Embracing Convalescence

March 10, 2009

My new favorite word is convalesce; it has a certain Victorian-era ring don’t you think? When I imagine what it means to convalesce my brain immediately conjures up Helena Bonham Carter. In my mind’s eye, she’s artfully  arranged on a fainting couch. The room is filled with overstuffed furniture and complexion-flattering sunlight. Behind her, sheer curtains billow softly in the breeze. Ah, to be Helena…

Okay, I’m not exactly Helena (and whether or not I’d really like to be is a bit of a digression) but I am intrigued by the idea of exploring convalescence, maybe doing some Gonzo-style journalism looking into what it feels like to be a convalescent. Being self-employed adds a scary twist to the “convalescent challenge.” The longer I do nothing, the longer my bank account starves. But money shmoney. With any luck, my trip to the world of convalescence will be brief, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. 

Since “blog time” runs a bit behind “real time” (for me at least), I admit I’ve already started my undercover investigation and, so far, I’m more than a little disappointed. I think the problem is that convalescence doesn’t look that different from my everyday life. Thus far, there’s been much napping, ignoring of the phone, and letting email languish in my in-box. Obviously, I’m not trying hard enough.  

In an effort to get my game face on, I took my dog for a long walk in the woods this afternoon. Walking in the woods seems like an appropriate Helena-like activity.  Of course, I often hike with my dog when I’m not convalescing–remember, I am a lesbian–so I had to take great pains to make this particular outing stand out in a meaningful (aka more sickly) way.

To that end, I walked more slowly, more thoughtfully, more like I thought a convalescent might. I even stopped for a few minutes to sit on a rotting log and soak in the view of a distant lake. I was pleasantly surprised to find that hiking like a convalescent was easier than I thought. Namely because my chest hurt like hell and the sutures securing the plastic tubing to my body (uncomfortable on so many levels) kept pinching and pulling my skin in ways that make me gasp and clutch at my sides. So, yes, I’d say today’s journey into convalescent-hood was a rip-roaring success. Tomorrow, I’m golden because I’m seeing my surgeon, a convalescent-worthy errand if ever there was one.

In the meantime, I’ve gotta talk with Mary about the possibility of a fainting couch…

And They’re Off

March 6, 2009

Well, I’m back home, sans boobs. And while my two nurses–Mary and my Mom–are out seeing Maya Angelou at the IU auditorium tonight, I’m sneaking onto the computer. Shhhh! Mary is quite the taskmaster regarding how much I’m supposed to be resting, using my arms, doing my exercises, etc…so this post will be short and sweet.

As many of you know (thanks to Mary’s email update), the surgery went well. The surgeon removed six lymph nodes and the pathologist deemed all cancer-free. (Yes, I know, six sounds like a lot; the surgeon assured Mary they were very small nodes, but I’ve yet to get the full story on that.) Although neither Mary nor I were dwelling on the possibility of metastasis, hearing that the lymph nodes were negative was a relief that defies description. 

I can’t say enough good things about the hospital. Everyone was professional, courteous, and kind. Best of all, no one blinked at Mary and I’s relationship. And, yes, the fact that we were worried about homophobia at a time like this is sad but true. And, no, we weren’t just being paranoid. My surgeon operates once a week in a town between Bloomington and Indy. The location was more convenient for us, but his nurse didn’t feel comfortable scheduling my surgery there because she feared how the staff might treat us. So, we went to the “big city” and everyone was very politically correct, except for one brazen nurse who made Mary blush, but I’ll let her tell you that story herself.

Now, I’m at home, therapy kitty in my lap, painkillers in my system, and, honestly, your kindness and generosity has put me at a loss for words. I want so badly to write something funny or profound, but the only thing I can think of to say is thank you. Thank you to all of you who’ve sent flowers, cards, and well wishes. Thank you to those who’ve left delicious food on our doorstep. Thank you to those who’ve taught Mary’s classes. Thank you to those who’ve kept us in your thoughts and prayers. To feel nurtured on every level–physical, emotional, and spiritual–by such a loving group of people is an amazing thing.

I will never be someone who says “cancer is a gift” because (to quote Kris Carr of Crazy, Sexy Cancer fame) “I would never give it to you,” but I can say that feeling this loved and supported by so many beautiful people is the most life-affirming gift anyone has ever given me. Thank you.

The Kitty Cure

February 24, 2009

What do self-respecting lesbians do in the face of a crisis? Get a cat of course. Yup, last week we adopted a 6-month-old kitten at the animal shelter where I volunteer as an adoption counselor. His name is Bindi. (Yes, I know, so many lesbian clichés in such a short little paragraph. Have I mentioned I teach yoga and drive a Subaru?)

 

bindi2