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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Bright Sides of my Ankle Recovery

Female Strength Mural at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

 I have always been a "Let's look at the bright side" kind of person.  During difficult situations sometimes you really must search for something positive.  Positives can be hard to find and maybe they will not be revealed until a (much) later date. I do believe; however, God can use anything for His good, eventually. God also can provide comfort and grace during a trial to help you get through it. If you welcome Him in, He is with you even if He is silent.

 

Getting my medical boot

Since I have broken my ankle, it has changed just about everything I do to get around, to do household tasks, forget about running or playing soccer. In the event I have somewhere to go dressed up, nope, no heels either. I love my heels- the higher the better. But COVID-19 canceled my "heel events" anyway.

 

First time going up the stairs

Taking a shower

Showers looked a lot different and stairs, do not get me started on stairs. I feared getting more hurt by going up or down stairs. I stayed in an extra bedroom on our main level and did not go up the stairs for 2 weeks. I slept on an air mattress and used the couch behind it for working.  You know when you own a business certain things still need to get done.  Employees would be pretty upset if I had not run payroll that week.

 

Frankie trying to be sweet

I could go on and on about all the things I could not do or how hard it was for me and my amazing husband and son who picked up all the slack. But, I want to focus on the bright sides of this situation.  This whole time I have been looking for how God will use my broken ankle and the aftermath to reveal things to me and teach me some life lessons.  This has happened for a reason, and I was determined to figure out what the reasons were.  This is part of my story now.

 

Flowers from a friend

Flowers from two friends

Love. The biggest bright side of this whole experience has been L O V E. Actually F E E L I N G how loved I am. I have been abundantly blessed by the outpouring of support in so many ways from my family, friends, friends of friends, neighbors and even acquaintances. This is my biggest bright side. To have such amazing people in my life during such a hard time has been overwhelming, in the best way. Our family has an unforgettable gratitude to all of you for your kindness. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

 

Physical Therapy

I have a much bigger appreciation and gratitude for my health, fitness, and mobility. I developed a bigger compassion to those individuals that have mobility restrictions.  It is hard to explain, but there are a lot of emotions you have when you are struggling physically.  You feel like you are missing out because you cannot participate in certain things.

 

Grocery shopping for the first time

You can feel the eyes watching you wondering what happened to you or the story behind your situation. That is the most common question I get.  The little kids seem to be the most outspoken about their curiosities. Then their parents seem sorry or embarrassed that their kids ask questions or want to touch the medical boot. I did not mind them though, they mean well.

 

Tubing on the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge, GA

Then I felt almost guilty and an inconvenience for asking for help doing something that would have been easy for me before. I tried to ask in a really nice humble way and then be patient that it may not get done right then. I did not want to not come off as bossy or ungrateful.  I tried to use a lot of pleases and thank yous. That was a feeling I put on myself; Kyle and James are wonderful!

 

Braves game with my family

We feel very blessed with the things we have but they are not important, because they are just things.  It made me evaluate and reflect on what is important in life.  What IS important are the people you surround yourself with and the relationships you have in your life. My relationship with God.  That is one thing I can never do without in my life.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Girl, Wash your toes

 

X-Ray side view

I'd love to be able to tell you I broke my ankle on a wild hunting expedition stepping on a bear trap or in a sky diving accident or something else exotic and exciting.... but here is what actually happened:

(If you get squeamish, this post is not for you, keep scrolling.)

X-ray profile view

I was playing soccer in a local adult rec league. As a forward, I was in the goal box along with my other teammates trying to score. The game was close, and we were giving our all.  I was playing near the goal post and the ball was going away from the goal along the end line. I was leading with my left foot about to take a touch to keep it in bounds.  I was poised to turn to get the ball back in, hopefully scoring.

Well, that didn't happen... As I went to take a touch with my left foot the goalie dived for the ball, got the ball and landed on my foot.  It gets kind of gruesome from there.  I heard and felt 2 breaks and as I went down, I knew it was a major injury. I immediately started to freak out.

Our son was there watching, and we have taught him how to unlock our phones and make calls in case of an emergency. He also has both my and Kyle's phone numbers memorized.  I called to our son and asked him to call Kyle while my teammates called 911.

Our son earlier that day at Monster Jam

As I laid there my teammates gently took off my shoe, then my soccer socks, then my shin guards. They asked me if I could wiggle my toe? "If you can wiggle your toe, it is not broken," one player said. I could wiggle my toes, so I thought that was a good sign. But then when they put my leg down, my ankle went one way, and my foot went the other way. Then I really panicked.

By this time Kyle, was on the phone and our son gave me the phone to talk to him. Kyle knows how to calm me down and he started talking me down off my cliff I felt like I was on. The firemen and EMTs were arriving and Kyle was on his way. James was quickly packing up all my stuff. (I think he aged about 3 years during this traumatic series of events.)

The EMTs took one look at my ankle and said they were going to put a splint on it and take me to the hospital. As they carted me off the field on the gurney I was wondering if they could tell if it was broken, since I could wiggle my toes and all... without hesitation he said, "Oh, yeah".

At Monster Jam that morning

Skipping ahead, Northside Hospital Cherokee was wonderful. The care I received was top notch and the staff was very accommodating. After trying to set the ankle in the ER, it didn't set completely straight. The ER Dr. contacted the Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Widener, and he decided to go ahead and schedule me for surgery the next day.  He already had a full day of surgery, so I was blessed to stay overnight so he could do the surgery the next day.

The hospital was almost at full capacity, so they let me spend the night in the ER. The next morning, they moved me to a room in the women's ward while I waited to have my surgery that afternoon. When I got to the preop room, I asked someone to pray with me and we did. Then, as they prepared me for surgery, I felt God's presence as a friend I volunteered with at our church walked in to my preop room. I remember when she was going through nursing school and how we prayed she would pass her nursing test. I remember how hard she worked to earn her degree! Now, in the middle of my story she was my preop nurse!

After the surgery, Dr. Widener told me the injury was worse than they thought because there was a third bone broken, that they couldn't see in the x-ray, which is why it didn't set right in the ER.

The official diagnosis is a Trimaleolar fracture. In layman's terms, the three ankle bones were all broken, and my foot was dislocated. The thin bone broke at a diagonal, the bigger bone broke across the bottom, and the small bone on the back broke vertically. So, he put four screws on the metal plate attached to the thin bone, 2 screws going up on the big bone, and one screw going across the small bone in the back.

Watching our son's little league game

Now, I am wearing this half cast for 2 weeks. I cannot put any weight on that leg. Then I will switch to a boot and start physical therapy for the next six weeks. I feel overwhelmingly blessed with Kyle and James helping and doing so much, all our dear friends and neighbors rallying with us by bringing meals, flowers, chocolates, snacks, fruit, and offering to help in different ways. Thank you to my dad and my in-laws and to everyone for all the calls and texts of friends and family checking on me.

And no, the blood was not rushing to my toes Tuesday morning. I just needed to wash them...

A lady bug landed on my good ankle

Immanuel (Hebrew: עִמָּנוּאֵל‎ meaning, "God is with us"

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:20-23 NIV

https://bible.com/bible/111/mat.1.20-23.NIV

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Hug Later

Photo credit: Bazemore Photography

I had this dream the other night. It really got me thinking long term about my relationship with my son… and how it will change as he gets older. 

"A Hug Later" 
James was going to summer camp. I somehow missed the quick goodbye. Then, I saw him on an open-air bus being driven off by the counselors. I yelled out and got them to stop. 

I asked James once if I could have a hug? He started to look conflicted, like he wanted to come give me a hug but it was awkward with everyone watching. The other kids were all quiet and watching how this would play out. 

One of the counselors whispered, "Don't push it or the other kids could make fun of him." So, I said, "It's okay. You can give me a hug later." He looked a little relieved and said, "Okay, later." Then he turned and they all drove off.

Photo credit: Bazemore Photography

I try not to miss all the little moments and opportunities for connection when they arise. I try not to miss the little moments when he just wants to love on me and snuggle up with me. 

I often give in to the moments when he just wants, "One more story, just a quick one". I try to be there in the moments when he, "needs a little help, though" even when he wants “to do it all by [himself]". I try not to miss these moments because they are passing faster than I realize. 

So, get your hugs now before they drive off, "Later".

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Looking back on the last 7 years

 

Jen and Kyle Behnke, Cody Jinks concert

Written by Kyle Behnke

Music has always been a sort of therapy for me. I’ve had trouble in the past expressing my emotions in a way that made sense, but I’ve always been able to relate to a songwriter during various seasons of my life. Right now, that songwriter and performer is Cody Jinks. He’s an independent country artist from Texas who’s always done things his own way and has become very successful without the support of a major record label. When I first heard the albums (After the Fire & The Wanting) he released at the end of 2019, I couldn’t believe how much I could relate to some of the songs. The song “Never Alone Always Lonely” immediately struck me and helped me unpack the emotions I’d kept bottled up over the past 6 years. It helped me understand what I’d went through personally, the toll that the prior years had taken on me, and take steps to get out of a rut that I’ve been stuck in recently. I finally was able to put pen to paper on these emotions and wanted to share them with everyone, along with this song.

 

Take a listen to the song, click here, then read what I was inspired to write. I hope you can see the connection I have with this song.

 

“Never Alone Always Lonely”

Backside of thirty came fast, but what’s more

I can’t remember younger days like before and it’s a shame

I’ve done more runnin’ than most any age

Whole lot of prayin’ on the backside of a stage, scared to death

Wonderin’ what’s next

 

And I take the long way around every time

As fast as I can through the comfort of night and it’s a fight

People who love me they suffer the most

See me on TV and all they see’s a ghost of someone they knew

They’re tellin’ the truth

 

Never alone always lonely

Easy to find seldom seen

Never alone always lonely

On a fast train

Through a slow moving dream

 

At this point of my life, I feel as if I’ve just gotten off a really intense roller coaster ride. It’s one of those record-breaking roller coasters that turns you upside down a bunch of times at breakneck speed, takes you through some dark tunnels, all scary and exciting at the same time. It wasn’t a gentle ride at all. When the coaster arrived back at the platform, the brakes slammed you to a stop and the seat belt popped open. You hear some excited screams and some crying from other people on the ride. I know I liked the ride, but it pushed me to my limits. I started to get up to go to the coaster platform exit, but I’m dizzy from the ride and it took me a minute to stand up and walk straight.

 

Damn, that was a crazy ride. There were definitely a couple times where I wanted to get off the roller coaster. At those moments, jumping out of the car at full speed and inverted seemed like a better alternative than staying on the ride. I mean, we were going so fast and it didn’t seem like the ride was going to end. Remember though, I willingly rode this coaster. I got in the line for the coaster, waited the 2 hours to get on and read all the warning signs along the way. I thought I had done my preparation and would understand and be ready for all the twists and turns. I walked off the platform and looked at the photos the ride took of me. You know, there’s always 3 or 4 photos along the ride that show your face through the experience. The photos don’t lie – there were times I was definitely scared out of my mind and times I loved what I was doing. Now, here I stand at the platform with my newly purchased photos (you always have to get the photos), trying to catch my breath and get my legs back under me.

 

Jen and Kyle Behnke, Mack Trucks Customer Center

I feel like I’ve been trying to catch my breath and stand back up for about the past year now. I hit 40 years old last year and I really only remember the last 7 vividly – the roller coaster. My family has hit some amazing highs along the way. Our son was born in 2014, and what a wonderful boy he is. He has the best laugh and it’s hard not to smile when he’s letting out a big, belly laugh. Our son is also the most thoughtful boy there is and tries his best to make his family happy. Jen and I started a trucking company and we’ve grown that to the thriving business it is today, where over 40 people now work. We’ve bought a new house, new cars, and other stuff that used to be things I’d only dreamed about.

 

James at Buc-ee's, Temple, TX

We also had some incredible lows that seemed so insurmountable. The joy of having our son was shadowed by events that felt like machine-gun fire over the next 2 years. Jen’s post-partum struggles, which included multiple hospitalizations for her over the next year, left me wondering if a normal life would ever be possible again. An unfortunate accident when our son was 2 months old caused our son to have burns on his leg, requiring emergency surgery in a town 3 hours away from our home. That was one of the events that caused my wife to go back into the hospital. As she was getting back on her feet again, here came the family strife. Instead of coming together and helping us get through these tough times, blame was being assigned and those family members wanted me to pay for it. People who I thought cared for us and wanted to help us were instead trying to break our family apart. I couldn’t believe or understand what was happening.

 

Things did slow down some, but we still suffered some serious blows. Suicide took away a family member. Two grandparents died. About 2 years into our business, we were close to going under because we had very little cash left. It was so bad that our son (3 years old at the time) heard my wife crying, wondering where we would get some cash to pay for truck repairs and other bills. He came into the office with his piggy bank said, “You can have this to pay for it.”

 

That’s the part of the roller coaster where you want to jump off because its scary and it’s all happening in slow motion, with incredible intensity that seems never-ending. You’re also moving at 200 MPH and you’re so disoriented from the G-forces of the ride that you can’t even hit the eject button if you wanted to. Sometimes, that chaos can be a blessing in disguise. Had I stopped the ride at that point, I would have missed out on all the rewards and blessings that were to come from staying on.


 

Kyle and James Behnke, Iron Mt. ATV Park

 

At some point you realize that you’re not the first person who has ridden that roller coaster. Other people have survived and even gotten back in line to ride it again. You learn to draw strength from those facts. Adrenaline kicks in and you start to fight back against everything that’s being fired at you. I fought like hell and then I kept fighting. I took care of our son every night for almost 3 years, allowing my wife to get the sleep she needed to get well again. I stood up to the family members who were trying to tear us apart. I worked a second job while our business was getting its financial footing established. I fought against other people and businesses who were trying to harm what we had built. I believe God gave me the strength and perseverance to keep going.

 

And then finally, things got quiet. This roller coaster ride finally ended.

 

Kyle Behnke and Dale Moore, Mack Trucks Customer Center

As I reflect back on the last 7 years, I’m starting to see the effects of the ride. I’ve achieved a lot of goals I had set out for myself. Our family is on good financial footing. Our business is strong. I’ve grown tremendously as a business leader, learning how to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. The 40+ employees that depend on our business for work can provide a good living for their families. My wife is healthy and getting the recognition she deserves, both for being a mother and a business woman. Our son is thriving, both in school and in sports. I’m truly able to say I’m living the American dream right now.

 

Although, the success of overcoming all these struggles has come at a cost. It’s been more than just regular wear and tear on my body over the last 7 years. Between taking care of our son in the middle of the night and taking phones calls for a 24/7 business, I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I could easily say I did not get a full night of uninterrupted sleep for about 4 years straight. The 4+ years of constant stress were hard on my body too. I didn’t cope with things in the healthiest of ways, mainly suppressing my emotions and leaning on my vices to get me through the tough days. I didn’t let my family see weakness, as I thought they needed to see that I wasn’t buckling under the pressure. I certainly did not let anyone in the business world see our struggles. I always wanted to lead people to believe we were doing just fine. Those coping methods led to me gaining weight. I had begun getting angry at people for no reason. Many times, it was my family members who took the brunt of that. I finally sought help help from my doctor, which led to me being diagnosed with depression. Getting older doesn’t help either and I think I’m starting to understand I don’t have the limits of a 25-year-old anymore.

 

So, here I am. I’m off the roller coaster and the dizziness is fading. I’ve realized that the ride was all-inclusive, meaning one can’t just experience the joys and thrills of the ride without going through the scary and fast parts that push you to your limits. There’s no question that the thrills of success and building my life outweigh the struggles we went through. I’m definitely going to ride another roller coaster. But, I’m going to need to do some maintenance on myself first, and then I’m ready to start that journey.