If there’s one thing I hate (amidst a growing list), it’s slow walkers. Have you ever walked down a busy street or through a mall, only to have your brisk pace broken up by someone meandering along, completely oblivious to the backlog of pedestrians he/she is creating? Argh! It’s infuriating. Before my surgery, I would always walk vigorously. Not that I was rushing to get somewhere, but walking at a decent pace was my way of getting a little bit of exercise out of a pretty routine task. As the Eagles of Death Metal put it, I was never in a hurry, just moving fast.
So imagine my disgust when I became one of those hated slow walkers. After about a week and a half in hospital, I was allowed to go outside without my IV pole. In my gown, robe, and plastic slippers, I ventured out onto University Ave. for a walk. Still weakened from the surgery and its complications, I shuffled along the concrete sidewalk. Everyone passed me. Young people. Middle-aged people. Old people. People with strollers. People with grocery bags. People with dogs. Everyone. Not only could I see other pedestrians zipping by me, but I could hear my slippers dragging along the concrete. I had lost my stride, my pace, my vigour.
Walking up and down a busy downtown street looking every part the hospital patient was indicative of my whole recuperation. The best word I can use to sum up my recovery is: slow. I move slowly. I eat slowly. I change sleeping positions slowly. I get up slowly. I sit down slowly. I heal slowly. At least I am healing, albeit at a frustratingly sluggish rate.
The wound from my incision site has improved. It’s no longer as deep as it used to be, but now the surface area is more sensitive. That makes for many painful moments, as the wound happens to be below my belly button, right where I normally situate the waistband of my underwear and pants. To relieve the pressure, I’ve had to resort to looking like a high school hooligan, wearing my pants well below the waist (I couldn’t go above the waist, as that would have put pressure on my ostomy). The percutaneous tube continues to drain the abscess; some days it can drain between 100 and 200 CCs of fluid. While it’s good to know the nasty shit is leaving my body, it signals that the tube won’t be coming out any time soon. I still get cramps from time to time, and I’m still getting the hang of changing my ostomy appliance, but overall the ostomy’s been okay. I still can’t lift heavy things, and I still can’t run. The latter may be the most frustrating aspect of my recovery, especially since the weather here in Toronto is getting warmer, and there’s an abundance of runners out and about in my neighbourhood, rubbing their athletic ability in my face. Eh, I’m not angry with them, just jealous.
Back when I was in hospital, I sat up on my bed beside Jayee one night and started crying. “It all seems so far away,” I said in between sniffles. Jayee held my hands and said, “I know. But you’ll get there.” It’s not that I don’t think my health will improve, it’s just that the improvements that I want to see aren’t coming quickly enough, and I’m well aware that it may take months, perhaps years, for my body to be in the state I want it to be. In the meantime, each day brings about its own pains and struggles, and that again makes the end goal seem so far away.