Sunday, May 20, 2018

5/21/18—Regaining My Life Force

By the time I awoke, most of the tubes and devices were
gone. But it's kind of dramatic to see all the "life support."

I'm preoccupied lately. Obviously. Which is why I haven't blogged lately. 

I'm preoccupied with assimilating the many lessons and changes that have come from finally figuring out what has been wearing on me for years, then having a pretty major surgery to correct it, then recovering physically and emotionally. That recovery, by the way, is nowhere near complete. They say it takes a year to recover physically from having the sternum separated, and also the trauma my body has been through. 

Thankfully, the hard part of that is over. But I am still physically limited, with my boundaries increasing with each week. Right now that just means walking to end of my street and back. In June I will stop working with the hunky home PT guy and I'll go into cardiac rehab and they will push me harder. Right now I'm not allowed to push myself too much physically. But all my other restrictions—no driving, lifting, pushing, pulling, raising my arms up, etc.—are lifted. 

The first month was horrific. I wasn't feeling much better. I was in afib the entire month. I couldn't sleep. My body was swollen. My legs were rashy and scaly. And I ended up in the hospital again, where they shocked me back into rhythm. My body was so inflamed that, in the six weeks since, I've lost 30 lbs of fluid. Most of that happened in the first 10 days. Since then, bluebirds are singing and flowers are smiling at me. 

Since then, I've also realized that it wasn't just breathlessness, weakness and exhaustion that had been plaguing me all those years. It was something that, in some ways, was scarier. My life force was nearly entirely depleted. 

I imagine this is true of anyone with long-term issues. Your body and mind need life to produce life force, and if all you can do just survive, then that life force gets drained. It is different from depression. It's as if the very soul inside of you—the you inside of you—is fading away. 

Of course I never would have thought of it that way back then. I just thought it was breathlessness, exhaustion, etc. And I can't say whether the loss of life force caused the breathlessness...or visa versa...or maybe they just all go hand in hand. 

The reason I can see it now is because my life force is returing. Something behind my eyes and in my core is burning brighter. Its current presence is making me recognize its past absence. It slipped away so slowly that I didn't even notice it going.

Its return is manifesting in many ways. I'm able to meditate again. I'm taking daily showers...haha. (I'm not sure if that's just because I enjoy taking showers sitting in the old-lady shower chair I no longer need, though.) I'm cooking more. I am being more active and adventurous because I'm not as worried if I'll be able to walk from a parking lot into a store or restaurant or park. I'm really enjoying my ready-for-summer back yard. (My brother did about 90% of the work. All I did was pot plants and bark commands to him.) I'm cleaning more things around the house. I'm going to stores again. (I couldn't even manage a 7-11 a few months ago, and now I'm browsing at places like Home Goods.) And I'm also back to visiting the farmer's market, having processed a bunch of fresh garlic three different ways recently—I froze the cloves, made a paste from the membrane around the cloves and also made garlic scape pesto in two different flavors. 

I guess you could say I have more joie de vivre. 

I don't want to overstate, though. I'm really just starting to reawaken. I'm just beginning to trust I'm finally OK. But I can see myself being "normal" again one normal people who can walk a few miles without stopping. Like people who aren't afraid of other shoes dropping. Like people who can take things like stopping by a grocery store—or even a 7-11—for granted. I went months where I couldn't manage anything that didn't have a drive through. Getting out to my car, in the first place, was hard. So this is a welcome change for me, and I believe it's just the beginning. Just to feel hopeful and confident about my future is something "new". 

There are many things still to process. I willed myself into an intentional state of denial prior to my surgery. I felt if I thought too much about the surgery and the outcomes, I'd be a total mess. So I just stopped thinking about it. Then I was in a daze for a month with that horrible afib, the effects of the anesthesia and my sore body. And for the past six weeks I've been digging out of my hole and discovering life anew. But I think I need to allow myself a good cry over my struggle, the misdiagnoses, how bad things got before they scheduled surgery, a house of horrors rehab center I spent a week in (OMG, the stories I have), and spending a month in afib and having to get to the point I couldnt breathe until they did something about it (I do feel let down by the medical community).

Spiritually speaking, I don't know why this had to be so long and difficult a road. Why did it have to get so bad? How did that figure into the grand plan? All I can figure now is that it showed me my will to will to keep things like work and home stuff flowing despite my state. I never gave up. Not even for a minute. 

But I feel like I've lost five years of my life. And while I'm spending most of my time being grateful that it wasn't worse—I didn't have a heart attack or stroke or even a clogged artery—I do think I need to honor the trauma I've survived. And maybe cry for all those times I couldn't cry because it took too much energy. 

I did the same thing when my father died, though...put off emotions until all the drama surrounding his death (he was murdered, so there were investigations and trials) had passed. Then I found that so much time had passed that I no longer needed to cry. And everything seemed surreal, like it never happened to me—my detachment from reality confused reality for me. I'm not sure it was the best approach, but there have been a couple times in my life that have been so big that I felt I had to shut down a little to ensure my survival. If I were a turtle, I would have been deep inside my shell. 

So the long and short of it is that I'm processing. And while I won't guarantee being back weekly, I do think I'll have some lessons to share for a while as I work through this. I've relinquished a lot of control during this process, I've had to trust and count upon others, I've set aside worries about money and my dogs, and I've yielded to my limitations, just to name a few "foreign" concepts I've had to embrace. 

I'm no longer who I was when the year started, nor am I the person I've been for the last five years or so. Constant change is a constant...we're always changing. But I feel like this has been a major shedding of my skin—a line drawn in the sand. Again, that's a lot like the deaths of my parents. In a way, this has been a death of the me I've been for quite some time. I feel like I channel as I write and work through complex things by blogging about them, so the coming weeks should be interesting.