Things are about to get a little personal around here, friends. In some of my photos on the blog, you might have noticed that one of my calves is smaller than the other. What many of you might not know is that I underwent a major surgery that left me a long, "ugly" scar on the back of my right heel. After a lot of reflection, I've finally mustered up the courage to share my story of pain, grace, and hope here on The Bella Insider.
To give you a quickie version of the story, I ruptured my Achilles tendon when I was 12 years old. As many of you know, I was highly involved in competitive gymnastics for many of my childhood years. Though I loved the sport, I realized after a while that it wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. The pressure of performing well overshadowed my love for the sport, and I soon detested going to the gym. Like many young gymnasts, I got burned out. So, I quit.
Shortly after, I realized how much I missed tumbling. As a former gymnast, there's this addicting feeling of having blood rush to your brain when you're upside down, flying through the air. So, I soon joined a cheerleading gym. During one of my practices, I attempted to perform one of my old tumbling passes - one that, at the time, I could perform by muscle memory.
Somehow, I never made it to my feet.
I layed on the floor until one of the coaches came over. "It's probably just a sprain", one of them said. I couldn't walk at all though. I've had a few minor injuries before, and I knew this was more than just a sprain.
After visiting a doctor, it was confirmed that I tore my Achilles tendon, and I would need to undergo major surgery to repair it. If you're familiar with sports, you probably know that many consider this injury to be one of the injuries that ends careers. (Note: NBA players.) The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body, and ruptures are most common among men in their mid-40s. I was nowhere near 40, and I'm not a guy either, so even doctors were surprised how this happened to me.
Surprisingly and thankfully, I don't remember feeling any pain during the accidents or even through surgery and recovery. They went over really well. But, I was eager to get back on my feet again. I popped in an exercise DVD and followed along with the workout while I was still in my recovery boot, and guess what happened? I tore it again. And this time, I actually heard the dreaded "pop" sound. I tore my Achilles tendon not once, but twice. All I could think during the time was, "Why Lord, why?!!"
Confused and scared, I was nervous I would never have the ability to walk again. There was no way they could perform another surgery - there was no skin left to stretch! I was put in a pointed cast in hopes the tendon would heal, but I needed about one year to get back on my feet again.
I felt completely useless during this time of my life. I went from working out 20 hours a week to not even knowing how to walk. Plus, I started gaining weight. My body was changing, I was disabled, and I hated feeling like I couldn't do anything without feeling inconvenienced by my foot. I even went to the point of just wishing for a prosthetic foot. Dramatic, I know. But, I really was not in a good place. Every doctors visit I had was just another reason to cry, and I so wished this accident didn't happen to me.
I soon regained the ability to walk again. I danced in high school, hiked mountains, and did lots of things I didn't think I would be able to do anymore. I knew my ability wasn't the same though. The leg muscle from my injured foot formed differently, and I knew I was overcompensating with other muscles. I knew something wasn't quite right. So, we scheduled appointments with another specialist a few years later.
Here's the crazy thing. After visiting with this doctor and undergoing my last MRI, I learned that my tendon is actually only 10% attached right now. In other words, it's just like a string being hugged by lots of scar tissue. Even the doctor said it's a miracle I can do the things I can do. From that point forward, I knew there was nothing more I needed to know. The Lord is faithfully taking care of me in ways I don't see or know.
To sum up how I feel about my Achilles tendon now, it's still inconvenient. I used to dislike running, but now I hate it. It tires me to walk for more than a few miles, and I limp after a long day on my feet. Not to mention, the scar and the deformed calf can be an eye sore. They're things I'm still self-conscious about to this day! Nonethless, I am eternally grateful that I can do everything I need to do for my daily necessities. I have a greater purpose to fulfill in this life, and I now understand my physical capabilities don't define me.
For any of you who feel disabled in any way, do not be disheartened. The Lord provides and He is sufficient for our needs when we continue to strive to do what He wills. This scar reminds me to continue to count my blessings even in difficult times, be thankful for what I have, and never take anything I own for granted. No doubt it's painful when we suffer, but there is a great plan for each one of us. And sometimes, we're given a scar of grace to remember just that.
So, there you have it. Everything you need to know about that scar behind my right foot. Thank you all for letting me pour out my heart to you. Talk to you all next week with exciting news coming soon!
Thanks to Joyce Tong Photography for beautifully capturing the above photo.