Hi Sisters and Brothers! I want to open up about my recent surgery journey and the valuable lessons it brought me. Hopefully, my experience can inspire or assist someone facing a similar situation. In my latest Instagram post, some of you mentioned dealing with health concerns and expressed interest in hearing about my preparation and recovery tips for both mental and physical well-being. While I'll dive deeper into Chapter 2, for now, let's chat about the surgery.
So, they called it a bilateral tibial osteotomy. It all began during my early morning treadmill run when a sharp leg pain set everything in motion. From X-rays to an MRI, the torn meniscus led to a full leg realignment. Before I knew it, I was gearing up for the most significant, life-changing experience of my life. My doctor was clear: he'd break both my legs and realign the bones to prevent arthritis due to my Blount's disease (which translates to bowed legs and misalignment). Can you imagine a Libra without perfect balance and harmony? The irony. My surgery was set for July 2023.
I'm a pragmatic and decisive person by nature, so after assessing the surgery's importance regarding my health, quality of life, future plans, and recovery time, I checked with insurance, consulted loved ones, and more. I decided to move forward, but not without taking some crucial steps.
Day of the Surgery
On surgery day, I had my affairs in order, dealt with work matters, and even braided my hair the night before. Uncertainty about how I'd feel after the surgery made me nervous. I followed a strict routine: bathing with special soap, no moisturizer (per doctor's orders), donned loose-fitting clothes, and drank water until two hours before the procedure. I didn't eat anything for 12 hours before surgery. The morning was quiet. I prayed for a successful surgery and turned to yoga breathing to calm my nerves, just like I do before a big presentation. With my family by my side, I walked into the hospital.
Let's pause for a moment. I've always prided myself on being self-reliant and rarely asking for help. But this time, I reached out to my family for support during my recovery. I set up a schedule three months before the surgery, involving all available family members. My perspective has shifted, and I now see the value in asking for help, without shame.
At 33 years old, my mom's support during the surgery was invaluable. My family's unwavering support overwhelmed me with gratitude and joy, and I didn't fully realize how much I'd need it in the days to come.
The Surgical Procedure
Behind a curtain, I sat, cold and waiting for the anesthesia team to arrive, pondering what life would be like after this. A call from my grandmother in Trinidad over speaker phone, with her heartfelt prayers, provided comfort. The anesthesia team, a group of remarkable women, arrived to numb my legs. I woke up seven hours later, feeling different and exhausted.
The first day after surgery was filled with sleep; I don't remember eating anything. The days that followed had me yearning for my old life, desperate for the pain to end. It was the most intense pain I'd ever experienced. I learned that hospital painkillers don't eliminate pain but merely take the edge off. Towards the end of my hospital stay, I began physical therapy to help me. They were patient and understanding, teaching me how to safely use my hands to lift my body. My condition was 'non-weight bearing,' meaning I couldn't use my legs at all, and they had already lost significant muscle mass. Thank goodness for the upper body exercises I did eight weeks before the surgery. Ten grueling days later, it was time to go home.
The ambulance ride home was peaceful, and the EMTs took care to get me inside, despite my vulnerability. I was terrified, with no control over my limbs, but I had to trust others. My ability to trust was tested over and over during my recovery, a lesson in itself.
At home, my surroundings were carefully prepared for recovery, with motivational messages and various projects to keep my mental energy high. After 12 weeks in a wheelchair and rigorous physical therapy, I stood for the first time. My legs were weak, but each step filled me with immense joy.
This journey has been a roller coaster, teaching me to receive help and appreciate life. My scars are now symbols of what I've overcome, and I'm proud of them and myself. Slowing down, developing self-empathy, asking for help, being patient, breathing through pain and stress, and trusting my instincts have all become invaluable lessons.
Keeping my surroundings clean and finding gratitude in both good and bad situations has been key. I've learned to lean into the experience instead of fighting it, and I've grown more comfortable with asking for and receiving help.
This journey has led me to a deeper understanding of myself, with moments of decisiveness, vulnerability, and gratitude. I couldn't have made it without the support of my family and friends.
If you're going through a challenging physical or mental experience, I'd love to hear about it. Feel free to comment or DM me with your questions or share your own story. Thank you for taking the time to explore my journey. I hope it inspires or helps you in some way.
With love & gratitude,