Life isn’t always straight forward. A bit of a cliche I know, but it’s so true!
6 years ago I sat in pain with 2 broken legs, recovering from 2 major surgeries 8 weeks apart. I was facing a future filled with so many “unknown” elements.
At that moment, “Life isn’t straight forward”, is what came to mind!
Nothing much has changed today. Life is still not straight forward. It will forever be a winding path. So many constant twists and turns.
Dead Bones, Tongues and Biopsies
I was told in 2016 that my bone biopsy results revealed “dead bone”.
No further explanation required as my rare bone disease remained a mystery to us all. We don’t know what has caused it or even exactly what it is. It is a disease if it’s own kind. Idiopathic in nature. A mutant gene they believe, perhaps triggered by a virus or exposure to a chemical. “Just very unlucky ” are words repeated by Specialist after Specialist.
Words always followed by, “I’m so sorry”.
We do know I have hardly any new bone turnover and my bones are generally too dense and unhealthy…..dead in fact!
In 2019 my tongue decided to grow a crater, which resembled a squamous cell carcinoma. The pain and discomfort was incredible. My biopsy revealed deep, intense infiltrative inflammation and ulceration. A benign painful tumour. No one knew how long it would take to heal. It took 12 months and it still flares from time to time.
Back to 2016…The Right Decision
A sigh of relief was audible from my Othopedic Surgeon when we reviewed the biopsy results at my post surgery appointment in 2016.
He said he could now sleep at night. He knew we both made the right decision to insert a rod in my right femur. It was definitely ready to break spontaneously, with no warning, just like the left leg did 24 months prior.
The biopsy results confirmed our worst fears, as did the right femur stress fracture he found during surgery.
I was relieved too. We had prevented an emergency situation but I was also left feeling frustrated that my body wouldn’t behave. It refuses to slot nicely into a diagnostic category. It teases us with snippets of clues and then spectacularly, physically, breaks down in a way we didn’t see coming.
All those feelings have been re-ignited with my recent diagnosis of a lesion of some kind in my caudal equina space at l4/l5, resulting in severe spinal stenosis, relentless extreme pain and disability.
I then ended up hospitalised in 2021 for 6 weeks unable to sit, stand or walk. A pelvic fracture, compressed nerves at L4 and another right femur fracture, had paralysed me from the waist down.
My Specialists, in an effort to be encouraging, share test results with me and often say;
“Good news, it’s not such and such”
When Good News Is Bad News
I explain while it is good I don’t have a blood cancer (although they are not 100% sure about that), tongue cancer or some other disease that has been suspected along the way, being told I have a rare bone disease or a rare tongue tumour, is not great.
Being told it’s likely a genetic deformity, an idiopathic disease with an unknown prognosis, is actually worse than being told I have something known by the medical profession.
One of my Specialist asked me why is that worse? She wanted to understand why I would want to know I have a known disease that could be terminal or has no hope of treatment?Answers Are Always Nice
“Answers are aways nice”
I explained there is a sense of assurity in knowing exactly what I’m dealing with. Known diseases have a better chance of understanding the prognosis. We have no idea the path my disease will take. We know it’s progressive in nature but we don’t know how quickly and what the progression will involve.
It continually surprises us with out of the blue serious events.
We have already been surprised by a scary pathological femur fracture. I am being constantly patched up and enduring difficult surgeries and recoveries as a result.
Both my feet constantly break. We’ve lost count of how many foot fractures I currently have. It’s around 6 or 7.
My left femur remains broken 8 years on, as the disease hampers healing. My entire spine from C2 to S1 is riddled with severe degenerative disc disease, disc herniations impinging and compressing nerve roots and causing severe spinal stenosis.
Finding Ways to Live in Limbo
I want to be able to prepare for what the future holds in some way. We all, in general, like to plan ahead in life. We plan for retirement, we plan holidays , we plan special events. We look forward to things.
It’s called living.
I’m in limbo. I’m in pain. I face more surgeries and an unknown future.
Added to the uncertainties of Chronic disease is the overarching uncertainty the entire world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. For the chronic illness sufferer this has added another layer of complexity in terms of disease management.
It can all be so tiring.
I need to deal with this though as answers may not be forth coming, not the sort I would like anyway. I need to be prepared for more of the unknown, more questions than answers.
I need to be strong, stay strong. I need to find ways to live in the limbo.
When we begin to feel a little overwhelmed by our chronic illness circumstances, we need to grieve again. Grieving is part of acceptance. Even when we have accepted our situation, as I have for the most part, there are still seasons where we will go through periods of grief again. I’ve shared before a grief model I used, with organisations dealing with massive change, when I worked as a Change Management Consultant.
It’s so clear and simple, it’s worth sharing again.
The 5 G’s of Change
Griping – this stage is when you feel like you just can’t do this. It’s all too much.
Groaning– this stage is the complaining stage. You want to let the whole world know how difficult life is.
Groping – during this stage you begin to walk forward as if in a forest, moving the trees out of your way so you begin to see a little clearer.
Grasping – You begin to understand what the new situation means.
Growing – You embrace the new, find ways to live again and acceptance brings peace.I’ve journeyed through this model a number of times over the years and I’m taking some time again to revisit it.
Life with chronic illness will always have twists and turns. It will cause us at times to walk in circles.
We will find ourselves feeling all the stages of grief washing over us again at some point on the winding road.
Don’t fight it when this happens. Take it as a sign you need to look after yourself for a while and give yourself time to regroup.
Answers may not come, life may not get any easier but you will adjust. With adjustment will come a sense of peace again.
Your current time of weakness could become your future strength.
Life just isn’t straight forward…ever!
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12 v 9
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
If you would like an audible version of my blog, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam
I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women