Funny thing about this little online community – we’re not so different, are we? Over the years I’ve met so many people through this blog – they stumbled upon it somehow, or I’ve stumbled upon their space, and then a conversation was started and it goes from there. Occasionally their lives seem quite a bit different from my own – different jobs, different house, different region, different family, different age, different worries – and then they’ll mention a book they are reading or a poem that they like or what they had for dinner the night before or what they are secretly struggling with, and something pushes me beyond just silently reading from afar, and I leave a comment, or send an email. A real ‘hello’ out into the world, to someone not so different from me after all.
I currently have a gang of pain companions – all of us finding ourselves recovering from surgery at the same time. I went in for scheduled surgery and found out Lauren was in for very unscheduled surgery (darn appendix). My friend Becky dropped off dinner at my house one night and then wrote a post that week about her experience with back surgery following a pretty intense period of pain. I checked in on another online friend who hadn’t posted in awhile and discovered she was dealing with very similar pain issues in her back and was contemplating surgery of her own.
We’ve all connected in our own funny little circle now. Lauren reminds me that healing hurts a lot, but isn’t half as difficult as remaining still enough to heal. I remind Stacey that the second week post op is easier than the first, but the third and the fourth are no picnic because there are no shortcuts here. Becky reminds us all that those six weeks will drag on for an eternity and then you blink, and it’s been six months and you can tie your shoes again without pain, and maybe without even remembering the pain.
So where am I now, four weeks out? By the stats alone, I’d have to say better. Stitches are out, swelling is going down a bit, I’m able to stand and to walk and to sit at my desk with my feet on the floor for longer portions of the day. But that’s not really the complete picture. The pain levels in my feet have gone down slightly, but the gains there have been replaced by setbacks in the rest of my body. Every muscle aches, particularly my upper back that I threw completely out of whack the other morning when I tried to maneuver across the bed to lean over and turn off the alarm. My skin is peeling off in sheets, particularly around my feet. No matter how hard I try to get clean at the sink, I still smell.
Tougher than the physical stuff is the mental stuff. I described it this way to friends at work, and to my husband too. All of the things that I do to keep me happy, healthy, sane – I can’t do any of them right now. Go for a long walk in the garden or for a run in the park, jump in the car and meet a friend for coffee or run through the drive through and grab a cup on my own. Walk around the mall and shop for a new spring outfit or for a birthday present for my sister. Visit the bookstore. Soak in the tub. Take a hot shower and cry and cry and cry it all out. Leave the house without it requiring the other three to drop everything they are doing to accommodate me. Leave work when I’m ready or when I need to. Make dinner, chopping vegetables and arranging them in little bowls. Feel independent, competent, helpful, contributing. Wear something other than yoga pants or the sad pair of boot cut jeans that fall off my hips, but fit over my enormous, ridiculous feet.
And above everything else, I’m really just sick of talking about it. Enough already, let’s move on. But my feet control everything now – they tell me what I can and cannot do, and it’s hard to pretend like they don’t consume the lion’s share of my brainspace each day. Right now they are throbbing – tired from overuse and a string of ten hour work days and weeknight errands and too many stairs at home, and maybe – since I’m up – I’ll just switch out one load of laundry, knowing full well that it’s too much.
That should be Week Four’s motto: When not enough is still too much.
Thanks for listening, and for letting me know that we’re all in this together. No matter what “this” is at the moment, I’m awfully glad we’ve met each other along the way.