Before surgery, a dear friend created a “Give In Kind” page that gave people the opportunity to serve us through gift cards and meal delivery and grocery delivery and all kinds of wonderful ways as we dealt with the new normal of a one armed, post-surgery Lukas. The page also gave me an outlet to capture updates as we navigated the surgery journey. To capture the memories for the long haul, I wanted to do so here, as even now, only three weeks post-op, I’m encouraged with reading them and seeing what we’ve survived already. The worst is behind us and we are getting back to normal, with good days and bad days.
Monday, March 29th, 2021 : Surgery Success!
Thank you all for your prayers! Surgery was a success!! The surgeon found mostly what he expected based on the MRI scans. There was more scar tissue than initially identified so some clean up work that will lead to more inflammation and a sooner physical therapy start date than expected. But all in all, we are pleased with the results!! As a support person told us, this is day one of healing!! For those of you who know Lukas well you’ll trust he’s okay (and won’t be surprised!) when you find out he was asking his nurse for coffee as soon as he could open his eyes 😂 Coffee in hand, I drove him home and he’s now comfy and settled. Thanks again guys, we are grateful for you!!! Love, Virginia
Wednesday, March 31st, 2021 : We’ve made it 48 hours!!
After a REALLY rough first night, our second night was much less eventful. Despite staying ahead of Lukas’ pain with pain pills on the first day, his pain went through the roof as the nerve block from his surgery wore off. It was a 0-1000 kind of situation and took several calls to the on call doctor and 14 hours to get things under control but we have — hallelujah!!! He’s maintaining very low levels of pain although still very uncomfortable. Comfort was improved thanks to our awesome pastor helping us research furniture rentals and finding us this amazing recliner. Sleep was a little better for us both last night and we are hopeful the rollercoaster is behind us as we settle into the new normal. Lukas’ mom has been here focusing on Tabby so I can focus on Lukas and that’s been a God send!!! The melas you all are providing for us as a God send as well, thank you thank you thank you!! Due to what the surgeon found in his shoulder, he’s starting PT way earlier than expected and we have our first appointment tomorrow, Thursday, at 12:30pm. Thanks for your continued prayers and support — we are feeling the love!!!
Thursday, April 1st, 2021 : Big smiles after good sleep!
I (Virginia) have a giant smile after my first good night of sleep in as long as I can remember. Between the stress leading up to surgery and these first days of recovery, sleep has alluded me. Thankfully, I had a full 8 hours last night — hallelujah! Lukas is adjusting to sleeping upright in his fancy recliner and even got several larger chunks of sleep himself, waking only to take meds and go back to sleep. Speaking of medication, he’s determined to ween off as quickly (and safely!) as possible and has already done a good job of doing so. He’s ready to be “clear headed” again, he says. He started therapy today and even though his exercises of shrugging shoulders and pendulum swings pale in comparison to his normal CrossFit workouts, he knows these are building blocks to get back to that level so is optimistic and hopeful about the process. Tabby has LOVED having Mimi (Lukas’ mom) here with us for 5 days. She goes home tomorrow and we are joined by my parents for the weekend. Easter weekend — I can’t believe that’s here already, it’s snuck up as our world has been so pre- and post- op focused. As we enter Good Friday tomorrow, I’m reminded that, as residents of this earth, we are in the “messy middle”, still waiting for Sunday to come. Suffering through pregnancy pains and surgery recovery are two reminders of just that. Our hope? Sunday IS coming and our King sits on the throne, in total control!! Blessings to you and your family over this holiday weekend.
Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 : Day “one” in the book!
It’s official. 24 hours ago our full time support left. After eight nights of coverage, we are on our own and day one was okay. “Okay” because I’m taking the average of how Lukas and I feel, combined. It was a great day for me mentally, the Lord’s peace kept me sane, focused and peace-filled as the “next right thing” felt easy. It was a really hard day for Lukas. With therapy in the morning and the introduction of two new exercises he’s supposed to add to his already 3-5 times a day routine, he’s tired. REALLY tired because sleeping in a recliner is already old. Last night he woke up 8 or 9 times and called it a “decent” night because he at least slept in between the wake ups. I’m thankful the Lord is giving me peace that doesn’t make sense, free from anxiety, and a positive attitude that’s not my norm so I can be Lukas’ support through these hard days. I reminded him last night this journey is a rollercoaster — if it’s a low day, there’s bound to be a high one right around the corner. I’m hopeful he will experience that high day soon because he needs a win! Our reality? This journey has only begun. Healing is going to take a long time and we are arming ourselves as best we know how to be in it for the long haul. Your prayers are a huge part of that, so THANK YOU!!!!
Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 : Bid day, tomorrow!
Tomorrow, we go visit Dr. Duralde for the first post op report! We are expectant to hear more details about what happened during surgery and how Lukas’ recovery plan may have changed because of what they found. He’s currently doing 2-4 rounds of PT exercises a day and they are exhausting him — this is NOT for the faint of heart!! We are day 9 post-op and day 3 on our own and so far so good. Our motto has been to keep things simple and we focus on the next right thing, one thing at a time! This weather has been gorgeous and we’ve spent a ton of time outside in the backyard or spending time with our neighbors. Lukas braved a short (and very slow — a pace perfect for both shoulder surgery patient and a 28 week pregnant woman!!) walk down our street and Tabby insisted on holding his hand the whole time. Our current needs have been completely met, we are so blessed for the gift cards that have provided flexibility for when we need meals and grocery delivery, our refrigerator is stocked full!! You guys rock! My only request? Sending love to Lukas every now and then through texts. It’s lonely, this recovery journey, and the love folks give him in those simple ways mean the world to him and keep him going in the hard moments!! We have a long road ahead but God’s grace continues to sustain us and remind us He is sufficient. Thank you for the prayers, as I’ve said many times before, they are carrying us!!
Friday, April 9th, 2021 : Good post-op report
Yesterday’s surgeon visit, I give a big two thumbs up! Dr. Duralde is so patient and explained everything to us — including photos of what happened in Lukas’ shoulder. We got more info on what “frozen shoulder” is, something the doc saw after getting in there that had to be repaired. Good news is, it was taken care of! Bad news? It makes therapy longer and harder, but nothing Lukas’ diligent and disciplined self can’t handle!
Tuesday, April 13th, 2021: Already identified as an “overachiever”
After only three PT sessions, Lukas was told today, on a spectrum of overdoing versus under-doing it, he’s been identified as someone who, on the far end, could way overdo it. For everyone who knows Lukas, this is not surprising at all, but is a good reminder for him that his natural personality is to go “all in” on whatever is set before him so he will have to be EXTRA intentionally careful to not re-injure himself. I think he’s weird, I mean, who says “I can’t want to get back to physical therapy??” Yesterday marked two official weeks since Dr. Duralde put my hubby in a sling and we still have had good days and bad days. We’ve survived an official seven days without full time support and couldn’t be more grateful for the meals and gift cards and grocery delivery we’ve received. I’ve realized just how much Lukas does for our family with him being one arm down. It’s all up to me to get the stroller in and out of the car, to get Tabby in and out of her carseat, and up and over the side of the crib. As careful and safe as I am being with all the lifting (and having to ask myself a lot — is this necessary??), I could use the prayers for strength and protection for me and our sweet baby boy. We want to give a huge shout out to our next door neighbors who are serving us so well with the heavy lifting stuff. Having them “on call” next door is an answered prayer we didn’t even know we’d have! Other updates? Lukas has been cleared to drive, go for walks, and get his shoulder wet. All three have been game changers to how independent he can be through this recovery. There’s still a long road ahead but we’ve talked about how great this has been to prepare us for the craziness of our son’s arrival in 10.5 short weeks!
Tuesday, April 20th, 2021: Celebrating 3 weeks post-op!
It’s been a week since my last update which is pretty appropriate because last week was A WEEK. The first two were physically hard, this past week? Emotionally and mentally exhausting. We have the blessing of an amazing counselor who helped us walk through the week, talking with her daily, as we navigated some really challenging stuff both individually and as a couple. “You can’t heal what you don’t see”, and we both are very thankful the week brought up some yuck that needed healing. As a dear friend told me today, “refining diamonds” ❤️ Today, 3 weeks and 1 day after surgery, we are in a good place. Yesterday, Lukas started back at work part-time. Never one to be told he “can’t” do something, Lukas has figured out how to do pretty much everything he used to be able to do, in a modified way. He’s added a stool to the car so Tabby can climb in to the car seat herself, and a ladder by her crib for her to do the same. We’ve shifted house chores around a little and keep relying on our friends to help us with the big stuff. The meals are still blessing us immensely as a couple times a week, it gives us a chance to spend much needed, focused time (typically outside!!) as a family, instead of in the kitchen cooking. This recovery journey isn’t for the faint of heart, so I’m continuously amazed at how the Lord keeps strengthening us! Your prayers, I covet most of all, as we continue to walk this road to a fully healed Lukas!!
Sunday, May 16th, 2021: We’ve made it 7 weeks!
Tomorrow marks 7 weeks since Lukas went under anesthesia to have his shoulder repaired. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and we should be meeting our little boy in less than 6 weeks!
I realize the past month I haven’t sent an update and that doesn’t shock me since two weeks of that has included yucky sickness for both Tabby and myself. Thankfully, nothing serious, just some kind of cold/sinus funk that’s lingered longer than I’d like and has kept us in “sick survival mode” where the house is a mess and keeping our heads above water is the goal most days.
At week 6, Lukas hit a huge milestone in his recovery — being able to run (which does wonders for his mental health!), not having to wear his sling (he still wears it in public to keep it safe) and getting a whole new group of exercises. He still goes to PT twice a week and does home exercises 3 times a day. He truly is the ideal PT patient since no matter what, he gets those exercises in, even if they are on the kitchen floor in the middle of dinner time with the fam!
We’ve been focusing A LOT on our mental health in this season, having weekly counseling appointments and investing our time, energy, and resources into activities that will fill our tanks like going to the aquarium (we love adventures!), visiting Serenbe with the Belt clan, having backyard BBQs with church folks, hanging out on our neighbor’s front porch and taking lots of walks and trips to the park.
We move really slow in whatever we do, Lukas has named us “gimps and pregs”, but we have stayed focused on the essentials and it’s really paid off. Even though we are tired most days, our hearts are full and we have witnessed firsthand that though “the struggle is real, so is the God who will help us through it.”
We’re in a bit of a “lull” now as the worst of recovery is behind us and James isn’t quite here yet, but soon, very soon our world will be rocked again!!! Much love to you all for your continued prayers for our family.
Tuesday, June 8th, 2021: It’s the final countdown!
We are 17 days away from baby Fortunato’s (James Paul is his name!) due date and we are READY! Over the past 4 days we have had the help of both sets of grandparents to get final last minute preparations accomplished. This included a couple nights away for us parents to SLEEP and get recharged and reconnected before life gets even crazier. It already feels crazy enough with a two-year-old really finding her voice and her opinions, haha!
Lukas hit a HUGE milestone in recovery this week. He was “okay-ed” by his physical therapist to start strength training workouts. He is using 1 and 3 pound weights which seem so tiny compared to the 50lb dumbell he used to lift up over his head one handed over and over again in his CrossFit workouts but those small weights are worth a major celebration!! He has been so diligent and committed to get to this point and we are so proud of how far he has come!
The pregnant lady received an excellent report from the midwife this week, James is in a great position for birth and although there are no signs of labor starting yet, it’s exciting to know we will be meeting him in a month, one way or another!
As far as how you can help us after James arrives — we will have a neighbor who is an amazing chef, cook us two meals a week, and then will be asking for meals and support 2-3 times a week as well. Lukas is blessed to get a month off from work so we will have 4 precious weeks to try to figure out this new family of 4 lifestyle. Once he’s back at work, I’ll be adding dates to the calendar to have people come visit James and I and sit with us to have some adult conversation — so important when my life is consumed with baby cries and toddler babble!
Thank you all for your continued support and ramped up prayers as we enter this second phase of Spring 2021 craziness for the Fortunatos. We love you!
PS Huge shout out to the Stovall family at our church who helped us get Tabby’s Big Sister gift (see photo) built. She is obsessed with her fort and the “blue slide”!!