When I was in medical school, we were taught that once a nerve was removed it didn't grow back or grew back so slowly and in a disorganized fashion, and thus once such a large chunk of nerve was removed it was gone forever. However, in the intervening decade plus medicine has advanced such that we know it is possible for a nerve to regenerate, but it needs a roadmap. Thus my surgeons did a nerve graft to provide the posterior tibial nerve a route to travel. I was told to watch for a slowly progressing Tinel's Sign. Tinel's Sign is a shooting pain along a nerve that is irritated, which a growing nerve would be.
I have been afraid to believe that this is working and this current state of a numb, non-functional foot developing hammer toes, wouldn't be my life forever. I have tried to convince myself that I can learn to get used to this, that it is OK that my toes will never grip a shoe again. I mean who needs to wear slides, who needs flip flops. Sadly, I haven't been doing too well at convincing myself. I still pray every day that there is another option. But I have been afraid to hope, afraid to believe it, almost afraid to even pray.
Today, as I walked up my stairs, I was getting shooting pains into my foot, so I stopped and carefully tapped up the route of the nerve, consistently I could reproduce the sign. I looked at my roommate and asked for a tape measure. We measured how far from the edge of the scar the growth was, converted it to millimeters and came up with 112. I could consistently reproduce the Tinel's sign 112 mm from the edge of my scar, a nerve grows at the rate of 1 mm per day. So, I pulled up the callendar and counted the days since surgery, 112 days. I had the surgery 112 days ago. The reality slowly sunk in. I couldn't believe it. I could believe in hope again. The emotion overtook me, I started to sob.
I've been so afraid to believe, to hope, that the nerve would regenerate; that I'd convinced myself it wasn't. However, there were the numbers staring me in the face. It's right on target! I can believe in hope again!!! I like hope!