Thursday, March 25, 2010

Possibilities

I've been in the worst head-space over the past few days. I'm finally home again, free of the chemical fence that's been keeping me away. But that sense of relief at being able to be in my own place has given way to some of the loneliness that I experienced after my previous surgery, in the few days' recovery period that went along with it. I have felt like my progress has been zero at the very best, or more negative. I've felt like I'll never look normal or feel normal again. A pretty profound sense of regret. Yes, regret.

For something that has been lurking on my personal horizon since basically the very beginning, I've found that part especially disheartening. I've spent my entire savings, plus some. I've gone to another city, and dragged someone else along with me for almost two weeks. I put them through that experience, which, at times, I imagine might have been a little terrifying. And I have been in pain, both physical and emotional, ever since. And I have been regretting doing it. I could have saved myself and others an immense amount of time, money, and trouble if I hadn't gone and done this reckless, crazy thing.

The pain and recovery period so far has been categorically awful. It's entirely possible, even probable, that I went into this surgery with unrealistic expectations. I was seeing the magical end product, at the other end of a long, dark tunnel, and not even realizing that there was a long, dark tunnel to begin with. The zero-or-negative progress part. The shocking-loss-of-strength-and-coordination part. The "you want me to do what to these wounds on my face?!" part. Long and dark.

Tonight, as is my custom for most Wednesdays, I went to C & E's for dinner. I knew that the mere presence of people would at least help, so even though I was absolutely not interested in expending the energy to shower and put on clothes and get out and drive the car, that I had to do it. It was that, or sink into the madness that was beginning to clutch at me.

I've often believed that the absolute worst way to view something that was changing, was from the middle of it. One too often gets focused on the micro-changes that are happening all the time, and usually can not see the broader changes, over time. And that's another part of the zero-or-negative progress thing, too. Macro-changes do happen, but we often can't notice them, because perhaps we're not looking, or we're looking in the wrong place. We're used to one view, and can't figure out how to switch to another. Or we can't realize that we need to switch to another view.

E was the first to remark on the most obvious changes she saw in me. Come to think about it, she was the only to comment. The young children don't consider such things, and C... our relationship lives in a bit different place than that. E's pretty concrete about things, very practical. C seems to live inside his head a lot more. But E's comment, if it didn't pop that bubble of zero-or-negative, at least put a big hole in the side of it. And it wasn't even immediate; it took some time for it to sink in, and then it took a quick look in the mirror as I was doing my second massage of the day after we finished eating.

Wonder of wonders, there was a human looking back at me, for once. Not a collection of "oh that spot hurts" and "can I get some feeling there sometime soon?" and "that looks terrible" and especially "is that doctor serious?!" She's still a little rough around the edges, that human peering out of the mirror, but there's somebody there. Or there's possibility there, at least. My view has been shifted enough to allow for the possible, instead of merely the present.

I'm sure that I'm not out of the woods of self-doubt yet, but perhaps I can see a glimmer of daylight from the edge.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back on track?

Seems like after those first few days of this week, that things are starting to fall back into place. My self-maintenance items (massaging, basically, since Dr. Z said I could discontinue all the peroxide and triple-antibiotic cream stuff) have fallen into a tentative schedule. I'd like to work it a bit earlier in the day, since staying up to maul my tender face until after midnight is for the birds. But since it's not really hurting so much as just being uncomfortable, I don't dread it quite as much as I have been.

I continue to feel weird twinges in different parts of my head, mostly the front of my scalp, which remains partially without feeling. I was poking around earlier this evening, and it seems that the numb part has shrunk since I really spent time probing around to see where feeling started. The chin and lower lip are still being stubborn; the whole chin, and especially along my jawline, is constantly tingly and feels strange. I'm taking it to mean that nerves are starting to wake back up, but I really wish they'd just get on with it. I also felt some itching in a still-numb area of my lip during this evening's massage, so I'm hoping that means a return of some sort of feeling beyond the pins-and-needles pain I'm getting so far. Dribbling while drinking is starting to get a little old, and brushing my teeth down in front still concerns me a little bit, since I can't feel anything that's happening.

I told my mother this afternoon that I'd like to move back into my own apartment starting next week, and she tentatively agreed. The tacit understanding was that once I was off all the pain meds, of which I've taken none for a couple days, that I was probably much more ready to be on my own again.

I also went for a fairly typical Friday evening with C & E and K, who generously ferried me around this evening. As the doctor said, doing typical things can really help with the post-surgery funk, and so far it seems like he's exactly right. Even though I'm still fairly low-energy and my endurance is pretty pathetic, it's got me back into a good state of mind, and is giving me a much better outlook on the near future. Things were feeling pretty bleak and never-ending for a while there, but now I'm actually feeling a little... hopeful?

But on a bit sillier note, I'm typing away with "Rock Star Pink" nails tonight. E was doing her daughters' nails, and just started doing mine when she had finished with all the little ones'. So I'm all glittery and pink, and it's completely silly. I'm going to be getting glitter everywhere. But, y'know, it's a thing, so I'll just go with it. My mother will probably lose it when she sees them, which may be kind of amusing.

But at any rate, final massage of the day is done, I have nothing further required of me for today, and I'm about to pass out from exhaustion. I think I'll just go ahead and do that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Post-surgical funk

And I'm not talking about that cool, hip-shaking kind of funk either. This is the down-and-dirty, lie-in-bed-and-wish-for-death, cry-and-feel-like-you'll-never-stop kind of funk. And it's descended upon me.

Both Dr. Zukowski, my surgeon, and Elaine, one of the nurses, warned both me and C that we could expect something like this. A couple weeks into the recovery, and it seems like not much is happening, and things just head south. With rapidity.

Sunday was the worst so far. I woke up looking like a balloon, swollen way beyond what I had been the day before, and felt like I was about 10 or 5000 steps behind where I had been. There were a lot of tears that day. My mom just kept being a mom, and trying to engage me to eat, and trying to generate a little enthusiasm for doing my maintenance stuff. She managed to get me through, and I think I probably just listened to music and twittered and surfed the 'tubes all afternoon. Then Monday when I woke up, the swelling had gone way down, and things seemed to be back on track.

Monday seemed fine. I went to my therapist's office for the first time since late January, with my mother no less. That was a really productive session, I thought, so that day ended on a pretty good note. I was tired from the being out and moving around, but I felt pretty satisfied.

Tuesday was less than fine. Swelling was down further, and the day seemed to start off well. Dinner time rolled around, and I had disintegrated to the point where I had no interest in eating, or doing much of anything other than crying. I ate probably half of what I had been given, and went back to bed, where I proceeded to sleep for about 14 hours.

This morning, once I woke up, things were still not all roses and sunshine. I had an early surgical follow-up call with Dr. Z, and he assured me that everything that's going on, both physically and emotionally, is very very normal. We talked a little about some of the weird tingling and sensations I've been having, and he assured me that they were good signs, that full sensation is slowly coming back to those areas. He also said I could stop the thrice-daily cleaning sessions (yaay!), but reiterated that the thrice-daily massage sessions were still very important (ugh). So the morning was not too bad.

After lunch, which was delicious and I had exactly zero interest in eating, the tears started again. The suggestions of both Dr. Z and Elaine were to do something usual. Well, I thought maybe just lounging around at my apartment might help; other than being at work, that's probably the thing I do most frequently. I could poke with my computers, or marvel at my piles of mail, or watch a video, or something simple and dumb and usual.

I've been at my own house for something less than a half hour since February. That's two and a half weeks. I'm a bit of a homebody, and I get twitchy when I'm not able to be home for a while. Vacations are not especially relaxing for me, simply because I'm not home. And my folks' house, as close as it is, isn't my house any longer.

So I'm blogging from the big computer downstairs, and the clack-tronic Model-M keyboard, and the normal chair, and other than the weird sensations returning to my head, it is helping. It feels astonishingly normal, almost just like any other day off from work. I'm ripping a couple CDs down to MP3s. It's about time for me to massage my face for the afternoon, which isn't quite typical, but I could probably wander upstairs, park myself on the couch in video-watching position, put on a video, do my massaging, and even that might be pretty normal too.

At least the tears have stopped, and don't feel like they're threatening to return.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Getting better all the time

It must be month of lyrically-referencing blog titles or something for me. Whatever the reason, it seems to be working. Music seems to be having some pretty strong effects on me these days, so I'll just go with it.

Recovery is humming along. I'm installed at my parents' house, and my mom is doting a bit. She's being very creative with food ideas, and going to a lot of effort on my behalf, for which I'm very grateful. Hydration is my personal paramount importance, and of course getting good nourishment so my body will have the energy it needs to do the repair it needs to do. Time periods between pain pills is starting to stretch out a bit, which makes me feel a lot more confident in how things are going. My face is still fairly swollen, and my jaw becomes uncomfortable fairly quickly when I'm not wearing my "hat" (my name for the support garment that I wear on my head). When I'm able to relax, and have had a nice meal, and am well hydrated, I feel about as comfortable as I figure it's possible for me to feel right now. I'm doing pretty good.

I got a call from L this morning, who asked about the possiblity of coming over for a visit. I know I'm probably still a bit of a scary sight, but I can think of no better therapy than to have supportive visitors. She and K came by for a bit to visit, and brought their 3-month old, very well-behaved baby with them, and we had a lovely time. I only regret that we all didn't have the opportunity to see each other for longer, but life is long, and there will be many other days.

I also traded a couple of texts with a dear SL friend, who was concerned and hadn't heard any news for several days. She was happy to hear of my good progress, and I hope to be able to see her in-world very soon.

This morning, I also decided it was time to have the name talk with my mom. It's been almost a month since the name-change stuff was complete, and I've been afraid to broach the topic. She took it about as well as I could have hoped, and though she's nowhere near ready to start using a new name for me, she does seem a lot more open to switching pronouns. I will accept each small victory when it occurs. And with such a victory, I certainly don't view it as me-versus-them, I think it's a struggle of old-versus-new. Old is well entrenched, and will take time and persistence to unseat, but I think we'll eventually get there.

I've got a couple things left on my to-do list left for today. The first is to call my supervisor at work and let him know how things went with me, and see how things went with the rest of the team. I'm guardedly hopeful. The other is to finish up some writing on what I'm calling "The Facebook Bomb", which I intend to drop tomorrow. The bulk of it is done, though it does need a lot of editing down, to a length which most people will be willing to actually read.

And right now, I'm almost an hour overdue for my second facial massage for today, so I should get moving on that. If it will help me to heal more quickly and successfully, I'm for it, uncomfortable as it may be. Then after the massage are the cleanings, which are just more of a hassle than any real discomfort. Boys who complain about high-maintenance women don't know anything, compared to what I go through on a daily basis.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feeling Good

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good


— Nina Simone


It's been a difficult night; I've slept very little due to pain, and due to trip anxiety, and due to a storm of ideas in my head. And yet this is the best morning I've ever had in my life, simply because of the possibilities that feel like they are now open to me. That Nina Simone quote has been echoing around, and I think my heart is finally open to all this pain and sacrifice and whatever else I've been through. I'm free as a bird, free as the breeze, free as the sun. Every day from now is a gift to me, and it would be such a disrespect to myself and all those who have supported me all along the way not to view them as such.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pain

I'm up at some dumb time of the morning because I can't sleep due to the pain. Pain medication can only take me so far, but it seems that the rest I must simply bear. Most all of my dressings have been removed at this point. The only things that remain are the nose splint (which will be removed on Monday) and the pressure garment which I am to wear as much as is reasonably possible over the next month. My throat is parched to the point at which it is very difficult to swallow due to the pain, and this headache has become a constant companion.

My concern now is whether I'll be able to make it. Sleep is very, very optional. C seems to be quite peaceful next to me, snoring away, mocking my inability for relief. I want to take something heavy and wake him up, so he can join me in my agony.

I just want this all to be over.

My tear ducts still work fine.

Friday, March 5, 2010

So many hands...

The outpouring of support for my recent surgery has been no less than completely astounding to me.

I've been weak and feeling like sleeping pretty much all the time. C has been working literally around the clock to keep all my dressings clean, and keep me fed and hydrated, and just making my experience as awesome as it can possibly be, all things considered. He's currently out grabbing some much-needed lunch and probably also enjoying a bit of "me time", since he's been on call for basically a week straight.

There have been times when he has not left my side, even as I slept, holding my hand, and simply letting me know that he was there. I've got him on speed-dial on my phone, which sits next to me on the bed should I need something during the night. The need for that has tailed off quite a bit, for which I'm sure he's happy.

My local friend Juju has been as constant a companion as she has been able to manage outside her work schedule. She has also taken on the task of being C's and my transportation around the city as she's been able. This morning she came by for a few hours just to sit with us and talk and hold my hand. Just knowing that she's there is also taking a great load off my heart.

Over the past couple days, I've gone from out-of-my-mind with pain, to the current state of reasonably uncomfortable. My dressings have gone from very restrictive and uncomfortable, to the current one which is not really too bad. Medication regimen has fallen into a pretty simple schedule, and next dosage should be coming up soon. It's recovery, and recovery from any surgery, minor or major, is recovery; as my sister says, it is what it is.

I have been deluged with good wishes from people on twitter, and text messages from various friends, and calls from family and friends. My mom has declared that I will be staying at her house for at least a few days when I get back home, and L has also declared that she will be spending at least a few days visiting daily once I'm back home in my own bed.

C just arrived again, so it's time for Trinity-maintenance. It honors me to be in so many of your thoughts and prayers, and I firmly believe that with so many hands holding me up, there is no way I can possibly fall.