As I was just going through my emails this morning, I was suddenly smitten by all the well-wishing that’s residing there at the moment. So although I said I wouldn’t likely post this week, it seemed a bit curmudgeonly of me not to at least let you know how I’m going.
So. In a word, well. My surgery was Tuesday and other than five hours in the waiting room attempting to stay calm, it was easy. I had a spinal block and was mildly aware of what was going on, dropping in and out of awareness randomly (well, likely at the anaesthetist’s carefully considered beck and call)..I liked that. In previous surgeries I’ve had, the general anaesthetic left me feeling like there’s a hole in time, similar to when the elevator suddenly drops a foot or two and your stomach falls out. At any rate, relief plus drugs made the surgery and subsequent evening a positive experience.
Since then, I’ve met two of my milestones. The first was to get out of hospital after one night. Tick. The second was to make it to the lounge room on Friday for our book club meeting. Tick. I’m sure I will easily make the third, which is to crutch it up to the yoga shed tomorrow morning for a taste of modified normality.
My brief is to be at all times with wound (i.e. ankle) above heart, in order to keep swelling down and ensure circulation. I’m allowed a couple of minutes each hour for a trip to the washroom or to another horizontal location. That goes on for two weeks, then gradually relaxes over another ten, after which the cast will be removed and I’ll start introducing some weight to the ankle.
It could be interpreted as a very limiting existence. But what’s been keeping me interested is that old spirit of challenge. How do I get down onto the floor to do stretches? How do I keep the water from splashing out of the shower? How can I surrender to Rick’s ministrations? It’s a moment-by-moment choice: is this a pain-in-the-ass hardship that no one should have to face, or an interesting new game which could entertain for hours, days, months!?
I suppose this is what’s meant when people say, “Stay positive,” or “Every flower must grow through dirt,” or “Let go…o…o…o of the thoughts that don’t make you strong.”
A few weeks ago, a dear friend was in a cycling accident and badly damaged his spinal cord at C1/C2. His happy, energetic body now lies immobile. He has assisted breathing, which silences his voice. The prognosis is unclear, but he gains a bit of ground, of sensation, every day. I know him as someone who understands the difference between pain-in-the-ass and challenge. He’s got a row to hoe ahead of him, and I take strength from him.
As I’m sure my friend knows, the world of the invalid gets rather small. This morning I celebrated two little wrinkles on my big toe—believe it or not, that’s a good thing because it’s a sign the swelling is going down. Bonza! Hooray!! My friend will be celebrating the same kind of minutiae.
I couldn’t close without a nod to my wonderful community. There were all those emails and Facebook air-kisses, each one a little pearl I got to finger during the hard times. There’s Rick, who has made it very clear that his life is at my disposal, who has fetched a thousand things already, cleaned up the barf on bad-meds day, made a string of appetising meals. There are housemates Eve and Daniel, who provided me with a summoning bell and have been imaginative in ways to support me. (Michael and Judy overseas have Skyped and emailed good wishes, stories and advice regularly.) Friends have dropped by, phoned, provided chocolates. It’s hard to express how supported this makes me feel. All these people shouting out, “Choose challenge!”, sweep me along on a tide of goodwill.