I have been struggling for the last couple of days to figure out exactly how I wanted to write this, but I knew this was the next topic I wanted to touch on. So, hold on peeps, this is gonna be a fun one! ;)
You see, I was born with one leg shorter than the other. They say that most people have a leg that is a little shorter, but that is not what I am talking about. The way they found out about it (or so my mom told me) was that when I started walking as a baby, I would walk on just one tip toe. So, they took me to the doctor and he did some measurements and sure enough, my right leg was shorter than my left. As the years went on, they thought maybe it would even out, but that was never the case. By the time I was ready to go to school, there was an extreme difference, almost 3 inches. We used to have to get lifts built into my shoes, and the summer after 2nd grade I had my first surgery. It is called an osteotomy (but no 2nd grader really knew what that meant!)...They broke my femur and set it with pins and it was surrounded by these huge metal "halo" type things that held everything in place and a ever so often, my mom would turn the screws and it would stretch out my leg and the hope was for new bone to grow in that gap. Well, to make a long story short, there were two issues that happened...one, I fell while I had it on and it created a hairline fracture in my leg that was not detected by my doctor, so when I got the halo off, my bone was VERY weak and broke and grew back together from that break and so my bone was curved and lost a lot of the progress they had made with that first surgery, so they had to re-break my femur and I was in a body cast from my waist to my ankle on my right leg and wait to knee on my left leg (over Christmas during 3rd great no less!). The second thing that happened was that through the process of some extreme physical therapy and the fact that they lengthened my leg at a fairly quick rate over a short amount of time, my ligaments and tendons in my leg were SUPER tight and my kneecap would actually dislocate every time I bent my knee and pop over to the side of my knee (insert cringe here - I know it sounds gross, but it was the norm for me, so I never realized it was all that weird).
|This was right after my first surgery. My mom loved pictures, she wanted to document it all! I disliked them terribly, notice that my face is not in the picture ;)|
So, fast forward to today. I have had a total of 8 surgeries, including a rod in my femur to finally get it to grow back straight (the body cast turned out to be a waste of time, the bone popped back out of place), a surgery to snip all my ligaments and tendons in my knee and put a screw in there to hold my knee cap in place, and ACL and PCL reconstruction in one surgery, and a tibial osteotomy as well. I have had so many instances of being on crutches that my parents invested and bought a pair (which because of the blessing of having my growth plate stopped, I was able to use every time!!!) and some amazing times in wheelchairs (I once had to roll myself up the ramp at Hubbard Hall on WSU's campus...because no one would help a girl out!) There is still a difference in my legs, not one that is large enough for me to try and have more surgeries, it's about 1/4-1/2 inch difference now. I have quite the story and one funny "super human" trick I get to freak people out with. :) To compensate for the difference in my legs, I used to hyper extend my left leg to try and I guess "make up the difference" in my legs (I was young and I told you, this was my "normal"). Well, anyway...so I still do it and a few years ago, when I was in physical therapy, my therapist asked me if she could measure how far I could hyper extend my knee. She measured and it is 30 degrees! She was shocked and asked me to please stop doing it because it gave her the willies;) (I still do it, just out of habit, but Keith calls me on it quite often).
|My poor, beautiful nieces, Nicole and Candace often got roped into coming to spend time with me as I recovered from surgeries...here is Nicole and I during Christmas when I had my body cast on!|
OK! So, the reason I told you that long ole story has purpose! While I do want to share my story with others I want people to get a little something out of it too other than just getting to know me better! :) So, there are 3 things I want everyone to be able to take away:
1) What doesn't kill you DOES make you stronger!
My mom used to tell me something that got on my nerves so much as a kid; she was an AMAZING woman of God and would tell me to offer up all my pain and suffering and God would bless me for everything I was going through. There were SO many days that people would make fun of me, some of the people that I thought were some of my closest friends would make fun of me for something I had no control over and I would literally come home and cry almost every day. I had no idea why I was being put through all of the pain and hurt. Then there was the literal, physical, pain. Those surgeries were no walk in the park! I remembered those words my mom said to me all the time, offer it up, offer it up, you will be rewarded...I felt like it was a mantra of sorts for me some days. Looking back now, I am actually grateful (NEVER in a million years could you convince 12 year old me that would be the case!) for everything I went through. I have some hard memories, I have some limitations, but boy howdy did I have an AMAZING love poured my way throughout the process! I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am for the blessings I have been given.
2) DO NOT let a set back or a limitation stop you from reaching your goals!
So, after all of those surgeries when younger, I was still a cheerleader in high school and college, I was in plays and I LOVE to be on stage and sing. When it come to working out, I can't work out like a beast...it is physically impossible for me to do some workouts. However, that has not stopped me from deciding to make a change in what I EAT and how I supplement my body to make sure I am as healthy as possible! I also am still active, while maybe not as much as other people, I play with my kids, I enjoy a good 'ol dance party (you are welcome to join any time!), but the key is this - I don't use my handicap to make excuses or say, "Well, _____ is super skinny and it's because they love to run and I can't run like that, so I am just gonna not be skinny or smaller than I am now because I can't do it. " NO FREAKIN' WAY! I will do what I can as much as I can and I will reach my goals! People I'm gonna tell yo this right now too, this business is not for goals of working out or losing weight, don't let limitations stop you from reaching your goals in EVERY instance! Work through them and get past it and grab that dream!
3) You want someone to love you or people to accept you? LOVE YOURSELF!
I was my biggest critic all the time...I pointed out to everyone that I had one leg shorter than the other for so many years. I would make fun of myself and find different ways to bring it up and it was a shield. I wanted to make fun of myself and point it out because I didn't want someone to realize I was different and make fun of me or talk behind my back. Do you know why I did it? Because I was insecure, sad, defeated and I didn't want other to pounce on me. It was defense. It took me MANY years (and it's still a work in progress) to be comfortable with myself and take a compliment in ANY way. I still have issues if Keith tells me I look nice or someone tells me I'm pretty. I brush it off and think to myself, especially with Keith, "He has to say that, he is my husband." You know what...NO HE DOESN'T!If you feel that way let me share with you, TAKE THE COMPLIMENT and say THANK YOU! Believe it and believe in yourself! God created you in His image and likeness, that says a lot!
I really do hope that everyone understands, I know that many people have worse handicaps than I do or did. I truly believe that as a child and teenager I felt like I had the worst "luck" and had quite a few pity parties for myself on numerous occasions. I am proud to say that with the every enouraging words from my mother along the way and support form family and friends and an AMAZING husband who thinks I am an truly beautiful (and is even a "leg man"), I have started to see myself for the beautiful creation from God that I am and have always been destined to be. It's up to me to make the most of my life and I am not going to let a measly difference in leg length get me down! I have a beautiful family, amazing friends and an opportunity to help change lives here! It's a beautiful world out there people! Live it up! :)
Have a blessed day!