Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Chocolate Pudding: The Ultimate Pain Killer

In 1999 my husband and I went snow skiing in Salt Lake City, Utah. We wanted to check out the slopes to be featured in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Our first morning of skiing was fun. Park City is an incredible venue. As we neared the exit for one of the lifts late in the morning, we decided to race down to a nearby lodge for hot chocolate. Everything was perfect. The snow. The weather. Everything. Well, everything except the setting on my right ski binding. Bindings are set so that if a skier falls the boot releases from the ski. 

I fell. My left boot released. My right boot stayed in the binding. The right ski planted itself firmly in the snow while the rest of my body hurled down the slope. I screamed in pain. Tom got to me quickly as did the ski patrol. I won’t go into the details. Suffice it to say that even though it did not break the skin, the fall sheared the patella off. In essence, I had a broken knee. Not a typical break by any means.

My surgeon in Ohio cleverly figured out a way to lasso the patella and tie it to a screw in my leg. I was in a straight leg brace for weeks and then in rehab even longer to learn how to bend my knee again. Through it all, my mom and Tom cared for me. My mom drove me to teach my classes at the university and Tom did everything he could to comfort me. 

One day, Tom came home from work carrying a small grocery bag. “I got you some medicine,” he said in a sing-song voice. He had a huge grin on his face. I pulled out a package of four individual cups of chocolate pudding. 

I like chocolate pudding.

That came to be an ongoing practice. If I was sick or feeling down…if I had a stressful week or something happened at work, Tom would come home with “my medicine.” The man knew how to take care of me. 

My knee healed and I was able to ski again. My surgeon warned me though that one day the injury would come back to haunt me. He said I could likely expect trauma- induced arthritis in ten years or so. It wasn’t uncommon. 

My knee served me well for eighteen years before the pain started. Two thousand-seventeen. The worst had already happened. Tom died on October 29, 2014. I wound up having cortisone shots until finally the bones in my knee collapsed and the cortisone wouldn’t work anymore. 

My surgeon scheduled me for a complete knee replacement. I felt a bit overwhelmed.

Oh sure, since Tom’s death I had overcome other obstacles:
I went on a mission trip to India without him.
I negotiated and bought a new car without him.
I sold our house without him.
I bought another house and had it renovated without him.
I moved to Europe, living in Kosovo for ten months without him.

But in some way or another he had prepared me for those events. This was different. It was the first major medical issue I faced without Tom. I prayed for guidance. 

The surgery was scheduled for October 12. I had little time to prepare. I knew I would need a walker and would be going to therapy. My mom planned to stay with me and drive me to my therapy sessions. My children were looking at ways to help as well. It’s not that I didn’t have support. It’s simply that I didn’t have Tom. 

A few days before the surgery I was at the grocery picking up some things I thought I might need. There it was. A bin of chocolate pudding cups on sale… “This week only.” I bought a boatload (well, a very small boat) of chocolate pudding.

My surgery was successful. I have been faithful in doing my exercises, taking the prescribed meds, and… eating my chocolate pudding. As I write this Tom has been in heaven for four years. But I can still see his grin and hear his voice. “I got you some medicine.”

If you follow my blog you know that some of the other authors from the Ohio Christian Fiction Anthology 2018 have served as guests on the blog. These women stepped up to help me during this difficult season of surgery and recovery. 

Sandra Merville Hart, JPC Allen, Michelle Levigne, and Carole Brown. If you missed their posts, simply click on their name to read what they have to say about writing. Hart shares how she researches a location. Allen introduces us the genre of Country Noir. Levigne offers wise advice on editing and Brown gives clues to building characters within a storyline.

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