Reality has set in I’m leaving for California in just a couple of days!! I am excited beyond words to see everyone and to learn all there is new about Canvas and to absorb some of that California sunshine without having my face melt off from the east coast humidity. Those of you who just left ISTE know exactly what I’m talking about!
However, in order to allow this all to happen, I feel the need to be transparent with you all. I’ve been very nervous about attending this year, more than last. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and I feel that the best way to make the above happen is to give you all an honest stepsforbeth update now, so that it will hopefully answer questions a few of you may have, or you will have once you see me. By doing this now will actually save my energy to allow me to be there, be present, and experience the week we have all traveled for - CANVAS and learning!
Now. The last time you saw me was in Keystone. And I was walking. And it was GLORIOUS! With assistance using a cane. Not far, not fast, and mostly zipping around with the motor scooter that Scott Dennis so graciously borrowed for me (I wouldn’t have survived those hills without it!). HOWEVER, this time last year, I still had no feeling in my right leg and I was in denial that I was actually medically diagnosed paraplegic. And what no one realized (including my top medical team) was that I was actually doing more harm than good. And I couldn’t feel the pain as I walked through it.
Moving into November, a series of events occurred all at once. And because you are my friends, my FAMILY and my support system, I’m laying it out here, so here we go! I made the decision to stop taking prescription pain killers (evil things, long-term ), my right leg woke up , and the cold winter chill hit. Due to the extreme pain and realizing that bones were not exactly where they were supposed to be, I ended up relying on my wheelchair full-time.
Needless to say, winter wasn’t a pleasant time for my mental space. My leg went into full defensive mode and my foot inversion pulled in tight at 45 degrees, pushing bones out of place that surgery wouldn’t even be able to fix if they tried.
Here’s what I need you to know going into instructurecon 2019 week:
- When you see me, you’ll think that I have given up. I have not given up! My body is just doing the hard work internally. It’s tiring me out 10x’s faster than ever before. Things that happen when I’m fatigued: I struggle to process words. Could be in mid-sentence. Could be at the tip of my tongue and just cannot come out. Could come out and be completely wrong and awkward. I also can’t walk right now. I’m weak and my balance is off. My pain is OFF. THE. CHARTS. But I haven’t given up.
- Second, I haven’t broken my leg! I’m doing this process called Serial Casting. Every week I get one cast cut off, an hour of freedom for my leg (it’s seriously AH-MAZING!), stretching, massage, pedicure...actually, it’s all physical therapy, but I call it my Spa Day because it makes it feel that much more amazing! And then they plaster it right back up nice and tight into neutral position which has my head full of all kinds of colorful words for the next 168 hours. It, along with Botox injection therapy every 3 months, and a blading technique to stretch my tendons, has been turning my foot inversion out over the past 8 weeks. Let me back up a minute. Back in April, I got the call to start therapy again in Baltimore when I was at my lowest and, I’ve mentioned before about timing and miracles and prayers, and AHHHH!!! I could give you all the chilly goosebumps with this one my friends!! SERIOUSLY GOOSEBUMPS!! But I will tell you this, in 8 weeks my foot inversion has gone from a severe 45 degrees to almost 10 degrees neutral. 8 weeks. Unheard of!
(Before and After - 7 weeks of a round of botox & serial casting!)
- My personal non-Canvas goal for Long Beach is to get my toes in the sand and Pacific!! YES! And my doctors replaced my plaster cast with a brace for the trip, so I won’t tell if you don’t
- When I return home from #InstCon, I’ll continue the 4hr RT commute every Wednesday down I-95 to work on strength, balance, and walking! #onestepatatime ! And thanks to Matthew Jennings, I’ll be wearing my #CanvasStrong shirt.
Over the winter, members of our very own Canvas Community Team (Scott Dennis, Erin Hallmark, Stefanie Sanders, Cody Titmus, Alli Foote, Allison Dilts, Tami Booth, Naomi Petty, Danielle Jackson, Emily Allen, Nathan Atkinson, Adam Williams were in tune to my change and wrapped their feet (?) around me with this homemade quilt (sewn by the uber talented Renee Carney and I’ve never been so speechless and touched by a package arriving! Look at this...it’s their feet turned into butterflies! (and I heard the paint stayed on their feet for a good few days after the project before fully washing off too, that's quality work!)
Every day in my office, I am wrapped in warmth, not only from the winter chill, and even now with the summer a/c, but also on the days when I struggle, knowing that this COMMUNITY is more than just about my job and what I do for my career. It’s so much more than that! And stepsforbeth is so much more than ME!! THAT is why I keep revisiting #stepsforbeth. Our fun challenges and laughs we’ve had in past #InstCons have brought forward so many personal stories from others, many of them kept private, some I may never know. It’s not just about Beth. It’s about all of us. Replace Beth with many other names. It’s about everyone. Maybe it’s even about you. And maybe you need us to be your village, your rally, your quilt, your panda hugs, your virtual steps...whatever it is. You better believe that this community is ready to wrap around you!
Now, let’s go catch some waves!!