My Life, Broken

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The depression comes at night like a damp rag placed on the back of my neck. At first I don’t notice its cool touch, but it slowly warms and I am stuck with the tepid reminder—I’m crippled.

Albeit, temporarily and shorter than most who’ve had their hips reconstructed, but I still have a seemingly insurmountable timeframe in which I am trapped in my own body, held together with four titanium screws and some glue.

I can feel the panic slithering up my throat trying to choke me and I am amazed at the strength of those for whom this is not but a short trial.

And then I’m reminded of other things in life besides bodily ailments which have left me crippled. If I were Japanese pottery, I would be mostly gold by now, but in between catalyst and correction there is still that dark period of brokenness, waiting for the shards of my life to be put back together.

Letting go of my plans and dreams, I drive my car loaded with all of my belongings back home to my parents because it’s the only place I am safe.
A job is lost and and I’m left wondering how I will pay my bills.
Knocking on a hundred doors over a period of two years, I discover God has locked every one of them. I’m left wondering where He wanted me to go in the first place.

My bones will heal eventually, just as my life has been reassembled time after time. My brokenness will be made into a beautiful, golden testament to God’s unfailing love, and—believe it or not— the sun will rise in the morning.

And, boy, do I shine.

My tears will water her garden

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“My therapist says if I keep this up I’m going to kill myself.”

When I dug through my stack of journals and opened that one up, I wasn’t expecting it. The confusion. The fear. And I sure wasn’t expecting to return there.

I was just hired as a staff member at a women’s rehabilitation center this week and thought it would be a good idea to look back on the darkest days of my life. It was a bad decision. As I skimmed the pages that walked a nineteen year old me from euphoric to confused to terrorized and harassed, I became irrevocably saddened.

How could I have allowed myself to be treated that way? He said what? He threw what? You’re kidding me.

On Valentine’s week this year as I was driving to church, I considered posting my blog post, “Relationships are hard, but not that hard,” on Facebook and writing about what relationships are—and are not. As I considered it and dismissed it, God asked me when I was going to use my testimony to help others. I had always said I would. But when?

When I got to church that night I sat by friends who were having a conversation about the women’s rehab they both work at. One looked at me and said, “Jamey would be perfect!” They both cooed over the idea of me working at the rehab and God asked me, “Now?”

So, yeah. Now. The crap I put myself through is going to finally be used as fertilizer on someone else’s garden so they can grow and heal. Those countless nights crying myself to sleep are going to water gardens that will soon thrive again with love and attention and truth.

Because the truth is this: You are worthy. You are beautiful. And you are loved.

An Unexpected Family

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This is a crazy story, and one I always enjoy telling.

In the spring of 2015, a friend of my father (we’ll call him Fred) needed help finding a new church family. As we don’t live in the same town, my dad employed a friend from an even farther away town to ask a coworker who lived in the same town as Fred where a good church was.

The coworker’s name was Chad and he said to go to his church, Dayspring.

So my family visited this church with Fred one Sunday. It wasn’t his cup of tea … but it was mine.

***

Now it’s getting close to two years since I’ve been attending—and I’m getting teared up … that was random, I’m sorry … Now it’s getting close to two years since I’ve been attending and I cannot properly express how overjoyed I am about it. I’m so thrilled, in fact,  that I am most likely going to become a formal member next month. Which is a big deal for me.

Although I had a church family growing up, when I moved away to finish my bachelor’s in 2010 that all changed. I didn’t attend a church my first year in college, and the members of the baptist church I attended during my senior year probably didn’t notice my absence when I moved back home. Even if they noticed that my spot in the middle right pew was empty, they didn’t know my name, let alone how to contact me.

When I came home I found that a rift in the church over doctrine caused the church to split, my friends had left, and I was left with people who had watched me grow up, but to whom I had no connection.

My first time visiting Dayspring was incredible. After floating around churches on a cynical cloud, I was met with enthusiasm, attention, and love. I felt adopted. I had found community in the most unlikely of places. Not in some big city or somewhere cooler that actually recycles, but here.

It’s what I’ve always wanted. And what I intend to keep for as long as God allows me.

Wrestling with God

24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

Last year I instigated a fight with God. I wanted x, y, and z, and He wasn’t really having it. So He took me down because He knew I would do it with or without Him. But I’m a fighter. So God pointed something out to me—my hip needed fixed and I would have to stay.

I kept wrestling there for awhile, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that He has blessed me immensely. Even if I have a limp.

Grateful for my year from hell

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It was a bad year. A sucky year. A “What the heck happened?” year. A “Take one step forward, three steps back” year.

And I’m grateful.

I’m grateful God warned me at the beginning that it would be rough. Grateful I have such amazing parents, family, and friends. Grateful for how much more confident and mature I am from facing constant struggles.

This year I found out that I have dysplasia. And I watched as my health deteriorated. This year the running shoes I bought for all of the 5ks I had planned turned into “the shoes that don’t make my hip hurt.” This year I spent endless hours on the phone trying to buy health insurance that would cover my surgeon in St. Louis, or just trying to get an appointment to see him. This year I bought a car. And got laid off from work. Twice.

This year God told me He wouldn’t miraculously heal my hip, but that He would be there with me, and there is a reason He has let me be temporarily crippled. (Apparently I’m really hard to pin down.)

This year I started freelance copyediting. What was once a daydream and bucket list item, I can now see in my bank account. This year I visited Canada with two other incredible, thriving single ladies. This year I joined a choir. And my church praise band. And this year I began to consider my goals and aspirations and weigh them to measure their worth to me.

I’ve learned that my circumstances don’t have to dictate my attitude or actions. And you know what? Believe it or not, I am oh, so very happy.

So, as this year draws to a close and I want to shake my fist at 2016 as the ball drops, I am choosing to wave goodbye with poise and dignity. Because I’m grateful for all of the little things. And all of those little things add up.

MR-Arthograms and thin walls don’t mix

LicensedToWhine.jpgI had my arthograph Monday, Aug. 29.

To bring those who don’t know up-to-date, I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia on June 20. You can read about it here.

I needed my arthograph done before they would schedule me for pre-op with my surgeon, Dr. Clohisy. Dr. Tang, who had to confirm my dysplasia before I did anything at Washington U, was great and had me do Dr. Clohisy’s required set of X-Rays when I met with him on Aug. 12.

So now I’m just waiting on them to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clohisy, then we’ll schedule surgery.

The arthograph is an MRI where they inject your joint with contrast dye, and it was everything I expected it to be. I signed into the Radiology department then they took me into the arthography room. It’s a normal exam room, but with a full table and fluoroscope, which is a live x-ray on a stand and looks like a big can light hanging above the table. It allows the doctor to see where the needle is going.

It was freezing in there. But I was prepared. I wore a tank top and comfy sweater, and socks and shoes. I wore cotton yoga pants so I wouldn’t have to wear the ever-stylish bermuda shorts they supply.

The assistant let me wrap up in a blanket and the doctor came in a few minutes later. I asked him if he was trying to freeze me out, but he said just to wait, it’s going to get hot. He began to prep the needles and sure enough, I shucked the blanket and it was roasting.

I told him I didn’t want to see the needles and he said that wouldn’t be a problem. I groaned with anxiety, and he told me to think about the dumb a/c in the room. The assistant taped my feet together as I mumbled about a hyperactive thermostat and that I didn’t want to do this.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was where the needle was going. I assumed it would be the side of my hip where I received stim treatment. Nope. Front of body near my groin crease. Which meant I had to drop my shorts. He put a covering cloth over me to keep me modest and wiped me down with orange antiseptic. I’ve been told the inject point is the middle of where the incision will be for surgery.

There were three needles. Number one numbed my skin. It was the only one I felt, and it wasn’t bad, less pain than a flu shot. Number two, as far as I’m aware, didn’t even happen. It numbed my muscles. Number three was the long one (so I’m told). It’s actually the same diameter as the other two, so there’s no gaping hole or anything. I think he said it was a 22 gauge which is smaller than my earring posts.

This was the uncomfortable part, of course. The contrast dye has lidocaine or some form of numbing agent in it, but I don’t think anything can rid the feeling of pressure as the joint fills with dye. He had another doctor come in and consult. “Add a half cc more.”

By this point I have a cold rag on my forehead to ease my nausea and I’m clutching it as I moan and talk to myself. When the doctor pressed on my hip to spread the dye, I bellowed out and promptly apologize for being such a whine bag.

Then he took the needle out and stuck a band-aid on the prick. All done. But my whole body is shaking with nerves since I had gotten myself all worked up. Oh yeah, it was also back to being a refrigerator in there.

The assistant helped me into a wheelchair and laughed as she noticed he didn’t untape my shoes. I made a joke about falling flat on my face as she wheeled me back to the waiting room.

My parents looked at me anxiously. “We heard you screaming.” Oops! It really wasn’t that bad. Just really uncomfortable and I’m a total whine bag.

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I had to wait for the MRI machine to be freed up. The man who had his right before mine was having trouble with back pain as he laid in the MRI, so he had to try several times to get his done. I’m glad it didn’t take too long, as the dye has a shelf life and I would have had to get more injected if it losed its potency. The MRI was a quick 30 minutes and my head stuck out of the machine, which was nice even though I’m not claustrophobic.

I used my crutches to leave as the backward motion on my leg made me very squeamish.

We ended up visiting a relative in another hospital near St. Louis and went to Cracker Barrel. By the time we got to the restaurant I was off the crutches and just limping slowly.

This week has been rough. I’ve been busy at work, and my hip is very uncomfortable. Tuesday night I got my results and my labrum is torn. Here is what that looks like.

It’s a 1 o’clock to 10 o’clock tear. If you look at a clock face, you’ll see that doesn’t leave much non-torn labrum. Labral tears allow for fluid seepage. No wonder the dye made it feel so disgusting. I also have cartilage damage and a cyst.

I’m hoping this allows my appointment and surgery to be expedited.

Another glimpse of perspective

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In May of 2015, I lived in a small village in Iceland. While there I had the pleasure of living and working with another traveler, Dan Barabas, who hails from Romania.

Dan, who is currently working on his Ph.D. in Tourism, keeps abreast of global happenings and we had a great time discussing philosophy, religion, and politics while we were together.

I interviewed him in March about our election process, and recently decided to interview him again as things are drawing to a heated climax.

When asked how the media coverage has been, he said there has been coverage of Clinton’s corruption charges, “but comparing to everything you hear about Trump, this is like the ripples from a stone dropped into the ocean.”

Sadly, Dan has not seen any media coverage for Jill Stein (Green Party) or Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), and I asked him if he thought the media was more propaganda than reporting. He considered the news to be reporting “with a thick later of propaganda … you have the impression that the idea of reporting doesn’t exist anymore… but it is still there, for the ones who are able to distinguish between these two ideas of reporting.”

Dan assuredly had thoughts about Donald Trump. “Definitely, this election is getting a lot of attention/media covering but, to be honest, I guess this is most because of Trump running for president. ‘Cancan’ stuff is always appealing for the large masses of people and Trump through everything he does, is written ‘sensational’ all over the place.”

As for how the States’ political process compares to that in Romania, “I would say that your process is at least 10 levels above … even if the propaganda is still there, … Romania is kind of democracy wannabe (actually sometimes I’m wondering why it is still called that Romania is a democratic country — because is just an empty shell). Your elections process is still, from my point of view, even if is not flawless, closed to perfection as it can be.”

In the end, between the drama of both Clinton and Trump, and the rise of the third party candidates, Dan asserted that “this is what democracy is all about: Anybody can have a chance to get there.”