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Turning Point

I’ve reached a turning point. I have had moments of not remembering I have a bag on. This feels HUGE. On Tuesday night, I was hanging out with Ted, and when I got comfortable enough, I briefly forgot I had a colostomy bag. I walked upstairs and marveled that it happened. That I forgot about it. It felt like turning a corner. And then, shortly after, I went to bed and struggled to find a comfortable position. Moving around felt hard and moving with the bag felt harder, and from what felt like out of nowhere a huge wave of grief swallowed me. For having this bag attached to my body for the rest of my life. Minutes after celebrating the experience of having forgotten it, I felt overwhelming sorrow. It totally surprised me. I thought that maybe I’d gotten past the grief with that moment of forgetting. I felt defeated for a moment, but the sadness didn’t last, it sort of flowed through me and surrounded me for a few moments.  Then it left.  I just observed it. I’m trying to allow myself to grieve what I need to and learn what I will. I’m not trying to fight, force, or attach to anything, even the forgetting, only to goodness and my good fortune and my gratitude that I get to live longer. 

I woke up on Wednesday and felt pretty okay.  I walked over two miles. Very slowly.  I am not pushing myself.  I am listening to my body’s need to rest.  And on Wednesday I had a few more instances of forgetting about the bag.  I am so thankful for that experience.  The forgetting.  To not be conscious of it. It’s what normal will feel like, I think. I’m still challenged with many aspects, particularly the itching, and the changing, and emptying, but it’s so much better.  I laughed on Wednesday with almost zero pain. And the need to support or hold my stomach because of swelling diminished greatly.

Today, Thursday is even better.  I actually felt really good when I woke up.  I had a home health nurse visit, which was a bit more of a chore than I’d hoped. Cynthia was very kind, but not a dog person, and man, when a “not a dog person” comes into my house I become acutely present to just how ill-behaved my dogs are.  Every dang time.  She made it upstairs without being run down or slobbered on by Franklin which felt like a win. Although Frank let it be known that he was not happy to be missing out on loving who was clearly a new best friend. We spent an hour doing intake. You know, the 80,000 questions. This would be fine if I needed ongoing nursing help, but I don’t. I had hoped that home health for me would be an ostomy nurse, that’s really my big “wound” and the only ongoing care I will need. (Besides monitoring for cancer.) I wanted another opinion on something specific to ostomy that Assefa didn’t seem too keen on. I’ve wondered what other ostomy pros think but maybe it means I should just stick to what Assefa believes. Anyway, these nurses don’t specialize in ostomies so she couldn’t answer my questions.  I will likely forego the next visit with Jan, who will be my regular home health nurse, because I really am recovering just fine.  But maybe not. If Jan’s a dog person she could come. Cynthia left me with 18,000 one-sided papers and a bunch of supplies that I tried to decline. That didn’t make sense to her.  So, I have them. Because it was just easier. You know how it goes.   

I walked three miles today and less slowly, I think.  Possibly what most would consider a normal pace. (I normally walk pretty fast.)  The wounds are much better although, my belly is not looking great. To be completely transparent I probably scratched the glue off. The itching was unbearable but the wounds are closed so, I don’t think I didn’t any damage. 

I just want you to know that I’m doing better. I crossed a threshold. I think. And I’m grateful. It’s been ten days since I had surgery and things are better.  To look in the mirror is still a bit shocking, but I have no tears.  I’m still laying around quite a bit, and I’m not walking Franklin yet, but I’m good. I really am.

Thank you for listening to me walk through this experience.  There’s been power and healing for me to have you here. Thank you for the thousand ways you have shown your love. Thank you for your support and kindness.  For your tender care. Thank you for all the ways and all the things.  Truly.  All the things count.  They all count.  Thank you.

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