I’ve always thought patience was a virtue I possessed. Turns out I was wrong. The last few days have been a painful roller coaster, peppered with brief moments of clarity and painless hours at a time, but have been mostly filled with a searing pain in my gut that threatens to prove to everyone that the real reason for this surgery was to complete my metamorphosis into a dragon. I threatened to punch my surgeon twice today, he responded with a kind smile & squeezed my hand tightly.
Turn out when you remove the majority of someone’s liver you effectively put their entire gastric process to sleep. My intestines are in a fugue and my now missing gall bladder are wreaking havoc. I have finally been able to admit that I know what 10 is on the pain scale. Don’t get me wrong, my ten could be your five, but this is by far the worst pain I’ve ever felt.
It’s a small price to pay, and I do know logically that I will improve, but right now it feels like an eternity. I am impatient and hard on myself. My team of nurses & doctors assure me that my progress is on track. When I see Derek I remember that this is all worth it, but when I’m alone in my hospital room, I cry like an orphaned dragon that has fire in its belly, but no ability to expel it.
This morning, my mother left & I was racked with sobs as she told me she wished she could stay longer. She has been amazing and has fulfilled her task of seeing me through to this part. I will look to her for strength as I know she has experienced the high end of the pain scale and come out on the other side swinging. My sister took over and slowly & methodically cleaned my face, my back, my arms. We scrubbed away a little more of the iodine that still covers the tops of my legs; a reminder of one week ago when I was on the operating table. Then she helped me put underwear on for the first time since last Monday and picked out some pajama bottoms so I could walk down the halls without being either swaddled in johnnies far too big or clutching at bits of fabric to cover my butt. I felt more normal than I had in days, the searing pain of my gut awakening was present, but I felt clean & decent.
If this all seems melodramatic, it’s because in many ways it is. It is a surreal thing to want only to make it to the other side and then find when you get there that it’s not all sunshine & unicorns. We are surrounded on all sides by profoundly sick people. People who are languishing, waiting for an organ that may never come. I am humbled by both of our success & ashamed I can’t embrace that success out of respect for our neighbors. We are all a part of this club we never wanted to be members of, relying on medicine to fix us, leaning on the brave nurses that held my hand last night at 4 in the morning begging for the pain to stop. They did everything they could and now it is up to me. To remember that Derek and are the lucky ones. That despite the pain, we’re on the other side.
All of your kind words and support have been so helpful to us both. Knowing that on Monday we had 1000 views (so many of you refreshing for updates) was amazing to see. I will try to remember you all when the pain seems too much, that we’ve got not only our own strength but the tenacity of all of you. Thank you.