Sunday, May 31, 2009

Four months "out"

Yesterday marked four months out from my transplant.

It was a beautiful day here. Katie and I put Maddie in the car, drove to the lake and walked around it -- one mile. It was the second time I did it. The trees were lush, the water sparkling and a light wind was blowing. Because Maddie had run away, I didn't totally trust her to be off-leash, but I know she needs to run around. So I took a bag of bribes (leftover chicken) and let her off. Every time I called to her, she ran right back. She dashed into the water, splashed around, ran circles around us and then sat in front of me for her treat. She made us laugh.

On the way to the parking lot there is a little incline. We swung our arms, Katie urging me on. When I did that walk about a week ago with my friend Ellen, I slept on the couch for at least an hour afterwards. I must be getting stronger, but sometimes I can't stop myself from whining about how weak I feel compared to my "old" self, and how it pains me to see the joggers running by me on the lake path and to look up at the tennis courts and watch the players thwack the ball.

But this is a long slow recovery I am on and I'm grateful to now be able to walk around the lake. I need to remember that just a few weeks ago, I could only walk to the corner and back...and that not too long ago I couldn't walk at all.

Last night I decided to take my "bed" exercises onto the floor. (Stretching, leg lifts and some yoga poses.) I rolled my yoga mat out and figured that I could call one of the kids if I couldn't get up. It's harder on the floor! While I was down there I found myself eye-to-eye with a big bag on the floor next to my dresser. Obviously I see it every day, but I hadn't looked inside it, figuring it was stuff left over from my tag sale. I didn't want to deal with it, so I just kind of stopped seeing it.

I inched over and looked inside. It was full of gifts, cards and miscellaneous things that Diane had packed up and sent home with the kids over the winter. One box contained a beautiful garnet bracelet that I had bought for myself when a friend had a jewelry party with items from the Silpada catalogue. I don't usually buy jewelry from a catalogue. I shouldn't buy any at all; my mother was a jewelry designer and showered us with jewelry. But this bracelet really caught my eye.

I had been looking for that bracelet ever since my discharge, when I was at Diane's and realized I hadn't seen it for a while. She said she was sorry, but it was probably misplaced in my rushed move in the hospital from 6C to the ICU and then to 6A, the section with the most intensive care. I liked the bracelet so much, I was about to order another from the catalogue.

And there it was, right under my nose. It's always tempting to look for morals, and one presented itself to me right away: When you stop trying so hard to find something, whether it's simple like a "lost" bracelet or complicated like the answers to life's big questions (such as why did I get sick?), that's when you find, if not answers, then at least peace of mind.


susiegb said...

Ha - I went and had a look at the Silpada website - nice things there! I also really like the jewellery you can find on the Etsy site - in fact it's best when I forget about that website because there's always such delicious things there - all sorts!

I do like jewellery - I always buy some when I go to India - love that really yellow Indian gold ...

Hey - it's nice to be talking about 'normal stuff' rather than health issues, isn't it!!! :)

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Ronni,
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story -- a delight on many levels.

Here's a story about how far you've come: Sometimes I check where the traffic is coming from on my website. I always see links from your blog.

So recently I clicked on it, just to see if you had a new post. Well, I start reading your blog and you are describing relapse and grave illness. I feel...(no adequate words)...until I suddenly realize, "Hey, this is an old post!"

So I click on to the home page for your blog and voila! You are so, so, so, so much better. :)

Ronni, all those baby steps are adding up. You walked a mile today!

The tendency to compare yourself to your "old" self is natural and understandable. When I did that during my recoveries, I found it helped me to remember two of my aphorisms of Healthy Survivorship:

Comparing myself to others (or to my "old" self) is good if doing so motivates me, and it is not good if doing so pulls me down.

My goal is not to get back to my old normal, but to work toward a new normal that integrates the changes (and losses). A new normal that is the best it can be.

With lots of hope, Wendy

CLL Spouse said...

THIS happens to me a lot, what you described! Once I cease striving, I find just what I need or was looking for very close by. A profound truth. I was happy to read you had one of these moments.

PJ said...

Great post, Ronni, just what I needed to read. I'm so happy you're getting stronger every day.

Rose said...

Hi Ronni,
Such a wonderful post! I'm glad you had a great walk. I loved the moral to your bracelet story. Perfect inspiration for the day. You are truly an amazing person!

Hope to see you soon!

Michele said...

I didn't realize how sick I was until I started getting better and then post 1-mile I was singing the Rocky theme out loud for strong self! Sometimes you think you're never going to get better and viola, you're body says I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired and you rally! You go girl!

Susan C said...

Ronni, I am thrilled and amazed that you are now walking one mile. Wow!

My little pneumonia and EOS issues are nothing compared to what you've been through, and yet I'm amazed at how I'm having to go through the "rebuilding" phase once again. Walking on level ground is easy. Walking and talking simultaneously gets challenging. Running - forget about it (at least for now). But, as you say, little by little and one step at a time.

And so happy you found the bracelet. I always find things after I stop looking too.

Saul Wisnia said...

Hi Ronni,
We are choosing this year's "Heroes" for the Jimmy Fund Walk and it made me think of you and your blog. Great to hear things are going well and that you're back out and walking. I'm sure tennis and running and not far behind.


Howard said...

Hi Ronni,

I'm so glad to see this post and know the strength you're glimpsing makes for good contrast from only a few weeks ago. May it continue, non-stop.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Ronni,

i wish i had been on the walk with you! remember our dog-strolls -- you are gaining strenghth every minute, and you will never cease to amaze are Runder-Woman, and i thank you again for being Friend...xop

Samantha MacRae said...

Hi Ronnie,

Lovely post. Wow, you are such an inspiration! Everything you have been through and you are doing yoga poses. Love it.

Sam xx

Susan said...

A traipse around the lake - and a new bracelet. Sounds like a pretty close to perfect day to me!
Maybe your daughter needs to hit you a few soft balls to really cheer you on...


Nelle said...

I think you are making great strides in your recovery. Each step brings you closer to doing the things you used to do and will be doing again. Sounds like a lot of fun with Maddie. :)

catsandmusic said...

What a beautiful post! I discovered your blog some months ago when a friend told me about the best medical blog contest, and I have been reading it, worrying about you, and cheering you on from silent cyberspace ever since. But this post just made me have to finally check in with you and tell you what an inspiration you are to me. Thank you so much.