During my work in home health care, a common theme seemed to frequently arise. I would go to work with a patient, usually in their 80’s, often who had just had a hip replacement or some other hospitalization. They would tell me about how they were functioning beforehand—maybe fairly independently but using a walker. On my first visit following the hospitalization they would often require assistance from a daughter or other family member for almost every simple activity—getting dressed, going to the bathroom, bathing. As time went on, they would become more and more independent. A few weeks into our therapy, I would often hear the same complaint, though. With their heads hung low and eyes looking downward, they would make a comment about how they were nowhere near where they used to be. From my perspective, I was so encouraged by all of the progress they had made in just a few weeks. However, they knew where they had been, or where they wanted to be, and just couldn’t see the beauty in the progress. I would always tell them, “I know you’re not where you want to be…yet…but as long as you are moving in the right direction, you will get there. You just have to be patient.”
I have been doing CrossFit for 6 ½ years now. Really just in the past 2 years I have made a conscious decision to step up my training and try to see what I am capable of. There is a movement in CrossFit called a muscle-up. It is probably the most complicated movement, where you start by hanging from 2 rings suspended from the ceiling. You pull yourself up and on top of the rings and then press your arms straight so that you are completely above the rings. Just as is the case with anything in life, when you watch someone who is good at muscle-ups do one, you think, “That doesn’t look very hard. I should be able to do that.” But in my experience, it is SO hard. There are occasionally new people who come into the gym, take one look at the rings, tilt their heads and say, “Let me try.” And then they do it!!
I have a name for these people…
Jian was actually one of those people. Her tenacity and incredible upper body strength allow her to do muscle-ups, and she cannot understand why I have not mastered them yet. I am SO close to getting one now, it should just be a matter of time. But I have been terribly discouraged for months because I’m not where I want to be. I often have to remind myself to pause and notice the progress.
This past summer was such a blur. The girls were out of school for just over 2 months. Jian went to Baltimore for 2 more weeks of intensive spinal cord retraining therapy in June. She did so great! This was the first time her therapists kept saying that it is just a matter of time until she won’t need to rely on her crutches anymore. She did lots of walking with her leg brace with one crutch and with no crutches. They challenged her outside, on uneven surfaces, short distances and long distances. Her balance made tremendous improvements as well.
We also found a therapist who specializes in treating scoliosis in Huntsville and consulted with her to get some ideas for keeping Jian’s posture as straight as possible. Everything was moving in the right direction until the pain in Jian’s leg started to prevent her from being able to do her therapy.
We discovered that one of the screws from her surgery 2 years ago was trying to work its way back out through her skin. For her to complain about pain, it must have been extremely painful. We made the decision to go ahead and remove all of the plates and screws in her leg in July. We knew after her surgery in 2016 that we would need to do this, but had just been putting it off. So we went back to Baltimore again for the surgery, expecting to be back to normal in just a couple of weeks.
Fast forward over 2 months later, and Jian is just now able to start therapy again. She developed a skin infection from the adhesive on the bandages, which set us back. Now we are having to rebuild some of the strength she had gained before the surgery. She has been terribly disappointed because she expected to be further along in her progress at this point.
In June, Faith had another cardiac catheterization to compare her numbers to last year. Both her pulmonary pressure and pulmonary vascular resistance had improved! She went back to Children’s Hospital for an extensive dental procedure last month, and her oxygen saturation stayed between 85-88%, going as high as 91% at times! We had previously been told that her condition had no possibility of ever improving. Her numbers are still a long way from “normal,” but we are so thankful for her progress and that things are moving in the right direction.
I have talked to several friends recently who are facing difficult challenges, and this theme of progress keeps coming to my mind. I know how discouraging it can be to see where you once were or to know where you want to be, and when you look at your present situation, you aren’t there yet. When I find myself becoming discouraged, I immediately turn to scripture for comfort.
Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all of my fears.
John 16:33 …In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
I tell my girls that it is ok to feel disappointed, but we are not going to dwell on it. We are going to focus on our progress and the blessings that have been poured out on us, and we are going to trust that the Lord will work all things out for good in His perfect timing.
Because I know there will come a day, either on this earth or in Heaven with their glorified bodies, when both of my girls will run carefree of any physical or mental limitation, and that gives us something to celebrate as we trudge through the progress. As long as we are moving in the right direction, we will get there. We just have to be patient.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary; They shall walk and not faint.