joy belle’s surgery & recovery

Words cannot even begin to express how grateful we are for you. You all have showered us with prayer, gifts, and words of encouragement. We’ve received prayer cards, stuffed unicorns, flowers, balloons, activities for Joy Belle, and chocolate cover strawberries. We have felt the love! At one point during Joy Belle’s hospital stay, she said, “Why do I keep getting so many presents?” We told her she’s very loved.

The day before her surgery, we received the sweetest package from Joy Belle’s pen pals – Iris, David, Camille, and their thoughtful mama, Claire. The box was full of activities to keep her busy at the hospital and once we got home. She loved it all! There were even gifts in the box for me, Britt, and Aurelia.

We got up early on February 27th and drove to Piedmont Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, Georgia for her procedure. She was calm but clingy to me as we patiently awaited taking her back and prepping her for the surgery. She was greeted at the car by our pastor and children’s pastor, and perked up quickly when they gave her a gift. (The first of many that day!)

The staff was so accommodating. Her first nurse (Ms. Esther) gave her matching caps for Joy Belle and her super bunny. The caps were teal with tiny white anchors. I didn’t mention it to anyone at the time, but this little detail was God reminding me that my hope is in Him.

“Your hope is an anchor for my soul.” Hebrews 6:19

Surrounded by family, our pastors prayed over Joy Belle. And then, the hard part for her and me… they took her back. It’s an indescribable feeling to know that you’re not in control but being consumed by peace. The best description I’ve found is in Psalm 4:8, “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” It’s such an overwhelming sense of peace, that worry never enters your mind and you can truly lie down and rest because He is in control. I share this with you, because I believe it to be a gift from above – specifically given to me time after time, throughout this journey. To go through this journey with Joy Belle, watching and wishing I could take her burden, and Him gifting me with this immeasurable peace… I’m thankful.

We waited about two hours before the surgeon came out to update us. While the surgery is considered successful, it had been our hope that her feet would be positioned to -10 degrees (upwards). Her disability makes this position of her foot impossible for her to do naturally. However, he was only able to position it neutral (totally flat), which is still good – just not the best.

Side note: This surgery was basically a redo of the first and third surgeries she’s had. The goal was to lengthen her Achilles’ tendon in both feet and to transfer a tendon in her right foot. Post-operation, the goal was to cast her feet in a -10 degree position for healing.

One of our prayer requests was specific to Joy Belle’s fear of going to sleep. She had some anxiety about this step of surgery and wasn’t very shy about expressing that. After talking to the anesthesiologist, we decided to skip the loopy first step (taking a liquid medicine) and just take her on back to be sedated. This was heartbreaking as they took her from my arms totally aware of us being separated. But our prayers were heard! I called into the operating room once things got started and the anesthesiologist told me she did great. Even after the surgery, I asked her how she’d done and she eagerly told me how she blew up a balloon and used her hands to show me how big. She doesn’t even remember going to sleep at this point. THAT IS GOD AT WORK.

She came out of recovery groggy and has done surprisingly well since. We spent the next 24 hours in the hospital, with an amazing staff doting on our girl.

And now that we’re home, she’s resumed her queen status and is currently treating me like her maidservant. I’m only slightly kidding, because she’s gotten a little too comfortable with being catered to.

Overall though, we couldn’t be happier with how she’s doing. She’s up and moving (crawling) and seems to be feeling great 95% of the time. She’s complained a handful of times about pain in her right foot, and actually taken the chewable ibuprofen without puking or a fight. We’ve been keeping her feet elevated when she’s still and trying to encourage her to do what she can without overdoing it. She was very excited to take a bath last night, saying “this feels so good.” On the downside, she’s reminded us that she can’t walk several times and let us know that “casts aren’t fun” a few times too.

Our specific prayers were for Joy Belle have a peace before the surgery (specifically before and during the anesthesia step), to be in minimal pain, for us to be able to manage the pain (a.k.a. her take medicine!), for the doctor to be able to position her foot in the best way possible, and for this to be her final surgery. Ultimately, many of the prayer requests have been answered… but some of them are a waiting game that require faith.

Again, let me tell you how much I appreciate your prayers! Seeing your child suffering or struggling with something isn’t easy for anyone, but possible to bear with Christ, because He goes before us. As Joy Belle continues to recover from this procedure, we ask that you continue to pray. Pray that she has a speedy and perfect recovery, that she continues to thrive and stay positive, and that God will heal her feet into the absolute best position for the absolute best functionality. We pray that He continues to use her story for His glory and that others come to know Him and of His faithfulness because of Joy Belle’s life.

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