Thursday, March 22, 2012

Healing at Home - Chapter 4 of My Cancer Story

This post is the 4th in a series describing my journey with Colon Cancer 10 years ago. If you haven’t read the previous installments, see the Blog Archive listing in the column on the right for the hyperlinks.

It’s been a week since my surgery, and I am going home. Ron helps me from the wheelchair by the curb at the hospital entrance into our own car for the five minute drive to our house. I’m shuffling around slowly like an old lady, but at least I am ambulatory.

Wow, how marvelous it is to be home! My job now is to get stronger and continue the healing from the surgery. I still have staples in my stomach, which makes me feel very vulnerable – as though my guts could tumble on the floor if I make a wrong move. Sounds melodramatic, I know, but I am a little afraid. Try sitting up from a prone position without using your stomach muscles. It’s an exercise in creativity. I either need assistance, or I have to roll over into a position where I can push myself up with my arm muscles.

There are some challenges we have to overcome with being home for recovery. Our house has two stories, but I’m not authorized to take the stairs more than once a day for now. That means I spend my days on the sofa in the family room, where I can watch TV and get to the kitchen. Ron must go to work, but isn’t comfortable leaving me at home alone yet. We call my family for help, and they respond. The first week, my older sister Xandy (Alexandra) comes to stay with us, to keep me company and help with meals while Ron is at work. The next week, Xandy passes the baton to Mom and my little sister Althea. This takes a huge load off Ron’s mind.

My cat, Beezum, missed me and wants to laze with me on the sofa. One problem…She wants to stretch out on my stomach. I snooze with a pillow on my abdomen to make sure I don’t get an unexpected 11 pound weight pouncing directly on my incision. Who doesn’t sleep better with a purring cat on their lap? I get healing energy from her.

The news is out about my return home, and I am stunned by the influx of phone calls, cards, flowers and plants, and casseroles! These gestures are very, very moving. I will always remember what I learned from being on the receiving end of those kindnesses.

As the days pass, I feel progressively stronger, and can move around more easily. The staples have been removed from my stomach, and my guts didn't fall out.  I revel in taking real showers.  Pajamas are traded in for real clothes. One day I decide to attempt a walk around the block with Ron. But I run out of energy at the end of the block and have to sit down and rest before I can even retrace my steps to retreat home. By later in the week, I can make it all the way.

What’s ahead? It’s almost time to meet my Oncologist and prepare for chemotherapy treatments. The first part of this journey is behind me. Now I need to gather my strength for battle with the unseen enemy.

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