When I had reconstructive surgery on my knee, I woke up to find a machine gently bending and straightening my leg, starting rehabilitation as early as possible. When the time came to remove the brace, I was amazed that, despite regular physio appointments and strapping myself into that machine for eight hours a day, my leg was a mere shadow of what it used to be. My calf muscle so lax I could practically wrap it around my shin. When my physical therapist told me to walk the whole five feet between the door and the medical table, I laughed. Then I tried. My brain had forgotten how to work my leg all together. I resembled a baby giraffe trying to figure out its lanky limbs. (with half the male soccer team there to witness it! Arrgh!)
The surgery was just part one. I was a world better than I’d been but it would be a long hard slog before I was fully recovered. If I walked too fast or up stairs, I limped. If I walked too far, I was in agony. With my body concentrating on rebuilding that part of my body, my immune system forgot how to work. I got raging headaches and had a constant run of sore throats. I was dead tired all the time. The pain killers made it hard to think straight but without them the pain made me throw up. I ran several miles a few days before the surgery so I thought I was taking baby steps when my first run was the block. I was heaving with exhaustion before making it to the end of the street.
Dealing with postnatal depression has left me feeling like that sorry excuse for a leg with the flaccid calf muscle. I’m longing to stretch my boundaries and be me again but I just can't seem to manage it. I get ill easier as my body fights off this horrendous illness. Daily challenges that I could have dealt with easily now practically paralyze me. My chest tightens and the anxiety creeps in with the tiniest bit of normal life stress. I continue to live and try to heal in this world that really isn’t all that nice. I search for things to keep me living from moment to moment as the healing process is so slow I rarely notice it.
I do know the worst of it is over. Last summer was a battle I hope to never have to fight again. I made it through but it has left me ill-equipped to deal with the world the way I once could.
I’ve been assured I am doing all the right things and, if I keep doing them, I will get better with time. Until then, they tell me the safety net is still firmly in place. I can’t see the net but I’m doing my best to stay strong and believe them. Each step makes me wonder if I’ll miss something and tumble back into that deep dark hole again. I know I’ve got more tools to fight it this time but I don’t want to have to use them.
It would be nice if life would just back
off for a while so I could get better but that’s not going to happen. I’ve been assured I’m strong enough to do this
battle while living with all the normal people but I am not always convinced
myself. I am learning to walk again and
I stumble. A lot.
Somewhere in the midst of an emotional weekend, I subconsciously shut off my feelings and returned to the protective feeling of numbness. It’s not a warm cosy feeling. It is dark and cold. Lonely and alienating. I speak of illness, of death, of loved ones I've lost, like I’m talking about the weather. I want my emotions back. They are the glimpse I have that I am getting better.
Sometimes, after a long bought of illness, we get a little over zealous, head back to work just that one day too soon and end up back in bed again.
When I was convinced my knee was well and truly recovered, I did a flying leap and came down on a still much weaker leg. It gave out and within seconds my other knee was wrecked as well.
Most of the time I feel like I have been forced back into the thick of it too early. Those stupid demons lurk in the shadows, just waiting to capitalize on life’s latest hurdles. However, there is nothing to do but do my best and hope I can continue to handle it.
So far so good but I could use a more visible safety net. And perhaps a good cry.