A week ago Rebeka was sitting pretty with her nerve block, proud of her bright pink cast. I write this post the morning of Rebeka’s first cast change after surgery. It was rough. Rebeka woke up from the procedure in a lot of pain, back arched, tears rolling. Clay and I were on point in recovery, along with our sweet nurse, as Rebeka received Norco, then morphine, and then Valium, all in an effort to stave off the hurt. All that medicine finally kicked in and she zonked out, still wincing in her sleep as what we can only guess were muscle spasms surged through foot. She was wheeled out of the large recovery room and into a smaller room to await discharge.
The adrenaline was still coursing through our veins, even while she slept. On the heels of a hard week, waking up to give medicine every two or three hours, keeping her foot elevated and iced, carrying her with great care wherever we needed to go, while keeping up with the other three kids, we are all running a little low on energy.
But seeing her in pain, Clay and I kicked in again, focused on making things better, being her advocate, insisting to our nurse and anesthesiologist that this pain was worse than what we’d seen before and we really did think she could use more medicine. They were kind and believed us and obliged. It was such a relief to finally see her sleeping, but what would happen when she woke up? When we got our discharge papers, we eased her awake. We tenderly wheeled her out of the hospital, being extra careful at all the tiny bumps we had to roll over. Clay gingerly hoisted her into my car. All the while, she was still gradually waking up. I kissed Clay goodbye and he headed to work, both of us emotionally exhausted. As I started to drive, Rebeka says from the backseat, “Can I have some french fries?” I just about cried. As we talked, I realized she didn’t remember hardly any of it. She was okay, but I was still filled with all this protective, take-care-of-things energy.
So here we sit, on the couch. She eats her french fries. The pain is returning. She describes it as “spicy” and winces often. We’re trying movie distraction, and as soon as we can give her more meds she’ll get them. I am so grateful for medicine and the pain relief it offers.
Her doctor removed two pins today and manipulated her foot to achieve a better position after just one week of recovery from surgery, so it’s understandable that it would hurt. A lot. The nurse said the best way to handle the muscle spasms is to keep the foot really elevated and breathe through them, like contractions. They shouldn’t last more than 48 hours, but on this end 48 hours sounds like an awfully long time. At least at the end of contractions you get a cute little baby. What do we get at the end of 48 hours of muscle spasms? My hope is that we get back our “old” Rebeka. It’s hard to take these big steps backward, after seeing how well she was doing. It’s hard to believe she actually walked to the mailbox just two weeks ago. It was like being in parade that afternoon, as friend after friend slowed down their car to cheer. I could practically hear the Chariots of Fire theme music wafting through the air.
We saw glimpses of that old Rebeka just a few days ago, perched on the counter, helping Alayna cook. I walked in to find her flipping pancakes on the hot griddle, and chopping veggies with a sharp knife.
I would never have handed that child a sharp knife or let her get so close to the griddle, but Rebeka was doing just fine. She could handle the responsibility. Something tells me back home in Rwanda, she helped her mom cook. She wielded knives and lingered near open fires, and remained unscathed.
I am guilty of being overprotective. I am grateful for Alayna and her ability to give Rebeka some freedom. I am grateful for Katie in PT who knows Rebeka can do “just a little bit more.” I am grateful for those who push when I am too afraid to try. And maybe someday I will be grateful for this morning, this pain, these hard times.
If someone had asked me six months ago if I could handle pulling out nerve block catheters, caring for an inconsolable child in pain, carrying said child here to there and everywhere, and giving up freedoms I thought I had earned and deserved, I would have said “no way.” But nobody asked those questions. Nobody knew what to ask. They just gave. Like hot griddles and sharp knives. And here I am. Rubbing the feet of a girl I have come to love. I can do it, with the help of so many who have rallied around us, and a God who has us all covered. I just didn’t know I could.