Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Turn-It-Down Tuesday: July 25

I know I just wrote a post on Thursday and it hasn’t even been a week, but it’s Tuesday and I write blog posts on Tuesday, so I’m just caring on the tradition. ;) Thank you, as always, for reading and following along on this journey!

Since Thursday (when I saw my neurologist), I’ve walked well and I haven’t walked well. It’s been a mix. Thursday was a good walking day. Friday was not. Saturday was OK. Sunday morning was not so good, but Sunday afternoon things started to improve. Yesterday was OK, but last night I made the decision to go down more on the electricity.

I turned my deep brain stimulation remote on and saw that Dr. Tolleson had me on Level A (the low level) at 3.00 volts. I hadn't touched it since he adjusted it on Thursday.
So, last night, I stayed on A but went down to 2.80 volts.
I wasn’t positive that I made the right decision though. I woke up in the middle of the night and could feel my foot twitching. Or – maybe I just dreamt that. I really have no idea and I'm being completely serious!!

When I got up this morning, I didn’t feel all that different, but by the time I got to work, I was walking better – yay!! A huge sigh of relief.

Today, I’ve walked pretty well. Not fantastic, mind you, but well. I always want more then I have. But I’m working on that. Actually, I should say God’s working in me on that!! I'm working on being thankful right where I'm at. God has shown me, through others, just how far I've come. It's wonderful to sometimes see progress through someone else's eyes.

I had an appointment I had to go to today, so I left work and ran into (not literally!) the guy that I had fallen in front of a week ago, but this time, no falls! In fact, I stopped and talked with him a minute as he was cleaning the fountains outside work. I didn't walk well in front of him or other co-workers coming in, but I got where I needed to get to (my car) without any falls, so I'm chalking that up to a win. Little victories lead to be big victories. Every time I walk, and walk with minimal effort, it builds my confidence. Every time I fall, it shakes my confidence. In the scheme of things though, I have a pretty sweet life.

Besides the electricity, I’m also trying really hard to be conscious of how I’m walking. I probably should of known this years ago, or maybe I did know it and forgot, but I was told/reminded that the big toe is in charge of stability and balance. All this time I’ve been walking on the outside of my foot (hence the callouses) when I need to be maneuvering my foot to walk more on the inside near the big toe. When I consciously walk like this, it’s amazing the balance I gain back! It’s almost miraculous. But, my muscle memory is to walk on the outside of my foot, so when I’m in a hurry or just not thinking about it, that’s the way I walk. So, I’m trying to retrain my brain. It’s hard, but not impossible. And with God, ALL things are possible. I literally take it step by step. Today was a good day though and for that, I am so very, very thankful.

I have to laugh - I was looking in the mirror tonight and saw a gray hair. Why on earth do gray hairs have to glisten?! My first instinct was to pluck it. But I didn't. I didn't because you know what? I EARNED that gray hair! Yes, I could pluck it. Yes, I could color it. Yes, I could try to hide it. But, ever since deep brain stimulation surgery, I treasure every hair on my head - no matter what color it is. Oh, yes, I definitely have bad hair days, but I'm learning to treasure those too. If you've ever lost your hair (whether it be to cancer, alopecia, or having to have it shaved for surgery like me), you know how precious every single hair is. So precious in fact, that God our Father knows the number of hairs on our head. He also knows that I lose a lot of hair in the shower every morning. ;)

I know that the Lord is for me and not against me. I know that through this whole journey He's teaching me valuable lessons and He's growing my faith in Him. I don't know His ways, but I know His ways are good and that they will always and forever be for my benefit. As always, God's Got This!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday (but on a Thursday): Neurology Appointment July 20

God is good, all the time! And all the time, God is good! Today was a blessing!

I saw Dr. Tolleson (my Nashville-now-turned-Knoxville neurologist). I was nervous, but that's just who I am - haha!! I worry about the craziest things: will I be able to find his office? Will I be on time? Will I be able to walk? What if I got the date and time of the appointment wrong? SHEESH!!! Putting it down in words and seeing it in black and white, I realize how absolutely, utterly ridiculous my worries are!! That is why the Lord says, DO NOT WORRY. DO NOT BE ANXIOUS. Over and over and over again, He says this in the Bible and still - what do I do?! I worry! God gave me sign last night though. It was as clear as day. I was at church sitting in the pew with my parents (Dad wasn't preaching!) and my grandmother. The lesson wasn't on not worrying, but the leader was teaching from Matthew. My grandmother got out the pew Bible and looked up the verses. I glanced over and what did I see? "Do Not Be Anxious About Anything". Thank you, Jesus. I got that message loud and clear!

As I stated in my last post, I've been wearing the (surgical) boot to get in and out of places (walking in parking lots is hard when I feel like I have nothing to hold on to). I told Dr. Tolleson that I'm too stubborn to use the walker or cane again, so I use the boot instead. Today though, I tested myself. I got to the clinic and was determined to make it in with no walker, cane or boot. And you know what? With the Lord's help, I made it!! There was a gentleman walking in the same time I was (and NO he was not my age (older) or single...can you tell, I've been asked this earlier today?!). He asked if there was anything he could do to help me. I told him, no (but in a nice voice with a thank you at the end!). He had gotten to the door before me. He said, "OK, I'll just wait for you." Normally, I dislike people watching me walk (even the doctors - haha!), but today, for whatever reason, I didn't mind. He waited for me and then held the door open and then even let me get in front of him in the line. At 7:50 am there was already a back-up in the waiting room!! Thankfully there are multiple doctors! I got up to the receptionist and she couldn't find me in the computer. (See, maybe some of my worries are worth worrying about! Just kidding on that!). She did find me though on a piece of paper - haha. Turns out, they just got a new computer system on Monday and things were still a little wacky.

When I finally got to see Dr. Tolleson, it was like a breath of fresh air. Weird, I know. But everything around me was different. Different neurology group, different building, different receptionist, different waiting area, different everything, except the doctor! So yes, I was very happy to see Dr. Tolleson. He apologized for the wait, which in hindsight was not that long of a wait. He reiterated that they just got a new computer system and were all trying to figure it out. He asked how I was doing and I said great, up until the past 2 weeks when I'd fallen twice and tripped a lot. We talked and then he had me walk. I hate this part. I know he needs to see it, so he can help me, but I don't like walking with other people watching me. I know, I need to just get over it. ;) Easier said then done though on my part!! He did observe right away that I wasn't walking as good as I was when he last saw me (and had adjusted the settings on my deep brain stimulation device). He observed that my foot was turning in more. After walking the first time, he did some adjustments. His deep brain stimulation remote is much larger then mine. I asked him what all he could see with it. He said he sees the battery life of my device, what settings I'm on, when I change the settings, how long I'm on each setting. Basically, (as I told him!), I'm being tracked! I told him I feel like I'm coming in for a tune-up, every time I see him. In reality, that's kind of what it is!

One of my greatest worries/fears about this appointment was that he was going to tell me that there was nothing else that could be done. That this was as good as it was going to get. Praise be to the Lord, I was WRONG!!! He tinkered with the settings. At one point, my hand went all bionic on me and was doing things I wasn't telling it to do. At that, he said he had turned the device completely off, but then quickly retracted that statement and said it was on, he was just messing with settings. He did a few different settings and after each, he had me walk. I really couldn't feel a difference. After a few more adjustments, he told me what he had done. Instead of adding more settings, he decided to adjust the settings that he had already created.

A is low
B is the same as what I came in on
C is high

And now he's told me to play again. I can go up and down on the amount of electricity in each level, but the goal is to find one setting that really works and stay on that one. I told him, I had stayed on my previous level the longest: from the end of January to May. And it was working wonderfully, until two weeks ago. He did say that he thinks some of my problems do stem from still recovering from the foot/toe surgery. He thinks once that heals completely things will be better. He asked if I had the boot with me and I told him it was in the car. He said he had no problems with me wearing it, if I felt like I needed to. He also said I should try to walk without it (which I am doing!) and he emphasized again that the goal is to get on one setting and stay there. But in the next breath, he tells me to play around with the settings. Haha. What he said was that if a setting was intolerable then I should change it right away and not wait a week or 2, but otherwise I should give a setting 1 or 2 weeks worth of a chance. ;) He told me that he has me on the low level now (A). We'll see where that leads!

So now for some funny things, because laughter truly is the BEST medicine!

I now have a daily reminder of when I fell outside while walking into work. The poor flowers have a gaping hole where I landed in them. ;) I do thank the Lord that I landed in a soft spot though! It makes me laugh every time I walk by them. I hope I don't get in trouble for ruining the company's flowers!!

On Monday night, as I got to my car, I realized I didn't have my shoe with me. I ended up putting my boot on halfway through the day. It made me laugh to think what the cleaning crew must be thinking. "Why is there just one shoe in her cubicle?" Tuesday, I came in and found my shoe all the way at the back of my desk.

Back on July 12, after having worn my real shoe all day, I took it off and my foot looked like the Michelin Man.

And here's a picture I took today while at Dr. Tolleson's office:

Tonight, as I write this post, I am so grateful. I am thankful. From my littlest worry, to my biggest, God took care of every one of them. He didn't let me stumble (literally or figuratively). He answered every prayer. I am thankful for my life. I'm thankful for the people who are in my life. I saw this little thing on Facebook today and I love it, so I'm borrowing it. It goes:

"If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means "First Attempt In Learning". End is not the end. In fact E.N.D. means "Effort Never Dies". If you get NO as an answer, remember N.O. means "Next Opportunity". Positive Thinking!!"

I also saw as a memory on Facebook, that I had posted this statement awhile ago: A.S.A.P. means Always Say A Prayer.

Today was a blessing. I'm alive. I have hope. I didn't fall. I walked ALL day boot free. I have a God who loves me no matter how many times I fail Him. I am reminded even more that GOD'S GOT THIS!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Turn-It- Down Tuesday: July 18

Last week's post began with, "What a week!" I can say the same for this week's post - What a week! Good, bad and everything in between wrapped in to seven days!

Between Monday and Friday, I fell twice and tripped into a wall once. ;) But I'm alright, so everything's good! In last week's post, I mentioned that my fall on Monday reminded me to call and make an appointment with my (formally known as) Nashville neurologist who now works here in Knoxville. Well, God answered my prayer fast! When I called, the office said that they would have to receive my paperwork from Vanderbilt before scheduling an appointment and that could take a little while. Well, last Wednesday they called me back and said that they had received some of the paperwork and Dr. Tolleson wanted them to go ahead and set up an appointment with me. Praise Jesus! Seriously, I've never been so happy to get a doctor's appointment. And the cherry on top, is that I see him THIS THURSDAY as in July 20 and not in 2 months. I am so very, very thankful!! I kept thanking Jesus for speeding up the process. All this and I never once told them that I was having issues, just that I needed to see him again. Thankful - I am so very, very thankful!!

I started wearing the surgical boot again. It's given me so much more sturdiness and balance. Mind you, it's not the "perfect" solution, but it has allowed me to walk better. Wednesday night was the first time I walked out of work without someone walking with me. I had the boot on. As I'm walking down the hallway on my way to the parking lot, I pass my boss' office and tell him good bye. No sooner had I walked past his door, then I promptly tripped over my own two feet and ran into the wall. I was so afraid that someone heard me, but I think I got away without anyone noticing. The silver lining: the wall caught me, so I didn't fall. Haha. When I got to church that night, I thought I could walk in without issue, but it turned out not to be. Thankfully, Larry was there to lend an arm to hang on to! God always puts people in my path to help me when I need it the most!

My walking was no better on Thursday. I wore the boot in to work, but then changed out of it into a regular shoe once I made it to my desk. I was walking to the break room, when I literally took a knee. Actually two knees. A co-worker saw me and asked if she could help. There was nothing she could do really! I just got back up and continued walking, but once I got back to my desk, I put the boot back on. I got more injured falling on the carpet then I did when I fell outside work and landed in the flower bed. ;) The injury was only rug burn, but still. This happened about 2 hours before I was to go to the doctor for a physical. I, of course, had to tell him what happened because he asked why my knees were all red. When I told him the boot was giving me stability, he agreed that I should probably wear it when walking into/out of work and anywhere I had a distance to walk until I see Dr. Tolleson on Thursday.

Friday was a better walking day because I had the boot on. Go figure!! Most people can't walk right in a surgical boot and I seem to walk my best in it. Just like sand. Most people find walking in sand the most difficult, where as I find walking in sand the most enjoyable. ;)

Saturday, Mom and I went to see a live production of "Little Women" at the Bijou Theater. I wore the boot and didn't fall! I have to say that this production was one of the best I've seen. Everyone seemed perfectly cast and everything about the production was lovely. I had so much fun. The theatre is an escape for me. I get lost in the story lines and I just love watching live productions. Being with Mom makes it even more special.

Sunday, I woke up and wrestled with the idea of doing something with the electricity in my DBS device. Part of me wanted to keep it where it's been until I saw Dr. Tolleson, but the other part of me wanted to be able to walk. In the end, I decided to turn it down some. I could feel an immediate release of my foot. I went from 3.90 volts to 3.60. But, I still didn't feel like I could go without the boot and now that it's been a couple of days, I don't see any marked improvement.

I'm excited and yet nervous about seeing Dr. Tolleson. What if there's nothing more he can do? What if this is as good as it's going to get? All the what if's and yet, I'm reminded that the Lord says, "Do not worry." DON'T WORRY!!!!!!!!! I'm also reminded that GOD'S GOT THIS!! I hope everyone has a very blessed week ahead. Remember: don't worry and God's got all of us in the palm of His hand!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: July 11

What a week!!!!

Thursday, July 7, I got the stitch out of my toe and my foot out of the boot. :) Dr. Gardner said everything looked good. I told him how great I was doing in the boot and that it allowed me to be "free" at my brother's wedding. But it was time to get rid of the boot. I no longer needed it for surgical matters. The next step, Dr. Gardner said, would be to think about getting a brace. I have fought and fought against this, but even I, after the freedom I felt while in the boot, realized that he may just be right. So, I agreed to a consult. He wrote a prescription for me to get in to see an orthotics specialist. In the meantime, he told me that if I felt more balanced and could walk better in it, to use the boot whenever I felt it necessary. There is another option though - get the deep brain stimulation on the right level. ;) Dr. Gardner said the worst that could happen is that I go to the orthotics specialist, I get the brace made and then the neurologist finds the golden spot and the deep brain stimulation takes care of all my problems and I don't need to use the brace! So, I'm going to go see the orthotics specialist, while at the same time praying that the deep brain stimulation will work and I don't have to use the brace. Dr. Gardner released me from his care (although he does want to see me after the brace is made). All my toes are straight now, except I'm pretty sure my big toe is trying to compensate for all the other toes. It never used to curl in, but is starting to now. Dr. Gardner said the big toe is responsible for balance, which could explain the week that was (more on that in a minute). Back to Dr. Gardner. He said I have no restrictions from his perspective, meaning I can exercise or even run a marathon if I want - ha! I went back to work on Thursday in two of the same shoe. My foot is still swollen and Dr. Gardner said that could take up to another month to completely go away.

Friday, I walked into and around work boot-free - trying to do my best to adjust to real shoes again. :)

Saturday, my mom and I went to see Mamma Mia! at the Tennessee theater.
It was marvelous as always! Before the show, we had lunch on Market Square and walked around.
I was having issues. I probably should of worn the boot to walk around in, but instead, I held on to Mom the whole time. She was great about it. We had so much fun! One funny story: A vendor who was there told us that she loved both of our dresses. Mom replied with, "Thank you! It's from France!" So I chimed in with, "Mine's from Target!" which made us all laugh and the vendor respond with, "No, it's Target (spoken with a French accent)!" I had an absolutely fabulous time on Saturday with Mom. It's one of those days that I'll remember forever. When I got home I worked out on my stationary bike for the first time in a week and half. It felt so good!!

Sunday was another great day in so many ways, but walking was getting more difficult. I could not figure out why. Walking into church, God provided for me. I was having a really, really difficult time and a church member, Todd, helped me. I am so very thankful! I was also grateful that we didn't have Communion because that would have meant that I would have to walk up to receive it and walk back to my seat and the less walking I did, the better! A surprise awaited me though. Even though my dad is the pastor of our church, I did not know that The Voice's Emily Ann Roberts would be at church that day. We have 3 services at my church and she was at the 9:30am service. At 9:30, I'm in Sunday School. But when Sunday School was over with, I passed by the sanctuary and the service had just let out. Someone asked if I met Emily Ann yet. I hadn't, since I didn't know she was there, but quickly scouted her out after they mentioned her! I did get to meet her and speak with her and even get my picture made with her. She's just as sweet as I thought she would be! She was at the service to sing for a baptism taking place. She's friends with the baptismal family. So cool!!! After church, my brother Stanton helped me to my car. Then it was off to Aubrey's Restaurant (NOT my sister-in-law Aubrey's house - haha) for lunch with the "Young Adults" (I think we average at 32 years of age and 2 kids - so whether we are "young" or not depends on your point of view - haha!!). There, I met a new couple that had just come to our church for the very first time that morning. They are an engaged couple who turned out to be so sweet. We started talking and I told them I had a condition called dystonia and the girl turns to me and says, "My cousin has dystonia!" Seriously, I could not have been more shocked. Every time I tell people what I have, they look at me with a blank stare and say, "what's that?!", but this girl actually knew what it was! How cool! I had a fabulous time with every one that went out to eat. And to think, I almost wasn't going to go. But God knew I needed to be there and so it was. After lunch, I stopped by Walgreens to pick up some pictures. I actually grabbed a cart and held on, just to pick pictures up, but I needed it to not fall. Sunday evening, I had an absolute blast! There are sunflower fields in South Knoxville (Forks of the River area) and I had been wanting to see them.
My friend Samantha had posted it on Facebook and when I expressed interest in it, she said I could tag along with her family if I wanted to. She's married and has 6 month old twin girls who I adore. Of course, I wanted to tag along!! It turned out that two couples from her neighborhood along with their kids went too. I had never been to where these sunflower fields are, so I was under the impression that we would drive right up to them and walk right in. Well, in all honesty, we probably could have, if everyone in Knoxville and surrounding areas weren't there with us! The place was PACKED. We arrived a little before 8pm (so as to get pictures with the sun setting). We ended up walking, I would guess, about a mile there, maybe shorter. Brad and Samantha were Godsends who said I could push the twins stroller so that I would have something to hold on to and boy did I need something to hold on to! I was not walking well at all. But they and their friends were patient with me and kind, for which I will always be thankful for. Once we reached the sunflowers, they did not disappoint!! They were stunning, but - in my opinion - not more stunning than Ms. Brooklyn and Ms. Blakeley who hammed it up for their parents. I got a couple of selfies, but honestly, I was a hot, sweaty mess, so I didn't feel like having my picture taken all that much! But, the sunflowers themselves were beautiful. On the walk back to the cars, we encountered a domestic dispute coming from one of the houses along the way. Every curse word you could imagine was being used. We just looked at each other and tried to high-tail it out of their vicinity as quickly possible. By this time, my walking was all but over. I tripped a couple of times (while holding onto the stroller) and one time did "fall" (my knees hit the ground, but I never let go of the stroller or lost control of it!). By the time I got home that night, I couldn't walk in my own house. I seriously thought about dragging the walker out, but was too stubborn and prideful to do it. I thought, I just needed sleep.

Yesterday (Monday), I realized how much I over-did it over the weekend. I wouldn't change anything about what I did though! I had an absolutely wonderful, fantastic time, but I paid for it a little on Monday. I had the worst time walking in to work. I did it, but it was painfully slow and methodical. I took a step. Stopped. Took another step. Stopped. At one point a co-worker (whom I didn't know) asked if I needed help. I thought about it for a second. I looked at where I was and where the front door was. I was almost there. So, I told him thank you, but no, I had to do this myself. So, he went on. I continued on my path. I was literally maybe 2 steps away from reaching the front of the building (where I could hold onto the building), when I was startled by a co-worker coming out of the building. The windows on the front door of the building are those where you can see your reflection, but not see in, so I didn't know anyone was coming out the door. It startled me so bad that I lost my footing and fell into the flowers. But, just as quickly as I fell, I got back up again. The co-worker asked if I was alright and if I had hurt anything. He really was concerned. I was more embarrassed than anything. I told him that I was fine (and I was!) and that I was actually kind of glad I did fall, because maybe I had gotten falling out of the way for the day! I made my way into work. All I could think of was, "Pride goes before a fall". (The actual Bible verse is Proverbs 16:18 and says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (NIV version)). If I had just let the first co-worker help me, I wouldn't have fallen. My pride got in the way and then I was completely humbled. Lesson learned! The fall motivated me more than ever to call and get an appointment set up with Dr. Tolleson (my neurologist). He's now at UT (yay!) and not at Vanderbilt. He doesn't yet have a direct line to his office so I had to call UT's scheduling department. I had tried calling about a month ago, but was on hold for forever. I gave up that day and told myself I'd call back later. Well then my walking got better so I delayed it even further. But yesterday, as soon as I got to my desk, I looked up his number and called. Unfortunately, my records from Vanderbilt have not been transferred yet, but the woman I spoke with said she would make sure they got transferred ASAP and as soon as that happens she'll call me back to schedule an appointment. It could take up to a week. But at least I now have the ball rolling. The rest of yesterday was OK. Walking wasn't the best, but thankfully, I didn't have to walk that much! At the end of the day, I asked my co-worker, Debbie to walk out with me to my car. I knew I needed help. She didn't hesitate in saying that she would help. I actually did have to hold on to her to make it to the car. I came home Monday night and was completely exhausted. It's hard work learning to walk again. :) I also decided to turn the electricity in my deep brain stimulation device up again. I went from 3.70 volts on level C to 3.90 volts on level C.
This morning when I woke up, I was so very thankful for a new day. I exercised on my stationary bike and went into work. I made it into work on my own. Slow and (not-so) steady! But all that matters is that I made it without falling. I prayed every second of that way and God allowed me to make it, slip, trip and fall-free. Thank you, Lord! I had a doctor's appointment a little while later (not related to anything with my walking). I started out and was doing fare, but half way to my car, I got stuck. That's the only way I know how to describe it - stuck. I couldn't move at all. I knew that if I took one more step, I'd fall. For a brief moment, I thought about crawling, but then God sent an angel. A co-worker was walking in and saw me having problems. She came over to where I was. I was so focused on walking, I neither saw nor heard her, until she said in a soft voice, "Can I help you?" And you know what? Without hesitation or embarrassment, I exclaimed, "YES!" I truly believe she was sent from God. I didn't know her (it's a big company!), but now I do. She lent me her arm and helped me get the rest of the way to my car. Then, when I got to my car, she gave me her card and said if I needed help getting back in the building, I just needed to call her. I went to my doctor's appointment and the doctor told me not to think of using my boot or cane or walker as a failure (again, I didn't even go to see this doctor about my walking problems, it just came up in conversation), but to look at them as "self-caring" for myself. Using them doesn't mean I'll have to continue to use them. So, when I got back to work, I decided to walk in wearing the boot. My foot is still majorly swollen, so maybe wearing a regular shoe was aiding my walking problems. I walked in with no trips, slips or falls. Once inside work, I changed back into my regular shoe. At the end of the day, my co-worker, Debbie walked with me to my car at my request. Yes, I want to do it on my own, but I also knew that I'd feel a lot better if she were there, just in case. I wore the boot to walk back to the car. Debbie was there with me and I had the boot. Those were the only 2 allowances I gave myself. Which meant, I crossed my arms so as not to be tempted to reach out for Debbie or anyone/anything else to steady myself. And I made it. With the help of God, Debbie and the boot. I made it safely to my car.

This has been my life this past week. It's been filled with amazing adventures and fun-filled times with family and friends. It's also been filled with falls and trips and doubts. I've experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows. That's just life though, isn't it? You may not be dealing with walking issues like I am, but I'm sure you have lows that don't seem like you can recover from and then you have highs that you want to last for a lifetime. Through all the ups and downs this past week, God remained faithful. God remained present. God remained sovereign. God answered. And because He did all that and more, I can still say confidently and without reserve: God's Got This!!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: July 4

Happy 4th of July, everyone!! I hope sometime today you will take a moment to bow your head and thank the Lord for the freedom He has given us, both through Him and in this great country we call home. Happy birthday, America!!

Speaking of freedom, this past week, I've felt free. I am still in the surgical boot, but I've never felt freer. One of my brothers got married this past week and it was an outside wedding. I walked everywhere! Yes, at times I had my mom or dad or brothers or friends help me, but that was mainly when I had to go down stairs. I don't know if you'll ever know how freeing it feels to walk just by yourself with no assistance (OK, I did have the boot, but other than that, no assistance - no walker, no cane!) unless you've had something like I have had. I was giddy with excitement! I even held toddlers and babies and walked with no falls, no missteps, no issues. Ya'll this is LIFE CHANGING!! I know I've done this before but this time around, it feels different.

I was running super late to church on Sunday. The reason being, I thought I had securely tied a trash bag around my boot so that I could take a shower without getting it wet. I was wrong! Somehow, the boot ended up getting soaked. So, I got my hairdryer out and 45 minutes later, it was dry enough for me to wear it without me feeling like I was sloshing around in it. (On a side note, this was the second time I've had to use a hairdryer to get it dry. I got it somewhat wet when we were away for my brother's wedding and I had to use my sister-in-law's hair dryer to get it dry.) I thought about putting it in the dryer, but had no idea how to unhook it from the actual boot. So, I was running extremely late. When I got to church, I had five minutes to spare. Yes, this is late for me. I'm type A and have to be 15 minutes early almost everywhere I go. I blame it on the fact that my mom told me I was due on June 19 and was born on June 12. I've liked being early since the day I was born!! Usually, I have major problems walking in the church parking lot. Mainly because there's nothing to hold on to or grab ahold of if I start to fall. But Sunday, since I was running so late, I almost ran (OK, not really) into church. No problems. I had no time for falling or having issues, so I just did it. Yay!

I say all the above, but the truth is, sometimes I just have really good days and weeks and sometimes, I don't. I think that may be the way it goes for my whole life. But maybe not. Maybe I will be able to make this permanent and look back on my bad walking days and hardly be able to remember them. I try to rationalize everything. I try to figure out why I can walk fine one day and have extreme problems the next, but through all of this, I've learned that it is what it is. I don't know the mind of God and I'll drive myself crazy if I try to figure it out. So, I'll just leave it in God's hands. God is God and I am not! I am extremely grateful that the toe that Dr. Gardner clipped the tendon on last Tuesday did not give me any problems whatsoever this past week. I've felt it every once in awhile, but didn't have to take any medicine (prescribed or over the counter). I did have to wear the boot to my brother's wedding, but made sure that the official photographer didn't get it in any pictures. ;) Hopefully it blended in. I wore a black shoe on my other foot and the boot is black, so hopefully it wasn't that big of a distraction in any picture. I saw aunts and uncles and cousins and friends who had not seen me since the deep brain stimulation. They were amazed that I was walking without any assistance. I think one of the biggest moments came when one of my brother's friends who hadn't seen me since the surgery was stunned to see me without a walker. He said he did a double take and then had to get the lowdown from my mom. :) To see it from other people's perspectives is humbling, exciting and downright amazing. I get so caught up in the day-to-day struggles, that I forget the big picture. The big picture is, I once had to use a walker or cane to get around and now I don't. No matter how I do it (whether it takes me 15 minutes to get from the parking lot to inside work or a store or church because I am constantly starting/stopping, or if I trip, or if I have people asking me if I need help, or if people watch me (which makes me extremely nervous)), I'm still doing it WITHOUT a walker or cane. That was the goal. That is the goal.

I'm keeping the boot on until I see Dr. Gardner on July 7. Technically, I could have taken the boot off on Saturday (that was 5 days after the tendon was cut), but he said I could keep it on until I see him. I'll get the bandages removed and the stitch out of my toe on the 7th and we'll go from there.

This past week was a gift. I know that. I know my walking could have been terrible and hampered all the festivities that were going on, but it didn't and that is a gift from God. He is good all the time. Always and forever, I'll keep proclaiming that God's Got This!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 27, Foot Doctor Update

After almost a month boot-free, I've been booted - again. It was a blissful 27 days boot-free. Wait, who am I kidding?! This is ME we're talking about. While some days were blissful, others were not so much. I broke my no-falls streak. I had issues with swelling and my foot hurting. So, I'd say half of the 27 days were blissful, the other half - well, they were tolerable. ;)

It was today, on the day I went back to the foot doctor to get booted again, that I was finally able to wear different shoes other than the tan "work" ones or the tennis shoes that I've been wearing. My foot had been too swollen up until today to fit into anything else. The irony of it makes me laugh. I'm just thankful that the good Lord saw fit to take away the swelling in the first place. Also, ironic - I was finally getting more up to speed in terms of my work-outs only now to be side-lined again for about two weeks. But I thank the Lord that I have been able to workout. I got up early this morning to do just that one last time.

Dr. Gardner clipped more tendons, or maybe just a tendon, in my middle toe. Using the word "clipped" makes me cringe. I don't know why, it just does. I wasn't nervous about today's appointment at all, until yesterday, when the nurse called to confirm it and used the terminology "in-office surgery." I know, I know...any time you cut or clip anything like a tendon, it's surgery, but the term "surgery" just gets me every time. If you think that I'm used to surgery (no matter how big or small it may be), you're wrong. As much as I've had, I still get nervous. But today was different. I went alone to the appointment. I didn't have to do pre-op stuff. I did have to sign a waver and as I did, I asked the nurse, "Is this in case he messes up?!" But that was the only thing "surgery" about it. It really was fine. The "worst" part was getting the shots to numb my toe and that wasn't even bad. Although - I was talking to Dr. Gardner and then he brings the needle out and I stop mid-sentence. ;) It was long and scary. I was both fascinated and a little anxious. I wanted to look, but at the same time didn't want to look. I ended up looking and for whatever reason, did OK with that! Before all of that, Dr. Gardner observed that my foot and toes were much more relaxed today. I told him it's probably because I messed with the settings on my deep brain stimulation device. I told him that I had fallen and that made me raise the electricity in the device. But the more I thought about that, I realized that I told him wrong! I did fall, but I didn't raise the electricity, I actually lowered it. Oh well. He got the picture: I had tinkered with the settings and he could visibly see the results. I don't think I'm quite "there" on the settings yet, but one thing at a time. ;)

My foot today BEFORE the "surgery". It's the tendon on the tip of my middle toe that he worked on. You can see all the other surgical scars from my surgery in April. 

I wondered how today's procedure would work. It was in his office. Would I be able to see the whole thing go down? Would it hurt? How long would it take? Would my foot cooperate? Well, it took longer to get everything set up for the "surgery" then it did the actual procedure. While he was prepping everything, I told Dr. Gardner thank you for convincing me to get the compounded topical medication he prescribed. Insurance didn't cover it, but it's been the best money I've ever spent on medicine - haha. It really, really works! When it came time for the "surgery", I couldn't actually see anything. Dr. Gardner covered it all up. Darn. As weird as it seems, I was kind of hoping I'd be able to see everything. I was surprisingly (or not so much) a little anxious. He told me I wouldn't be able to feel anything, but I guess my trust was wavering a little bit. It turned out, I shouldn't have worried (ha - this is the story of my life. I shouldn't worry about anything, because most of the stuff I worry about doesn't come to fruition anyway! This is in part why my life verse is Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV version)). Dr. Gardner was right. I didn't feel a thing. In fact, if I weren't looking right at him, I'd never know he did anything. I saw him pick up the scissors and the stitching, but I couldn't see my actual foot. I was just thanking the Lord, he didn't use these pliers that I saw lying on the table. ;) The whole procedure took all of a minute, maybe two.

So, now I'm back in the boot. It's for protection mainly. Dr. Gardner wrapped my entire foot in a massive amount of gauze and medical tape and told me not to remove it until at least Saturday. He said that the way he wrapped it, it's actually going to help my toe heal the way he wants it to heal. He said it's keeping it straight (kind of like it's own splint). Although he said to keep the bandages on until at least Saturday, he said I could keep them on until I see him next on July 7. If I can stand it, I'll probably choose that option. ;) I'll feel better knowing that I haven't done anything to disrupt his work. Having the boot on protects all the bandages and keeps them in place. As I was leaving his office, the valet service people smiled and said, "Back in the boot, again?" Yep, back in the boot again.

Dr. Gardner asked if I had any questions. I told him, I probably would as soon as I left his office. ;) I did ask him about exercise and he smiled and said, "no exercise." So, tongue-in-cheek, I said, "No running a marathon?" He replied, "No running a marathon." I said, "Haha, I'd probably never run a marathon anyway." To which he replied, "Never say never. You never know." That's right. I never know. If you'd have asked me ten years ago would I have had deep brain stimulation and be able to walk without a cane or a walker, I would of told you NO, but here I am ten years later and I have had deep brain stimulation surgery and I am walking (no matter how awkwardly or precariously at times) without a cane or walker. God is awesome that way. So who's not to say that in ten years, I'll be running a marathon? Definitely not me! It's also back to taking showers with a trash bag wrapped around the boot. Oh what fun! ;)

While I was waiting back in the exam room, I learned all about toenail fungus. Fascinating stuff - haha. I learned that it can't be treated with over the counter medication or even topical medication or creams, Lamasil is the best. Haha, it would be the best medication as the whole thing I was reading was an advertisement for it. When Dr. Gardner came in, I told him I was reading all about it and he just laughed and said, "Good ole toe fungus!" As I'm sitting here typing this post, I thanked the Lord I don't have foot or toe fungus. I mean, that stuff is seriously disgusting! My apologies to anyone who actually does have it. I don't mean to offend, it just looks gross. ;)

Dr. Gardner gave me a prescription for pain meds and his cell phone number if I have problems, but he said this is nowhere near like what I had done on April 18. And so far, he's proven to be right. Leaving his office, I felt like I could go shopping. I didn't though. ;) I came home and took it easy. He did tell me to ice my foot and toes for an hour tonight. I said, "An hour?!?!" I think he was a little surprised at my hesitancy. He said, "Yeah, just put an ice pack on your foot and watch TV for an hour." Then I started laughing. I told him I thought he meant he wanted me to put my foot in a bucket of ice for an hour. He had told me to do that (although not for an hour!) after the surgery in April and I could barely last 30 seconds. ;) He laughed and said, "No, just put an ice pack on your foot this time." Whew!! What cracks me up the most is, I walked faster and with more confidence out of his office after "surgery" and in a boot, then when I walked into his office with my own two feet in regular shoes. This is my life, people!!

I have been so unbelievably blessed through this whole situation. What situation you may ask? EVERY SITUATION. I'm sitting here typing this and I'm remembering back twelve years ago when this whole journey started. There have been days that I want to forget, but I'm choosing to think of every situation, every missed diagnosis, every procedure, every hospital stay, every fall, every surgery, every embarrassing moment, every doctor, nurse, tech that I've met along the way, every single moment of life as an adventure. And thinking that way, turns my entire perspective around. I'm sure there will be days ahead filled with sorrow, depression, "why me", tears, frustration and all the rest because I'm human and that's my natural tendency, but in this very moment, I choose joy. I choose to see the adventure in every situation. I choose to see the growth and knowledge I gain in every situation. One thing remains: No matter what happens next, I'm still, as ever, convinced and know to be true that God's Got This!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 20

I can't believe a week has gone by since my last post. Seriously, some weeks just fly by and other's drag on, don't they?! The past week was so much better than the week before.

I finally started walking better - yay! Mind you, not perfect, but better. I'm thankful for this because Friday, I got all the way to the front door at work and realized I didn't have my badge to get in. I did one of those things where I glanced back at my car wistfully as if to say, "You're so far away, is it really worth it to walk back to you?" I weighed my options. I might have almost cried. ;) But then, I knew what I had to do, so I turned around, looked my car dead in the face and started walking. I was on a mission. A mission from God. Haha. I walked to my car and didn't fall - yay, God! I looked in the passenger side, since I thought I must have put it on the seat. No badge. I walked to the driver's side and didn't fall - yay, God! I looked on the seat and didn't see it, but when I opened the car door - there it was - stuck between the seat and the door - yay, God!! Once I had it, I looked the front door to my work dead in the face and walked back in with no falls - yay, God!! It's the "little" things to others that tend to be the "big" things for me. ;)

I have to thank Tina for walking with me in the parking lot at church on Sunday morning. I was having a time of it! I get so nervous when I think people are watching me, that it makes my walking even worse. I so wanted to grab a hold of Tina and hang on for dear life, but I didn't. She walked beside me, as slow as me, until we both made it safely inside church. Thank you, Tina! And if I'm being honest, I need to thank a million other people for doing the same thing. God shows up in the form of friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers when I don't know how I'll make it from Point A to Point B. He always, always saves the day.

I sometimes wonder if God allowed me to get dystonia so that He could teach me perseverance and patience, how to be brave and how to love myself like He loves me. I am none of those.

Perseverance?! I'd rather lay down and take a nap.
Patience?! Have you been reading this blog? I am the least patient person on the face of the earth!
Brave?! Not so much. I'm scared of my own shadow sometimes!
Loving myself? Yeah, not that either. I always find flaws.

BUT - what if God is using dystonia to teach me all of this? I kind of feel like the Israelites in the Bible in Moses' time wandering through the desert. It took them 40 YEARS to see the Promised Land. I'm on year 12. Dear Lord, please help me to get the picture soon...I don't want to be wandering for another 28 years or more!!

I say that, but I KNOW God is teaching me. However slow I learn, I still know He's teaching me. He's leading me and protecting me.

My foot and toes are slowly healing from the surgery I had on them back on April 18. It's been 2 months and 2 days and my foot and toes still swell. Albeit, there have been times when they are almost back to normal as well. It's a catch 22 for me: sometimes I want to wear tennis shoes all the time because they support me better and I feel as if I walk in them better, but then there are times I don't want any shoes or socks on at all so that I can let my foot "breathe". I am still applying the topical cream at least twice a day to my foot and toes. My prayer is that there will be NO SWELLING by the time I go back to Dr. Gardner next Tuesday, the 27th.

I'm thankful for the week that has past and I'm hopeful for the week that lies ahead. In every situation, I know that God's Got This!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 13

Perspective is everything. That's what I've been mulling over this past week. Perspective. This time last year, I was still wearing a wig and walking with a walker. This year, I've got my own hair and no matter how hard it may seem at times, I'm walking on my own two feet.

However, I haven't been walking the best this past week. I broke my "no falls" streak on Saturday. I didn't injure myself except a little scrape, but it's so frustrating. My dad says that, at times, I drive too fast. I was thinking about that today and if I do drive fast, I think it may all circle back to the fact that I can't walk fast so I have to make up for it somewhere. But truly, in all honesty, I do drive safely and the speed limit.

Today, I literally left work for an appointment, 5 minutes earlier than I had normally planned to, just so that I could build in walking time to my car. And you know what? I needed that time!! It took me 6 minutes to get there. This may not seem like a lot of time to some, but if you knew where I parked in relationship to my desk, you'd think it was! I just want to go fast!!! I want to walk fast, run fast...all of it. :)

I did turn the electricity in my device down after my fall. It was set at 4 and now it's at 3.70. It's better, but I'm still not quite "there" just yet.

I take medication (along with the deep brain stimulation) to control my movements. It's actually a Parkinson's drug. I'm always super diligent about making sure I never run out of medication or get myself in a bind, that is - until this week. I picked up all of my prescriptions on June 9 - except for this one Parkinson's drug. It was delayed because I had run out of refills and the pharmacy had called my doctor and was awaiting a return call to say they could fill it. The pharmacy tech asked if I had enough of the medication to last me until they heard back from the doctor. I said yes. It turns out I did have enough until last night. Last night I started to panic. I realized that I never heard back from the pharmacy and I had one dose for the night, but only half a dose for today. So this morning, I frantically called the pharmacy. They said that they had not heard back from the doctor and said I could try giving him a call. So I did, and to make a long story short (after leaving them a message and slightly panicking), the doctor called in a new prescription and I now have the drug. Talk about stressful. I'm going to try to never run out of medicine again. The pharmacy was going to give me a three day supply, but I panicked wondering if the doctor was out on vacation and I wouldn't be able to get more than three days. But in the end, God worked it all out!

This past week, I celebrated a birthday. Actually, my birthday was just yesterday, June 12. My younger brother, Stanton and I share a birthday. I'm the type of person who LOVES celebrating birthdays. I know some people don't like celebrating them and for the life of me, I don't know why. I mean yes, we get older, but isn't that the point?! I mean, yes, getting older is messy. We have problems we never had when we were younger. Our bodies deteriorate more. BUT, again, it's all about perspective!! Birthdays should be a time to celebrate every scar - for every scar tells a story. We should celebrate that God gave us another day to wake up and be alive. We should celebrate our wrinkles and age spots and gray hair, because we've lived and continue to live. Perspective changes everything!! Plus, I love, love, love gifts. I'm just being real. The more presents the better - ha! :)

One birthday surprise was that my youngest brother, Steven came into town. He lives and works in Alabama now, but he came to celebrate with me! As he announced to our other brothers, "25% of the Elseroad siblings think I'm the best brother." Haha. He does know how to make my day!!

I have to give a shout-out to my sister-in-law, Aubrey and my other brothers, because they celebrated me well. I got spoiled with Chinese food and my favorite birthday cake (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) and presents. I'm one blessed girl!!

At work, my friend and co-worker, Debbie made me cupcakes (again, yellow cake with chocolate frosting!) and all my co-workers showered me with love. Again, I'm blessed!

So this past week had its ups and downs, but that's just life. We have to take the bad with the good. But even when bad comes, it's all about perspective. Sometimes bad isn't really bad after all, it's just another life lesson to learn. I've always known and continue to proclaim, God's Got This!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: June 6

Relearning how to walk without a boot has proved successful, frustrating and everything in between. In everything I see how God loves and how He provides. How He protects and how He's with me every step of the way.

I almost bit the dust this morning walking into work because I got distracted by someone, BUT the good news is, I didn’t. ;) I also didn't get attacked by the rogue mockingbird that’s been dive-bombing co-workers of mine – there’s always a silver lining – haha!

My first full day boot-free was Friday. It felt so weird. I’m thankful that I “practiced” walking without it the night before because I kept thinking the ground was closer than it was. I survived a full day though on Friday without it. I did however have it in my car, just in case I needed it.

Saturday morning, I exercised on the bike. I was thrilled with my walking that morning in the house. My toes touched the ground and were straight. It’s amazing how, with straight toes, I have WAY more balance. I was so excited. But maybe I was just a little too excited. ;) I decided to turn the electricity up in my deep brain stimulation device. I went from 3.30 volts up to 4. So, I guess technically, today is not a Turn-It-Up Tuesday as I did the turning up on Saturday. ;)

It remains to be seen if I turned it up too much. Yes, I’m having a few problems, but I always have a few problems right after adjusting it. So for now, it’s on 4 volts. I ran errands all day Saturday and while the morning was great, as the day wore on, I started to fade. I wasn’t as balanced, didn’t feel as confident walking and my foot and toes hurt. I was done by 4 pm. So, I went home. I checked the mail and the compounded topical medicated cream that Dr. Gardner had prescribed for me was in the mail! It could not have been better timing. I put it on right away and it was like a miracle drug. Seriously. The lidocaine in it helped immensely. Relief!! I’m so glad he changed my mind about filling the prescription. I can apply it 2-3 times a day and the pump is regulated with the exact amount to put on. I’ve been doing it twice a day. I have to rub it in for about two minutes when applying it. It’s like giving myself a mini-massage every time I do it. I do it once in the morning and once right before bed. Since Saturday night, I’ve slept well. No waking up because my foot or toes ached. Money well spent on that prescription!

My foot and toes are still swollen.

I had to go through several sets of shoes to find some that fit. It’s funny, usually I pick my shoes by what I want to wear. But now I pick my wardrobe by what matches my shoes. Since the boot is black, I wore clothes that matched black shoes. Now, the only shoe I can fit into is tan, so my wardrobe matches tan shoes.

Sunday was not the best walking day, but I got by with a little help from my friends (and family). I did OK walking up to Communion and back from it. I didn’t trip or fall into anyone. And yes, once, when Pastor Mark was still our associate pastor, I tripped and fell into him during Communion. He’s got cat-like reflexes though because he caught me with one hand and balanced the Communion wafers with the other!

Yesterday, wasn’t the best walking day either, but again, at the end of the day, I marveled at how I didn’t once fall. God provides all the time.

Yes, the past week had great days and not-so-great days, but isn't that life?! Even with frustrations, it simply amazes me that I am NOT walking with a cane or a walker anymore. Sometimes, I just have to stop and remember that. I am exceedingly blessed. God's Got This!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday (but on a Thursday): June 1, Foot Doctor Update

My boot got the boot today - sort of!! :)

I saw Dr. Gardner today and it was good news/OK news. Notice I didn't say good news/bad news! I wrestled with the idea of bringing my left shoe in with me again. My decision? I brought it in with me! Dr. Gardner first looked at the callous on the bottom of my foot. It has healed tremendously. There was only a little spec of it left and he got rid of that today! When I looked at it after he shaved it all off, I told him, "You're a miracle worker!" He said, "No, I'm just a carpenter." To which I said, "Like Jesus!" He then laughed and said, "NO!! I'm no Jesus." ;)

I got two X-Rays and he said that everything looked good and everything was healing nicely and like it should. Except that stubborn middle toe. So there was a decision to be made. Did I want him to do an in-office procedure where he would numb my toe and foot and then clip the tendon? Umm...YES. I didn't have to think twice about that. I knew two weeks ago that that was a possibility. In fact, I kind of had it in my mind that he would do it today. In fact, he even asked when I'd like it done and I said, "Today!" But, he wants me to wait at least another 2 weeks to allow the swelling to go down even more. Yes, my toes and foot are still swollen. It's gone down remarkably well, but it's not "normal" yet. No begging or pleading would get him to change his mind about doing it today. God's again teaching me (by forcing me!) how to be patient. I go back on June 27 to have that done. He said it won't take more than 15 minutes to do.

Dr. Gardner did say I could kick the boot to curb though!!! Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), I got scared. Would I injure myself without the boot? Would I be able to walk without it? So many thoughts running through my head. They manifested in my indecisiveness. Since I brought my shoe with me, I could have walked out in the shoe. But I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do. Finally, I just told Dr. Gardner, "You decide for me. Tell me what to do!" And so he did. He said to wear the boot for the rest of today. Tomorrow, I can wear the shoe. Whew...I'm glad he made the decision for me or I may have still been in his office at this hour trying to decide! I don't have to wear the ace bandage any more, but he does want me to continue to tape two of my toes. He said it'll continue to help the swelling go down.

I told him that my foot and toes continue to ache. Not all the time, but they do. He said that it'll just take more time for the incisions to heal and not be so tender. Patience, grasshopper! Patience!! I asked him if I still had to ice my foot and toes. He said, if I get home at the end of the day and I felt like it, I should. Just for 15 minutes or so. But it's not mandatory. I told him that I didn't get the compound topical cream that he wrote me a prescription for because my insurance wouldn't cover it. He said he could give me a prescription for another cream that's like an anti-inflammatory and that would help reduce the swelling. But, after much discussion, I'm getting the compound medication after all. Some of the deciding factors were that it actually also has a numbing agent in it which in my case would probably greatly help me. He also said that it's a big jar. It'll last 6-8 weeks and that's if I apply it three times a day. Once I start applying it, I don't have to ice my foot at all (that would have been the same with the other medication as well)!

I got to exercise today for the first time since April 17!!!!!!!!!! I am was SO HAPPY about that. I had asked Dr. Gardner if I could. He had me remind him again of what type of exercise. When I said stationary bike, he said that was fine. He said I shouldn't get on a treadmill, but a stationary bike was just fine. I asked him if he could see me on a treadmill? I told him I tried that once and couldn't do it. I was falling all over myself. He laughed. A few weeks ago I got a new work-out top that I've been dying to wear. I put it on tonight, put tennis shoes on BOTH of my feet and hit the bike.

I took it slow and steady. I wasn't even disappointed that I didn't go as fast as I normally do or didn't burn as many calories as I normally do. Tonight was all about just getting back in the swing of things. It was bliss. Yes, I said bliss. I think I need exercise as much for stress relief and endorphins then I do for keeping my weight in check. It was awesome.

Circling back to the beginning of this post - while I get to give my boot the boot for now, I will have to wear it again after I get the tendon clipped on June 27. Dr. Gardner wants me in it for 5 days after. He said it's more for protection and keeping the bandages in place then anything else. I call it dangling the carrot in front of my face. He's giving me two weeks without it and then I have to wear it again for 5 days? That's just cruel!! I'm only joking about that. But, part of my decision in making the appointment for the 27th was that I didn't want to get completely used to walking in a regular shoe only to have to go back to the boot. Also, Dr. Gardner is going to be out for the next 2 weeks so this was the first appointment I could get - so there's that! ;) I have to say that my foot is really tender where that callous used to be and I'm so glad that Dr. Gardner made the decision that I should wear the boot for the rest of the day today and start wearing a real shoe tomorrow because when I put on my tennis shoes tonight, I noticed my proprioception (My big word for the day that I learned from a physical therapist years ago. It means where you are in time and space) is WAY off. I thought the ground was closer then it was and it just felt really weird. Better to get that out of the way in the privacy of my own home then in front of co-workers - haha! Seriously though, I didn't fall.

My foot has been giving me some problems, dystonia related. I've got to get back to a setting (with my deep brain stimulation device) that works for me. I haven't found it yet and the frustrating part is with dystonia, you don't see results instantly, so I don't know if I'm on a good setting for me or not until a couple of weeks pass by. Oh well, this is teaching me patience!! Since I just "upped" it on Tuesday, I must wait. But it was giving me a time at Dr. Gardner's office. I told him that it knows it's being looked at so it wants to ball up. He said it knows it has an audience. Yes, indeed! So, I'm a little frustrated in that department. BUT - I have many, many things to look forward to and that makes me happy. I look forward to getting that middle toe fixed, I look forward to my birthday (and everyone else in my family's birthday - it's Elseroad Week June 11-June 16). I look forward to what God's doing in my life. A co-worker today reminded me that God didn't bring me this far to just forget me. He has a plan, a mighty, majestic wonderful plan. That's what I look forward to. I trust God knows what He is doing because always and forever, God's Got This!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: May 30

It's been awhile since I've had a "turn-it-up" Tuesday, but today, I did turn my deep brain stimulation device up. Two weeks ago, I turned it down, but in the time since, I've realized I actually need it up, so I'm at 3.00 volts on Frequency C now. We'll see what that does. ;) I'm hoping to get in contact with my (formally Nashville) neurologist, Dr. Tolleson, who now lives here in Knoxville and works at the same hospital as my brother. Dr. T. moved here in May and had told me that he'd probably need the whole month to set up and get going, but he could probably see me in June. Now that June is almost here, I need to call and set up an appointment.

This past week I finally got miserable enough wearing the boot 24/7, that I gave the night splint that Dr. Gardner (the foot doctor) gave me another try and this time, I didn't feel like I was going to unintentionally injure my foot while I slept. So, I 've been wearing it every night since. I was finally getting some good night's sleep. That was until the weekend and then all of the sudden, I started waking up again in the middle of the night, my foot and toes aching. Oh well. ;)

I continue to ice my foot every night. I'm hoping this will come to an end when I see Dr. Gardner again this coming Thursday. It's a whole routine in and of itself! That, coupled with taping two of my toes is now a nightly ritual. ;)

I don't know what it is - maybe I'm just that much more aware, but I've seen more people in boots over these past few weeks then ever before. Just Saturday, there were 4 different people in Kroger wearing them. I joked at the beginning of all of this that wearing a boot was all the rage right now and all the cool kids are doing it, but I was trying to be funny! It now seems like that's actually coming true - haha. I had a 20 minute conversation with a lady in Kroger about it. She had just gotten out of hers after breaking her ankle. This is my PSA: Be careful out there!

So, that's a mini-update from me. Not a whole lot to say, but that's good too sometimes!

I hope everyone has a fantastic week and always remember, God's Got This!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 23

This past week has been pretty good, minus the mini pity party I had for myself on Thursday. I have NOTHING to complain about! Sitting here tonight, writing this post, I can truly say I'm blessed and thankful. So, please forgive me for the pity party that was some of Thursday's post. I'm much better now - haha!!

I've been icing my foot religiously every night. I do it while eating ice cream - somehow that makes it better and more tolerable! I continue to wrap two of my toes in tape and then wrap the whole foot in the Ace bandage and then securely put it in the boot. I tried using the "night boot" that Dr. Gardner gave me, but I'm such a wild sleeper that after the first night in it, I felt like it didn't give me enough protection, so I've gone back to wearing the boot that I wear everywhere.

The compounding pharmacy called me about the compounded topical (cream) medicine that Dr. Gardner wrote me a prescription for. It turns out my insurance won't cover it and it's $45. While $45 isn't super steep, I decided against getting the prescription filled. If it were life and death, then of course I would get it, but since it's not, I decided against it. However, that decision may be causing me some rather sleepless nights. ;) The cream was to have some numbing medication in it and I assume that would have helped with the aching that tends to wake me up every night. My foot and toes just ache. Not a stabbing or even irritating pain, just an ache. I've said this before, but my foot and toes actually feel better when I'm walking then when just sitting still.

The callous on the bottom of my foot is looking better. Just last night I started to see progress. I was beginning to think it would never start healing. Let's remember, patience is not a virtue I score highly on! But it's starting to heal now - praise the Lord!

At church on Sunday, my friend Kaitlyn said that she put two-and-two together and realized that her boyfriend saw Dr. Gardner for an issue he was having. Small world it is!! ;)

I haven't adjusted any of the settings in my deep brain stimulation device since last Thursday. I think I might need to, but I am trying to give it a little more time to get used to the setting that it's on now. I walk fine, but it's when I sit that my foot does not want to be still. I'm kind of wondering if my boot is helping me walk. When it comes off, I'll have to rely solely on the electricity in my brain, so I may have to adjust it then. But, who knows? Maybe things will even out by then. I'm grateful I have the ability to adjust the electricity as I see fit. It's an amazing world we live in - I can adjust the amount of electricity that my brain gets - how cool is that?!

I hope everyone has a safe, relaxing and fun Memorial Day weekend. Always remember, God's Got This!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday (but on a Thursday): May 18, Foot Doctor Update

I saw Dr. Gardner (the foot doctor) today and here's how it went...

His nurse had a doozy of a time getting the Velcro off of the boot. I promised her that I have been taking the boot off every day to get a shower in the morning and to ice it at night (thinking that the more I take it on and off, the easier the Velcro would come off). She had such a hard time this time, that I offered to help and did, but that Velcro didn't move until we were both pulling on it! She then took the Ace bandage off. Thankfully, I washed that last night. If I had not, everyone within a mile radius of us would have died from the smell. It was disgusting!! When she got to the tape on my toes, she exclaimed, "Aww, you have such a pretty color of tape (pink)!" (Side note: Dr. Gardner said that I could buy that tape so much cheaper ($1.50 or so as opposed to $4 at a drug store) if I bought it at Tractor Supply - he said it's the same tape they use to tape cows with!! Haha.)

After my foot was out of the boot and the Ace bandage and the tape, I got an X-Ray. The nurse noticed that one of the dissolvable stitches in my toe had not dissolved yet. I noticed it too, because I didn't know what it was at first and tried pulling it out - with no success. ;)

After the X-ray, Dr. Gardner came in. I remembered to bring in the brace that I had made for me years ago but don't actually wear anymore. Dr. Gardner wanted to see it. I told him that I didn't wear the brace anymore because it made it even harder for me to fall. He said, "You're going to have to explain that one to me!" I tried and then he said, "You mean you get hurt worse when you fall while wearing this then if you fell without wearing it?" BINGO. He hit the nail on the head with that one. That's exactly what I meant to say. In the same bag as my brace, I also brought my left shoe. When Dr. Gardner grabbed the bag to get the brace out of it, he discovered the shoe and he turned with a smile on his face and asked, "You think you're getting out of the boot today?" My thinking had been, if I didn't have to wear the boot anymore, I'd need a shoe! But, I was also thinking that if Dr. Gardner wanted to see me in my brace, I would need it. I laughed and quickly responded with, "I brought it in case you needed to see me in the brace." Yeah, that's why I brought it!! ;) He examined the brace and put my foot in it and declared that he could see why I didn't wear it anymore. It doesn't really give me any support and it digs into my skin. NOT COMFORTABLE.

He asked if he could maneuver my foot for a minute. He said, "I know you're going to fight it (involuntarily)." He moved it into a 90 degree position and it felt wonderful. He said that's what his brace would do. That's what the boot is doing now. I also reminded him that I'm still "playing" with the settings on my deep brain stimulation device. He knew this before the surgery. I told him this past week, I've felt more of the dystonia systems return. The first two weeks after surgery were wonderful in the dystonia symptom department - I didn't have any, but I think now that my toes are coming out of being numb, I'm feeling more contractures. My toes don't curl under - because they can't now! - but, the underlying "pulling" is still there. I told him that I had not "played" with the settings in my device since the surgery because I didn't want to mess any of his work up. But there in the office today, I took my remote out and messed with the settings. He wanted to see it and how it worked. So, I showed it to him. And I went from 4.00 volts on setting C DOWN to 2.90 volts (the furthest down I could go). And you know what?! I left it there. It felt good. I told him that it really takes about two weeks to see any dystonia results. Sometimes, I think the system just needs a jolt - you know a big shake up! Haha. If this level gets to be way too little and I'm having major problems, I'll turn it right back up to 4, but (at least for this day and tonight), I'm leaving it at 2.90.

The callous on the bottom of my foot has been acting up again this past week (meaning, it's been hurting really bad!). Dr. Gardner looked at that again and he said, "It needs a little more help again." So he shaved it down some more. I asked why it hurt so bad and he explained it to me, but now I've completely forgotten what he said! But what I do remember him saying is that it is healing, so that's all I really need to remember! He put some topical medication on it along with mole's skin. It'll speed up the recovery. I'm supposed to leave all of that on until tomorrow and then he said that I'll start to see the callous peel away.

Dr. Gardner said everything looked good and healing is what he expected it to look like a month out of surgery, but he's a little concerned about my third toe. He said it's still not doing what it's supposed to do. He then said that he may have to do an "in-office" procedure where he would numb my toe and clip more of the tendon. I wanted it done right then, but he's being more cautious and giving it a little more time to see if it'll straighten out on its own. He said that the swelling has gone down in my foot and toes. I told him I didn't think it had. He said, "Well, you look at it every day. From two weeks ago, it's significantly gone down!" I told him that I've been icing my foot every night. He said that's what's contributed to the decrease in swelling.

I joked with Dr. Gardner that I am probably the only patient he's ever seen that actually doesn't mind wearing the boot. He smiled and said, "I thought you'd like it after you got used to it." It's not that I love making fashion statements with it, or that I love wearing it all the time - it's that it gives me so much support. Yes, I've had some troubles, but over all, it's helping me. However, when Dr. Gardner said he wants me to wear it for at least another two weeks, I had mixed emotions. I'm thankful that it's still going to be there to give me support, but I was hoping to get rid of it at the same time. It's definitely a love/hate relationship. ;) I also have to continue to wrap my toes and ice my foot. BUT - the good news about the ice: I've been icing it for 30 minutes every night and he said I could do it now for 15-20 minutes - yay! He's also giving me a compounded topical medication that I can put all over my foot and toes. It will help in reducing the swelling. Dr. Gardner gave me a new boot to wear at night. I can't wear it out because it has no sole like my other boot, but at night it'll be more comfortable to wear then the heavy boot.

I go back to see him on June 1.

So, the journey continues, one small, rather awkward, step at a time. I get discouraged some times, however God always throws me a lifeline. Today, I was a little sad. I don't even really know why because things are healing and progressing well and Dr. Gardner is pleased. I guess it's the part of my personality that always wants things now and wants them perfect. ;) But, I sent a text to my family telling them how the appointment went and what Dr. Gardner said and their responses instantly put a smile on my face. That's God cheering me up. ;) And - when I think back to a year ago, or 2 years ago or 5 years ago, I can't even tell you how in awe I am of where I am now! God continues to work miracles in my life. He's teaching me and stretching me and loving me. I am in awe of the way He works. When I get discouraged or sad, I just look at what the Lord's already done and is continuing to do in my life and I know....GOD'S GOT THIS!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday: May 16

I learned this past week how much my niece, Hope, and I are alike. She just turned one and is "this close" to taking off walking. My sister-in-law was telling me that she walks better on carpet then on hardwood. I do the same! She also told me that when she's distracted, she walks more steps, but once she realizes she is walking, she falls. I do the same!! Haha. So, 36 years may separate us, but we are still alike in some ways. Hope will be running before we know it!

I must admit I had some issues this past week. I think I may have psyched myself out on a couple of occasions, but nonetheless, I had some issues getting into church. Thankfully, both times there was someone there to help. It's weird: I don't like people watching me walk, however, I don't mind and actually want people to walk with me. Once someone is beside me, I feel like I walk better. This has proven true, even with my nieces. If I hold their hand (or they hold mine), I walk fine. I guess it's just enough distraction to get my mind off of walking? Who knows! But I do have many "tricks" that I use to walk.

My foot and toes are healing - I think! They are still swollen, but maybe not as bad. I go back to Dr. Gardner this coming Thursday, so hopefully he'll say they are healing. I've been icing my foot every night for half an hour. My foot still aches, but I assume that's the tendons being stretched and lengthened. I dug my old brace out of the closet to show Dr. Gardner. While I was doing that, I found another brace. I packed it as well, but the more I thought about it the more confused I got. I knew of only one brace that was made for me. Then, it dawned on me. The second brace was not a foot brace at all, but rather the brace they made for my left arm right after the deep brain stimulation surgery when I lost function in that arm for awhile. Needless to say, I'm not bringing that brace to Dr. Gardner!

I've been wearing this boot since April 18. That means I only need to wear one shoe. I kid you not though when I say, almost every time I've gone to get my shoe, I've picked up the left one. All the right ones should be on top of the left ones, right? I mean when I take my shoe off at the end of the day I throw it into the bin, so logically thinking they should all be on top and yet, I grab the left shoe every time. ;)

In my last post, I talked about the tape that I got to tape my two toes together and how there were black, pink and glitter tape to pick from. I had picked the black, but thought afterwards I should have picked the pink. Well, I needn't have worried! I wore through all that tape in a week's time. I had to go by more over the weekend and this time, I got pink!

There have been restless nights where I rip the tape off of my toes and loosen the boot. For whatever reason, my foot decides to ache mostly at night. But this too shall pass.

Today at work, my foot started itching so bad. Of course it itched where I couldn't reach it and I didn't want to have to take the boot off to itch it. It just takes forever to get it off and on again. Yard stick to the rescue! Yep, a yard stick did just the trick.

I continue to get sympathy from the outside world. We went out to eat for Mother's Day on Sunday and this gentleman held the door open for me. He said, "I just hate that you have to wear that!" I didn't know this man, but he was genuinely sympathetic to me having to wear the boot. It also made me realize again that I need to be more kind to people in general because you never know what someone's going through. A simple smile, a wave or door held open could mean the world to someone. Sometimes (OK, most of the time!), I'm so wrapped up in my own little world and my own problems, that I don't extend kindness or grace to people that God puts in my path. I really, really, really want to be kind and compassionate and loving and full of grace. I'm going to consciously try to make other people's days brighter. I want God's love to radiate from me. This is my prayer. God has been so gracious to me, so kind to me, so compassionate to me, so loving to me, how can I not be these things to the people He puts in my path?! Lord, may it be so that I am kind, compassionate, loving and full of grace towards everyone I come in contact with.

Here it is, a year and a few months after deep brain stimulation surgery and are things perfect? No. BUT - things are a million and one times better then they were a year and a few months ago. I still marvel when I realize that I am walking (however slow or awkward it may be at times). I still praise the name of Jesus because He is working in me. This journey's not over yet and just like last week and the week before that and the week before that, I can declare and shout with all my might and know deep down inside, GOD'S GOT THIS!!!!!!!!!!