Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Advantages of Being Stuck at Home Post-Surgery

from the Surgery Diaries

Despite a little cabin fever, my mind is pretty clear. I'm on pain meds, but a very mild dose. The first night home was really bad, I couldn't figure out how to sleep without a lot of discomfort. Since then, though, I've been getting better sleep, and the occasional nap, in my big overstuffed recliner. It's not like I never slept there before, either. It's a good chair for it. Last night, in the cool night, I also slept for an hour on the porch recliner. I find myself waking a few times during the night, but move around a little then can get back to sleep. That first night home I had vivid nightmares; but I know from experience that general anaesthesia can do that to me, till it fades off.

So yesterday I sat down at the computer and a huge amount of file management that I've been putting off for awhile. My desktop is the most organized it's been in months.

That's one advantage of being back at home but mostly resting: lots of free time to do the little tasks one never seems to have time for otherwise.

Later today my sister and I are going to rearrange the kitchen pantry much more efficiently. A family friend has gifted me a Cuisinart food processor. How did I manage to survive this long without a food processor? One wonders. Last night we made scalloped potatoes, and they were fantastic.

My sister and brother-in-law are both foodies who love to cook, and are really good at it. I've learned a lot from them over the years, and become a pretty good cook myself. Last night we made scalloped potatoes from the Julia Child recipe, and used the new (used) Cuisinart to slice everything perfectly and practically instantaneously. This will be a big boon to me from now on: no wasted energy in the kitchen, especially now, when I need most of my daily strength for healing and recovery. I'm still not allowed to use the stairs to the basement, or to lift anything heavier than twenty pounds.

I walked around my garden last night, at dusk, with my sister. My lilies are amazing this year, now that they're all starting to open. They're huge and colorful. I took some fresh photos as I ambled, neither pushing myself too hard for walking, and not trying to bend over at all just yet. Unfortunately I don't know if the morning glories are going to make it. And it needs weeding, which I'm not able to do. So the front garden, the flower garden looks terrific, while the back porch garden could be better. Oh well. If I miss a season, it's for a good reason.

So the main advantage of being stuck at home post-surgery is that I'm getting some organizing done. Things that I wanted to get done earlier, but had neither the time nor the strength to do.

Yesterday the incision itched all day, but it was that kind of itching that means healing, not infection. Everything looks clean and fine. I spent time last night with no dressing on the incision, letting it air out, and this morning it looks really good. I'm going to keep covering it till after the staples come out, though, to avoid any irritation, or catching on clothing.

Yesterday morning I felt a little emotionally and mentally fragile. Today it's a clear, breezy summer day, and my mind feels clear. I'm going to make art today, one way or another. I'm finding myself having more energy than I expected, certainly this early in the recovery process.

I owe my surgeon an apology. When he first told me that some patients immediately feel more energized, after surgery, than they had in years, I found that impossible to believe. But that seems to be what's happening to me. I am surprised and pleased. So my apologies and my gratitude to him. I'll say as much to him next time we meet.

This morning I'm also aware of how much we take for granted in life. We are so fragile, and yet to resilient. Little things are what remind you of what in life really matters. The first real food I ate after surgery was like the first meal eaten in the Garden of Eden: revelatory, delicious, overwhelmingly tasty (even with some taste bud issues caused by the anaesthesia), and sublime. Each new post-surgery First Time has been feeling that way. Each day something new. I might have taken it for granted before, but I never will again. I appreciate every moment of every day like I never have before. What a glorious morning.

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