Healing

Healing is such a non-specific word that can encompass so many things. Are we talking skin damage like a bruised knuckle, a scraped knee, a limb that is lost? Or, emotional repair? Have you dealt with a sorrow, a pain, an indescribable yearning for something lost?

I go to the Naval Hospital for most of my medical care. While there I often sit in the large courtyard and watch the wounded warriors pass through. Shrapnel scarred faces, looking forward, focused on their path. Sometimes they wheel by, legs gone right up to their hips. Sometimes they travel past me, leg in some form of bandaged state, crutches being handled with thrusting briskness even if one of their arms happens to also be missing. Often they walk by, prothesis in place – a nike-covered false foot connected to a set of jointed, metal bars that attaches somewhere north of the thigh. All of them are here being treated for wounds, most from a war they are often too young to truly understand. My heart cries for each of them. Not for pity; but in sorrow, anger, grief for what each of them has lost before they had a chance to use and appreciate what they had. Each young face that passes, with pride, hope, and strength. They are not to be pitied. These are brave young men and women who volunteered to serve in the military, to go where they were told, to do what they were told, and to attempt to protect lives of those around them in a foreign country with whom they often could not even communicate with….

I sit in the courtyard waiting for an appointment to see my surgeon. She will go through the details of the procedures to cut out a section of my thigh and to cut into my groin and remove lymph nodes for biopsy purposes so that I understand every step.  I understand.

She reviews the procedures I’ll need to follow for recovery.  She says to me, no lifting, no walking (except short shuffles to and from the bathroom), no driving….blah blah blah for the first week and then basically I can do a bit more after 3 weeks.  I laugh.  She looks perplexed.  I laugh more and say, “I have two small children.  Trust me, I can’t be down that long.  I’ll be up and going within the week.”

My surgeon smiles and nods.  She already knows what I don’t — I’ll be down for at least a week, guaranteed.

Then, she turns and asks what type of pain medicine I’ve used before, my husband laughs and shakes his head, “she won’t use it, don’t bother”.  He knows me too well.  I have a hard time using pain meds ’cause I always feel so off-kilter, so not-normal, so comfortably numb…it’s quite disconcerting to me.  Besides, I heal well.

I heal well. I know this because this isn’t my first rodeo.

I’ve had a double mastectomy, encapsulotomy, and reconstruction about 10 years ago. Whew! You should have seen those scars! Stiches everywhere on my chest — but, you can barely tell these days. I still have some residual numbness and bizarre phantom pains, but I hardly ever think about it. I am still me.
And let’s not forget two c-sections – two huge babies!! Scars are healed…still there, but gosh, it was worth it to cut me open in order to not break my children’s collar bones to get out of me naturally. I had so wanted to have them naturally, but sometimes nature has other plans. Gotta roll with the punches.

So, roll forward to today.  My surgeries have been completed last week to remove the cancer from my thigh and to remove lymph nodes for biopsy. I came home with a large, 8-inch-stitched line right up the center of my thigh and a smaller 4 inch one along the fold of my leg/groin area.  Not fun.  In fact, for the first time, I stayed on those pain pills darn regularly.   The best advice was to stay ahead of the pain and stay on schedule with the medicine.  It was good advice indeed.  Until today…I woke up invincible – well, so I thought.

Today I woke up and felt different.  I can’t explain it more than saying I felt like I turned a corner in the pain & healing arena and I decided to try and make it through a day without it.  I did really well and I’m happy to be moving forward in healing.  However, broke down and took a pill tonight — whew! was my body pissed off that I thought I could rule the world today. :0)

“Not today”, it whispered to me, “but, tomorrow’s a new day and we can try again”.  Okay, body.  Keep on healing.  I’ll just sit here and read for a while….