I am thankful

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things this year. I’ll focus on my top five, the top five from 2019, because of course I am always happy for family, friends, freedom, health, wealth, and the American way.

physical therapy
Image from wistechcolleges on flickr.com, some rights reserved

Number 5: Physical therapists.

Three years ago my husband and I took a trip to England. I could barely make it up the stairs each night.

Just before we left for England, I saw a doctor about a pain in my groin which I concluded was the result of three separate falls while I was walking in the morning. Each fall seemed identical: I tripped on something I couldn’t even see, twisted my right ankle, and fell forward, landing on my hands, which were sore for a couple of days each time but that pain eventually went away. The pain in my groin did not.

The first doctor determined it must be my hip. She sent me away for an x-ray and a referral to an orthopedist for a possible hip replacement. The vacation to England took place right after this visit, before the visit to the orthopedist. The only treatment available on the trip was taking extra strength Tylenol, but not too much.

While at the orthopedist’s office, I mentioned a pain in the knee of the same leg as well. That triggered her to think the source of the pain might be in my back. The x-ray didn’t show anything to explain the hip pain, though it did confirm developing arthritis. The second doctor sent me away with a referral to a physical therapist to address the hip pain and a recommendation that I come back if I could no longer stand the pain.

The physical therapist treated the hip joint, and things got better for awhile. But two years later, the pain was still there. When I asked for an appointment with the same orthopedist I had seen before, I was told I needed an MRI first. The MRI didn’t show anything that would explain the pain in either my hip or my knee, so this time she sent me away with a further referral to a physical therapist, just in case something could be done.

Wow! Can physical therapists do magic! Once we all concluded the pain in my groin was really from the muscles and tendons in my groin–what I had thought in the first place–work began. In my first session, Adam, the physical therapist, pressed so hard on the troublesome tendon that I thought I was going to pass out or throw up or both. But when he let go, the pain was gone. It was temporary, of course, but for the first time in years I experienced no pain there.

Eight weeks later, after two sessions per week to stretch and then strengthen the tendons, it no longer hurts to bend down, to get up from a bent position, to sit down, to get up from a chair, to roll over in bed, to go up or down stairs. I feel my mind prepare for the pain when I’m about to make certain movements, but then the pain doesn’t happen.

I am grateful for physical therapists.

Happy Birthday
Image by Annie Spratt

Number 4: Birthday Parties.

Not mine, of course. I could have given up having birthdays, or at least celebrating them, years ago.

But our grandson turned six this year, our oldest granddaughter turned five, and our youngest granddaughter turned three (though she insisted that she was going straight from two to four because she is just as big as her older sister who was at that time four).

And they all still insist that we come to their parties. That’s what I am so thankful for.

I wonder how many years will pass before they stop inviting us to their parties, when having their friends as guests will become more important than having grandparents around.

Until then, I am grateful for birthdays.

Image by Matteo Catanese

Number 3: Rain

California recently experienced several dry years. Not long ago, we were advised to take shorter showers and not to wait until the water turned hot to begin them. Cold water showers were always short.

We bought rain barrels to collect the water and then tried to figure out what to do with the collected water since it didn’t drain with any pressure behind it so the only way to use it to water plants was to drain the water into sprinkling cans–repeatedly.

But rain finally came this past winter. In the spring that meant wildflower super blooms in the deserts. Today, Thanksgiving, the rain is pouring down. And I love it.

I am grateful for rain.

statue of a nurse
Image by Graham Ruttan

Number 2: Nurses

I am blessed to have a number of nurses in my life.

Our daughter-in-law is a nurse. When either my husband or I wonder if something we are experiencing is severe enough that a trip to the emergency room or urgent care is needed, we have a nurse to turn to. We trust her advice. Even more importantly, we know that our son and our three grandchildren have the best in-home medical resource possible, so we worry less about them.

My sister-in-law is a nurse. When I learn something medical is going on in the life of someone else, I know I can get a straightforward explanation of options and advice on what to look for from her.

We’ve had plenty of reasons to turn to both of them in the past year–wait until you get to #1 to see why.

Whenever we need to see a doctor–whether for a routine matter or something more serious–we see more nurses than doctors. I am thankful for every one of them.

I am very grateful for nurses.

doctor performing surgery
Image by JAFAR AHMED

Number 1: Successful surgery.

Several important people in my life had surgery this year. I had three surgeries myself–two to replace cataracts and one to remove damaged parts. All successful.

My brother-in-law had emergency surgery in England when he presented symptoms his doctors had never seen before. The positive change in his life has been amazing according to his wife. I am thankful for that outcome.

The most important successful surgery this year was not one of mine–it was our son’s. Two months before, he went to the emergency room because of pain in his lower abdomen. It turns out his appendix was leaking. Surgeons removed it.

That sounded like good news, but there was some less good news tucked in that removed appendix–a 1 cm tumor that was cancerous.

That dreaded word: cancer.

So more surgery was scheduled. But first, a few more tests: an MRI and that invasive exam that so often just goes by the euphemism, “the procedure.” He was too young for that procedure to be part of his routine medical testing, but it was essential to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread beyond the appendix.

His surgery was on the same day as a friend also underwent the first step in her treatment to address a large and aggressive cancerous tumor on her liver. Both our son’s procedure and my friend’s treatment were successful.

Our son’s surgeon found no evidence of additional cancer. He may still have to undergo additional treatments to ensure no recurrence. That leaking appendix may have been good news after all. If the small and well-defined tumor hadn’t been found when it was, we may not have known what was lurking invisibly.

I am extremely grateful for successful surgeries.

Featured image from Pro Church Media