Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I press on...

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds 
of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the 
gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 
                    - 2 Corinthians 4: 3-4

I have had a myriad of injuries in my life, including but not limited to: a broken arm, broken elbow, broken wrist, broken foot. two C-sections, and a dislocated left kneecap.  Of all of those, I would do any of them ten times over to never experience the dislocated knee again. It's the kind of pain that still gives me a cold shiver and a small adrenaline dump just thinking about it. 

If you've never experienced this kind of special injury, let me describe it for you:

To begin with, it's pretty obvious when you dislocate your knee. It's not like a fracture where you may or may not have actually cracked the bone.  If you pop your knee out of place, you know it.

The best way that I can describe it is to have you imagine what it would feel like if an invisible mobster attacked your leg with a 25 lb. baseball bat. It takes your breathe away.  First, you hit the floor with absolutely no hope of catching your fall, and if you're really in for the double-whammy, your kneecap will stay dislocated. Next, besides the pain of the displaced knee, you also feel immense pressure both above and below the cap where the tendons and ligaments are straining to remain attached to your surrounding muscles. Then swelling begins to set in, as does shock, and the excruciating pain takes a backseat to the lightheaded, goofy feeling of trying not to pass out.  

Of course, that is immediately remedied by having someone reset your knee, which basically consists of them straightening your leg while firmly scooping the cap back into its placement. It's a completely necessary procedure, and there's absolutely no good way to do it - no matter what, you are about to feel like someone just snapped your leg in half like chopstick.  From there, the docs may take a few X-rays, and if it really seems like you've torn something, you may warrant an MRI, but for the most part, the intense, immediate events are over.

The recovery isn't nearly as simple as casting a broken arm.  A thick, uncomfortable brace has to be worn 24/7 for weeks, in addition to using crutches to move anywhere. Sleeping, taking a shower, and getting into and out of the car are all acts of acrobatics and require ten pillows and a pulley system to execute.  As an added bonus, every time you even think of using your quadricep, a lightening bolt shoots through your joint.  There will be little to no weight bearing for months, and once PT starts, it's several months of just trying to convince your brain that it is, in fact, OK to bend your knee.  

In all likelihood, this will be your "bad knee" from now on.

A few months ago, I re-injured my "bad knee," twisting it as I was walking down the hallway at work. Nothing in particular caused it - I wasn't moving quickly or wearing poor shoes or trying to negotiate a slippery floor. Nevertheless, I took a step, and while my lower leg stayed straight, my upper leg twisted sharply to the right and a very sharp, painful crunch occurred.  It wasn't as bad as when I dislocated it, but I knew that I injured it. After a month of babying it, the knee seemed to be back to normal, and then it did it again. This time, babying it didn't help, and within a few weeks, my left leg was so stiff that I couldn't bend it at all. 

Off to physical therapy, I went. The PT has been amazingly helpful. I'm recovering slowly, but steadily, and my range of motion is almost up to 90 degrees with little pain.

So, yesterday, my physical therapist, Amber (who is amazing, BTW), had me try walking quickly across the room to check on how some taping she had done to my knee felt. So, I did, and it was fine - no pain. But I was still limping, which was weird because I didn't know why. 
"Why am I still limping? Is that weird?" I asked.
"Try this," she replied, "Take a regular length left step and a long right step."
I obliged, and took a normal gait step on the left and a longer stride with my right - down the room and back. 

No limp.
"That's weird! This feels really weird. Do I look weird? Cause I feel like this looks really, really weird," I exclaimed.
"Nope. It's just that now your steps are the same size," she answered.

Wait, what??? 

Now my steps are the same size? Weren't they always the same size? 

Apparently not.  Apparently, I had managed to go 35 years walking "wrong" and never knowing it.  

Thirty-five YEARS, and I never knew that I was walking all wrong. How could I NOT know this?

Still stunned with this revelation, I left PT yesterday, making a conscious effort to take long right steps and normal lefts.  

"Step...Sttteeeepppp....Step....Sttteeeepppp....Step....Sttteeeeppp...." [this is what I'm saying in my head as I walk down the sidewalk to my car.]

"Short...Looong....Short...Looong...Short...Loooong..." [as I walk around my house, through the grocery store, down the street...]

I asked my husband about it last night, and he confirmed it too.
"I just thought that was how you walked!" he tried to explain.
"Seriously? You noticed this? I have been walking weird in front of you for eleven years and you never thought to mention it???"
I started making dinner after that, and as I was cooking, I let my mind wander over other things. What else have I been oblivious to my entire life? Have I been absent-mindedly writing with the wrong hand? Am I unknowingly making little noises or holding my head at a tilt every time I have a conversation?  


And then it hit me. 

I never knew I was walking wrong because I had never walked right to begin with.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
                                                       - 2 Corinthians 4:6

Most of my life, I was completely oblivious to my broken relationship with God. I lived how I lived, without ever questioning if this was how I was supposed to live. This was how I was raised. This was what I knew. This was how everyone I was related to or friends with lived. And no one told me any differently.

To be sure, I had some moments when I was broken - moments when I was completely at the mercy of God - but in my every day, mundane, walking-through-the-grocery-store-life, I was generally oblivious to the fact that I was limping. 

I just thought this was how people walked.

And then, I was saved. For whatever reason, and definitely not because of any merit of my own, God pointed out to me that I was limping, and He showed me how to walk, and He surrounded me by people who are also re-learning to walk, to walk without limping.  Some are farther along than others, but all of us are no longer blinded to the fact that up until then, we had been limping through life, completely content to be crippled by sin until our dying day.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 
Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 
It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
                                            -Proverbs 3: 5 - 8

So, what have I learned in these last two days of walking and last three years of walking

Walking is hard.

It takes a lot of concentration, a lot of effort, and a lot of balance and support. It is tiring at times - there are moments when you want to just walk how you have always walked. It's easier. 

But I also know that walking wrong isn't right. 

So...I will keep trying to walk right, 

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, 
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind 
and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
Let those of us who are mature think this way, 
and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 
Only let us hold true to what we have attained."
                                - Philippians 3:12-16

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