Well that was unexpected.
As I sat waiting for my daily meeting with the surgeon, my mind was racing.
Tuesday my hemoglobin had fallen slightly, but the kidney recovery was continuing with the creatinin levels hovering just above the upper-levels of normal. My morning walk was less shaky and a little faster than the last time, and it was topped off by the stairs. Instead of 2 separate sessions, the rehab was combined into one. After a 2K walk, I climbed 80 stairs. Nothing Herculean, but felt far less unstable and not-at-all winded.
In other areas, however, it was one of the harder days.
I wondered whether things were starting to not function again; whether I was headed for another roadblock. So when my surgeon walked in, grim look on his face, my heart sank.
Oh no, I thought. The blood isn’t holding. The kidneys are going. There’s more infection.
Much to my surprise, the news was only positive. My blood was continuing to hold, weight starting to stabilize, kidneys working hard, vitals perfect.
The grim look on his face is just the way he deals with emotion. With tears in his eyes, he asked, “Would you like to go home today? Because I think you’re ready.”
I didn’t know what to say. Of course I wanted to go home, but it’s so intimidating, being without the 24/7 support system. Plus, I’m still experiencing the existing-in-limbo sensation, which is probably one of the harder things to deal with. But I know that will wane, and will likely do so faster if I’m home than if I’m in hospital.
He offered me his outstretched hand, but I knew that’s not what was needed. I stood up and we embraced, tears streaming down both our faces. It’s been a long haul and there were times neither of us thought I’d make it, but for whatever reason I did, and I am so, so grateful.
But the mountain left to climb – the physical rebuilding – is going to be a fight.
For an idea of the toll this has taken, I’ll provide a few numbers (ones which I don’t generally discuss.)
Pre-surgery #1 (May 13), before entering the hospital, I was 130 pounds and 8-10% body fat. Incredibly solid, lean and muscular. I’m now hovering around 90 (soaking wet). Some of the mass lost has been fat, yes, from what little stores I had, but most was precious, hard-earned muscle.
(Take *that* fad-dieters! To hell with your Paleo — you really ought to try the TPN diet. Basic nutrients are fed to you intravenously directly to the heart – the way nature intended, to be sure – and your body mass just melts away. Bonus! Your stomach will shrink so much that you won’t be able to overeat (or possibly eat) again! Sure you’ll feel/look like hell when all is said and done, but at least it’s wheat and gluten free, amirite?!? Plus — THIGH GAP! #ugh)
That doesn’t matter to most people, and in the grand scheme of things should be the least of my worries, given what I’ve endured. But we all have the things that are important to us, the things that we wouldn’t trade for anything, and my athleticism is one of those things. Which is why you can understand why this bothers me so much. And why, even though I’m not at a critically low weight, I feel so physically taxed. A 30+ pound weight loss in under 2 months is fairly hard on the body.
I’m used to being able to wake up and run 5K on demand. Now I wake up and it’s an effort to just get dressed.
And that kills me.
But yes, it’ll get better. And yes, I’ll get back to where I was – again – but it doesn’t make the process any easier or the emotional burden any lighter.
Anyway, being home will have things slowly returning to normal. Though I might not feel entirely normal or be entirely functional for at least 6 months, I know things will continue to progress and that I will, indeed, get there.
Being with my mom will help, and yeah – I suppose I’ll be the loser living with my mom at age 28, but I simply cannot recover alone.
Oh yes, another number people seem to be interested in: Staples – 65 in total. 35 from the first surgery, 30 from the second. Plus 20 regular sutures.
I’m not entirely sure what to do with this blog now – let it be? delete it? continue to track my recovery, but the physical aspect? Keep it for the occasional personal post?
My life hasn’t been the easiest/most enjoyable and I have survived/recovered multiple times, for whatever reason, where others would not have, and frankly, in instances where I had no business doing so.
I have become my surgeon’s pet: he continues to call me his superstar patient, even though I feel (am) nothing of the sort. Unit 83 adopted me as *their* patient, every nurse checking in on me in the mornings for a hug and a chat, whether or not they were assigned to me.
Today, each one came in to give me a hug and cry a little bit and say goodbye. (I cannot wait to return when I’m once again healthy for a visit.)
But there’s nothing remarkable or special about me. I’m just another person, was just another patient. If I didn’t survive this no lives would have changed. Life goes on. People beat the odds – or not – every day. Perhaps I work a little harder, push myself further, than others might in the same situation (especially with the physical aspect), but that’s just who I am.
For all who’ve followed along, thank you so much for reading. Whether you sent messages of support or just privately hoped for the best, thanks.
I’ve shared much more than I ever have/would have about my history and personal life than I otherwise would have, had this surgery (or surgeries, rather) not happened. I’m generally a reserved person, and though I don’t at all mind talking about what I’ve been through, I do my best not to let it define me. Chronically ill was never a label I was willing to accept, and now, without the large gut, it’s no longer a badge I must secretly wear.
But this recovery will be a year a best, likely two before all is said and done. It depends on how quickly the body rebounds. So 2014 will probably continue to be a year of recovery and rebuilding, whether I like it or not. But I’m certain I’ll be far closer to normal come the new year than I currently believe I’ll be.
When I joined twitter, started to get engaged in politics/media, it was meant to be a distraction as I underwent the GI rehab / continued recovery. I needed something to focus on, something to keep the brain stimulated/occupied since the body couldn’t be. People didn’t know where I came from or why I was there, but few asked questions about who I was or what I did in life, and that was nice. I could quietly endure the medical things without people being aware. I might regret publishing any/all of what I have at TMI later on, but for now I think it has helped me cope.
My greatest fear/worry when it comes to opening up about things is that people will look at me/think of me/treat me differently, for better or worse.
I’m just me, and the same person you’ve come to know, either through twitter or offline. I just have a little more baggage than the average person to lug around (or keep in storage, I suppose.)