The photo of the birthday petit-four really has nothing to do with anything besides the fact that tomorrow is Don’s birthday – a very big one. He might have been depressed about getting so old if it wasn’t so forcefully demonstrated to us lately that he’s lucky to have made it so far!
Progress has been made this week. Monday Don’s wound vacuum was removed, so now he doesn’t have to lug that heavy purse-machine around all the time, or listen to it make clicking noises all night when he’s trying to sleep. Then Wednesday was the final visit from the home health nurse who had been coming out three times a week for the past two months to change the vac dressing and document his progress. It’s nice that he doesn’t need her any more, but we grew fond of Nurse Michelle (you can see the back of her head in the Feb. 19th entry, below), so we’ll miss her.
This very morning he had a regular follow-up appointment with his surgeon, and everything looks pretty good. He’s finally gaining weight. He is 15 pounds heavier today than he was just two weeks ago! The doctor said that if all continues to go well, he’s looking at the reversal operation at the end of April. I cannot tell you, Dear Reader, how it cheers Don (and me) to know that there is actually an end in sight.
Don had been getting rather dragged down after all this time, struggling with depression over all the delays and set backs and one-thing-after-anotherness of it. Of course his mood affects me, too. But then the day comes when you realize that there are at least as many ups as downs.
My dear, wise, friend Kevin in Oklahoma, whom I have known since God was a boy, was the primary caregiver for both his father and his uncle during their final illnesses. He and I correspond about the difficulties of aging, illness, caregiving, and generally what it all means to be alive and mortal. Not long ago he sent me an email that was so incredibly spot-on about this situation that I can do no better than to share part of it with you:
I think part of the joy of these medical situations is that you never have any idea of when things are going to change. I remember thinking during my various experiences, “Surely we’ll know more after the next appointment” or the next procedure or the next whatever. A corner is about to be turned. But I think the corners may only become apparent in retrospect. It’s kinda like torture, it just goes on without end. Despite being aware of this at some level, when I talk to my grade-school, truck-driving friend (the truck-driving came after grade school), regarding his ailing wife, I still catch myself saying “maybe you’ll know more after the next…”.
When I look back over the past several months and see how things have improved, I think that in retrospect, a corner may have been turned. Now if that belly wound would just close completely up (we still have to clean it and change the dressing daily),and Don would gain 10-15 more pounds, he could get the ileostomy reversed, recover from that surgery, and all would be right with the world.
In other news, I finished proofing the text of the next Alafair book, and am now working on the historical notes, genealogy, and recipes.
March 22nd, 2012
It’s so true, isn’t it?
The small handful of times I can think of where I knew things were changing in the moment were extreme cases. And they all had to do with being sick, not healing. Being told I had a pituitary tumor for the first time–things like that. Healing seems to always be a much more gradual process, and you never really realize that you’re out of the woods until you’ve been feeling substantially better for a little while.
Here’s hoping that some day very soon you will be able to say “Wow, we’ve come a long way.”
March 22nd, 2012
I’m looking forward to that day, indeed, Abby.
March 23rd, 2012
You made me cry!! in a good way. I am so relieved that you can look forward and think about putting this episode (or is it episodes) behind you. A huge Happy Birthday to Don!! Live long and prosper. And thanks to your wise friend — a great perspective to remember.