So that was April. I can hardly believe it’s over and I can hardly remember a huge slice of it, despite it probably being one of the most significant months of my life. At the beginning of the month I had no idea how it would end, but sitting here at the beginning of May I have to be eternally grateful for how it evolved, even if it did involve many days of pain and turmoil. Somehow I came through it, I’m not sure how I managed it, looking back at it I can see the challenges I faced. It is truly amazing what the human body can endure and recover from. I consider myself to be in pain and discomfort now, but compared to what I’ve encountered over the last few weeks, I now see it’s trivial.
Without realising it I’ve made huge progress over the last few days. I left hospital on Thursday feeling quite euphoric, I don’t know why, there was no spectacularly good news, I think it was just the fact that I’d been out for the day. A change of scenery, different people. I was thinking to myself on the journey home, that I was now ready for a proper journey out, if you can think of a trip into Oldham as anything but dire, but there were things I needed to do. However good a nights sleep I’ve had or not had, I’m always awake at 5am. It seems Morning Reports is my personal alarm clock. Friday was no exception, but no matter how hard I tried over the following 4-5 hours, I could not drag myself out of bed. The energy was just not there, and my legs were feeling like elephants’ they were so heavy. Friday turned into my day of rest, still not able to sit comfortably for anything more than 10 minutes, most of it was spent in bed. Even so I felt guilty. I seemed to sleep most of the day, and conceded I could take no more by 8pm as I tried to settle down for another night of restless sleep. I seemed to wake every hour, on the hour, but as each one passed I could see the waste of spending another day in bed. By the time Morning Reports arrived, I had convinced myself that I had to drag myself out, no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it was going to be, I had to get out and do the things that needed doing. In spite of the morning sunshine, I wrapped up warm-jumper, scarf, overcoat and hat. Not warm enough for Oldham though, anyone who knows it knows that the town centre makes Chicago seem like a breeze. Oldham IS windy city. It was freezing, made worse by the biting cold wind, and hobbling at snail’s pace (do snails hobble) with stick in hand, it made the ordeal of entering the wind tunnel worse, as I moved from shop to shop. Well two shops and the market hall was all I could manage. What should have taken no more than 20 minutes took more than 2 hours, but I did manage it, and even when I eventually collapsed on returning home, I felt a sense of achievement. The mornings effort resulted in six hours solid sleep in the afternoon, but it was worth it.
Sunday, sister number one and her partner arrived, and the plan was to eat out for Sunday lunch. It took all my energy and strength to get ready, and I have to confess that by the time they arrived the last thing I felt like doing was going out, but with the new sense of determination I was not going to give in. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, the works. I even managed a few vegetables, that were perhaps a bit risky for my altered digestive system at this relatively early stage, but I did. The first ‘proper meal’ for ages, months in fact. I even managed Bakewell tart for pudding, even if it was rubbish. Even though I wished I had taken my cushion with me, the lunch trip out was a success. I retreated to bed again as soon as Pat and Clive left, 2 hours sleep this time. A couple of hours in the armchair was enough after that, and by 8 o’clock I was back in bed. All this exercise was obviously doing me good, because I don’t remember much else after that. I only woke twice during the night, and although I remember turning the radio on as Morning reports began, I don’t recall much else after that until 9.30 Monday morning.
The district nurse was my only visitor on Monday, and the relentless rain of Sunday had ceased and the sun was out again. I’m getting used to having conversations with nurses as they inspect the wound on my bum, and as she said it was healing well, I enquired as to how long before I could be dressing free? I’m convinced the dressing is causing me more discomfort than the wound itself. All the abdominal wounds from the incisions healed ages ago, and so I was anxious to be free from the restraints of having the district nurse visit every other day.
“Oh quite soon” she replied. My joy was short-lived as she added “just another couple of weeks and it will be fully healed”.
Not to be disheartened, I decided to make the short walk into the village in the afternoon. Short being in distance not in the time it took me to get there. I was grateful for the strategically placed resting places as I slowly made my way downhill. The wall on the bridge over the old railway line. The benches outside the pub. The seat by the bus stop, and then more benches by outside the next pub. By the time I arrived at the supermarket, I realised I didn’t really need anything, but nonetheless, I made my way round, leaning on a shopping trolley like the Zimmer frame I‘ve refused, throwing in the odd packet of biscuits, tubs of cream, a fresh cream trifle, a cream cake, and a tube of squeezy cream just for good luck. I was only following the advice of my dietician, that cream and calories were good for me to build up my strength and put a bit of weight on. Being underweight does have it’s advantages.
Looking back, the last three days of April were quite significant. Nothing too strenuous, but each an achievement in itself. A few small steps add up to a giant leap, and I’m heading in the right direction. Just an hours sleep when I returned from the supermarket (by taxi), and who knows, I might even stay up until 10 o’clock tonight ! It will be a few days before I can get out again, I’ve got numerous types of nurse turning up every day this week, at least 2 a day, but I’m eager to see what May has to offer.