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If you are new to the blog, you probably want to start at the beginning of the whole sad story. To get there, use the "Blog Archive" tool in the right column of the blog and click on "2009," and then "January 25." From there you can continue to click on each week to see the weekly entries.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Shhhhh . . . listen closely. Do you hear it? That is the sound of NOTHING GOING WRONG!!!

Yes--it has been over two weeks since my last (confession) entry and things are progressing so well. I still spend most of my days storing up on sleep since I should be returning to work right after Thanksgiving break. In between siestas, I plug away at my recovery. Here is what I have been up to . . .

- I met with my physiatrist (Dr. Claudia Penalba) and she is going to coordinate my care between my prosthetist, surgeon, and physical therapist. She was so amazed at how well I was recovering and had never seen such a beautiful short leg!! When checking it out she noticed that I can flex my calf muscles (not a pretty sight--kind of looks like a hot dog taking deep breaths in and out) which was a true testimony to Dr. Hutson's genius work. Technically, I really don't need my calf muscles anymore, but it demonstrated how carefully he performed my surgery. Very nice.

- I had my first evaluation at my physical therapy place (Healthsouth). They were also so pleased with my recovery and strength. Since I only have 30 PT visits covered on my insurance, we are only going to use a few visits before I get my prosthetic. In those visits, they will teach me how to desensitize my limb, continue to strengthen it (because it is definitely getting weaker from just "hanging" around), and manage phantom pain. Once I get the hang of it, I can do the exercises on my own at home. I start tomorrow.

- I am trying to rent a newer wheelchair because mine is so lame. I would like to have one that I can propel on my own so that I can use it at school (when I go back). I will only need it for a few weeks so it is no big deal. Even though it is very rickety, it managed to get me around for our annual Cancer Free Kids 5K that we participated in on Halloween weekend. Actually--I should say it was my friends who got me around by taking turns pushing me along the route. Very fun. Next year I WILL walk it on my own. :)

- To date, I have not killed anyone with my car. Left foot driving seems to suit me.

- As I have been getting out more, I am getting more and more reactions to my missing foot. Some strangers were especially impressed at the lengths I went to dress up like a pirate (with a missing peg leg) who was dressed up as a Mom dropping her daughter off at a Halloween party. Very convincing. Then, the other day I was at Panera and a man asked me if I had lost my leg in the war. I hardly knew what to say. I guess it has kind of felt like a war but I don't think it was the one he was thinking of. For those who have known of my struggles with my ankle but haven't seen me in a while--the change is a little bit of a surprise. I saw one former school Mom the other day who said, "Good grief--you are still on those crutches!? When are they ever going to get you walking again?" So I said, "Well, I still have to wait a little before I can get my foot . . ." She looked down and she just about inserted her own foot into HER mouth. She was like, "OK--I guess I missed the memo . . ." :)

The funniest reaction is when I drop by school to pick up the girls. I usually come by a little late in afternoon so there aren't a lot of kids around. However, the handful that manage to see my car pulling up will always run over to see me. Without fail--I have had the identical experience with the kids over and over. First, they hug me and say how they are so happy to see me and have been praying for me. Then (or course), they want to see the leg. If my pants are covering my limb, they want me to pull up my pant leg so they can see it. They will immediately wonder if the shrinker sock is my real skin and (when I tell them my real skin is underneath) they will BEG ME to take off the sock. When I do, they right away want to touch and squeeze and rub and massage my scars and limb. No weirdness at all. Totally fascinated. Then--when I show them that my leg bends--they say, "It looks like a thumb bending back and forth!!!" Then--no kidding--they will look at me and say, "OK--well, see you later!!!" Game over. No big deal. Kids are amazing.

- I am happy to say that I have less and less phantom pain all the time. However, it never ceases to amaze me how it will express itself sometimes. For example, we were having a little colder weather and I was finding that my feet were cold at night in bed. I would put a sock on my real foot, but my other (missing) foot would stay cold. You might think that a sock on my limb would work but it wasn't buying it. I would finally have to get up out of bed, physically tuck the end of our quilt under the mattress so I could "see" that my foot would not be hanging out uncovered and put an extra blanket down by my feet. Only then did my missing foot warm up and leave me alone so I could sleep.

- I have been meeting more and more current and future amputees when sitting in the waiting room at doctor's visits, and through my blog. I can't tell you how many people lose limbs as a result of falls, car accidents, and lawn mowers. I talked with one lady today who lost her leg because she had been hit and then dragged down the road by her neighbor's car. Her neighbor (across the street) was backing out of the driveway, hit my lady friend who was standing in her OWN driveway, and then pulled away without knowing that she had hit anyone. Horrible. Another lady lost her leg when she was very young after her father inadvertently ran over her foot with a lawn mower. And yet here we all sit in the waiting room--missing limbs and all--talking about how we feel so blessed. And we are.

- I went to see Dr. Hutson again today and got a very positive report. My X-ray already shows that the bone bridge is joining with the fibula and tibia and is looking alive!!! I will see Dr. Hutson again on December 13, after which he will most likely approve me for getting my first prosthetic! On that note, I was a little surprised today to see a number of amputees walking with a bit of a limp when using their prosthetics. It reminds me again that I need to take it slow and do everything I can to heal properly.

Anyway--in other Heetderks news . . . Doug has two mating macaws, one newly waxed car, is making corn husk dolls with 3 and 4 year old children, is looking for a new home for his turtle, and is hoping to see his female emu sitting on an egg sometime soon. Elise helped to lead worship in church on Sunday, made cupcakes for the church picnic, danced the night away at a recent birthday party, and is excited about helping me paint our doorway. Annika made the Basketball team, did all the makeup for a recent drama production at school, and manages to keep current on Facebook and with her homework despite the fact that she has been running a 102 degree fever for the last few days and eating nothing but saltine crackers and Sprite. (I sound like I am writing one of those miserable "my family is better than your family" Christmas letters.) OK--throw in a few family arguments, my newly missing hubcap, our bulging waistlines, and the fact that our TV remote somehow fell into the bathtub and I think we are good.

Love to you all!