I’ve been home from the hospital two weeks. Haven’t done much. Just feel tired, washed out. Might be a bit mental. I’m just tired of the entire recovery routine. Haven’t felt like house walking for 15 minute stretches. Appetite has been limited. No cooking or baking. Don’t clean up dinner dishes. Then I began with some low grade fevers. Several were on days that I had sat in the sun. Wednesday, no sun but fever in late afternoon. Kovell recommended Penn’s ER. No surprise, a urinary track infection. Antibiotics. Didn’t get discharged till after 1 am. Thursday was nap, nap day.
Yesterday a PT came. First visit since this surgery discharge. She went through the routine. And it helped with motivation. Walked more. Did a few minor projects. In the mail got a new SCOBY for making Kombucha; believe we have milk to make yogurt. In the kitchen, slow cooking.
When I people watch, I wonder. At the beach, in a kayak or canoe, riding a bicycle, hiking (not just walking the canal, but climbing some elevation), full gardening, house projects — will I be back doing any of these activities. How easy will it be to care for my appliances? Travel, dressing normally? I booked a Hampton in Ann Arbor for Libby Paglione’s wedding in mid August. Will I be ready?
This morning I have something like a stomach cramp; gas pains. I suspect activity in my colon. Always something to make me uncomfortable. My skin dries out and becomes itchy. The chest incision from heart surgery is not totally healed. Need a dressing now which I didn’t need a month ago. Part of my left hand is still numb, another legacy of heart surgery. Despite my anxiety, annoyance, I realize there are people with more serious, critical health conditions.
We have a house rented in Cape Cod the last week of July, first week in August. It will be the 4th year on the Cape with Jen, Rob, Eli and Viv. I feel confident I can make the trip. Also we have airline reservations for Seattle in October to visit my sister, Marylee.
Everything moves slower. In the ER the other night, there seemed to be an hour between every event — check vitals, take blood, an IV, see the ER doctor, see a doc from Urology. I don’t watch TV. I wait, think, question, plan. Diane would say I worry and sometimes I do. At home I wait for the home care nurse. I eat slower; and walk slower.
Several days I have sat on the back deck. Sun, warmth, some birds pass through the yard from tree to tree. A light breeze moves through the wind chimes. The sound of the large Woodstock recalls Nantucket. One year the chime was missing, we immediately went out to purchase a replacement. Depending on the time of day, I look at a palette of greens. I recall the Irish landscape, brushed with every shade of green. Slow isn’t always a bad thing.
One or more times each day, I lay back, eyes closed, attempting to peer into the future. I need to be self-sufficient. The strain on Diane this past year has been too much. I need to get back to year 1 of retirement. In the early 1970s, I took a photography workshop with National Geographic photographer, Bruce Curtsinger. In his mid 20s, Bruce was only a few years older than me. Around a camp fire on a small Maine island, Bruce shared how in his lifetime he would only have so many photo assignments. Some, shooting wolves in Alaska for instance, might end up taking one or more years. He needed to choose assignments carefully. This led to a discussion of limits — travel destinations, books read, movies seen — always limits.
Maybe the past year, this pause, has given me time to reflect. I have many fewer years than I had around the campfire in Maine. I need to make choices. Slow cooking maybe ok for now.