Lucky Number 13

So! I wasn’t planning to write about my surgery on here or on Facebook. But then the amazing surprise with GigSalad came and the news was out. That surprise & evening of celebration was too awesome not to share 🙂 Here I am at 3:30am on the morning of my 13th surgery.  I’m feeling very ready and, dare I say it, LUCKY!!

Health issues and surgeries are not something that are uncommon for me. So, I’ve been here and done this…kind of.  My last surgery was August 2014. It was just a week or so before we finalized Chelsea and Savanna’s adoptions and we all truly believed that it would be my last one for a VERY long time.  After finalizing the adoptions and getting into a healthy rhythm of being a family of 5, I found myself in a place of wanting to get in better shape – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Among a lot of other positive life changes, I hit the gym. Then, just as I was getting into my groove…something went wrong! As luck would have it, I got stuck.

Since getting stuck about two months ago, life has been pretty difficult for me and my family as we have been in and out of the ER & back-and-forth between many specialists trying to figure out the cause for my severe pain.  A good 13 tests, scans, trips to ER and the best doctors in the area later, we finally learned that I had further injured my already herniated L5-S1 (lower back).  The herniated disc was compressing on a major nerve root which happens to be in the same area as my abdominal stent.

While it looked to be pretty significant damage on the MRI, we were hopeful that Physical Therapy, rest, spinal injections, steroids, and pain meds would help get me un-stuck and back on track.  No such luck! I went from bad to worse. At this point, I am on pain meds 24/7, not sleeping, basically confined to the house and hanging out way too often with my bed, heating pad & ice pack.  When I am up, I’ve been needing to walk with a cane to avoid falling. Savanna tells me that I don’t look too old, though, since the cane is “shiny & pink.” And she signed it for me 🙂

Why do I consider myself so lucky you might be wondering? Like I’ve told you before, our village is strong…it gets bigger and stronger by the day! Usually I am part of the strong and caretaking members of this village. But to be the weakest member and on the receiving end of the support makes me feel like one of the luckiest people around. 

Jeff, our girls, family, friends, doctors, therapists, neighbors, school, church, & all of the other amazing village people have been so incredible, and have made this hard season go by as quickly and beautifully as possible. They’ve showed up in tangible ways, which is really the best way to show up. Not just the casual, “thinking of and praying for you…hope you feel better….get well soon” sentiments.  But, actually showing up! Taking and making extra time to reach out in person.   Pulling lots of strings in lots of different directions. Joyfully giving favors when I thought I had run out.  Knowing, encouraging (okay, sometimes forcing), and finding ways to allow me to have fun, cry, laugh, vent, be still and rest whenever & wherever I’ve needed to.  Bringing meals, taking the girls to church and on fun outings, sending hand-written notes with positive affirmations, fitting me in to already booked schedules…I could go on and on.  I love it!

It has been a painstakingly beautiful and humbling experience to be the weakest and most needy member of our village.  Of course If it were my choice, I would have never opted for spinal neurosurgery.  But, I truly cannot think of luckier circumstances to go through such a thing. While I still have a long road of recovery ahead, I am excited about being on the post-surgical side of this healing journey. 

Not surprisinginly, I didn’t sleep lastnight and have been up for almost 48 hours.  But, I was able to get a lot of good work done around the house and am feeling well-rested. I think I have Chelsea to thank for a good amount of this 🙂 Look at these messages she sent me yesterday evening from her sleepover with Grandma & Grandpa. 

-Texts with Chelsea: Hi mom this is Chelsea that’s a good thing you are sleeping really well I hope you will keep doing that love have a rest of a good and awesome day love buy i’m at grandma and grandpa’s house so just to let you know grandma and grandpa loves you really and so does me Savanna Shianne  and your husband just keep sleeping sleeping sleeping have a good rest of a good day love you should know I had an awesome day at Kinder care and brown station for school and just to let you know I got a lollipop with gum in the middle and we are having a good yummy good dinner I ate a lot of cantaloupe and before I ate cantaloupe we were driving back from Kinder care to go to grandma and grandpa’s house this note might help you let me just say one quick prayer dear God thank you so much for making mommy rest and àsleep so good and just help her feel better after the surgery and make sure she can do the bike ride it and earn $45 to get a T-shirtthat says burning brightle Phoenix family stronger together we all love you now here’s grandma she wants to say something hi babe it’s grandma keep sleeping well and I’ll see you in the morning that was grandma grandpa’s outside doing something that I don’t now but will talk to you later bye

Me: 🌸😃thank you so much for telling me all about your day, Chelsea! It sounds like you had a good day. Thank you for the beautiful prayer and I’m glad you’re with grandma and grandpa and that you earned a lollipop.  I hope you have a good dinner.  Eat some extra cantaloupe for me 🙂 mommy can’t eat from now until surgery because I have to make sure my belly is all cleaned out for surgery. Daddy and your sisters will be there soon so save some food for them, too. Is it okay if I post your message on the blog? I thought it was so sweet and I want all of my friends to see it. If so ask grandma if you can send me back a cute selfie. Natural looking smile 🙂

Chelsea: Hope you like it love so much I hope that prayer really helped you 

 

Me: Love it! This is the perfect picture to go with the message. Yes, the prayer helped 🙂 thank you, Chels!

Just before getting these texts, I was a bit of an emotional wreck. Having surgery without kids of your own is one thing, but having surgery as a mother of three is a whole nother thing…and it’s spinal surgery nonetheless. Double whammy! Because we have such wonderful support, I have been getting a lot of alone time lately. This is good for healing, but means I haven’t been as active in caring for the girls as we are all used to. I also probably won’t see them as much in the days ahead since post-op recovery is critical and I WILL be following every instruction exactly to the T. All of this to say that I have been feeling really bad and guilty about missing out on the girls’ lives.  Don’t get me wrong, the rest and alone time has been heavenly.  It’s just that not being around as much causes extra anxiety and worry for my girls, Chelsea in particular. And, while I know I’m pretty biased here, out of all little girls, mine don’t need or deserve any “extra” things to be worried and anxious about. 

BUT, there you have it- my 10 year old butterfly girl gave me the strength and encouragement I needed to redirect all of my nervous & guilty energy into something positive. 
All is well : -) And off I go for lucky number 13 with the amazing Dr. Powers. 

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About Kristin Phoenix

daughter turned teacher turned social worker turned wife turned foster parent turned mom When people who don’t know our family story find out that we fostered and adopted the girls, we generally get one of two reactions…”I would have never known. They look just like you!” or “Oh, how beautiful.” Both of these things are 100% true – on the surface. The picture perfect, shiny, pretty surface. But, just below the surface is a whole lot of mess and brokenness. Our girls endured things that I never even read about in my textbooks. Our family endured things that go completely against the 3 philosophies of safety, permanency, and well-being that the child welfare system is in place to protect. When we have the chance to share a little bit more, the response always goes something like “but…how?!…and why?!” I believe in dreaming big. Part of my dream is a child welfare and healthcare system that would have prevented unnecessary trauma for my girls, my family, and our community. The other part is one of redemption and recovery for everyone involved in our story – which is everyone. I now believe part of why our family endured what we did is so that people would hear our story and ask the hard questions of how and why. With sexual abuse, trauma, foster care, and adoption, we never truly know until we find ourselves in a position of not knowing. Because of the nature of our case, I often found myself in a position of not being able to really answer the hows and whys. I reached a point where staying silent was the only option. Now that our adoptions are finalized, it is time for me to break the silence. This blog is me daring to run after my dreams – even when I find myself out of breath (which is mostly every. single. day.) It is stories of how the collective we have lived up to the Phoenix name and are rising from the ashes to burn bright! I also currently write and edit for Social Justice Solutions
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3 Responses to Lucky Number 13

  1. Love your spirit and devotion to your girls. You are going to come out of recovery stronger. I love how God puts Angels in our lives when we need them most, luckily yours was Chelsea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the midst of surgery and recovery, I am encouraged by your positive outlook. Thanks for sharing on the Small Victories Sunday link up.

    Liked by 1 person

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