I realized this morning that I have quite literally spent half of the last year sitting around waiting to heal. That’s a long time to do a whole lot of nothing, especially for an otherwise active soul.
Now, I know what my closest friends are thinking right now after reading those two sentences:
- Healing isn’t “nothing”! It’s important!
- Don’t feel badly. You just have to do this for a time! This season will be over soon!
- Don’t get that way! You know it’s just a process!
- You’re writing about the gimpy stuff again.
- You’ll be done with this part in no time, and then this will all be a memory!
If you’re close to me and you hear any of those words floating inside your head, don’t dismiss the rest of what I’m about to say. I hear you, there’s truth in your words, and you want me to not sink into a deep blue funk. I totally get and I love you for it.
But I’m climbing the walls right now.
Half of a year has gone since what remained of my left foot and I went to the ER in April, so it’s been over half a year since I…
…Took a walk in the twilight.
…Played in the yard with my dogs.
…Danced alone in the kitchen while doing dishes.
…Carried a real handbag.
…Went out for drinks with friends.
…Took a swim or went to the gym.
…Had a bubble bath. True story: I’d sell a kidney right now for a long soak in a tub with candles, bubbles, wine, and a book.
And it’s been even longer for other things. When was the last time I drove a stick? Most of my friends now don’t know how friendly I used to be with the gas pedal and how much fun I used to have driving through winding mountain canyons and over passes before I became friends with the cruise control and ended up with a terribly sensible automatic. (It has a turbo and sporty paddle shifters, but it just isn’t the same!) Will it be possible to drive a stick again? Sure. But will it be the same?
When did I last wear high heels? I mean, I’ve got some seriously sexy shoes and boots getting dusty in my closet, most of them stilettos. A few of you remember me when I wore them teaching everyday. Yep. I was that chick. Strapy, wedgy, knee high, “how does she walk in those shoes” shoes. I have yet to find a prosthetic foot for heels that is high enough to accommodate my delicious taste in shoes. I tell you what, I will not live the rest of my life in sneakers and flats!
When was the last time I danced ballet? I think that one was just over a year ago. I know plenty of friends have shared a video of a girl with a pointe foot dancing as an amputee… but it was a one-of foot and she has that “foot became the knee” amputation. No one is producing that foot or, what would be even better, an articulating foot that would allow more than just a pointe. And how about a socket that would cushion my stump enough to allow for jumps and leaps? These things don’t exist for me to order or request. They’ll have to be engineered if I’m ever going to dance ballet again. What about the difference between a stump that is a reversed foot with five piggies that EVERY dancer knows make all the difference in balancing and a stump that is just calf muscles? Don’t mistake these questions as an indication that I’m giving up because if nothing else I can at least find something I could do barre and basic floor exercises in, but I refuse to be anything but realistic about actually dancing.
I’m not bitchin’ but I am sayin’ that being locked inside the same four walls for this amount of time is not the super happy fun-time the nurse this morning tried to tell me she was jealous of… it’s a boring mind fuck I hope none of you ever have to endure. And waiting for my stump to heal is painful and frustrating. Three surgeries and half a dozen antibiotics later I have three new (to me) antibiotic resistant infections in the leg.
Healing is not an easy business especially when the one needing to do the healing has constant setbacks. Last week I had a doctor’s appointment and after the appointment I had energy to talk with a friend for a good hour before I was physically done for the day. Fighting infections leaves me only a few decent hours of energy a day. What’s ironic is that despite the exhaustion I feel, I struggle to sleep at night; a couple of observant friends have noted it. Being tired from healing and from lack of sleep, and having to allow myself to conserve as much energy as I can for healing, means I’m filling my time with what will use the least amount of energy.
I’ve watched all the episodes of all the seasons of every Star Trek (again), Game of Thrones, Friends, Father Brown, Sherlock, Jane the Virgin, Parks and Rec, the Defenders, Good Witch, Alo Alo, and at least another dozen shows. I’m on my third (maybe fourth) Potterthon (extended versions) and have watched Band of Brothers twice through (or is it three times?), as well as seeing all the Star Wars and Marvel movies again. I’ve spent hours watching standup and BBC One’s Graham Norton on YouTube.
I’ve begun playing the violin again, and the guitar, and the ukulele. I’ve crocheted slippers for my one foot. I’ve taken up knitting again, and embroidery. I’ve read all my favorite books again and plenty of new books I’ve been too distracted by my life to even remember the details of or list titles. I’ve played Guitar Hero and other video games, and I don’t play video games. I’ve spent hours putzing around on social media, which in itself is disturbing because I’m one of those people that thinks time is better spent with people in real life if you can help it, and if you can’t be geographically close at least cultivating conversations by whatever means is available. I’ve spent days just listening to music.
I’ve read so many scholarly articles and medical journals on any topic related to my conditions or particular journey that I feel like I’ve earned an honorary MD.
I’ve started a new field of study for a certification completely unrelated to teaching and education.
I’ve written so much that my thoughts and ideas blend together and I have to reread what I have already written in order to make sure I don’t write the same things again.
I’ve written multiple children’s books and started two other book specs.
I’ve struggled with writers block and have deleted at least as many pieces as I’ve posted.
I’ve talked to friends whose company I hadn’t found time to enjoy for far too long.
I’ve had to dig deep to find joy and peace in my situation on a daily basis… some days needing to dig deeper than others.
I’ve contemplated who I am and purposefully chosen to find my old Gwen-Ness and to figure out how the old me fits within my new 100%.
I’m pretty sure there were snow showers after I was admitted to the hospital in April and we’ve already had snow this fall. The trees were bare when I went in and they’re almost bare again. Half of a year is a long time when you’re busy. It’s even longer when you’re not. It’s one thing to face an extended period of difficulty with an end date like graduation or the end of a deployment, but it’s quite another to have no end in sight.
So, if any of you have anything that you particularly enjoy when you need to escape and relax or that help you get through your times of difficulty, I’m open to suggestions because I’m tired of climbing the walls.
Originally published 15 October 2017