THE SIMPLE LIFE: Fear vs. Faith

Trish Morgan
Special to the News Tribune
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Trish Morgan

Some of you who regularly read my weekly column may remember when I talked about my life-changing surgery in late October 2020...right in the midst of COVID-19 when it was nearly impossible for elective surgeries to be scheduled.

I considered myself so blessed to have had a surgery opening for my hip replacement at Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, especially since hospitals had cancelled all elective procedures and only a patient could enter hospitals alone. This was my first time on my own, with not one person to visit.

It so happened I had a regular in-office appointment with my orthopedic surgeon the Monday prior to what would end up being my surgery on Saturday. The hoops I had to jump through, and the criteria I had to meet!

I had to first meet a 58-lb weight loss. Check. Then, I had to be available that coming Saturday with short notice for a major operation. Check. Next, blood work to determine if I had been able to get my A1C down to at least 7.4. Check. Last, while I was getting a pedicure at my favorite nail salon, Envy Nails in LaVale, I received a call from the hospital saying a nuclear stress test was ordered the very next day! Gulp.

In a nutshell, I was required to go to Ruby, have the nuclear medicine, and have the test in varying stages. I think I stressed over the stress test more than necessary, as it was no big deal. I wasn't worried about the results, but I was worried that, after four years of waiting on this hip replacement, it may yet be postponed again. All that worry, and I passed it with flying colors. I now had two days to worry about entering a hospital and staying there three days - with COVID all around. I tried my best not to think about that too much. Besides, I didn't have that much time; my surgery was at 5:45 a.m.!

End result? I did not get COVID, and the hospital followed very strict guidelines. With my new hip, I found a new life pain-free. Literally, I went from level 9/10 pain, 24/7, to 0 pain. Zero. It had been so long since I felt no pain; it was nearly impossible to believe it ever would be real to have a life like that.

Since my surgery, I relegated my post-surgery walker and cane to the back of a closet, and have found a new zest for life I never would have imagined. Cloud Nine. I could do so many things now that had been impossible, and my awake time was no longer focused on pain, pain, pain.

However. HOWEVER. A BIG however. At the present, I am taking aqua/land therapy three times a week. THREE TIMES A WEEK, because low and behold, major pain has returned. As my doctor described it, my brain recognized the enormous pain I had with my bad hip - which ranged from sciatica to inflammation to piraformis syndrome to IT band issues. You know, all those medical terms that have become part of who I am. When the hip was replaced and pain resolved itself, all was good.

The "however" part is that level 9/10 pain has returned, although not related to my hip. The pain is coming through a dictionary of medical terminology related to a back problem I have had - going back to the birth of my oldest son. Because I and my brain could only recognize one painful body part at a time, my back took a "back" seat so my doctors could address more painful areas. It wasn't procrastination, it was just taking care of the worst problems first.

My back had to wait. Besides, who wants back surgery? Not this woman!

So with a new MRI, my therapy and first, second and even third opinions from neurosurgeons in the tri-state area - my new journey begins. Cumberland, Winchester, Morgantown, and maybe Baltimore. Consultations, comparison diagnostics, weight loss, complete my therapy if I can tolerate the pain and if I can sleep. All over again.

I got this news on Tuesday, and I wallowed in self pity for hours. I just wasn't ready for this. It just came out of the blue. Blind-sided me. So, I cried and cried, talked to a friend or two, and spent Tuesday evening doing a lot of thinking - trying to figure out how I was going to face this situation. More major surgery. Going bionic, they say. I tease myself about this all of the time.

But, back surgery. Those are two scary words. SCARY. Now, medical technology has come so far with just about every surgery. This I know. For example, with my hip replacement, a robot assisted the surgeons, believe it or not!

Sometimes, though, I can be a little stubborn. The thought of going under the knife once again to take care of protrusions, herniations, spondylitis, degenerative discs and joints, pinched nerves - quite a lot to take in. Quite a lot to worry about.

Here's where I give myself advice. Schedule consultations. Take notes. Listen. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Write them down. Research (Google has endless information on these long words). Research more. Study. Become knowledgeable. Repeat and repeat. And in all things, pray. Pray for the medical personnel who have to do these intricate, complicated surgeries that can offer a patient a better quality of life. Plus, reach out to others who have experienced or are experiencing back surgery. Know your options. Choose the best road for you to travel.

For those reading this column today, I would give you the same advice when life slaps us with something we are not prepared for; this happens to all of us at one time or another.

Fear vs Faith. I choose to have faith in all things. It's so easy to give in to fear, especially when well-meaning folks say, "Trish! I would NEVER have back surgery. EVER!" Plus, you hear success stories, and some NOT successful.

Fear is powerful, and it can eat you alive if you let it. I'm a strong person. I have faced many things in my lifetime, but I'm still here…63 years old and thriving by the grace of God. Tomorrow, I will be here, God willing.

Next Wednesday, step one, same-day surgery. Not major, but a start to this new, and challenging journey. THIS TIME, the journey HAS to be walked a little differently. I learned some hard lessons since 2016. It shouldn't have taken me so long, but ya know...I mentioned that stubborn thing earlier.

Choosing faith every day for the rest of my life.

Thanks for reading, my friends. God's blessings.