I’m kind of a surgery pro

At least that’s what I hear from the various assistants, nurses, and even anaesthesiologists (not to mention I just spelt that last word correctly!) May have something to do with my finishing their speeches, answering their questions before they ask them, discussing my pain level in numbers straight away as I know that’s how they want it, or using all of the official terms to discuss the surgery, anaesthesia, and medication options (why yes, I can use the term ‘arthroscopic debridement’ correctly in a sentence and recognize that it is in fact the incorrect surgery listed on my chart).

As you can imagine, I’m not particularly excited by the fact that this is my 6th reconstructive surgery in 4 years, that I’m 20 and have the cartilage of a 70 year old (or lack thereof), will most likely develop arthritis quite early, and can predict the weather by my bones.  I wear AFO like ankles braces on both ankles and take prescription pain killers daily. I use crutches if I need to walk very far, the super hip electric carts at Target, and a wheelchair to go out to eat or to the mall.

I don’t think I’ve particularly discussed my issues with my ankles on here before. I won’t bore you with too many details, but basically I have too much laxity in all of my joints. By the time I was 7 my parents had been taught by the doctor to put my elbows and knees back into place when they dislocated. So when I say I was a level 10 gymnast and spent 10 years extremely dedicated to the sport, remember that I have a strong predisposition for problems. I tend to believe it is a combination of gymnastics and stubborn, lax joints that love to be the 5% that don’t respond positively to surgery. I have broken one ankle and sprained both more times than I can count. I have now had 6 ligament/tendon/cartilage repair surgeries. This one in particular involved using a cadaver (which I consider equal parts gross and awesome) tendon to replace my useless ligaments and will have me in a cast and then boot for a combined 6 weeks. In the past I have had both ankles done simultaneously and been casted for 6 weeks and then in a walking boot for 6 weeks, so comparatively, this *should* be somewhat easier.

I try to be positive, but it doesn’t always seem to happen. My newest surgeon is supposed to be the best of the best, “if he can’t do it no one can!” type deal. He is optimistic, and I am trying to channel that…

Because surgery is not about the day or even the week that follows, it’s being on drugs that affect your alertness, the 6 months of intense therapy that must be undergone, the 12 months that your tissue is trying desperately to repair itself- a very painful process. I very much appreciate the thoughts and prayers I’ve had today and would ask that you please continue, because it really only gets harder from here.  I will admit to being very worried about how I will cope in placement next term. More so, I worry that with each unsuccessful surgery, my ability to make it as a conductor is lessened. But for now I’m trying to keep my head up and not look too closely at my plan B. After all, my surgeon is the best J

I’ve learnt a lot over the years through this. I am of the opinion one shouldn’t let the difficult things in life get past you without learning something from them. After-all, either way they will happen, so might as well get some good out them. Just in some bullet points I’ll try to highlight some of the good that has come from all of this. I know I can be long winded, so this is my attempt to say what I want to say without boring you too much.

Top 5 reasons having really rubbish ankles has helped me (in no particular order):

  1. Dependence on God- I know what it’s like to truly not be able to do it on my own and to work toward a genuine trust in God’s will.
  2. Dependence on people- Being fiercely independent it has been good for me to learn to ask for help.
  3. Persistence- Doing therapy exercises 6 years on isn’t exactly as enthralling as it sounds
  4. Perspective with:
    1. People- I work with children and adults with physical disabilities, going through this gives me just a taste of what they go through and I believe helps me to better understand them as individuals and meet their needs.
    2. The World- using a wheelchair makes me very attuned to accessibility issues. I make a point to discuss accessibility concerns with managers and various organizations to help bring awareness and advocate for others, I know the difficulty and realize it would be all the more frustrating if my situation was permanent, so I do what I can to help others. I also am more aware of global differences in disability treatment and know that we have a long way to go, but that things are changing for the better
    3. Life- going from having the ability to do a flip from my knees to often climbing up stairs on them has made me appreciating little things in life. The highs and lows have made me determined to develop a positive outlook during difficult situations. I have learned to be more flexible with life, though it is sometimes still frustrating to me to have to change plans or ways I do things. Overall, I feel less entitled with life and more grateful for it. There’s more to life than what I can get out of it. The world is bigger than my own problems and I am determined to have a positive impact on it in whatever way I am capable, despite the set-backs and barriers.
    4. Skipping queues at airports and theme parks!

As I write this I am just starting to feel a tiny bit of sensation in my toes as the nerve block begins to wear off, disappointing because after a surgery a nerve block is your best friend. On the bright side, my body is starting to remember that the iodine-orange limb in the big blue cast belongs to me and should respond to my commands. Nerve blocks freak me out because I am always afraid they won’t wear off! I’ve never heard of this happening but my thinking doesn’t seem too bothered about logic and probability when my sister can draw smiley faces on my foot without me knowing.

Hope this explains a bit more clearly what’s going on. Again, thanks for everything everyone has done to help and a special thanks to my family who are always putting up with me.

Jalyss xx

Ebay ankles 1 and 2


Ebay Ankles 3 and 4


Ebay ankle 5


Ebay ankle 6



One thought on “I’m kind of a surgery pro

  1. I enjoyed reading this, Jj. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing with us things that matter to you. Love,

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