Sunday, July 17, 2011


I look at my body and realize: Everything is new. Major changes have been made. This gives me a chance to continue to make major changes.

Like losing weight. They need me to do that before the next surgery can happen, regardless. But I want to do it. And post-surgery my appetite is greatly reduced. I'm being physically active, a little more every day or so. Last night we walked around the block in the evening, the first time for me in a month, and stood in the street and watched the usual Saturday fireworks over the minor league baseball stadium a mile away.

I've been through some bad days this past week, with a lot of problems with the ostomy bags not working. But last night I got some good sleep, and had vivd dreams. I was in Chicago, trying to get across the river to meet someone downtown; but it was sort of a steampunk setting, a mix of older and newer technology, and the buses and the bridge over the river were old and new. I was taken across the bridge in a high, swinging gondola, frightened at the speed and the height of the passage. But the previous two nights I hadn't had any dreams at all. I didn't get to REM sleep, because of all the ostomy drama, and the stress of it. Today I feel tired but better. I need to mostly rest again all morning, then we'll see if I have the strength to take a walk this afternoon. It's going to be dangerously hot out all day, according to the weather forecast, so we might go over to the air-conditioned mall and I'll walk around there.

Given a forced major change—major, high-risk surgery, in which my entire colon was removed—why not use it as an opportunity to make other changes. The truth is: My body is different now. I'm still recovering from the surgery, not knowing fully just how different it is. There are probably going to be other changes that I haven't figured out yet. I emerged from surgery on a very restricted diet. Now I've been given permission to gradually return to a more normal diet. I am adding in one new thing a day, to see how my body (and ostomy output) respond to it now. Some things will be as before, some probably will not. You have to slowly explore, slowly determine.

Who is this new self, this new body, this new you? It's still too soon to say.

Changes there have been, and changes there will be. "This too shall pass." The only constant in life is in ephemeral, always-changing nature. So that song remains the same, even if we add new harmonies to it.

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

Well I looked up to see how much the human colon weighs and the answer was between a measly one and four pounds depending on how full it was so if you’re practicing positive thinking then there’s a kick start to your weight loss programme. Okay a very little kick but it’s a start. At least the days are ticking by and there have been no complications that might have had to have you rushed back in. We are thankful for small mercies.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Actually, I'm down a full twenty pounds at this point. The surgeon and the hospital dietician both talked about using the surgery as a kick start for losing weight. It's common to lose ten to fifteen pounds after surgery, because for a couple of days you're not eating, or just taking in liquids. And to be honest my appetite is greatly reduced because of the bodily trauma.

And the plan is to go to smaller portions, so that's already kick started.

The other component will be to get more exercise. Which is feasible, once I fully recover from the surgery. Because now the organ that was dragging my energy down is gone, it's expected that I'll be able to actually get more exercise now, once healed, than I have in some time. Last night as I said I walked around the block, and it felt good. I'm barely three weeks out from this huge surgery, so that's pretty astounding when you think about it.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Glenn Ingersoll said...

Healing is work.

I have to remind myself that healing for me as essential a part of physical activity as exercise.

I'm sure you have to remind yourself of something or other, now and then?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

I frequently have to remind myself to be more patient with the process. It can be hard to deal with expectations and desires, when sometimes I feel great and then a few hours later I don't. It can be tough to be patient with the rollercoaster.

And you're absolutely right: Healing IS work. It's my full-time job right now, and nothing else is as important.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Oh dear, Art, it sounds tough. And you are enduring it all with such aplomb and, may I say, artistry.

My daughter has just, five days ago, given birth to a son and she and her husband have named him Art.

I thought of you. You are the only Art I know beyond my new and already much loved grandson.

Get well soon, Art. I hope this next bout of surgery is not too traumatic.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks for thinking of me. Congrats on the new member of the family.

I don't FEEL as if I'm enduring things particularly well. This morning the weather is dangerously hot again, 115 heat index with 80 percent humidity—which takes its toll on the healing body, too. This is day three of that, and they say we'll have several more days of it.

And the body is so demanding right now, I'm feeling like the mental and the spiritual aspects are being neglected; but I can't do much about that till the body gets a little less demanding. Every day is a bit different. I'm not done with challenges yet, I'm sure.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I'm sorry to hear it's so bad, art. I hope it improves.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks. As the saying goes, "This too shall pass. . . ."

8:00 AM  

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