimes two hours—twice a week (in the physical therapist's office) where I focus on only me! While I'm usually exhausted later that day, and I frequently experience pain (probably a 3–5 on the pain scale) during my more intense PT exercises, physical therapy is so good for me!

I also have a routine of nine physical therapy exercises that I must perform at home every day. I have to complete two sets of those nine exercises, twice a day. While my physical therapy at home and in the PT's office is time consuming, it's totally worth every minute!

I can absolutely feel and see a difference in my calf, thigh, buttock muscle strength, and especially in my ankle mobility! Granted, my ankle isn't as flexible as it once was, but I'm getting there! :) My posterior tibial tendon is still very tight where it attaches to the muscle—actually, my posterior tibial muscle is crazy-tight overall—but it's getting better every week. I just have to stay active, or else it gets worse, and I hate that!

I also love the fact that the physical therapist and his assistants are always willing to chat with me. I can talk a lot, so I'm guessing there are times when they're thinking, "When will Adrie ever stop jabbering?!" but they are always so kind to me. :)

The other physical therapy patients are also a benefit—I've met many interesting people! It's quite helpful for us to talk with each other and share our physical therapy stories. There's such a benefit to hearing someone else's experience with healing time-frames, and sharing the struggles of trying to improve our weakened physical conditions.

A woman I met in one of my earlier physical therapy sessions left an impact on me. She was at the PT facility assisting her father. He's struggling mightily with his recovery and it's plain to see she's vital to his healing. As I shared my intense discomfort while on the slant board (to stretch my calves), the woman started a conversation with me. I replied something like, "Never have surgery if you don't have to! It's the worst! Do whatever else you can before having surgery!" She said, "I completely agree!"

I asked her, "Have you had surgery before?" The lovely woman proceeded to tell me, "Yes. I've had lower back surgery, upper back surgery, knee surgery, and six breast cancer surgeries." She continued to share her experiences with her surgeries and I was speechless! But of course I had to respond! ;)

I said, "Oh, no! I'm so sorry!" She said, "It's okay. I'm just tired of dealing with surgeries." I said, "I truly can't imagine what you've gone through...you're a living miracle! I've learned so much from my ankle surgery, I'm trying to remember it all so I never have to have surgery ever again!"

She said, "Well, I wish I would learn what I'm supposed to learn from my surgeries so I can quit having them!" I felt so badly at that point. Yay not me for putting my slanty-feet in my mouth! Yet in that moment, the Spirit testified truth to me, so I said to her, "You know, maybe it's not you who needs to learn from your surgeries. Maybe there are others around you who need to learn from you." I highly doubt my words helped, but I felt (and still feel) strongly that her experiences were/are absolutely helping others around her. She smiled and thoughtfully said, "Hmm...you could be right." Then our conversation ended.

So, yes, speaking with others about life before/after surgery and physical therapy is mighty beneficial to my mental state. There is something truly healing about being able to talk about life with others in a similar situation. I think it's because we all enjoy it when others understand where we're coming from. Isn't it wonderful when we feel truly understood?!

Today, I have another appointment which completes my fifth week of physical therapy! While I can't believe it's been five full weeks(!), sometimes it feels like I will never be done with my expensive habit! Ha ha. I'm so beyond grateful for our health insurance, you have no idea! Granted, I have to pay 20% of my physical therapy bill, so it's still very pricey—think of a gym membership for the elites of our country...of which I'm most definitely not one! But if we didn't have health insurance, and I hadn't already met our deductible this year, well, I shudder to think of what would happen to my family's financial state! It would most likely be dismal...

Thus, if you, or anyone close to you, is ever in a situation where they're trying to decide whether or not to go to physical therapy, just do it! :) I love physical therapy and believe it is truly invaluable! Besides, if we don't have our health, it's pretty difficult to fulfill our life missions!



I chose a green background and happy flowers for this typographic design to represent the happy growth I've gained during physical therapy! I wanted to make a couple more changes to it before I saved it, but sadly, PicMonkey was being glitchy today, and I don't have time to start over! :( Thus, my creation stands as-is. But isn't that just like life?! :) We think we'll always be able to make more changes, but sometimes life is what it is, and we must be satisfied with what we've accomplished. Yes, we must always do our very best—to the best of our abilities, but we must also realize that what we are and do is enough! :)

Here's an update of how my posterior-tibial-tendon-surgery recovery is going:

  • I'm currently three months and one week post-op, but, technically, it's been 14 weeks and two days since my surgery.
  • My right leg, a.k.a., chicken leg, is still an inch smaller than my left leg, a.k.a. beef leg.
  • My right leg still feels weak in certain situations, but it's gotten a lot stronger over the past five weeks.
  • I'm able to bend my right ankle in every direction, but some directions are harder and more painful than others.
  • I still have pain in my ankle when I try and stretch/flex my right foot up too far—yet I'm pretty excited with how far I can go now! :) Before I began physical therapy, I wasn't able to flex my foot very far at all!
  • I am definitely making progress, but I still absolutely feel the effects of surgery on a daily basis.
  • My foot is nowhere near completely healed, and that bums me out more than I can say. I just truly had NO idea how extensive, lengthy, and painful my posterior tibial tendon surgery would be.
Finally, if I could give my advice for future PTT surgical/physical-therapy patients, it is:

Be prepared!

You must be able to have all of your physical needs cared for by others (on an as-needed basis) until at least six weeks post-op. Find someone you trust completely to help you during your recovery. Your caregiver must also be someone who can handle what is to come—because the extent of help you'll need is significant.

Mentally, you'll need to utilize all of the positive thinking you can possibly muster! The frustrating fact is, you will have occasional major down days that will blow. your. mind. I was completely caught off guard at the extent of disappointment I've experienced during my recovery. The constant ups and downs in my recovery is one for the history books! I have been forever changed by them.

Physically speaking, many days you'll take two steps forward and one step back. Other days, you'll continually take one small step forward, followed by a few more little steps, and you'll feel pretty good! But other days, you'll take one huge step forward and be sidelined for the next five days (aarrrggg!) because your body is figuring out that it still has a lot of repair work to do!

According to my physical therapist, ups and downs are absolutely typical in recovery after a major surgery. I needed his comforting words because I worried that my new/additional pain and swelling meant I had done something seriously wrong to my ankle that would negatively affect my recovery forever. That might seem like a pretty extreme reaction, but when you've been through what I've been through, you'd understand exactly what I'm feeling and know that it's not an overreaction.

So, posterior tibial tendon surgical patients, you must not get discouraged! I tell myself that all the time! :) You must have and continually keep the perspective that, "I'll be somewhat back to normal one year from the date of my surgery." I know that sounds so depressing(!), but from everything I've researched, it's the truth.

You must keep a prayer in your heart continually for your physical and mental state to be healthy. :) It's very helpful to remember that our marvelous Heavenly Father made your body, and He will help you utilize your body in the ways that are best for you. Yet that's the only thought that gets to me sometimes because I wonder, "Will I get back my full physical abilities that I love so much??? Is there a reason I'm not supposed to have my full ankle mobility and strength???" Those wonderings are hard to deal with, for sure. But I try not to dwell on my worries for very long because they do me absolutely no good—and they won't help any other posterior tibial tendon surgical patient, either!

Thus, when all is said and done, remain faithful, do everything you can to heal your body, and keep a positive attitude even and especially when your recovery looks bleak. :) When all else fails, remember that sleep heals both body and mind! I can't count how many times a good night of sleep or a luxurious nap has been exactly what my soul needed! :)

If any of you have thoughts to add about your physical/mental recovery after surgery, please feel free to contribute your comments! Let's learn from each other's experiences! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fanklebot

(This is my fifth post in My Fankle Journey.)

I decided to write this post using dates so that people who are having (or have had) posterior tibial tendon surgery can see my timeline and get and an idea of what to expect with their recovery. We ankle-tendon-surgery peeps gotta stick together! :)

8/10—two days after my first post-op appointment; one week after surgery (8/03/16):
I was still absolutely using crutches 100% of the time to get anywhere, besides when I took a shower. Then I used my shower chair that Greg bought for me at Walmart. My whole body was sore from the crutches—especially my hands, shoulders and abdominal muscles. Fankle still hurt, but the pain was a little less intense, so I was up and about a lot more that day. I even taught piano lessons for the first time since my surgery! :)

8/11:
Despite being super excited to be more physically active (well, as active as one can be on crutches!), I sadly realized that I did too much the day before because I had new bruising and swelling in Fankle. Thus, I laid down a lot that day and felt pretty bummed out.

8/12:
From Monday, August 8th (after my post-op appointment), through Friday night, August 12th, I worked so hard to get my foot flatly in my boot. You see, my podiatrist said I must get my foot/leg to a 90° angle, or I would risk losing even more of my calf's muscle mass. Working to flatten my foot put me in pain every single day!

There were times when I just didn't think it was possible to get my foot flatly in my boot without washcloths/towels stuffed inside to protect Fankle. Thankfully, my tiring and painful work paid off! By 11:30 p.m. Friday night, I finally pushed my foot flatly into my boot! Yes, I was very close to my podiatrist's deadline, but I made it in time, so it totally counts! Yay me! I don't think it's possible to fully convey what this accomplishment meant to me. Just know that I felt like I ran a marathon and won first place! :)

This is mere moments after I pushed my foot flatly into my boot! I'd like to introduce you to Fanklebot!


*My oldest son couldn't figure out why on earth I nicknamed it Fanklebot, but there's a reason: my boot reminds me of a big robot leg—like in the movie "Spy Kids 3-D Game Over." So instead of calling it my robot leg, I just called it Fanklebot! It makes perfect sense to me! ;)

After accomplishing my boot-feat (so punny!), I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. I called it a night and gratefully went to sleep.

8/13:
That morning, I knew it was time to begin walking ever-so-gently with my crutches. I felt quite strange not putting all of my weight only on my left foot and crutches. Thus, my stomach muscles, shoulders and hands were happy to have a break! :) Even though I desperately wanted to speed things along, I knew I had to take it slowly and put very minimal weight on Fanklebot for the first little while.

Later that day, I did some more research on ankle tendon surgery recovery...I've spent a lot of time researching ankles throughout my Fankle ordeal! I found a blog, "Documenting My Posterior Tibial Tendon Surgery and Recovery," that made me super glad I had surgery as soon as I did after my injury!

You see, the woman blogger let her injury progress entirely too long. She said it was about 11 years from the time she was injured, to the time she was diagnosed with a longitudinal tear in her tendon—like my injury. Then she waited another six years to actually have posterior tibial tendon surgery. By the time she had surgery, she ended up having a major ankle reconstruction instead of just repairing her torn tendon!

Thus, I'm so happy I caught my tendon problem relatively quickly so my ankle issues didn't worsen! If you want to see photos of the other blogger's ankles before and after, click here and here—but be warned, the images look very painful! Here are both of her feet before surgery, and after surgery.

8/16:
I was extremely happy to be able to go to breakfast with some very dear friends of mine! Being that I was a legit cripple, my friend who lives not too far away came and picked me up. I was so grateful for her service to me! Oh, I was a sad sight as I walked with my crutches and boot out to the car, and from the car into the restaurant! It was the first time I'd been out of the house without my Gregor, so I felt self conscious. You see, Greg just has this magical effect on me. Whenever we're together, nothing else in this world matters! So, yeah, it was strange to be out and about without my main squeeze.

My friends and I spent a grand two-and-a-half hours talking, laughing, and giving each other free therapy! At the end of our breakfast, one of the employees came over to us and said, "Oh, please don't leave! I'll be bored now!" So apparently, the entire restaurant could hear our conversations! Ha ha.

We asked that darling older lady if she would take a photo of us, and she did. I had to balance between my friends and hold onto them because Fanklebot was very achy and heavy. I knew there was no way I could put any pressure on it without my crutches, so I held on to my friends for dear life! As I posted on my Instagram photo that day, "We all need good friends in our lives to help balance and support us!" It's so true!

8/19:
I started walking very short distances—in my house—using only one crutch! I was a total gimp, but it felt so amazing to have one free arm while I was walking—even if it was for a very short period of time!

8/20:
I became the One-Crutch Wonder! I was super excited because Fanklebot allowed me to do some very minimal housework! I actually moved laundry baskets all by myself(!), without having to ask for help from my family! Of course I had to lay down on my bed again after all of that activity, but at least I wasn't "Queen of the Bed" anymore! Yes, I think the hashtag #AbdicatedAdrie is quite appropriate!

8/21:
I cannot express how happy I was to finally be able to return to my beloved church again! I was still hobbling on one crutch—it wasn't pretty, but at least I made it! Church lasted three hours and I barely endured. Fanklebot began throbbing, so I put it up on the chairs next to me. When I got home from church, I felt like I had climbed a mountain. I took a nap for two hours! It's just amazing to me how much energy is required for recovering from surgery.

8/22 was a huge day! I walked across my kitchen for the very first time withOUT the help of crutches! I was actually walking on my very own for the first time in 19 days! I couldn't help but yell, "I'm walking!"—reminiscent of Bob in "What About Bob"! :)



I rewrote Bob's script to match my situation!
"Guess what?! Ahoy! I walk! I'm a walker! I walk! Isn't this a breakthrough?! That I'm a walker?! I walk! I walk now! I'm walking in my boot...in my kitchen...across the floor...without crutches! All by myself, and I didn't fall down...and everything!"
So if you're not laughing now, too bad for you because this scene in my head is hilarious! :) Yes, I was very excited to be walking Fanklebot all by me'self! But I must clarify that I was walking very gingerly for the first little while. I was definitely not hip-hopping it all over the place like I wanted.

A major discovery was made that day: I realized just how skinny my leg had become because of a lack of physical activity. When I laid out my legs next to each other, my left leg was very muscly and my right leg was seriously withered. My right shin bone was so pronounced and sharp, I could actually feel some of its circumference! I measured my calf muscles and was astounded with the results: my right leg was an entire inch smaller than my left leg! I began referring to my right leg as chicken leg and my left leg as beef leg. Oh, it was so funny to me! I'll never get over my chicken leg and beef leg! :)

8/23:
I went to my three-week post-op appointment and finally had my sutures removed! I was greatly surprised that they actually hurt a little bit to remove. Granted, it wasn't horrible, but it didn't feel good at all. When Fankle was finally free of its restraints, my podiatrist sprayed my foot with adhesive (not on my incision) and put Steri-Strips on to prevent my incision from opening back up.

Here's a photo mere moments before my podiatrist snipped out my sutures!

That's my husband's wonderful foot next to me! We love Nike! :)

Here is Fankle without stitches!


I was also cleared for driving! Yay! I think my podiatrist thought I should have been driving sooner, but I didn't ever remember him saying it previously in my other appointments. Plus, I didn't want to mess up any work he had done in my surgery, so I was perfectly okay waiting three weeks to drive.

That night, I happily wore my boot and did a few things a mother must do to keep a household running. My oldest son wanted a haircut, so I brought out our supplies and started cutting his hair. It was a hot night so my foot began sweating. Toward the end of my son's haircut, Fanklebot was pretty uncomfortable, but I finished anyway.

When I sat down to ice my foot, I gasped after I pulled my sock off. The men's sock I bought—to keep the boot's lining from irritating my leg—was nylon, so it didn't absorb sweat at all. Because I was so hot and sweaty while cutting my son's hair, the front-end Steri-Strip on Fankle actually came off and my incision popped open slightly at the end! It was bleeding a bit and didn't look good. Yay not me. :'(

I panicked slightly and asked my husband what I should do—even though I'm much more medically minded than he is. Like I said before, Greg calms me down when I'm in a scary spot—thank goodness for him! :) We decided I would call the doctor the next morning and ask him what to do. I put povidone iodine (Betadine) on/around my incision, put the Steri-Strip back on and covered it tightly with a small bandage. I tried to stay calm, but I was totally nervous because I've never had an incision open up after having sutures removed!

8/24:
I went back to my podiatrist and showed him the damage at the end of my incision near my arch. He cleaned out my wound quite vigorously with a povidone-iodine-dipped gauze pad...it didn't feel good! Yet I was happy to see him rub my wound in that way because it helped me know my incision was healing well. Based on his actions, I knew my incision wasn't going to pop completely apart like I feared it would the night before! I know, my imagination totally got the better of me again! My podiatrist sprayed adhesive on my foot again and strongly applied the longest Steri-Strip to help it stay in place.

Here is Fankle re-Steri-Stripped! I know it's not the best photo, and please ignore my hairy leg!


Dr. _____ told me that in order for my incision to heal properly, I shouldn't take long showers and I had to keep my foot dry—when I wasn't showering, of course. He then gave me a bunch of gauze pads and told me to put those over the top of my incision and the Steri-Strips to help keep the moisture from accumulating.

I changed my socks as soon as I got home. I started wearing an absorbent cotton ankle sock underneath my nylon sock. That way, I knew the ankle sock would absorb the moisture, and the nylon sock would help protect my calf/shin from being rubbed raw.

Because I paid such close attention to my podiatrist when he fixed my incision, I knew I could do exactly what he did if my Steri-Strips peeled off again. Most people wouldn't worry a thing about their incision at this point in their recovery, but I'm assuming most people don't have a sweaty-hands-and-feet problem like I do! Ha ha. Thus, I ordered a box of long Steri-Strips from Amazon! (Have I mentioned before how much I adore Amazon?! They are awesome!) I hoped my incision would heal as my podiatrist said it would, but I felt so much more relaxed knowing I had backup Steri-Strips if anything went wrong. :)

While I was so grateful to be able to drive anywhere I wanted, I was frustrated with the fact that I had to put on my boot to walk to my car, then I had to remove my boot so I could drive! Then every time I went into our house, I had to put on my boot in the car again, walk inside, and then clean off the bottom of it with a couple of baby wipes. I know that sounds excessive, but we have a shoes-off house because I love sitting/laying on the floor, and I don't want to hang out on dirty carpet! So yeah, I was tired of putting on/removing my boot so many times each day.

8/24–8/26:
I continued working on walking Fanklebot and tried not to get sweaty at all. I began showering every other day—which about killed me! I became very frustrated because my incision's healing time seemed to take f.o.r.e.v.e.r. and the Steri-Strips kept peeling off every couple of days. I reapplied my Steri-Strips, but I was concerned about my incision...the whole thing was so annoying!

8/25:
That night I went shopping with my daughter at Sam's Club and Walmart. I walked pretty okay for a while, but then we ended up in the middle of Walmart and Fanklebot began hurting. I felt such pain, I wanted to cry! I suddenly felt like I was stranded in a deadly desert with no available rescue...but we were in the middle of Walmart! Ha ha. I didn't know if I would make it out of there okay, but I survived. I took it very easy after that Fanklebot episode. ;)

8/29:
I began walking up and down my stairs with both legs doing their part! That was exciting for me because, previously, I had walked our stairs very cautiously and had a weird gimp. Sadly, I did too much physical activity that day again.

I was shocked later that night to find some yellowish goo oozing out from under my Steri-Strip. Hi! Panic mode activated! I immediately took a shower and afterward redid my Steri-Strip with povidone-iodine. I was totally bummed that my incision took a few more days to heal—read: resting in bed with minimal activity again. I was beyond frustrated at my situation! I just wanted to be the mother I've always been! I was so done feeling physically useless.

8/30:
I put myself on bed-rest and only walked when I needed to drive my children to/from school.

8/31:
I finally slept well because my incision got a smidgen better. Yay!

9/03:
I was very tired of laying in bed most of the time so I wouldn't get sweaty—you know, so my incision could actually close. I desperately wanted out of my Fankle Jail! After one month of frustrating recovery, I decided that all criminals should have tendon surgery as punishment for their crimes—and as a deterrent for future criminals! Ha ha. Just kidding. I wouldn't wish this pain on anybody.

That night, I prayed and cried in my shower. I've prayed throughout my entire recovery, but that was the first time I was so emotional with my prayers. I had finally hit my true breaking point. I was beyond done with my incision taking its own sweet time to heal that last, final, dinky little piece of skin that I so foolishly split open (the night I gave my oldest son a haircut.)

It felt so good to pray and cry like that! I pleaded with our Heavenly Father to please help me. I explained that I had literally done everything I possibly could to ensure a good outcome for my surgery. I told Him that I knew He could heal me, so would he please just do it?!!!

9/04:
During my shower that night, my Steri-Strip peeled off again and I was like, "No! Not again!" I shouldn't have been surprised as I had had that strip on for a couple of days. I decided to let my incision be until after I finished showering. I dreaded looking at my incision. Thus, I was happily surprised when I looked at my incision and realized it was down to mere millimeters left to be healed! I had such happy tears! I finally felt a peace I hadn't felt in weeks. :)

9/11:
While walking out of my church's regional conference, I held onto Greg's elbow for balance. We ended up behind the most adorable old couple. They were holding each other's hands and walking very slowly as well—I think one of them had a cane. My heart burst with happiness as I watched that darling old couple walk together! I said to Greg, "I found my people!" Oh, yes, it was such a happy day to finally be walking with people who were actually going my exact pace—and they weren't doing it to help me! Ha ha.

As a side note, I absolutely loved Elder Ballard's talk from our regional talk. I highly recommend reading, "To the Saints of the Utah Salt Lake Area."

9/12:
You can see from the gap between the 4th and 11th that I relaxed a little. :) I also finally quit using Steri-Strips on the 12th. That was a very triumphant moment for me! I still had a weird little nubbin to heal that stuck out of my incision, but I was so grateful everything else had healed together that I did not care if I had a nubbin for the rest of my life! Hey, if Chandler Bing (from "Friends") can go through life with a nubbin in an awkward place, I could certainly have a Fanklenubbin for the rest of my life!

Interestingly, my eye had been twitching for several weeks after I acquired Fankle because of pain and worries. Thus, I was very happy not to be worried about my incision anymore. Yes, I was completely fascinated that my eye finally quit twitching after my incision healed!

*Let that be a lesson to everyone: when someone has an eye twitch, it most likely means something is really bothering them, and you should probably be extra kind to them! :)

9/14:
I was terrified to go to my six-week post-op appointment! I simply couldn't fathom the fact that my podiatrist was going to tell me it was time to start walking without a boot! My chicken leg didn't seem like it could remotely handle walking without my boot. Thankfully, Dr. _____ relieved my mind of any worries! :) During my appointment, he explained how I would build up my strength:
  1. Start off each day by wearing sturdy arch supports in my athletic shoes. He gave me Powerstep Slim-Tech orthotics—they are awesome! I like them so much, I thought about buying another pair—but they're a little on the pricey side, so instead, I decided to switch my orthotics when I wear different athletic shoes.
  2. Walk just until my ankle begins to hurt, then put my boot on for the rest of the day.
  3. Move my foot in circular motions—both directions.
  4. Towel stretch: sit down, put my leg out in front of me, pull the ball of my foot toward me with a hand towel, hold in place for 30 seconds, work up to one minute.
  5. Stork-stand on my right foot each night for two minutes while brushing my teeth. He explained that he didn't care how many times my left foot touched the ground, as long as I tried to hold my position for two full minutes. At the beginning of my stork-standing efforts, my near-constant left-foot tapping sounded like I was weakly trying to tap dance!
I was also concerned about one area of my inside ankle bone and partway up my calf next to my shin bone that was still really stiff and sore. He explained it was my tendon that was attached to the tibialis posterior muscle, and it would be sore as I was building up my muscle again. I've tried massaging and gently stretching that area a lot, but it's still pretty achy. I hope it clears up soon! Click here to see what the tibialis posterior muscle looks like in our calves. 

Even though I was cleared for walking without my boot, I happily continued wearing it for the remainder of that day. I wanted to give Fanklebot exactly six weeks of serious recovery before setting it free!

9/15:
I nervously started out my day with arch supports in my new bluish/purplish Nikes I bought before my Fankle tragedy happened. I walked soooo tenderly, timidly and slowly! My ankle felt strangely stiff and flimsy all at once! I was pleasantly surprised that I made it without my boot until 12:00 p.m. on my very first walking day! But when my foot started throbbing, I happily put my boot back on.

Can you even believe my beef leg and chicken leg?! I was able to flex my left leg, but my right leg was utterly hopeless—there was absolutely zero flexing going on because of my significantly decreased muscle mass!

9/16:
I was amazed at how quickly Fankle was progressing. I walked without my boot until 3:00 p.m. that day! I was also amazed that I could love my boot so much. You laugh, but for the longest time, I hated Fanklebot! I was so tired of having to "put my leg on" in order to go do anything. I was very frustrated with the amount of time it took to put my boot on and take it off—I couldn't wait to just walk out the door and go back inside without having to go through a huge procedure! So when I actually looked forward to putting my boot back on, well, it was pretty hilarious! Long live Fanklebot! ;)

9/17:
I awoke and went about my Saturday as usual, but then my sweet mom sent a text to all of her children that scared us: she was in the hospital because her world was spinning and she couldn't stop vomiting. After many tests and exams, her doctors determined she had a severe case of vertigo.

The hospital staff eventually decided my mom would be okay to send home, but she needed someone to stay with her overnight. She also needed someone to teach her Relief Society lesson on Sunday, so I volunteered to do both! :) I love helping my mama! I was nervous about driving 45 minutes to my mom's house, as Fankle was still recovering, but I prayed and knew I would be fine. I did the quickest packing job of my life(!) and drove to be with my mom.

*Speaking of my amazing mama, I forgot to share that, on August 8th, I received a card in the mail from her! :) My dearest mom sent me a substantial check to help pay for Fankle's medical expenses! I didn't ask her for help at all, but she said helping me pay for my surgery felt like the right thing to do. As you can imagine, I totally cried at her generosity. Is there anything that compares to grateful, happy tears?!

While I'd love to explain more about my mom and our hospital experiences, this post is about my ankle surgery recovery! Suffice it to say, my mom and I were quite the sight: me with Fanklebot, and my mom as tipsy and unstable as a drunkard! *I'm not making fun—it's just that my mom and I laughed a lot about our conditions! :) I'm sure the hospital staff and security camera operators had quite a laugh when gimpy me walked my woozy mom out to my car!

9/18:
I taught my mom's Relief Society lesson and I think I did a pretty good job! Although, the topic was about eternal marriage which is one of my all-time favorite topics! Thus, it was a pretty easy lesson for me to give. :)

I'm happy I wore my boot to church that day so Fanklebot wouldn't hurt from standing for 35 minutes straight. I took off my boot after I arrived back at my mom's house.

One more thing, then I promise I'll get back to Fanklebot!

I found out from my mom a couple of days ago (10/04) that one of the older ladies in her ward (church congregation) announced on Facebook that she just got married! And to an 80-year-old man, nonetheless! I'm sorry, but I can't help wondering if my lesson had anything to do with her decision to get married at such an advanced age! The only reason I say that is because my mom said that very same lady told my mom how much she loved my lesson! :) Even if I had only the teensiest part to do with her decision to get married, I'll totally take it! I want everyone to be happily married for eternity! :)

9/19:
I awoke and was surprised to find that I actually wanted to walk without my boot on! I was truly happy to feel that I wanted to wear my athletic shoes and orthotics! I also finally put my crutches away for good, which felt unbelievably amazing! I could have put them away sooner, but I kept them out just in case I had a bad day and needed them.

Sadly, my excitement got the better of me and I did too much that day again! I went on my first huge shopping run in nearly seven weeks and way over-did it. I wore my boot, but Fanklebot was extremely mad at me. I was swollen and in pain for days afterward. I ended up wearing my boot every late-afternoon and evening for the next five days.

9/23:
I decided it was time to watch posterior tibial tendon surgeries on YouTube to help me understand Fankle. Watching what the podiatrists and orthopedists did to their patients really helped me understand my pain level.

One lady had extreme ankle reconstruction surgery with incisions in three places. She filmed her entire first post-op visit. I found it utterly fascinating that even though the woman had three large incisions and major work done on her entire ankle, her main source of pain was where her posterior tibial tendon repair was done! Her experience showed me that my surgery results and pain levels are not abnormal! Posterior tibial tendon surgery is a major ordeal!

I also watched interviews with two other ladies who had similar surgeries as mine. They were finally feeling good at four months post-op, which made me feel so much better about my recovery! I relaxed, realizing I have a long way to go before I feel close-to-normal again, and that's okay! :)

9/26:
I happily thought that was the very last day I'd wear my boot! But it wasn't.

9/27:
Seven weeks and six days after my surgery, I didn't need to wear my boot at all that day—which was super way exciting! My ankle was still swollen and a bit sore, but it didn't hurt as much. I loved walking up and down my stairs with less pain. :)

9/28:
I was thrilled to realize it had been eight full weeks since my surgery! My podiatrist was right on for my recovery-time estimate!

9/29 was my first day venturing outside, away from home, without my boot on! I literally cried tiny happy tears! On my way to my ophthalmologist's office (to pick up Greg's glasses, and my daughter's and my contacts), I drove slowly through some road construction. I suddenly saw a veteran walking slowly in the crosswalk. No construction people were manning that spot, so I'm grateful I actually saw him with all the commotion going on.

As I waited for the veteran to cross, I realized he had a slight balance issue and held his arm in an odd way. Understanding he was injured, I felt so badly for him. After watching him for a few seconds, I could tell he was wearing an above-the-knee prosthetic leg. My respect and love for him grew by leaps and bounds in that moment.

As much as I've struggled with my tendon recovery, I know it's nowhere near what that veteran has endured. Plus, I have the hope that my tendon will heal completely, and, one day, I'll be able to return to my active lifestyle. Sadly, that wonderful, young veteran will never have his leg again. That is a very heavy thought to me because I simply can't imagine not having full use of my leg again! I smiled at the veteran as he walked down the road next to my car. I wished I could help him in some way, but I couldn't think of anything I could do right then besides smile...

9/30:
Fankle was very sore again—I must have overdone it on the 29th. Back in the boot I went for the entire morning! Thankfully, after a few hours in the boot, Fanklebot felt better! I removed my boot and that, my friends, was literally the last time I wore my boot!!!

10/01:
I went on my first shopping trip without wearing my boot! I was nervous about going because of what happened during and after my previous shopping run on 9/19. I took two ibuprofen to help me through my spree. :) I walked extremely slowly and I didn't care what anyone else thought of my speed or gait. I simply tried my best not to overdo it, and I accomplished my goal! While Fankle was a little tender the next day, I was pleased with the outcome of my endeavor! :)

10/6:
Today! I still have random Fankle soreness that pops up now and then. I also have swelling by the end of each day, but overall, I feel better! I've been trying to walk normally everywhere I go—you know, using my full foot every time I take a step. Previously, my gait had been pretty off, so it feels good using my foot's full range of motion.

Part of my problem is this: I know I need to really move my foot to strengthen and stretch my muscles, and to fully progress to where I want to be, but I struggle with knowing when I've moved too much. My podiatrist has told me to not do anything if Fankle becomes painful, yet I have a really high pain tolerance!

Remember? I did a 23-mile pioneer trek through Wyoming with a partially-torn ligament, two bone bruises, and a torn posterior tibial tendon! I know I've said that too many times, but it never ceases to astound me that I actually did all of that with my severe injury! I also know that my right foot and leg will probably feel slightly uncomfortable as I continue moving because I'm working them in ways I haven't previously for nine weeks. Hence, my chicken leg problem!

I had my nine-week post-op appointment this morning! I was shocked at how short it was, but I know it was technically (hopefully) my last appointment with my podiatrist, so there's probably not much more he could say to me. :) Dr. _____ examined Fankle and prescribed the following:
  • Wear an elastic ankle brace to help reduce swelling. I need to wear the ankle brace until I have minimal-to-zero swelling at the end of the day.
  • Ice my ankle at the end of the day if I'm still in pain. My podiatrist doesn't recommend usage of ibuprofen long-term and I wholeheartedly agree with him!
  • Physical therapy: two times a week for three weeks. He clarified I might need to go only three or four times total, not six. He also made sure I understood that it will most likely take me two more months (from now) to get back my full mobility and strength because I didn't use my foot/leg for two months—which makes perfect sense.
While I'm bummed Fankle didn't get a clean bill of health today, I'm not surprised with the results of my appointment. As I said before, I've been struggling with knowing how much activity is too much. Dr. _____ clarified that my brain is still treating my ankle carefully/cautiously because I endured a trauma. My brain is trying to figure out how to deal with not only what happened to my ankle (severe sprain; tendon surgery), but also how to use my ankle again—so I'm probably being too cautious at this point.

Yet after my experience of having done too much previously, I'm glad I've been on the conservative side this time around. Hopefully that means that I've protected my ankle so it had the opportunity to heal properly and completely. In my heart, I know I've literally done everything my podiatrist told me to do with exactness and determination...and that feels really good! :)

Dr. _____ said if I don't improve after three weeks of physical therapy, I should go back and see him again. I'm hoping and praying (like crazy!) that I don't have to see my podiatrist ever again—unless it's randomly at the grocery store, or at a sporting event! Ha ha.

I must say, when I saw the words "traumatic injury" written in my chart (I peeked at my file on their computer screen), it made me feel better. It sounds strange, but it made me happy knowing that I totally wasn't overreacting to my Fankle experience! I have endured so much over these past four months! I've done my very best, but let me tell you, it has been more than difficult at times. I have been utterly changed forever because of my Fankle journey.

Here's my Fankle scar today—it looks and feels so much better! You might be grossed out by this, or wonder why I'm posting a photo of my scar again, but I'm very pleased with my accomplishment! This scar represents so much mental and physical toughness—you have no idea what it's taken for me to get to this point! Plus, I wanted to show how funny it is when I flex my foot up: Fankle "smiles"! (The far right photo.)

I'd like to point out that my incision healed perfectly! Fanklenubbin has disappeared! And there's only one small little visual reminder that Fanklenubbin ever existed in the first place! I'm overjoyed with how well it healed!


I probably have one or two more Fankle posts in me, but for now...Fanklebot out!