Baby Steps

1

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.

 

Come sit by me, Charlie.

1

I don’t really know how I feel this holiday season. I was feeling in the spirit a few weeks ago, but now, not so much. At the moment, I feel a little bit like this guy.

This has been one crazy year. The Year of The Surgeries… and they’re all good- not regretting any of it. It’s just The Surgeries lead to The Talks, and that’s what’s getting to me.

I’m going to fictionalize this a bit because I care about those involved, but I also need my internet friends right now. About 3/4 of the way through my first recovery, Roommate gave me shit for not doing housework. Trust me, I know how silly this sounds- I was there. I remember picking things up with my toes and uttering made-up swear words.

For perspective, and to be fair, Roommate has been dealing my bodily malfunctions for years now. I never asked to be sick. It took courage to face fixing the problems. I didn’t think I’d be dealing with this, too.

At the end of every round of surgery/procedure/whatever, Roommate calmly told me how much I sucked- that I didn’t help around, that I didn’t pull my fair share, that I expected too much. So, with this surgery… Yes, surgery, I went into it expecting to go back to tempjob right away. Did I want to? Does it matter? On the one hand, yes I did. I liked the work and the people. On the other, most people have a much longer recovery time.

I managed to convince my Dr that I would follow any and all advice. Triumphantly, I held that little piece of paper in my hand… only to have Roommate start again with the same lecture, and again reminding me that if I don’t clean up my act, that eviction is imminent.

I can’t afford to stand on my own right now. As it is, I am lucky to even be standing. I was told to come up with a plan- as if I haven’t had one all along. You can plan until you are blue in the face, but life doesn’t always go your way.

TL;DR: I’m scared.

 

 

The Highlight Reel

1

I have to have another surgery. I am scared.

Girlfriend and I had Issues. Things are looking up now.

I started a temp job.

My laundry is really backed up right now, and I’m trying to catch up before I have limited mobility again.

I’m kind of tired of crazy things being wrong with me, but at the same time, I’m very very grateful for the outstanding care.

It turns out my forehead reacts to soda. Of course it does… /Sarcasm/

I’ve been drinking more coffee than ever, partly because I couldn’t for so long. This may change back again…

I mentioned before that I can now drink milk, and I have been, almost every day.

I gained SO MUCH WEIGHT, you guys… I didn’t even know this was possible. I am delighted that I can eat things I couldn’t digest easily before, but something is up with the way I am digesting my food. It scares me not knowing if this will change from good to bad or not.

 

Tales from Surgery…

1

And now for something completely different… Here’s a list of completely random things about the hospital & surgery & life afterwards that I’ve been meaning to share:

You get the stupids. I’ve had the stupids off and on since surgery, which was now, (counts on fingers), about 6 months ago. In the beginning, it was the pain pills, but now, it’s just organically stupid. Some say it’s a menopause thing.

Extra-bonus complicated surgery means that some of the sh…tuff I went through, you will not go through. So, please don’t get scared off!

All in all, I’m glad I did it. But, yes, there were moments when I questioned it… Not really about the kid thing at the time, because honestly, as it turns out, that would’ve been pretty near impossible, but more about the amount of pain involved. Surgery hurts. A lot. Especially when you’re talking about completely opening the abdomen up and taking out a ton of stuff that doesn’t belong there.

The sad-no-kid feelings did/do come, but I kept/keep reminding myself about the above. It would have been far worse if I’d tried…

Walking was awful for a while there. There’s a reason they call it the “hysterectomy shuffle”, but the pillow against abdomen thing totally helped.

Hospital food kinda sucks. Except I really wasn’t allowed to eat much of it during the first visit. Also, because my hospital doesn’t clarify the difference between an allergy and an intolerance to their food staff, I basically was allowed to only eat about 1 or 2 items off of a 6 item menu. Good times. During the second visit, it took a minor miracle for me just to get a sandwich.

Oh, so many of my food issues cleared up once I healed from the surgery. Thank goodness! It was a tough road for awhile, there.

I don’t want to be in a shared room with a woman with her husband staying over 24/7. No one asked.

The physical therapists were so understanding. I loved them.

I don’t drink much (the gallbladder put the kebosh on that), and I don’t take medicines unless I’m in a ton of pain, so the pain medicine they gave me made me goofy. …Which at least was better than what my mood would’ve been without.

I don’t like shots in the tummy.

The first day home was so, so hard. I took three steps and needed to rest a good 15 minutes before even attempting to go any further.

Nurses are awesome.

Throat after surgery. So not right. Apparently, that was all I could talk about until they got me some throat spray. I barely remember this, but I do remember being happy I had that, since I wasn’t allowed to eat for days.

I gained all my weight back and then some. I was really enjoying being 20 pounds lighter, you guys!

I am pretty sure it was the menopause fairy that told me to eat a trayful of brownies a couple of months ago.

Hot flashes suck. It is everything you’d think it would be and more. Who knew tshirts conducted heat???

I probably should’ve stayed on my post-surgery health kick. I started eating a lot of junk food once I was able to. Lack of gallbladder problems, meet menopause. I’m sure you two will have lots of fun together.

I can’t tell you about lesexytime, (even if you wanted to know), because it hasn’t happened yet. I really don’t care that much. I think letting it happen naturally is best, and I wasn’t exactly mojo-ready. I’m not a good baseline anyway, because of technical surgery things in that region.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, so there might be another one of these later! 🙂

On the road again

1

When I was recovering from crazy surgery times, I wasn’t able to drive. Prior to that, I was too weak to feel up to it, and also my car needed work. While I was in the hospital the first time, Girlfriend offered to spot me the expense to fix it… and I said ‘no’, because my medical prognosis was at least 12 weeks out, and then I ended up back in the hospital.. (Btw, this is not normal, so don’t be scared if you are anticipating surgery! I just had some really messed up insides that are definitely atypical!)

My thought at the time was “why bother?”. But then, I got better, and was finally able to drive… (which was actually not that long ago), and “ohhhh, rightttt… car doesn’t wroom!”… So, I accepted her kindness. It hurt my pride a little, and I hated leaning on her that hard after she’s been so amazingly supportive of me, but she was right, I needed her.

I took it out after it was fixed, and it’s still doing something stupid, but only occasionally, and of course, unpredictably- kind of like how my body was acting prior to surgery. We are tied together, like Pokemon and trainer, if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s my “Brad”, if you’ve seen that commercial. My Brad is older now, just like I am, and I’m not sure how much longer we will have together.

So, I decided to take the somewhat questionable step and thoroughly clean it. I used what little pocket money I had to wash it and vacuum it- twice actually, because it sat for so long. I was always good at that sort of thing, but I know zero about mechanics. Like I said, it’s not totally fixed yet, so this could be for nothing.

You can’t imagine how thankful I was to be able to bend in weird ways to do the vacuuming. You have to understand- I was barely mobile for so long- even walking a few feet was a big deal, so to be able to contort brought me great satisfaction. I’m not totally healed yet, either, but we are both looking much better.

 

Stuff and Nonsense

1

It’s Week 17 since the surgery, and a few weeks out from the surprise stay. I’ve been trying to think of inspirational and/or funny posts, but the truth is, I’m not always all that inspired or funny.

Things are going fine in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been able to eat things I really shouldn’t be eating. I’ve been drinking soda again since about a month after the surgery. I’m not proud of this, but there are far worse habits out there. My plan is to get back on the water train, but I will finish what’s already around first.

I’ve been able to do a little somethin’-somethin’ with my beauty regimen. I no longer have to stick to unscented, un-anything types of products. So, since the incision healed, I’ve been using a lavender body wash/shampoo combo, which has been appropriate for the chill mood I’ve been trying to work.

Truth be told, I’ve been getting some flack for not getting my act together faster, and it’s affected my mood. Some people get motivated by that sort of criticism. I don’t. Especially when I was just starting to get back on my feet and feel good again. This isn’t a rant blog, but this has been a part of my life since I wrote last, and if you want the facts, I feel like I must include it. I’m sure everyone has their own versions of this on the road to surgery recovery- that well-meaning friend or relative who thinks you can leap large buildings in a single bound, while you would just be happy to walk to one.

I kayaked with Girlfriend, which confused everyone but her. I should say: “She helped me into the boat, pushed me off, then pulled me back in when I was finished”, but that takes too long. She also found delightful little spots for us to take breaks and sat there and played floaty with her boat so I’d stop and rest. So, um, technically, I kayaked, but mostly I took pictures of nature and put my feet and hands in the water.

I actually did walk around with a sports bra and shorts while we were at the cabin. She’d gotten me these scar patch things that I used to protect my scars from the sun. But, while we were out boating, I felt a little too shy and a little too worried about exposing them like that. It just felt better to have a bathing suit on over them.

The scar itself is still huge, long, and purple. I don’t think I have average feelings about it, compared to what I see elsewhere. Mostly, I feel proud that I survived. I never had the courage to get a tattoo, and this is kind of like one. Though, at the same time, I also hope it fades. It will take at least a year before I will know for sure. I am lucky that Girlfriend is not squeamish- she has seen the scar since I started taking pictures of it, and heard me talking about it since Day 1. So, I don’t feel like I have to hide it from her, which is very nice. I can’t imagine what those feelings must be like, on top of actually experiencing surgery.

…Just a little of this and that.

“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.