Saturday, December 17, 2011

2011: Summing It Up

When I look at the calendar and see that there are only two weeks left of 2011, I start thinking back over the year to see how well I managed to live it.  This particular year started out on a special note because I chose not  to make any "resolution" but instead it was more of a generalized goal.  Now with only two weeks left of the year, it should be pretty clear about whether or not I actually managed to reach my goal.  In many ways I think the goal was pretty lofty, but when I made it, I was sincere.

For the year 2011 I wanted to be as happy, healthy and strong as I could possibly be physically, emotionally, and spiritually whether I was with someone special or alone.  
That was the goal.  After going through the second of two total knee replacements in mid January of 2011, getting physically stronger was a given.  I would have therapy, obviously, and the improvements made after the first knee replacement would surely be made again after this second surgery.  And it started out wonderfully.  For the most part, everything in my life was going very well except for a few stressful events.  But nobody's life is totally perfect all the time, and judging by my previous few years, 2011 was off to a great start!

Somewhere in June/July I somehow sprained my right ankle.  The sprain was bad enough that had I not already known what to do from previous bad sprains, I would have gone to the emergency room.  But I had been through this many times over my life including within the past three years.  I was the "proud" owner of not one, but two fracture boots, or moon boots, if you prefer the nickname.  I didn't like them but knew that they worked well for being able to keep walking with a bad sprain.  So for a couple weeks I wore the moon boot whenever I got up to walk.  What I did not expect was the effect it would have on my knees since the boot makes you walk a bit lopsided being that it makes your bad foot about three to four inches higher off the ground than your other foot.  It made the whole effort of standing up from a seated position very rough on my knees.  By the time my ankle had healed totally, my knees were beginning to flare up into a lot of pain.  Eventually my left kneecap of the knee I had just had the most recent surgery on started flip-flopping around until I was in so much pain I could not walk without my crutches, which was where I started out before the first knee replacement surgery.  Now here I was on crutches again and very discouraged emotionally as well as in pain physically.  Something was not going in the right direction for this 2011 goal.

The best part of the year was that at the beginning of August my daughter decided to take a vacation, and not only that, but she was going to take me along!  I had never had a real vacation before and was really looking forward to this trip.  She was also taking her four-year-old son, and her mother-in-law.  I was excited as well as nervous because of the implications of going on my first vacation ever and being disabled as well.  I wasn't thrilled about having to take along my wheelchair but I knew it was a necessity.  So, plans were made and I couldn't wait.  And the weekend before we were to leave was when I ended up on the crutches in so much pain I could hardly walk.  This was not a good way to start this vacation!  My daughter took me to the Emergency Room where we were told that my kneecap was dislocated.  I was given a strong shot of pain medication, and a shot of steroids to help it heal as well as a prescription for stronger pain meds than I had at home.  By Monday when we were to leave for vacation, I was ready to go.

2011 was also a year of struggling.  The sprained ankle was only part of the problems I ended up dealing with.  As part of a group of online friends in a chat room that dealt with romance scam victims, I felt I had something worthwhile to contribute back to the world even though I was pretty much home bound with only my computer to keep me in contact with others.  I made some really good friends during the ten months I was part of the group and had some challenges within the group with helping a couple extreme cases.  We were a peer support group and we all loved being able to help others who had come into the group dealing with the same heartbreak that each of us had faced at one time or another.  In mid-July, the owner of that chat room decided she no longer wanted a chat room to be part of her group that was fighting against romance scams.  So she pulled the plug.  Many of us felt very betrayed by her actions, however, not only because she closed the chat room, but because of her methods of doing it which were severely underhanded, to say the least.  However some of us expected it to happen eventually so when it did, we were ready with an alternate plan of action.  Within an hour or two of first being told that the chat room would be closed that same night, we had a very temporary conference chat going where we made hurried plans to set up a temporary chat room location until we could come up with funds to create our own permanent chat room where we could reach out to others who had been devastated by romance scams and needed a place to talk to others for support in real time chat.  Before the night was over we had a temporary real time chat room set up where all of the members of the newly closed chat room could come and still be together.  We lost only one regular chatter and one new chatter that night.  It was an emotionally devastating night for all of us but we stuck together and came out stronger.

Because of the efforts of everyone involved in creating the new chat room, we also created a whole new chat community along with supporting websites to help new victims of romance scams find a place of support, strength, and hope for their journey to healing emotionally and financially.  It did me good to feel a part of the whole process.  In doing what we did for our new site, at least two of us were motivated to get back into productivity with our own personal goals.  The one who did all the website graphics for the chat room website got back into working with her own graphics programs she loved so much before she had been scammed.  I did the html coding as well as set up a couple other pages that are all part of our "site".  Doing this got me back into blogging more, writing for the Yahoo Contributor Network, and creating Squidoo lenses again which I had not done in several years.

Around the time my daughter took me on vacation, we were also talking about how she wanted me to start going to church with her at her church instead of me continuing to wait and hope that things would change with the church I had been a long-time member of.  So slowly and gradually, I started going with her and getting to know some of the people at her church.  Now I am going there almost every week, and sometimes to the middle of the week service as well.  Physically, I am still not back to the level I was spiritually before I got sick, but I am slowly working on that.  It's been maybe the hardest struggle of all because I lost a lot of people in my life that I thought were close friends when I got sick, as well as the church home and family I was so attached to.  A lot of trust in the human church was damaged and rebuilding that trust has not been easy.  But with being back in church with a new group of people I am getting to know slowly, including the pastor, I am feeling a bit more like I am on the right path again.

A little over a week ago, my daughter surprised me again.  It gets lonely living this disabled life and I don't get out as much as I want to.  I also don't get to talk to people as much as I would like to.  I had been praying that somehow God would get my landlords to change their minds about my having pets in my apartment.  I wanted a little lap dog so much.  Waiting and hoping that someday God will bring me a husband and trusting Him with that doesn't make the lonely days and nights go by any easier.  People would ask me what I want for Christmas so I would say if Santa can't bring me a husband, then I want a dog.  A little over a week ago, my daughter and grandson brought me the cutest little Shih Tsu dog and said he was mine!  She got him as a rescue dog and she's paying for all expenses up front including vet bills, food, toys, a doggy bed, and more.  Not only has the dog, whose name is Jonah, helped make me less lonely, he has become a "therapy dog" just because of  the responsibility of taking him outside as many times as he needs to go every day requires me to go up and down a short flight of 7 steps that have intimidated me ever since I moved here in 2008.  This process is strengthening both of my knees which have not totally healed yet.  I know that, as much as my mind struggles against it, having to take care of Jonah's needs helps me take better care of my own.  Right now after a little over a week, Jonah and I are bonding, and my knees hurt like I am in physical therapy daily.  I am sleeping more regular hours because of the timings he has for needing to go outside.  I'm exhausted by the time bedtime comes around.  I am hoping that all this stair-work will make my knees and legs and back stronger with each passing day, and I also might continue losing weight as well as rebuilding muscle lost over the past few years.

So, looking back over the year of 2011 and contemplating on my "resolution" I made this time last year, I have to say that it was a total success.  There have been ups and downs all year long, but when I look at the whole year together it was good.  I have been as happy, healthy, and strong as I could possibly be physically, emotionally, and spiritually this year.  Two weeks from tonight it will be time to make another New Year's Resolution.  I might just have to do a repeat of what I planned for 2011.  Maybe 2012 will bring the husband!  

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