Wednesday, September 28, 2011

If you believe in karma, you can't believe in her...

One year ago at this time Chip and I were dancing with Wyndham in our living room, then getting her into her jammies and tucking her as cozy as we possibly could into her bed. It was the eve of her double-foot surgery. We knew we were in for some major life changes, and comfort was not going to be one of them. For her, or us. We knew life was about to get as challenging as it's been for us in a long while.

We just didn't have a clue it was going to drag on. For a whole year. Or more.

Trust me.

We've lived through lots and lots of medical situations and injuries that require extensive care and treatment. We've been through the wringer with grief and trauma and all that it takes out of you as you process it and work your way through it. We're no strangers to doctors telling us what to expect- and having it turn out more on the "worst case scenario" end of the spectrum. I guess I could just tell you we're not rookies when it comes to recovery after injuries.

But this time it was different.

There were no medical helicopters or ambulances rushing one of our loved ones off with the outcome {literally} up in the air. We were feeling cautious, yet hopeful as Wyndham faced a few months of immobility and healing. We had several consulations of various doctors- all who agreed and supported the decision to go ahead with the realignment surgery and tendon lengthening. They used words like, "Wyndham is a good candiate" and "you should expect her to do very well" and "this is something that's been done before yielding great results, so we expect the same or better for you too". As hesitant and unsure as I was going into these consults, I walked away from them each time certain that Chip and I were making the best decision for Wyndham to have the surgery done. We felt educated and informed. We had asked lots of questions. We had exhausted other less invasive measures for a few years and finally felt like we were at the place where there really was only one best option.

So we went ahead and had her surgery done.

I dreaded it and prayed about it for over a year. I asked God for a miracle. I fully expected that at some point along the way my prayers would be heard. I figured that even right up to the very last set of x-rays taken that the doctors would come back to our room and tell us that they couldn't believe it or explain it but there would be no surgery needed. I fully believed that God wanted to use Wyndham as a real-life miracle in an orthopedic office setting. It seemed an unusual place- but I knew God could do miracles anywhere. That's the way this story went. In my head and in my heart. I wanted nothing more than for Wyndham to avoid the pain and suffering that she would endure. I wanted nothing more than for her to be able to keep going to school and be "just like all the other kids". I wanted her to keep growing and playing and laughing and signing and riding bike like she had been doing so well for the past couple of years. We certainly didn't need her laid-up in double casts. It would never be a "good time" for that. But certainly not just 5 weeks after her new baby brother had been born. That's supposed to be the time for the family to bond and nuture one another and adjust to sleepless nights and just take it all in. Because a new baby brings enough change of its own. We're no rookies in that department either.

So I knew, one year ago, as I danced with Wyndham and tucked her in and then swaddled Teague and nursed him to sleep, that the morning would either bring miracle or hurt. For all of us. Unfortunately, God chose not to heal Wyndham's feet on their own, but instead Chip gave her a nice warm bath, she had to skip breakfast, and then we hugged her and sent her off- with a smile on her face- to have surgery on both of her feet/legs.

Chip called me with an update at one point and said she had all the nurses smiling as she held out her finger for the pulse-ox and she was just being the best patient ever. I imagined that she would be. This was the first time she was hospitalized and not sick. She was as healthy and strong and happy as she'd ever been. Which made it all the harder for me.

I'm sure it was still the pregnancy hormones in my body, but I spent most of that morning in tears. I couldn't shake the feeling that it was the worst thing that I could do as a mom- sign the papers and authorize my little girl to have bone taken from her pelvis and placed in both feet, as well as have her legs cut lengthwise on the back of her calves for her tendons to be lengthened. It was as if I were signing us up for suffering. Her for the physical pain and limitations it would put on her; Chip and me for the added demands and emotional/mental suffering we would feel as we helped nurse for her and give her the care needed to get her back on her feet. I cried because I knew that everyone of us in our family was going to hurt in some way. And I had basically said, "Go ahead... you have my okay."

In my defense, I really feel that even though we asked a hundred questions, and even though the therapists supported us and the physiatrist supported us and recommended her surgeon and even though Wyndham loved her surgeon and we all seemed so confident and ready to get this done, I still feel (looking back a year post surgery) like we were not given the full scope of what the worst-case scenario might be. We were told she would be in double casts up to her knees for 8 weeks. Then she would be in some orthodics- which would be adjusted as she progressed with her rehabilitation. There was never, ever mention that she would be needing a wheelchair one year later. Or more.

That never crossed my mind. We looked at it as suffering and life-style changes that would last through the winter months, but then by spring we would be ready to breathe in the newness of springtime and feel energized and see Wyndham flourish. We never dreamed that things would take a toll on her the way they did. She hardly moved out of her wheelchair for the first 6 months at all. We never dreamed her lack of good progress would take such a toll on our marriage and family dynamics. I guess I thought Chip and I would find a rhythm and things would sort of move along differently. But we are adaptable people. We've lived through traumas and seizures and sort of expected that in taking it one day at a time we would manage the way we always do.

With humor getting us through most of it, and with the light at the end of the tunnel guiding our way. Only this time, there were too many days where none of us laughed. The pain was managable for Wyndham. But beyond that I couldn't help but grow more and more resentful as the progress seemed too slow and the recovery more demanding than any of us had imagined it would be.

I shut myself off from the world. In part because we had a new baby and 4 other kids just doesn't make it convenient to go out and do anything anywhere. But I think I shut myself out and grew a little bit more resentful everyday because truth be told, in my heart and mind we had already paid the price of suffering. And even more than Chip and me, Wyndham had paid more than her fair share of suffering. With each day that we had to lift her out of bed, and with each diaper change that we had to roll her to her side and try to bathe as she lay helplessly looking on or watched her siblings go off to school or play the games they wanted to, it just dug like a knife in my heart.

I've heard a lot about karma the past few years. You know, the idea that what a person puts out into the world is what comes back to them? Well, I believe it to a point. A really tiny one. And then I toss that notion out the window. Why else would there be so many things written about why bad things happen to good people? Or what about natural disasters- they take anyone in their wake. There is no mercy or stopping for people who have meant their quota of good. Sometimes bad just happens.

As I've watched Wyndham's life unfold over more than a decade now, I've only seen from her "good". I mean literally her life was turned upside-down and her chances to put anything out in the world were stripped before she had even sat up on her own. She never even had the chance to say a bad word. She has only shown determination and joy everytime she's had the world turn against her. And there have been a lot of times. Yet somehow, she overcomes. She's a fighter... most often with humor being her method of finding her way back too. She has always had a high pain tolerance and she always manages to be the one that makes me see the light is still there. No matter how dark it's gotten through the years.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons Chip and I have fought to keep our marriage together and have been able to find joy and happiness in life after loss and tragedy is because we have looked at Wyndham (and Brock, and all our other kids too) and we've said we want to keep it together and give them the best that we can in spite of how we feel.

But this year has been different.

I've had to fight with me (follow me here- I'm talking about the me inside of me) because I've blamed myself and felt regret and basically I have tried to figure out why the suffering we've lived with has had to follow us for as long as it has. I truly believe that God is able to change our circumstances. I fully trust Him with all that happens in our lives. So to feel pain for so long and not lose the happiness we worked so hard to get back through the years has just added to the hurt I've carried inside. It's been tough.

I've gone around in circles and tried to figure out what we could have done differently. That never helps anything for me anyway. It just makes me wish for a "do over" and we all know that can't happen. So I feel disappointed too. That even though we've tried our best, it just isn't turning out the way we imagine it to.

One year later.

I've been riding my bike for the past 4 months or so. I average 10 miles each day. I've ridden over 500 miles and in the time it takes to pedal that far I have had a lot of thinking and wrestling and praying along the way. I've pedaled some days out of frustration. I've pedaled some days out of fear. I've pedaled some days out of regret. I've pedaled some days just because I know Teagan never got to ride a big girl bike and Wyndham will never bike alone. So I've biked for them. I've pedaled some days because I can't believe how good I feel. I've sometimes wondered if I'd ever feel "good" again. {The answer is yes!} I've pedaled some days asking God to take all the pain away. I've pedaled on other days thanking Him for being merciful and keeping Chip and me together to bear the burdens and still see beauty rise from them. I've thanked God for giving me the ability to finally let go of needing answers or seeing outcomes that I've predetermined in my own heart and mind. I've pedaled and wondered why He's given me so much when I sometimes act like the biggest baby in my whole family.

One year ago I knew Wyndham was going to wake up and then be taken from her cozy home and the next thing she would find herself throbbing and her legs would be in bright orange casts and her hip would ache, but she would never know why. I am sorry that I let it happen to her. I am sorry one year later that I didn't know better than to say no. I am sorry that I couldn't change the fact that she would be in a wheelchair for a year and give up so much. I am sorry that I couldn't make it better for her. I am sorry I couldn't take away the hurt. I regret that she has suffered and been changed- even though she is content in her chair and doesn't seem to feel pain now. She isn't back to the way she was. She still needs maximum support and aid for so many daily activities.

Chip and I have found as much of a "normal" groove in the past year as we can with her needs and those of 5 other kids. We've only just begun to find our way back to one another. I am still on my way of letting go of why all this has had to happen to us. I am still holding on to the hope that even if God chooses to not reveal the answers to my questions, that I can still trust Him and know that He can work it all for good.

My faith isn't dependent on needing the answers. But it sure depends on knowing the One that has them all. That's the bottom line. It's not about karma. It's not about who has done what and how good or bad it's been. It's not about our energy being worse than another families, and it's certainly not about Wyndham deserving of something bad yet again. It's been a journey, that's for sure.

As you can see from the photos, she IS doing well. We're ALL doing well. In many regards we have nothing to complain about. We have more than we need or deserve. Would we change things if we could... yes. But we are taking things as they come. And Teague is happy to spend time in the chair during the times Wyndham is out of it.

I continue to bike as often as I can and with each passing mile I am feeling more confident that no matter what our family endures, we will come out shining. I can't say that I believe in karma. But I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, I DO believe in overcoming. And if you believe in that, then you most definitely believe in Wyndham. And I believe Wyndham is here because God knows we all need to see what a miracle looks like everyday. I most assuredly believe in those.


Cheryl said...

What a touching post. My heart is heavy for the trials that your family has had to endure through the years.

Wyndham is beautiful inside and inspiration to many, including me. With trials come a double portion of blessings...she is evidence of that in her personality and endurance.

Maybe I'll get out of my funk and exercise and my mind will drift to Wyndham and the many blessings/trials in my life. It just might help me to heal.

I needed to read that post tonight. Thank you!

With Hope,

jsprik said...

God is so good!! i'm so glad that you "overcoming" "shining" :)

you have been blessed with such a beautiful family!

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Continuing to pray with you for Wyndham.

Jacque-sister said...

Big sorry this past year has been so difficult and unfair! The fact that you are already attempting a silver lining is amazing!! Give yourself such big hugs and praise. I can't say I could do the same in your position. You are an amazing mom and woman of God!!! I love you!!!!

Carrie Sharpe said...

What an amazing and honest post, Jody. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Continuing to pray for Wndham and yout family!

jenny said...

Wyndham is my hero, Jody. And so are you. Praying for you and Chip and the kids - that His light and peace and joy will keep breaking through the clouds. Hold on, girlfriend - you're in His grip.

Kristin Stegent said...

Wow. Not sure what to say. My heart aches as I read and think on your words. You are an, Wyndham, your whole family. And I am praying more supernatural overcoming power for you in this season. Keep on biking with Him and pour out all that pain and grief to Him. He's just got to pull you through to a new place, new season, new hope, fresh joy. You are seen, loved, and you are not forgotten. {hugs} And I am sorry...

Lauren said...

Beautiful post!!!

BT Laurie said...

In our brokenness HE shines!! Thanking God for His faithfulness, your vulnerability and your faith words that feed my faith.

Memaw Barbie said...

Amen to all the above. Thanking God today because of you Jody, your endurance and faith. Your light is shining for even strangers like me to see. Blessings to you and your family.

Memaw Barbie said...

Amen to all the above. Thanking God today for you Jody, for your endurance and faith. Your light is shining for even a stranger like me. Blessings to you and yours

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a quote... "If you want a better marriage, stay in yours!!" Don't give up!!!

Allison of A Farmgirl's View said...

Thank you for are such a strong amazing woman of God. God is using your story to touch and encourage others. As I struggle with things and read your post, I am reminded of God's faithfulness and those of us who read are shown the glory of God.
Praying for your sweet family and your marriage to only get stronger.
Jody you are such a blessing,
Love, Allison

Anonymous said...

Oh, your honesty hurts my heart. I like to put my head in a bucket. I am going to make myself stronger, thinner, better to honor you. I have left comments before. I wish I could be the grannie for all of you.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the fight, sister. We have totally different struggles-by far yours are more challenging than mine. I gain courage knowing that you ask the same questions, and it seems get the same response from God that I do-a lot of silence. But watching you make it through another day is the meaning of courageous for me.

Someone asked me last week for my specific needs. I told her, and the group of 20. Guess what? No one responded. Oh! My heart breaks. It is as if God shut their ears. I have deeper needs but I dare share, wondering if God will shut their ears to that too. It is very lonely.

I understand total dependance upon God. I don't understand where His hands and feet are.

You, Jody, are MY blessing.

Kirsten said... usual I adore your honest, real, and thoughtful way of expressing what you all go through. Your strength is amazing! I love seeing Wyndham smile :) And, our little neighbor is 9 and she had to have double hip reconstructive surgery last May. Nothing really went quite like the dr's told them. Months in a cast/brace, sleeping in the family room has taken such a toll on that family. She's finally on crutches now, but it has been so slow. Think that Courtney is like Wyndham, kind of breaking the mold and setting the doctors straight!

Mya Bruce Designs said...

thank you for sharing your life.