For those of you who have asked about my recovery, I have finally decided to do my best and share my experience.
These last 3.5 months have been physically and emotionally draining. I have had some major emotional meltdowns and moments of pure gratitude. It’s a difficult position to be in when you are physically incapable of doing anything for yourself but it is also incredibly humbling. I have had to learn to count on others, ask for help, admit my weaknesses, and endlessly say thank you.
I was not mentally prepared for the recovery phase of my journey. No one explained how my life was going to stop for 6-9 months while the world kept on living. I’m not proud to admit that I have had to fight feelings of depression and sadness. I’ve cried myself to sleep more times than I can count. It’s already embarrassing enough when you can’t walk properly but when people do nothing but stare it adds another level of frustration and pain. I’m healthy, young, full of life and I can’t help but feel sorry for myself.
My drain tube is still in my body. It’s so painful and even more uncomfortable. My skin around my incision is healing extremely slow which has now caused a small leak. They will not remove the tube until my incision is fully closed because this will risk the chance of my incision opening and getting infected (sorry, if it’s too much information). It took 3 months for my staples to be removed. I have very little mobility in my right hip due to radiation so walking is painful and I can’t sit correctly because of my hip sensitivity. Every time I take a step it feels like my incision is ripping open (its horrible). If and when I try to walk it causes swelling in my foot which is a completely different issue but also very uncomfortable. Physical therapy can not begin until everything is healed and back to normal. At this point the doctors are saying it could be another 6 weeks, but nobody knows for sure. My leg has to be compressed at all times; when we take the compression sock on and off the nerve pain has been so bad I would start hitting my other leg as hard as I could to get my mind off of it. I could only assume that nerve pain is similar to being electrocuted, attacked by a group of jelly fish or being struck by lightning. I can only sleep on my back (imagine that you side-sleepers) which has caused bruising. All in all, this has been miserable.
I’m angry. I’m annoyed. I’m mad. Frustration has set in and saying “I’m disappointed” doesn’t explain anything. I just want to live again! I’m holding on to every ounce of normalcy but it keeps slipping through my fingers. This entire thing just sucks. I hate being in this bed every day. I hate not being able to do anything for myself. I hate missing out on everything. But one of the most frustrating aspects of all is feeling completely guilty for my feelings.
I am blessed. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve had so many good moments throughout this process that I can’t believe I’m still finding something to complain about. But that’s just it, I’m human. I have feelings. I have moments of sadness. I’m not always happy. Life can become overwhelming and, to be honest, there are moments where I still cannot believe I’m going through this.
When is it ok to feel sorry for yourself and how do you snap out of it?
I remember when the doctor took my bandages off one week after surgery. I looked down at my huge scar and couldn’t believe my eyes. Before this I was a healthy 31 year old. I never broke a bone, never went to the hospital and my paperwork was easy to fill out because every box was checked ‘None’. I remember looking down at my leg and the tears began to run down my cheeks. All I kept thinking was how am I ever going to feel normal again. My independence was gone. My confidence vanished. Fear of the unknown, of the pain, my thoughts, and doubts were crippling at times. Panic attacks swept over my body and I could do nothing but lay there searching to breathe until I took control of my mind and spoke truth into my heart.
I’m not writing all this for pity or because I have all the answers on how to deal with the aftermath of cancer. But I do feel it’s necessary that we talk about our suffering so we can begin to heal from it emotionally and know that we are not alone. It’s a slow process, but it’s finally happening.
“And when my heart and strength have failed me, my God, you won’t, your name is mighty” – You Alone
At the beginning of every year JD and I pray for a word. It’s something we’ve done for years because, let’s be honest, resolutions never really stick. So, we pray and ask God to show us a word, something we can hold onto for the year. A word that will be our main focus for that specific year so we can continue our spiritual growth. This year JD’s word was Trust and mine was Surrender. Crazy right? I have had to learn how to surrender control in every possible way and JD has had to trust God through it all. Control is an elusion. In reality there are few things we as human beings have actual control over. I may not be able to control sickness but I can choose to rise above it. I can choose to have hope. My saving grace has been my relationship with God.
I’m sure there are those who might think, “Where is your God now?”, and my answer is, he’s been right next to me all along. He holds every single one of my tears in his hands. He gave me the strength when I thought I had none. Jesus has stood by my side when I was angry, in pain and hopeless. He hugged me harder when I hated myself. He loved me deeper when I had no love to give. He pushed me harder when I was too scared to try. It’s easy to think that just because recovery didn’t happen the way I thought it would means Jesus abandoned me, but he didn’t.
Whether I like it or not, I’m stuck here in this bed. I can either hate every moment or embrace this time to self-reflect. If you are facing a hard time, give yourself time to grieve or feel the pain. Allow your mind and heart to understand and accept what you’re going through but DO NOT stay there. Today is a new day and you can be whomever you believe and choose to be. Don’t get angry at yourself if you’re in pain, embrace the process. If you’re sad, be sad, it’s okay. If you need a day to yourself, IT’S OKAY, take your time! But when you’re ready, GET UP and CHOOSE to live. We can either be a product of our circumstances or we can be a product of our choices. Choose to be the best version of yourself daily. Sickness doesn’t define you, brokenness doesn’t define you, your past doesn’t define you. Fight for your God-given right to be happy. Today, in this moment, even if you can’t walk, you are ALIVE!
I had to write this to remind myself I’ve been given an amazing gift. I’m a fighter. I’m a survivor. And I surrender it all.
“Be happy with those who are happy,and weep with those who weep.”