This time last year, I woke up in my bed for the first time in nearly a month. I just been released from hospital after a 27-day stay following a series of complications from my first bowel surgery on May 9. I woke up with an ostomy bag bloated with dark brown liquid; a drainage tube pierced my left buttock and connected an internal abscess to a drainage bag strapped to my left thigh. Standing 5-foot-11, I weighed a paltry 137 pounds. In spite of the appliances attached to my body, I felt happy just to be in my own room again. I felt things would get better, and eventually they did, but it took much longer than I had hoped and expected.
Today, I woke up after a restful night’s sleep with a boss scar where my ostomy bag used to be, and little brown spot on my butt cheek where the drainage tube used to be. There are no bags attached to my body. I weigh 160 pounds. My asshole is itchy as a result of my J-pouch. My legs are a little sore because I ran last night. I ran in the outfit I had dreamt about for all those months I was recovering from my first horrid operation – a white US Soccer Centennial home shirt, navy blue shorts to match the trim on the shirt’s sleeves and collar, and a pair of Nike Flyknit Racers in chlorine blue/dark obsidian. Today I’ll go for a walk to pick up some groceries, and I’ll carry them home in my green GORUCK rucksack, an item I had my eye on for well over a year.
When I was in hospital last year, I spent some of my time looking online at things I wanted to have. It was a way for me to keep my mind on shiny, pretty things and not on the black liquid filling my ostomy bag or the brown liquid filling my drainage bag. I gazed at football shirts and backpacks and running shoes and thought that they would be a nice treat for myself, from myself, if I managed to survive all the shit. I bookmarked GORUCK’s online store and saved images of the shirts and shoes that I wanted. When my recovery at home hit a snag, as it often did, I would look at the images of the items on my want list. It’s not just that I liked the items because they looked good, but because I could imagine myself in them, and that imagined version of me was far superior to the real version. I imagined going for walks with that green GORUCK bag, or running in that US Soccer shirt. I felt that if I could ever make those dreams reality, it would be indicative of survival, of progress, of some small sense of accomplishment.
I had the money to buy all those coveted items last summer, but I didn’t. Not only were some of the items pricey (I have expensive taste), but they were rewards for an achievement I had not yet attained. I wanted to wait until after I had my second surgery and got my J-pouch working to treat myself. I wanted to actually wear the shirt and the backpack and the shoes, not just look at them as they gathered dust in my closet.
A few months after my second surgery, which took place back in February, I went back online to GORUCK’s store and to my surprise, the rucksack I had been eyeing for so long was on sale. Good things come to those who wait and all that shit. I also found online deals on a couple of football shirts, and I tracked down the Flyknit Racers in a size 11 on eBay.
I know I haven’t worked a proper full-time job since the spring of 2013 – I am looking for full-time work right now – but I’ve made some money with freelance and part-time jobs, and I’ve put off buying nice things for a long time. Not to mention I’ve been forced to put off other, more important things in life. I rarely say that I deserve something, but you know what? I damn well deserve a few nice things after the clusterfuck of a year I’ve had since my first surgery.
As Ned Flanders once said, “sometimes you just gotta spoil yourself… spoil yourself… spoil yourself…”
Image via Metacafe