Do not give up; the beginning is always the hardest.  
-Fortune cookie (on our fridge)

What does recovery from 3 major surgeries in 8 months, some massive infections, one remaining lung and a large open cavity in my chest for 6 months look like?  Recovery did not end when the surgery was over or even when I left the hospital...it has been an ongoing daily journey for the past 3 months, especially compounded by previous issues and many years of health conditions and treatments that complicate my situation.  When people ask how I'm doing, I say I'm doing alright AND (sometimes say) I'm really good at "playing a healthy person".

While it would nice to just magically heal and move on, I have to remember my body has been through a lot, my chest was reconstructed and I will never quite be the same again, coupled with still actively being treated for my original lung infection.  Sometimes my mind needs to have some patience with my body.  My brain can be ready to go, go, go and do, do, do when my body just cannot but it does do quite well!  Or other times (not as often) my body is feeling more energy but my brain is tired.

I am doing many things to help the process such as physical therapy (PT) (and have found an amazing integrative practitioner who incorporates massage and yoga), trying a few new medicines, yoga, walking, trying to eat more foods to support healing (winning 10 free meals from a place with healthy to-go meals with a lot of healing protein was a huge help, especially on days when I do not have a lot of energy) and trying to enjoy life until I work again.  I try to fill my days with a balance of interactions/activities with people or things that enrich my life and downtime to recharge and refresh (but usually it's more top-heavy on the "activities"). 

It has also been a time to address issues that have come up in the past year that were "put on the back burner" with the lung issues front and center.  This, too, is part of my healing and trying to do all I can do to feel the best I can.  I have transferred to a new practitioner for some issues and now have 5 main doctors, a specialized physical therapist and a specialized massage therapist in my court.  I feel like I have the best "team" in place and so many amazing, skilled people helping me and I am so grateful for all their time and expertise.  With having previous chemotherapies that are known to cause heart damage (short and long term) and the strain that having one lung causes the heart, I recently had my heart tested.  While it has some reduced function, it is still on the lower end of the "normal range" and does not require immediate attention. I'm off the hook for another year barring any other issues.  Yay!

Already I can see a decrease in pain (evidenced by small things such as just a few weeks ago I was holding and supporting my whole arm with my other arm while taking long walks and now being able to walk "unaided") and decrease in overall bodily tightness.  My intestinal tract is even slowly starting to heal and my appetite is slowly returning.  Things are looking up!  It takes looking at all the little improvements to realize how far I have come and not get caught up in all the little day-to-day frustrations!  I have also managed to do well on 4 flights-to and from the big city (NY) and 2 (here and back) for a little beach time (FL) with another relaxing trip planned soon...I wear my colorful antimicrobial mask (see below) for flying and so far, it has kept me healthy.

Grateful for all these blessings and trying to live life to the fullest!!

My mask for flying and other "suspect" air conditions...



Unknown said...

We continue to pray for you and are thankful for you and God's blessings.

Jane Garvin said...

You are AMAZING!
I still think you should write a book when you have any energy! So many people would be inspired by your attitude. "Just sayin"
One of these days it's going to happen and you will be the reason so many people say
"If SHE can do all of THAT, I can get through my little x, y, or z:-)

Keasi Tora said...

You're not just "trying to live life to the fullest" Rachel, you're a survivor of veteran status! It's testaments like your's that inspire and give the rest of us a measure of the true meaning of living life to the fullest!

Prayers from Fiji