Reclaiming the Bits
I spent the day making one small change in my environment. Well, to me it’s a big change, but in the whole scheme of things, it is nothing more than basic geography. Moving from Point A to Point B. To be honest, for me, it represents much more, and I am ending the day exhausted, but content.
You see, I haven’t slept in my own bed since late September. That is when my doctor sent me in for a CAT scan, which resulted in me being immediately ordered to the Emergency Room, which further resulted in the first of multiple surgeries for abdominal cancer. Since then, my recovery has been slow. Much too slow for my liking, but then again, we don’t get to write every chapter in our lives.
When I was discharged from the hospital after the last surgery, I went home to a hospital bed. The sister that lives in another state had swooped into town, and had created a “hospital room” within my home. It was sterile and clean and antiseptic, just like the doctor ordered. She spent hours and hours scrubbing every surface, and meticulously installed a bevy of medical equipment, so that by the time I was discharged, the room was completely ready for me. At the time of my discharge, I was barely able to move, and had to walk with the assistance of a walker for every hesitant and wobbly step. My diet was strictly prohibitive, and I required all sorts of rehabilitative exercises and modifications. Bandage dressings had to be changed multiple times during the day, and fluid intake and output was closely monitored. Oxygen hoses followed me everywhere I went, and there was absolutely no bending or stooping allowed. It was clearly going to be a long haul.
When it became clear that I simply could not manage on my own, my sister was gracious enough to extend her stay an additional week. During that time she took excellent care of me, (although at times it was like living with a Drill Sergeant — but that was to be expected, especially considering that she owns her own business and is accustomed to being the one giving the orders). By the end of the week, she had arranged for me to have nursing assistance and housekeeping assistance, and someone to look after the dogs, and even someone to do the grocery shopping. She thought of everything, and took care of every detail. In a flurry of activity, she set it all in motion.
Let me pause for a moment and say that the expression of her love for me, through her actions, was not only startling and overwhelmingly a beautiful thing to witness, but it also forced me into the position of being the person that needed help from someone else, versus always being the one extending a helping hand. More on that another day.
Over these past few months, things have slowly improved. I practically danced a little dance, (if I could move with that much freedom, that is), on the day the hospital bed finally went away. Then the oxygen. The walker became more about stability as needed, versus a requirement. The nurse was discharged. The housekeeper, unfortunately, didn’t live up to her advertising, and was replaced. The second housekeeper was even worse. Little by little, I began the process of reclaiming some of those mundane tasks that we take for granted. Washing the dishes, or doing a load of laundry, or running the vacuum. The day came that I was finally able to bend my abdomen enough to pick up the dog dishes, and I celebrated the freedom of being able to be the one taking care of my dogs again. There were still plenty of things I could not do, but every day, and every week, moved me forward another notch. Little by little, I was gaining ground.
But I was still stuck in a temporary bed, in a temporary room, surrounded by too many pill bottles and bandages and too many rolls of sterile tape. As my body inched forward in my recovery, it began to yearn longingly for my own bed. If only I could lie on my side again. If only I could sleep without plastic pads and bandages everywhere. If only I could sink into the softness of too many pillows. If only I could scrunch down under the covers and get really comfortable. If only.
Today, I decided that I’m recovered enough to make the move.
Tonight I will be sleeping in my own bed for the first time in over three months, and I’m already nervously excited to take this next step in my recovery. It may be simply moving from Point A to Point B within my home, but it represents much more to me. It gives me the chance to be me again. I will put my head on my pillow tonight, and wake up tomorrow to the familiar sounds of my own personal space surrounding me again.
I declare this day a small victory. Yes, it took an extreme amount of effort to make the switch, (several loads of laundry, and the still very uncomfortable process of making a bed), but the effort expended was like making a deposit in my energy bank. It feels like I am finally reclaiming something that I wasn’t sure I would ever experience again, and even though it is something as insignificant as resting my head on my own pillow while I recuperate in my own bed, I expect that this will very likely help me as much mentally and emotionally and psychologically, as it will physically.
I didn’t exactly intend that I would do this on the first day of a New Year.
But then again, if we are to begin again, then what better time?