A lot happened at the conclusion of last. I'll back up with a wrap up on the casual things but today is about my path to the present.
During the first week of October, I underwent a reconstructive surgery of my spine. In more technical terms, a fusion from T9 to the sacrum held together with titanium steel and pedicle screws with a little donor bone mixed in.
I've had to relearn how to walk. I've had to relearn how to eat. I've had to relearn how to be.
And I've had plenty of time to reflect on the vision of daily miracles.
I've never written my story but here is as good a place as any. Born the child of a father pecking out a wonderful childhood for his children in backwoods of North Carolina as a small town chiropractor, I stood in line in an elementary school gym awaiting my turn for the yearly scoliosis check. A pink slip went home alerting my parents to the growing problem of a crooked spine and my father's skill set was put to the task. He did his best but an ever growing curve had a mind of it's own and one day he and I made a long trip to see an orthopedic surgeon in the big city.
That's what they said and options were archaic at best. Harrington rods with zero bend. Plastic braces known to lead to muscle atrophy. Methodologies to make a head swim.
I can imagine my parents discussion in the dark that night as they saw a future for a daughter who with no treatment would eventually curve into oblivion and suffer osteoporosis, bowel and kidney failures, lung collapse or worse than death ... life in a bent form to be cared for indefinitely.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself enrolled in ballet lessons, the existence thereof quite unclear as a country chiropractic salary paid often times in bags of garden fresh beans and other traded goods, does not lend to such frivolities.
Somehow, the gleaning of that grocery budget, bought time and built the strength of ten million titanium rods and the future was held at bay. "Eventually she'll have trouble walking," they had said, but walk I did and more.
I danced in that ballet studio perfecting posture and building muscle memory multiple days after school and later left for university years to study ballet as an art, receive a degree in the field, and dance with a ballet company. Married and moving on from college life, I began my family all the while teaching other young bodies to do the same.
Fast forward twenty years with seven beautiful children where this ole body cried uncle.
Over the last four years, preceding the birth of our final child, a flood gate opened. What had been a well tended 45 degree curve to my spine, progressed to a rather painful 78 degrees. Four inches shorter and child bearing years behind me, I began to take a hard look at this next phase of life ... and it didn't look super appealing from any direction.
I counseled with my father and his conservative advice was jarring. Jarring, but necessary and I spent a year consumed with maintenance techniques to no avail. Having little choice but to face Time, my old enemy, I moved into preparation for the hardest decision of my life.
We found the best doctor ... a million miles away in New York City serving as head of NYU's Scoliosis research department. Upon walking into his office in the center of Manhattan, I wondered if I could possible stand a post operative trip back to Colorado, internally wincing at the time it would take to even be able to make such a journey. Within minutes in his office, he revealed his plans to relocate to Colorado in August.
We walked out of the Manhattan high rise clutching hands in silence at this marvel of fortune ... or answer to prayer?
Our move into Steamboat Springs brought us face to face with a world class physical therapy team dealing in rehabilitation of Olympic athletes. Right away we began a pre-operative program to get ready for the big day.
And yet I wavered.
There were nights laying awake reminding myself that I'd been sent to be the daughter of a chiropractor for a reason. There were tearful moments remembering the observation of an elderly woman bent in two being fed in a restaurant by her patiently faithful adult children. There were painful times stuck waiting for control over my own limbs to return from lightening stings of spasm. There were parental cautions and self doubts bouncing off of every corner of my brain in the quiet minutes of my day.
I reached for an answer. I stretched for an answer. I strained for an answer.
One night, I took some private spiritual time and flipped open to scripture reading a rebuke to "those of little faith". Did I not believe in a God of miracles? One who had made the blind to see and the lame to walk?
But that wasn't an answer.
I took myself deeper into reflection feeling like a girl in the dark, gingerly patting her fingers along the wall in the blackness hoping to find a doorknob while protectively avoiding obstacles.
One such time, the possibility occurred that I might never again have a dream team in place on my behalf. Miracles happen and I would be looked after no matter my direction. However, it would be up to me to see those miracles in whichever direction I chose.
I moved forward toward that surgical date.
Preoperative paperwork in hand, I sat in a picture window waiting for a blood work draw and I gazed out at a perfectly blue sky rebuking myself for seeking some sort of "sign" but silently pleading to be told if this was the wrong path. In that moment, a car pulled up to the curve within my view and an elderly gentleman was helped from the back seat. He straightened himself as far as possible and then limped shoulder bent to hip, across the crosswalk.
Okay, I said. Okay.
Let's do this.
And I moved forward feeling a little less alone.