(NOTE: This is a report about my personal progress – no one else's. Maybe there are hints for others in a similar recovery, maybe not. Aside from the general path toward recovery, none of us can know another's needs or solutions. This is one person's journey to wellness that might - or not - have a little value for some others.)
Nothing anyone told me prepared me for how hard this recovery is. I think that unless you are on a second or, god forbid, a third major surgery, you have no idea.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done.
Two weeks after the surgery, Wednesday, was my first pain-free day. The only discomfort was, and still is, where the 20-odd staples are in place down the middle of my torso. But that's only an irritation, not pain.
(If I were 40 years younger, I'd plan for a zipper tattoo when I am healed.)
The sorriest difficulty, which continues so far without improvement, is that the thing that most heartens and inspires me is also the most exhausting. Let me tell you about exhaustion, the kind I have never imagined:
A walk from the bedroom to the kitchen requires a sit-down rest. Scrambling an egg and washing up the pan and dish is equally tiring. Cleaning the cat's litter box – even with a special long-handled utensil (I'm not allowed to bend or twist) – requires a lie down.
But worse than that is how much a friend's telephone call or neighbor's visit depletes me while, ironically, also invigorating me – if only in my heart and not my body.
Any phone or in-person visit longer than about 15 minutes results in an hour's nap but I know they also make me feel better. So I try to balance but other forces get in the way.
On Tuesday, a woman from a home health care service came by and spent two hours taking my medical history, medications, inspecting my home and taking notes. She is smart, knowledgeable and spelled out a good course of help.
But after those two, long hours, it took all of Wednesday in bed to get back to my (admittedly, low) normal. A phone call that day with the pharmacy to sort out a prescription took more attention than I was capable of giving.
Eating is difficult. I'm almost never hungry so must force food in five or six small meals a day. Most of the time it feels as though I've just finished Thanksgiving dinner so I worry that I'm not getting enough calories and protein. I've not found a solution but to hope for improvement as healing continues.
There is a dreaminess to my days. I've made myself a schedule of one hour up and one hour in bed that I intend to expand to 90 minutes when I feel ready. The in-bed time expands and it's not that I sleep. Nor read. Nor watch television. Nor listen to music necessarily
I'm in a kind of stupor then, aware of what's around me if I care to pay attention but mostly drifting to head places I don't recall when I “come to” again.
Although it takes several sittings over two days to get one done, writing these blog posts keeps me focused for longer periods. I've decided that's good for me.
Recovery from something as big as this surgery is, I think, living in another world for awhile that I never imagined existed.
Watch this space for a story about the ingenious tools some neighbors and others have invented to help me through these weeks of recovery.
FACEBOOK: For many years through Typepad, the company that hosts this blog, each post has automatically posted to Facebook. A week or so ago, Facebook, without announcement or notification to Typepad, stopped this connection so that TGB posts no longer show up on Facebook.
Typepad tells me that I can let TGB Facebook readers know about a new post by including a link to the blog in a "status update" on Facebook. I have no desire to learn any more about FB than I already know but apparently I am being forced into this much. Anyone who can explain what a status update is and how I do it, please let me know in the comments below. And thank you in advance.