I have lived my adult life thus far as a relatively healthy person. I don’t take any daily medication, I have neither a disease nor any ailment for which I regularly see a doctor. I generally get a cold every other year at most, and I’ve never been “sickly” and rarely feel unwell. It was curious and interesting to me last winter, shortly after I turned 48, that my body began to behave in a way that was not “right.” Things that were normal and natural and easy to deal with were becoming wonky and annoying and not at all manageable. After a few doctor appointments, ultrasounds, a biopsy, my first MRI, and two blood tests, I learned in September that there was in fact something of a mutiny going on inside of me, things were most definitely not right, and I was going to have surgery shortly after my 49th birthday.
So the morning after my daughter arrived home from her blissful two weeks in Bora Bora for her honeymoon, and my two weeks of Super-Nana duty and child care was over, my boyfriend drove me to the hospital to have an adventure. My surgery turned out to have some unexpected complications and I will tell you that my boyfriend’s face was one of love and relief when I finally awoke. I had a magic button attached to my wrist, and my nurse told me to hit it every time I woke up, and that sleep was the best remedy for healing, so I spent my first 14 hours after surgery in a drug induced haze. My surgeon was very sorry for the complications and my discomfort but I felt I was getting very good care, and I was grateful. My first week home was more uncomfortable and stressful than I had anticipated but it was manageable. Today is day 15 and I feel more “me” than I had anticipated in such a short time. Before my operation I had read some dreadful accounts from other women of their own experiences on a forum I found on the internet, so I knew some women have pretty horrible recoveries, and I feel like mine is going quite well. While I still have occasional intense stabs of pain across the bottom of my abdomen from this 11 inch gash across my body that looks something like a magician’s ‘cutting a lady in two’ trick gone awry, I feel better than I expected to. I was able to slowly walk upstairs yesterday to do my online banking and here I am today, upstairs, doing one of the things I love best, typing.
Relaxing, or doing nothing, is not something I do particularly well, however last Monday afternoon, at day six, when my first batch of staples were removed I assured the surgeon that I was doing nothing more strenuous than walking down my hallway. On Monday at day 13, when the last of the steri-strips were removed I assured the surgeon that I was doing nothing more strenuous than walking the children to and from the bus stop. I am allowed to drive starting Monday next, and the Monday after that I can resume “regular physical activity but lift nothing heavy until I see you after Christmas.” So the doctor and I made a “deal” that I will follow his orders, and I take this job of mending and healing very seriously.
So I am waiting to be back to “normal” but this experience has changed me in a way that I was not expecting. There is not a normal anymore. My connection to the phases of the moon is now gone and my interconnectedness to the universe, something uniquely special to the female body, is gone. It’s a strange feeling. I feel like what was normal before is perhaps not what I want to be normal now. Did I have an anesthesia induced epiphany on the operating table as the giant alien-like mass of ick, that 31 years ago grew and housed my perfect daughter, was removed from my body? Maybe.
I am waiting to be fully healed and know that I want to be a person who cares more about her wellness now, both of my body and of my mind, than I used to. Some of you might laugh and think, “DUH? who doesn’t?!” BUT, I really never put much effort into wellness. I just joked that I have a family full of good genes and winged it, but I feel pretty strongly now that I need to navigate my future differently, make better choices with what I do to, and put into, my body. Am I going to give up drinking, no, but I am not going to drink as much. Am I never going to eat devil’s food cake or a TastyKake lemon pie again, no, but I am going to have sugar more sparingly than ever before. Am I going to give up steak or never have tacos al pastor again, of course not, and I won’t say that I will never again buy a Wawa soft pretzel when I buy my coffee, but I am determined to make this next half of my life one where I care a whole lot more about this vessel where my spirit lives than I cared before.
I am waiting to be able to sit up, lie down, roll over, or stand up without “feeling it” and that’s okay. I am waiting to be able to button and zipper a pair of jeans, although living in yoga pants and long cotton skirts these last two weeks has been very cozy. I am waiting to be able to lean down and kiss and squeeze my granddaughters without being so careful of my middle. I am waiting to sleep close to my boyfriend and not flinch every time I move from my back to my side, and to sleep on my belly again will be a joy. I am waiting to be better but more importantly I am waiting to be better than I was before, and there is always room for that.