Recovery- the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
I have so much to write that I have contemplated how to begin to talk about this past month, for the past week. Post-surgery fatigue was really rough this time.
As one of my old friends used to say, “How do you eat an elephant?”… “One bite at a time”.
When I last posted, I was getting ready to have surgery. My co-pays had taken my entire check and, when I wondered how we were going to move forward, Luis was tipped an amount that covered our current needs.
Most of the time, people do not remember that foggy time, after surgery, when the anesthesia begins to wear off and nurses take notice that the patient is awake. I woke up asking if the doctor was able to finish; a hysterectomy was the best outcome that I could expect. I remember the full room, the older gentleman, next to me, who was grumbling in pain, the beeping of the machines, and a surprised nurse telling me that, yes, they were able to proceed. I passed out, after praying a big “thank-you”, knowing that I did not have cancer and that the large amount of pre-cancer, that I did have, was gone.
Surgery took longer than expected, because I had complications that the surgeon did not anticipate. In my eighth pelvic surgery, I had a lot of granulation tissue, chronic inflammation, enlargement, adhesions, cysts, and bleeding that was difficult for the surgeon to control. I made it to a room, six hours, after surgery began. All of my family was there, the whole time, even though it took so long. My dad was in the room, when I woke up (again) and so were flowers from my work.
Luis was so happy that he went home and dumped the grape vodka down the sink, in tears. We had this thing going that we would either have grape vodka or wine, when this was all said and done. I did not expect that he would actually go buy both, but he really did and it was sitting on my dresser, when I left for surgery. The significance of the grape vodka was that I had the, completely risk aware, spar of my life, after I had grape vodka, one evening (seriously, I still smile and hurt a little bit, when I think about it). It represented another fight. Wine is something that I associate more with a celebration. I take the time to learn about wine and enjoy bottles and brands that I can’t afford to have on a regular basis or to drink to become drunk… that being said, that sample bottle of cheap wine, that Luis and I shared, was probably the best that I’ve ever had.
Recovery was not easy but the people in my life made it so much easier than it could have been:
Luis is the best husband that I could ever wish for. He is an angel who takes me at my worst, and makes everything better, and makes me a better person. He works hard and gives me the space that I need to work hard as well. He sat at every appointment, even the lady ones, and asked the questions that I could not formulate. He is always there for me to lean on and he helped me through this past month, with grace. He is the best friend that I could not have dreamed of, if I sat down to create a list of qualities that I could wish for in a best friend.
Our friend drove me to the emergency room, when Luis was at work, when we found out that I had retention, after surgery and it was a medical emergency. This friend and his fiancé amazing people and partners in crime (and fandoms… and martial arts).
My Sunday school class brought us dinners, into my second week of recovery. We go to church in the nice town where I grew up, in the church that I have attended since I was in eighth grade (I like to see my mom). I was so afraid of people seeing where we live that I had a little panic attack, every time, even though the food helped so much and I was very grateful. The six of us live in a poorly insulated, three-bedroom, one bathroom, two-closet house that was purchased, as a kit, from Sears, sometime around the 1950’s. Despite professional pest control, we still get bugs in our house if a neighbor moves out, because the people in this area really can’t afford an exterminator (that is a luxury). This house allowed me to go to graduate school and allowed Luis and I to start off as a couple. I did not start a job at the salary that we were anticipating or that is consistent with my position and education, and work started out very slow, but I know that I am where I am supposed to be; that also means hanging out where we are for longer than we expected.
We had not had a couch for a while, because we got rid of quite a bit of our furniture, in anticipation of a move that we were unable to make. I could not really monitor the kids, when Luis went to work. It hurt to sit in our wooden chairs and I really had nowhere to hide the catheter bag that I had to carry around (and was embarrassed of) until Christmas (I have what they are thinking might be some sacral nerve damage); I had to stay in my room. A very sweet couple donated a very large sectional that all six people in my house can fit on.
Money was tight and getting tighter by the day, without me working, and just the cost of the holidays and extra medical expenses. I was on the verge of having to borrow money to get the kids some gifts for Christmas and I had bills that I had to set aside for the bills that keep us going. I did not tell anyone, because I was embarrassed. Our Sunday school class left an envelope, with Luis, with money that caught me up and allowed us to get the kid’s presents; it was pretty much the exact amount that we needed. I put on these, terrible, blue and white patterned, wide leg, hippie pants, that I could hide a leg bag in (for catheters) and Luis and I went to the store, two days before Christmas.
When I pray, all that I can say is “thank you for the grace that I don’t deserve” and for help sharing the grace that I have been given. I won’t lie, I have a little bit of survivor’s guilt. In this journey, I have met sweet women who did not have the same outcome. I’ve met women who woke up, after the biopsy, and heard that they could not have surgery. I listened to a woman, with small children, who is currently in hospice, and will not see her babies grow up. I’ve met women who pray to be candidates for a surgery that removes part of their colon, their bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, vagina, fascia, and lymph nodes in their pelvic region, because it means that they might get to live. I saw a girl, who has since passed, beg women to get their annual exam and beg parents to vaccinate their children, because the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer are now, pretty much, preventable diseases, if girls and boys get ALL 3 shots before they are ever sexually active. 80% of the population have HPV, at some point in their lives; most are never affected, some require observation, some of those people require curative biopsies, some of those people will not have clear margins, some of those people need further treatment or already have cancer, some of those people die.