Friday, May 13, 2011

Believe in Hope

My worst fear heading into my surgery was that they would have to sacrifice the posterior tibial nerve. That nerve provides sensation to the bottom of the foot and to the muscles in the foot. Without that nerve, you can't feel the bottom of my foot or really grip your toes. That fear was realized when they discovered that my tumor had infiltrated the nerve. My surgeons almost stopped the surgery to talk to me when they discovered this, but after meeting with my parents and best friend they proceeded to do what needed to be done.

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!


Anonymous said...

OMG, this just gave me the chills! I want to cry happy tears for you! So exciting! Can't wait for you to be strutting those Jimmy Choos again soon!

Love You,

MomHOP said...

And who says Fridays the 13th are not lucky days??? Good for you honey! Wishing you all the best with your nerve regeneration.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't see this blog until this morning. I'm so happy, and you truly inspire me to keep hope!
Love ya cousin,

Anonymous said...

Thank you all!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa, This is the best news we have had since Jan. On our trip, all of us said lt the pain keep coming.It means great progress. Kudos to Dr.Matros who obviously knew what he was doing. And kudos to you for putting up with him. Love, Mom

Jodi said...

SO.AWESOME! Hang in there and keep going!