On Tuesday of this week, I had just announced a publishing date for my next novel. It was a personal victory for me, because since August of last year I have struggled in recovery from a wrist surgery. On Wednesday, that victory was overshadowed by devastating news.
A little over a year ago, when I found out that my wrist had collapsed, I was a mess. I had known something was wrong, because my wrist hurt and would swell at night after working all day. Larry would pack it with ice and the next morning, I was ready to go again. I had deadlines, so no matter how much he told me to go to the doctor, I put it off. I’m very resolute, which can be a plus, but as we all know, any positive can also be a negative. Our traits are two sides of the same coin and we have to always keep watch over our top traits: Resolute—Stubborn. Passionate—Aggressive. Even-tempered and Laid-back—Lazy. Organized—Controlling. Forgiving and Accepting—Tolerant. Honest and Forthright—Abrasive. Loyal and Dedicated—Too Serious. Happy and Bubbly—Not Serious Enough.
So, one day, as these things go when the negative side of my resolution trait takes the lead, the swelling didn’t go away with ice-packs. After finally getting to a wrist specialist in July of last year, he found that I had Scapholunate non-union advanced collapse wrist stage III (nearing stage IV) with several bone cysts. It is a complication that can occur with undiagnosed or untreated Scapholunate dissociation. Basically, one bone was broken away and the other two were separating. I had simply dealt with the pain, thinking I’d tackle the issue one day when I had time. One day turned into a year or so. By then, it was too late and so last August I had to have surgery.
The initial recovery was twelve weeks, but the total recovery would be around twelve months. All the follow-up appointments were good, and so I prepared for the long hall. And as I expected, I did have pain and lost mobility, a good bit of it, but thankfully I could still type. Some of the other things, I simply modified my way of doing them. High fives were no more, but my family hated doing them anyway, so I took it as a blessing for them. Clapping, which I’m known to randomly do when I’m happy—so, often—was tempered. The only thing hugely affected, the most important one to me, was my handwriting, which I had always loved before. As much as I practiced, it hadn’t returned. The pain stayed throughout the year, but again I was prepared for that also.
When recently I went to my PCM for annuals, she saw my wrist and said, “That’s not normal. You need to go back to the surgeon immediately.” So, without delay this time, on Wednesday I went, and found that not only is the bone graft a nonunion, but in addition, the screws holding my wrist together are loose and have migrated.
Painful? Yes. But again, I have struggled through the pain for nearly a year, believing it was recovery. I will now have to have another wrist surgery (GOD HELP ME) to have the screws removed and a 4-corner fusion, 7-8 screw with circular plate put in. Until then, I’m in a brace to protect my wrist from breaking. With little time to prepare this time around, I’m left out of control and with no choice but to move forward.
The positive side of me keeps repeating: It’s only a surgery. Be thankful they can fix it. It’ll get better. Be grateful for health insurance. God will bring good out of it. Don’t be sad, this will be a good thing. It could always be worse.
My smaller, not-so-positive side, wants to slap the positive side in the face.
However, it also makes me more determined to cry it out, however long that takes, and then wake up one day with my feet firmly planted.
I know wrist surgery to some would be nothing to worry over. Losing wrist function wouldn’t be either. And truly, considering what we just went through with Larry, it probably should feel like nothing to me also. But it IS something. Even if I am being a big baby about it, another surgery and a year-long recovery are devastating to me. Also, considering how important my hands are to my work for God, and if I am being honest, my own self-care, I just couldn’t process it.
Since I was a child, writing—literally writing—has been a major outlet for me. My go-to. My love. My confidant. My first instinct is to write. Writing got me through some of the toughest parts of my life. When I want to tell someone something that I really wouldn’t say to them directly, I write it. Knowing that I’ll never master my handwriting again, the one thing I perfected through the years and use regularly, is upsetting to me. As much as it is likely trivial to others. Thankfully, I’ll still be able to type, because I love helping others publish their works and I love writing novels. I love how a story starts with a thought or summary, and then it grows. . I love developing characters, having problems, finding solutions, and mysteries getting solved. And whatever problems I have, I can write them into someone else’s story.
I was talking (and crying) to a dear friend and fellow author, Ann Purvis, just after I found out, and she said, “Consider it like a major edit.” I thought of my second published novel, Love, Cutter. When I received one of the edits back and the editor had said to cut out almost sixty-five hundred words, I nearly fainted. I was devastated. I remember telling her, “I can’t cut those SIXTY-FIVE HUNDRED words out. They are important to the story.” She replied, “No, they aren’t. They are important to you, because maybe they are a part of your story. But they aren’t a part of Carter’s.” And she was right. So, I cut them out.
My friend went on to say, “Editing sucks, but it’s good. No one wants to do it, but it makes things better. It helps take out the bad stuff and put in the good stuff.” Often, I have to tell authors who don’t want their manuscripts edited, “You want to publish that book, you have to have edits. You have to go through it, to get to it. Period.” I also tell them, “Try to enjoy the process, learn, and grow as a writer. If there is an edit you really don’t want, don’t approve it, but realize that they are professionals and they know what they are doing.” So, my friend using that analogy really got me.
All the way home from the surgeon’s office, I played the same song on repeat and praised God for His purpose in my life and for all of the good that I know He will bring from this.
I’m not going to lie, as much as I trust God, at this moment I’m dreading the recovery process again. I’m scared of the results. I worry over what more I will lose in the process. I hate edits as much as anyone, but I also know how crucial they are. As menial as handwriting may be, it’s important to me. It’s a part of me. It’s a part of my story and struggle. But I do recognize that there are things being edited that, yeah, maybe I don’t want to let go of, because it’s a part of my story, but ultimately it may not be a part of God’s story for me.
And I know, without doubt, that God is the best editor there is, and I am still a wonderfully-made manuscript in progress.
“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ”
— Isaiah 64:8