Baby Steps

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Girlfriend got me this pedometer for the holidays. It’s an apt metaphor, and I also like it. It doesn’t ask a lot of me in regard to upload/download overload. I just clip and go, which makes me want to use it more.

Just a reminder… I had surgeries and procedures and this, that and the other thing, so please no judgements when I start talking numbers.

In other words, I am starting from a near-geriatric pace. I know that. It’s ok. For me, it’s more about being able to sustain motion… which I can’t do as well as I would like right now. I am also starting from a point of obesity- also, for real, need no judgement- because it’s related to the medical challenges I’ve faced.

The good news is, I am feeling better enough to start… something. I would not call it exercise, but I guess, yes, it’s exercising. I’m walking around places just to get the feel for walking. I’m counting steps to know my limits when I overdo it. And it’s helping. I can do this.

 

“Shake, clean, work it like a washing machine!”

I feel like cleaning. Whether it’s a result of hormone fluctuation or simply feeling better, I don’t know, but I’m happy it’s here. When you become/are ill for long periods of time, there are things that fall by the wayside. My normal state of order, both inside and outside, fell apart. If you can’t move, you most certainly cannot do much of anything, never mind cleaning.

I cleaned before having surgery. But, even then, I was still feeling pretty awful. So while I’d made sure I was coming back to clean sheets and eating surfaces, anything beyond that was not happening. I put away my perfectionism not by choice, but because I had to.

So, I’m finding all sorts of reminders of just how bad it was: a brochure from last Xmas, bits of paper with reminders on them, things I’d set aside in the midst of the craziness. Naturally, to do this right, I am setting myself up for a big job, and I just hope I am up to the challenge. I am sore, and I am in pain, but I know where I went wrong, and I stopped as soon as I felt pain. I will take things more slowly as I continue, but I am thrilled to both want to, and be able to. You don’t know how much you miss simple tasks of everyday living until they are taken away from you. I might not be perfect, but I feel good, and that’s something to be thankful for.

 

Everything is Different the Second Time Around…

Let me be super-duper mega clear: Being in the hospital is not the same as being in prison. But, when you’re upset and feeling poorly and can’t leave until they say you can, there is comfort in a theme song from a television show.

 

This time was different. This time, I didn’t expect it. I’d come back from having a minor procedure, and already had started to feel unwell. But, I pushed, because it seemed sensible at the time that procedure= pain= stop whining, you wimp.

But, it wasn’t that…

I’d developed some sort of random problem that very few people get, but is one of the possibilities you sign on for. It took me a few days to realize it though. By that time, I barely could move. It wasn’t pretty. It doesn’t make for good blogging. But, there it is.

This time is not so much a story about triumph, as it is about survival.

When you are in extreme pain, and you can’t even get out of bed, let alone do things, do you find a way to get yourself treatment that’s an hour away? Or do you lay there, waiting for it to get worse?

The ER is in a nationally-recognized “bad neighborhood”, but that’s where your Dr. works. You probably should see that Dr. because this is probably related to the other day. You can’t get pushed through quickly, in spite of this, and end up waiting in the ER for hours, while random people are ranting to themselves in a kind of frightening way, and you didn’t eat breakfast, but there are candy machines, but there is a sign saying not to eat until a Dr. sees you, but you have no idea when that will be.

Finally, a few hours into it, you end up in a wheelchair and wait some more.

Eventually, you end up in a gurney in a hallway for the remainder of the night. Then, blissfully, a kind nurse gets you into a room for a few hours so you can get some sleep. It is the next day. You are eventually transferred to a shared room with a woman and her husband. You walk by them, trying to hold your gown closed whenever you have to pee. There is food trash all over their side, and you are still not allowed to eat. They watch terrible TV all the time. But, you feel so crappy, and you know you just have to deal with it.

But, how do I tell this story… when I wasn’t able to even do this much for so many years? Because this sort of thing is a very fraught issue in the States and I know how very, very fortunate and lucky, and you could even say, blessed, I am to even have this. How dare I say that it was hard for me?

I cried, I chewed my lips, I moped, and sometimes I smiled. But it wasn’t the same.

 

 

Be it ever so humble…

I am back from the unexpected hospital visit. I have things to say- many of them, but I am currently too wiped out to do so. So please enjoy this picture of a “hobbit house” instead. 🙂

Warrior Princess/Laundress/Cook

I’ve been trying to re-acclimate as best I can. I’m not fully cleared yet, but at least, I can do a few things now.

Laundry: happened this week mostly unassisted. It’s comical at this stage- it is taking me at least 5x as long, but whatever, it’s good exercise. I cannot carry the basket. I also cannot carry anything that weighs more than a milk jug. This means I’m doing it in relatively small armfuls, and I’m only doing about a load a day at this point. Small steps…

Vanity: All along, I’ve told both myself and others that I really didn’t care too much about what it looked like afterwards, I really just wanted to be healthy. Well, I lied. It turns out I care. I’m cleared for Neosporin, so I’m using that. But, no, a bikini isn’t happening this season for both health and vanity reasons. (Scars sunburn easily- I didn’t know that. It’s too soon to expose it like that, if I’m striving for optimum healing).

Weight/Body Shape:  I don’t know what made me think that my body shape would change. I guess it was the fact that I had extra stuff in there that wasn’t supposed to be there. I also thought I’d lose a substantial amount of weight. I did. Then, I went right back to my original weight once I was able to eat properly.

Walking/Movement: Not great/not awful. I mostly look normal until I start pushing too hard. Then, it’s off to the nearest chair.

Pain: My pain was not so bad this week. I’m mostly off of the pain pills now, but every once in a while, I need them. It’s mostly the abdomen that’s sore, although sneezing and yawning will bring out pain elsewhere, too.

I should probably state the obvious here, just for those reading this and wondering how their surgery will go: Please remember, everyone is different. My doctor basically thinks I’m a Warrior Princess for handling as much pain as I have been. Moral of the story: what is low-level pain to me could be agony to you.

Cooking: I baked a box cake. It kicked my booty. I haven’t cooked a meal yet, but I might try this week.

Eating: I’ve really been very lucky all long, but the coffee I made this morning has been refluxing all day. All in all, I really can’t complain, though.

I guess, in summation, things are looking up, it’s just the invisible stuff that has been getting me. You don’t really know how much makes you tired until the day you overdo it.

 

Finding my groove again

That thing where you wake up energized and wanting to workout, but then realize you should probably try for making the bed first.

I’m on Week 7 post-surgery, for anyone who’s counting. This means I can’t actually “workout” per se, but I can do a few things around the house now. This is good, because stuff is accumulating.

I started with wiping off the craft table that’s been doubling as an eating surface. At the moment, I have snacks squished in between the arts and crafts. As far as actual crafting goes, I’ve really been taking it in bite-sized sittings. Any more than that, and I tire out.

I did make the bed solo, and I’m out of breath… so, there’s that.

I made a couple of things on the indoor grill- a hot dog and a grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s a start. The grill and its plates are still a little heavier than I’d like.

I keep thinking about yoga, which I guess is a good thing. I am trying to stretch my arms and legs without bothering my abdomen too much. So, ok, that’s not technically yoga, but it’s something. Actual yoga won’t be ok for a while, and even then, I still have to be nice to my stomach.

I would like to bike ride eventually. Think Kermit rather than Lance. Even to just sit upright and twiddle around would be great. I don’t know how my endurance will change, or if it even will, but I’d like to try.

Kayak season is here. I still have to check with the Dr. to see when it would be ok to try, but because it can get strenuous, I have to play it safe. This is so tough because kayaking is my ultimate summer activity. I usually take pictures while I’m out, so at least that can happen, as long as I don’t overdo the walking.

Medically, I still have another procedure. Whether or not this is a big deal will be figured out on the spot. I’m hoping everything’s fine. It has me a little spooked. I’ve been feeling pretty good, but it will mean being sore all over again… but I will hopefully be healthy, which is so much more important.

🙂

Surgery Snippets: Recovery

Last month I ended up having a pretty complex surgery. Most of my abdominal parts were affected. But, I’m happy to report so far, so good on the recovery front! While I’m recovering, I figured I’d start off with a few random observations I’ve accumulated so far:

Surgery= from adult to Muppet Baby faster than you can say “Meep”.

 

Getting out of bed: The first thing I had to re-learn was getting out of bed. You’d think, as an adult, you’ve mastered the fine art of getting into and out of a bed. Well, ha ha, no. Not so much. For the first little while, I basically could not get out of bed by myself. Then, I had to follow a specific set of directions. Now, I mostly rely on elbow and arm power.

Walking: Then came walking. Really, all I had to learn here was to take it very, very slowly, and remember to keep my head at eye level. At first, I used a pillow to hold against my stomach. I don’t know why this works, but it does. Walking was very, very hard for a while, but now, I can compete with the best toddlers!

Stairs: You cannot walk up and down stairs like an adult. Ok, at least I couldn’t. I had to re-learn the kid’s way of taking stairs- arm on rail, one foot, keep it there, second foot. It takes twice as long, and now that I’m doing better, it’s enormously frustrating. But, you heal better when things don’t pull, and this method helps with that.

Patience: See above. Once I started feeling a little better, I became impatient. Yet, I am still in pain, and still in danger of messing things up if I go too fast. Also, naps happen. You may not want them to, but they do, and often after things you would not think would tire you out. So, taking it slowly is really key.

Food: For the first few weeks, I was living on jello, water ice, juice, cream of wheat, water, broth, and eventually protein drinks. Obviously, I lost weight, and not in the good way. But, once I got to the protein drinks, at least that leveled off some. Sure, many women wouldn’t be unhappy with a loss of a few pounds, but when I lose, I prefer to do so the healthy way. Once I was allowed solid foods, I concentrated on protein-filled choices, like hummus. This worked out well for both healing and digestion, as smaller meals are better for now, anyway. Any time I’ve overdone it, I’ve known. But, boy it’s great to be able to eat again!

 

…And now, it’s time to take a nap. See you soon! 🙂