Today is my birthday. Last year on my birthday, I was in the hospital fighting for my life. I was unconscious, and had tubes running out of every place they could run out of. When I finally came to after 34 days in the hospital, I had been operated on five times, and had lost part of my colon, had a colostomy inserted through my abdominal wall, and the fascia layer removed. I have been in pain every second of every day of the last year.
Some days I try to remind myself that the pain lets me know I am still alive. Other days, I wonder how long I can go on living in pain, with no end in sight. I have changed my life completely. Before the surgery, or let’s call it BS, I was a park ranger, living at the Grand Canyon North Rim for six months out of the year. I loved to sew, to hike, to DO things. I had hiked every trail at the North Rim except for the rim to rim one. I knew I was not fit enough to tackle that one.
I enjoyed sitting at my sewing machine, making things. I made quilts, baby quilts, tote bags, wallets, all sorts of things. I loved to go places at the spur of the moment. A jump in the truck to go to Florida, or Arizona, or Tennessee, or Alabama was nothing but fun. I had plans to plant a vegetable garden and flowers at our house. I dreamed about painting and hanging pictures, and decorating the walls. I wanted to build a barbecue grill and a patio, and raised beds for my flowers.
Now, I sit in my recliner and play games on my iPad. I sleep a lot. We did go on a four day vacation to Florida last week, but I have spent the last five days recuperating from that trip. I still can not put my shoes and socks on by myself. I can not reach my feet to wash them in the shower. I need help getting in and out of the car. I can not reach things in the lower cabinets or the higher cabinets. I can not do the things I want to do. Some days, I don’t get out of bed. When we go shopping, I use an electric cart.
Really, I try to be happy. I try to look at this like “I am still alive”. I still get to see my grandchildren, look at videos of Becca’s new puppy and laugh at his antics; I still get to talk to my sister and friends on the phone. I haven’t written much about this because I don’t want to sound like a “oh, woe is me” or have a pity party for myself all the time. But, just for today, I am going to try to be happy that I have made it one more year. I’m going to try to think that in another year from now, I will not be in pain anymore. What I want for my birthday is to not be in pain. Not just for today, but for every day for the rest of my life. Who can give me that?