As I sat waiting for the surgeon to come and run through his plans for my operation, I found myself eavesdropping on the conversations taking place between doctors and their patients in the bays beside me. It was then I realised there was a stark difference between my procedure theirs. For many of these patients, these operations were going to take months and months to recover from, but they would do just that – recover. They may endure multiple surgeries, rehabilitations, and bed rest, but at some point in their lives that hip replacement, that cataract removal, would be, for the majority of them, nothing more than a distant memory of a time where they were less able. They would look back, able to gloss over the hassle and pain of the operation, relish their new found freedom and remark how well the scars had faded.
On the other hand I found myself in a strange situation. This operation, along with all the others I’ve faced over the last few years, are not fixes, but preventions of deterioration and I find this often leaves me pondering the profound nature of living with a chronic illness. There is very little discourse into this foggy middle ground between the common cold and terminal cancer – where an illness will never go away, but is not quite ready to kill you. This limbo is a minefield, both physically and mentally and something that even as a sufferer I am yet to get my head around.
I’ve started to learn that after every operation I am waking up with a new body, with a new feature and new limitations. I crawled out of bed and called this day one, and thats what I do every time, and no doubt will continue to do so. It’s often intimidating, hard work and admittedly quite tedious. I ran a hot bath, unwrapped the bandages and hummed along to the same song I play every time and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Here we are again. But there is nothing I can do about it, I can’t change it and I’m here to embrace it. This is me, it always has been, and it always will be. We are all constantly changing and developing as people, and I guess I’ve always known this – I just never thought it would be stepped in such sharp and sudden increments. So I gently tiptoe around my ever altering body, learning to adapt, learning to overcome and most importantly – learning to love.
I’m not sure I can or want to throw my usual optimistic and jovial spin on this on fear of dwarfing the issues that I and many others in similar positions to myself face. What I can say though is that I have learnt to be so grateful for the things around me. I’m grateful for my friends, my support network and the love and compassion I’m shown by those around me every day. I’m grateful for the wisdom and the lessons that dealing with something like this allows me to learn, and most importantly I’m grateful for the days where I truly feel myself, regardless of which ever altering version that might be.