Saturday, October 27, 2007

Setting Goals after Surgery

Hi everyone,

I haven't made it through my e-mail but I have definitely felt your love and support over the past week. Thank you so much for that.

Thank you also for the beautiful flower arrangement. Not only did it take my breath away, it was the only time during the entire experience that I actually cried. I was so touched. You guys are all so amazing.

I'm slowly able to do a bit more each day. I have to say that I am so glad to be out of the hospital. I don't know if every floor is like this, but I was on the floor of folks who had gastrointestinal surgery. Which means that I am pretty sure that the goal of every single person there was to pass gas. I about buried my face in the flowers most of the time!

I do have some reflections. One is that I measure myself by comparison way more than I thought I did!

So, I could do a little walk down the hallway. Okay, it took me 50 steps and 5 - 10 minutes to do what normally would take 10 steps and a few seconds. But I felt like the hare compared to the tortoises. Then I would go back and nap for two hours after all my exertion! I couldn't talk on the phone or even sit up, and getting washed, when given the opportunity, was my big activity of the day.

Then, the 25-year-old checked in across the hall. She had this long dark wavy hair and operated command central. She sat up straight, had her laptop open to her left, while she talked on her cellphone. I heard her say that she still wasn't allowed solid food yet, so I figured that her surgery was even more recent than mine. One time, I noticed her hair wrapped in a towel; she had just washed it. It was a distant dream for me to be able to wash my hair, and there she was, with freshly washed hair! When she unwrapped it, it reminded me of the Breck girl ads (I'm showing my age). Time slowed and her hair just tossled down her back as she shook her head and I thought she was amazingly beautiful.

It hurt to laugh, or I would have laughed out loud at myself. First off, I had to acknowledge that 20 years does make a difference and I was forced to admit that, though I like to think I am still 25, I'm not.

Plus, here I was, in this stinky, yukky hospital ward, and thinking that this woman was golden. Because in comparison, I guess she was. And then realized that right now, this was my world, and she represented sort of the highest ideal in that context. Right then, I decided that I needed a bigger world! And, at the most basic level, probably should stop comparing myself and just set my own goals.

So, when the doctors did their rounds, I started asking what I needed to do that day to get closer to getting home. I made those my new goals and I worked on that. I did the walking they suggested, ate what they told me to eat, etc. I set my goals based on that, and was feeling pretty good about myself.

Finally, when I was told that I looked good and could leave, I patted myself on the back for making progress. As the Universe has it, the doctors immediately went to my roommate, who I personally thought wasn't doing so well. She almost never got out of bed and mostly moaned alot. They told her that she could go home that day, too, if she wanted to. I was instantly deflated for a moment, until I realized that I was still comparing myself to others as a measure!!!! Always something to work on...

Again, you guys, thank you so much for your support, your listening, your positive energy, and your love. It carried me the whole way through this.

I have, I'm told, about six weeks of recovery. I haven't left the second floor of my house yet, but I will soon, and will take it from there.

Love, Marie

P.S. If you caught Oprah on Monday, Randy's original speech is MUCH better than the reprise he gave on Oprah. I think it is hard to do a "re-do" of something that has such emotional depth and content.

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