Friday, December 28, 2007

When the meds wear off...

When the meds wear off, I get that metallic taste in my mouth again.
I feel pain and soreness in my incision area.
I feel strange, electrical pain on the insides of both sides of my waist.
I feel a sort of deep, hurting goose-bumpedness all over my body.
The outside of my left thigh goes back to being numb.

And yes, these are all new sensations since I had the surgery. I only slightly worry about these things because my tethered cord surgery was so complex. I was told at the hospital that for every hour you are under general anesthesia, it takes a week for it to get out of your system. I was under 7.5 hours. It has been five weeks since my surgery. I chalk up the metallic taste to those strong pain medications and the anesthestic...or maybe it's the medication they gave to me (thankfully) that caused me to completely forget the experience of being intubated while awake.

Sometimes, I really don't feel all that strong. I don't want to be me anymore. I don't want to know what the inside of a NY operating room looks like or what it feels like to hang from tongs in your head during invasive cervical traction. I'm thankful, certainly, for being in touch with such renowned surgeons and it's been such a long road getting here, but now, I'm in the middle of it all. And now I wish I were not.

It's akin to being pregnant and the labor begins and you know, this is it. There's simply no turning back now. Things are pretty much out of my hands from this point on. I don't know what's about to happen, but I know it's hurting. You can't say, "Okay, I don't want to have a baby. I changed my mind. Let's stop this right now and let me off this bus, okay?"

But it's not okay, because you do have to go through with it.

Getting bucked off a horse is like that. Time passes a lot quicker, but when it's happening, you know inside of you that you have lost control and you have lost your balance and from this point out, it's out of your hands and there is no going back. You're up high on top of a horse and you have no clue what he is going to do next, which way he'll turn or buck and you bravely hang on or try to ride it all out, but deep inside, you know it.

You know you are off balance. You know this isn't going to end well. You know that how you fall and where you land is completely up to Someone other than yourself. You thought you were a good cowboy and you could handle it all, but right now, you are a rag doll and at the mercies of something other than your own skill.

Yet those two analogies are different in that I could not turn back in those instances. With the upcoming surgeries and the halo placement, I actually CAN change my mind. I almost wish I couldn't, because my mind is haunted by the thoughts of upcoming surgery every day, most of the day.

The other day I got an email from an old friend and she wrote happily, "Have you made any new friends there in your new home?" A normal question to ask someone. But I have come to accept that my life is not normal on a lot of levels. I can have pleasant conversations with people in line at the Post Office or with the grocery store checker, but I don't have the strength or the energy to "make a new friend." I don't hardly have the energy to make a phone call. I wouldn't be much of a friend. Though most of my old friends and online friends are the best anyone could want or wish for. I'm blessed that way.

Then again, I do have Esther. I think God put Esther next to me here. There was a big plot of land next to our property when we bought it and we were told, in fact, that no one could build there, that it belonged to the city. That privacy barrier and lovely patch of woods was a good part of why we bought this place.

A few months after we moved in, a bulldozer was unloaded on that property and big pine trees began to fall to the chainsaw. I could hear the saw, smell the saw mix (gas), hear the crack at the base of the tree trunk when it broke loose, see the floaty branches start to fall toward the earth where they did not belong.

At first, of course, I just hated it all, but then I was able to succumb to my nature, which is to put a good spin on things, if possible.

And those trees being taken down did open up a nice view of Mt. Simcoe that we didn't have before.

We watched the slow progress of site preparation and then saw the big, light blue manufactured-home come in on a trailer and being set up in what seemed like the blink of an eye. It took me several months to walk over and say hi to my neighbor. Just because I didn't have the strength to do it. But one day, I finally did, bringing with me a batch of home-baked cookies, welcoming her to the neighborhood. And I met that spry, tiny 83 yr old cowgirl with the straight, short gray hair that looks a lot like my own.

What a gift she's been. She calls me a couple of times a week and we always end up reminiscing about cattle work, horse work, the land, ranching, things that we have intrinsically in common. I can only surmise that Esther loves these conversations as much as I do, that she knows we're talking the same language and are cut from that same bolt of colorful cloth. Yes, we are kindred spirits.

When I visited Esther on Christmas Eve day, she revealed that she really didn't like the holiday much. Her husband died a few days before it about 12 years ago, and it's been tainted for her ever since. We both agreed that Christmas is not the same without little ones around. But then I thought of how much I enjoyed the Season when I lived in a similar small town up north. Back then, I knew almost everyone in town and they knew me. I was healthy and strong, one of the local, resident cowgirls driving the roads with her horse in the trailer heading for trailheads and high mountain snowfields.

I told Esther that I used to go to various events around town during Christmas back then. I'd take our son and go to story-telling get-togethers; handbell choir presentations; plays and such. Those things really helped to breathe life into the Holiday.

And I promised Esther that next Christmas, I'll be driving again and I'll take her to those kinds of events here. She smiled. Maybe, she feels hope about it just like I feel hope about it, but for a different reason. Perhaps the odd pair we will make will bring us both life and hope and yes, joy.

I guess I was wrong. Yes, I have made a new friend. And I am blessed.


lzwitty said...

Thanks so much for your post. I've just finished reading through your blog. As an English teacher, I would have loved to have you as a student! (Creative writing is one of my passions.) You have such a strong voice and natural writing style.

To say you've had an incredible journey is an understatement. I'm so happy that you found TCI. You know that you were led there, I'm sure. Your desciption of Dr. B telling you your diagnosis (comparing it to a schoolgirl and a knight) really struck a chord with me. I remember feeling the same way when he told me. You put the entire experience beautifully into words. Thank you.

I will keep you in my prayers.


Anonymous said...

Once again, thank you.

Love, Cleo

By His Grace said...

Thanks, Leslie, I'm glad you came for a visit! Thanks for the comments about my blog. I have been a professional writer for years now, including freelance journalism. When I was in high school, I loved creative writing, too and it was because I had a teacher just like you, who LOVED it and appreciated effort and originality. Good ol' Doc Blanchard! I'm sure your students will thrive with you for a teacher!

Thanks too for the prayers...I will add you to my list, as well. It's such a blessing to meet so many incredible sisters in the Lord (and brothers!). God is so good!

Hi Cleo, my friend!! Love you!