Tomorrow I’m getting a screw taken out of my ankle. Being a pastor’s family, we plan our surgeries around important church seasons and festivals like Lent and Easter. And, speaking of Easter, once again, I got zero adorable photos of our family, even though everyone looked super cute (I even had a new dress, which I haven’t in years!) and color-coordinatedish. Here’s how this went for us:
7:15 a.m.: Derek and kids leave to go start the Easter breakfast. I stay home and clean up the mess because directly after church approximately 30-40 people are arriving for lunch, and we can’t have Jonathan’s underwear strewn on his floor and globs of toothpaste studding the sink when they arrive.
8:15 a.m.: I wrestle the hams into the crock pots. They don’t fit. I Google frantically and come up with a solution: air-tight aluminum foil. The foil won’t go air-tight. I am late. I hate ham.
9 a.m.: The Sunday school does the Easter egg hunt without me because I’m supposed to be in charge of it but am still home wrestling hams.
9:20 a.m.: I come in, the kids are in Sunday school, Derek’s teaching, and I sort out the hunt candy for the kids and sneak into Bible study late.
10:00 a.m.: Hallelujah Chorus practice for the choir!
10:15: Herd the kids to the bathroom and–gasp!–the front row, because the other rows are taken.
10:30: Easter worship! Hallelujah Chorus! The kids played bells! (Adorable.)
Jonathan’s hiding behind the adorable girl in the black-and-white dress. She’s also, apparently, his new girlfriend. But they’ve promised not to date until she’s 16.
Noon: Kids and I rush home to get out food and greet guests. Hams are mercifully fine.
Next several hours: A big blur. Lots of people and delicious food.
6 p.m.: Everyone’s gone, but we still have cleanup duty and are completely bedraggled.
8 p.m.: Cleanup done. I jump on Facebook and see every single pastor’s family we’ve ever known has managed to get a family picture. Wwwwhhhhyyyyy?
And now, the preparation begins for the screw removal. Lots of jokes about how I already have a screw loose. (This is true.)
“It will be easy,” the surgeon said.
Perhaps easy for him. And hopefully better for me. I still can’t squat or go down my own driveway very well. My compression sock is like a second skin; I try to go without it and the blood rushes down and swells purple. At night, I lie in bed and put my cold right foot on my throbbing, hot left ankle, switching between incisions like my foot is a bag of ice (it feels like it most days). When I’ve been sitting too long, I can’t walk right when I get up and feel self-conscious about the eyes on me, limping like I have an old military injury.
Six months, and I’ve healed up a lot, but the ankle will always be a sewn-together version of the shattered pieces.
This surgery tomorrow is supposed to be outpatient, quick and easy, and I’m supposed to go under. But anesthesia makes me super-sick, so I’ve been campaigning for a knee block instead. So far everyone has tentatively agreed, but it will come down to whichever anesthesiologist is on duty that day.
Meanwhile, my emotions still feel shattered and Frankenstein-sewed too. I’m terrified in parking lots, crossing the street, and pretty much any time a car is within feet of me or my kids. Sometimes I get in my car and cry because I’m so shaken by a car going by too fast or too close or the driver being on their phone. I don’t trust anyone behind the wheel any more.
It’s not all the time, and the time between moments of crazy lengthens. Thank the Lord. But they pop up when I’m not expecting them to and I’m strong one minute and falling apart the next and there’s no warning. My mom was telling me, in another context but applicable all the same, that fear never comes from God. Fear is from the devil.
Sometimes I’m sad and angry about what happened, that it’s taken a piece of my physical and emotional health away forever. Other times I’m reveling in getting to pick up pieces of fuzz from the floor, a herculean task a few months ago; in walking from the restaurant to the theater, albeit slowly and with a limp; in getting to do laundry again and make the bed and other things I couldn’t accomplish on crutches. I’m amazed at what doctors can accomplish these days with a collection of Home Depot hardware. And I’m grateful that it happened to me in this time, because in some other time I’d likely never walk again.
So we go on. We wrap up the taxes and write a huge check. I register the kids for summer camp. Wrap up work for a few days, although they claim I’ll be walking within a few hours. Try to tamp down the anxiety and focus instead on the blessings of new mobility this “quick and easy” surgery will bring. Feel thankful for a husband who always has my back and for grandparents who always have the kids’ backs. And, last but not least, vow to get a family photo next Easter.