I’d normally start writing a new entry by making some smartass comment about not really having an excuse, and admonishing myself to write more, but to be quite honest I haven’t exactly been in the mood to write another breezy piece about how great the Parkdale Farmer’s Market is (though it is great, check that shit out). I’ve had some pretty serious stuff happen in my life over the last few months and while it hasn’t taken the joy out of writing for me, it’s made it spectacularly hard to concentrate on anything beyond my immediate circumstances. Questions like “where will I be sleeping tonight”, “will I die alone surrounded by cats, and am I really upset about the idea of them eating my corpse”, and “what is the appropriate emotional reaction to having your life explode in front of you” tend to overwhelm and shut down the part of me that likes to be creative.
I’m three days out from my first attempt at being alone since I was 21. When I look back on that person, it doesn’t seem conceivable that I’m the same guy. The world – my world – was so different then. People, we did not have Facebook the last time I was single! Twitter was but a glimmer in the Fail Whale’s eye! I thought I might make an excellent Prime Minister!
On surgery and recovery
Day one, post-op. Moist handcloths and gowns with no back side were very popular with the kids that summer.
This summer, I had my appendix removed the day I returned from a trip to Spain. Long story short, my surgery was referred to by my resident as a horror show, which was a delight to hear, but I kind of believed him since the pain was so bad that my lungs collapsed. Not being able to take a full breath for four days was a bummer, and my mobility was so crap that I couldn’t walk more than 100 feet down the hospital corridor with my buddy the IV stand before I had to turn around. The pain was tolerable with enough morphine, but I was eager as hell to get out of the hospital and when I finally was released, I didn’t really care if I was ready or not, I just wanted to get out of there.
I took some time, I rested and recuperated. For a few days, I had trouble doing simple stuff without lying down on the couch and sleeping for a while. I had a literal hole in me where my drain had been; the incision scar and swelling made it look like I had a miniature sideways butt right at my waistband below my belly button. I had to wear swimming trunks exclusively because anything with an inelastic waistband felt like barbed wire.
In a week, I was back at work, definitely not 100%, but to my surprise I didn’t come back to a massive pile of accumulated assignments and overdue projects. I came back to a clean desk, with major initiatives I had spearheaded moving forward without me – my team had kept the ball rolling and made sure nothing fell off the edge of my desk or got missed. I had never experienced anything like this before in my working life – a team of people who had been there and supported me through a really nasty thing, doing it because they genuinely cared and wanted to make sure I got better.
On tortured analogies
I can’t help but feel the parallels with what I’m experiencing now. I feel like I’ve been through something extremely painful that reduced me to survival mode. All of my energy and effort has been focused on my relationship and in trying to keep it going. I’ve been feeling alone and scared as hell and unable to breathe, except it’s been going on not for four days but for a year.
Now, the surgery is over. Whatever has happened to my heart, whatever damage I might have incurred, it’s happened, and now I’m in the recovery stage. Things still hurt – there’s nothing like the joys of anxiety to remind you of what it feels like to never sleep again – and some days it feels like I should probably just stay home, slide under the covers and watch Freaks and Geeks for 10 consecutive hours until I can start drinking with a manageable level of shame. Either way, I know things are bound to improve from here, if only because they couldn’t get a whole heck of a lot worse.
On love and gratitude
But throughout this process, I’ve discovered how ridiculous it’s been to feel alone. Since I started to break the news to people, I feel this enormous surge of relief, of not having to hide behind my pride and act like everything is OK. I’m filled – absolutely to the brim – with love and support from friends and family. Just like when I got out of the hospital and back to work, I’ve found that people’s genuine care – their capacity to just be there for you, even if they don’t know what more to say than “wow…uh, that fucking sucks, dude” has been the single most important thing to help me heal. The blast of text messages, emails, phone calls, Facebook stuff – it’s forcing me out of my shell, keeping me social and interacting with others, and helping me remember and rethink about what it is to be just me – just Colin – not “Colin and Inesia”. It turns out those two entities may be pretty different things.
Sometimes when he looks at me, I can tell he’s just really curious about what my spinal cord tastes like.
Four months from my surgery and recovery, I feel healthy. My lungs can fill with air, I can play basketball terribly again. My drain incision healed up and the swelling went down, and now my scar looks like someone drew a line in felt tip pen delineating the precise halfway mark between my belly button and my junk, which has led me to consider some very, very bad ideas for tattoos (please try, and fail, to get the image of a “you must be this tall to ride” sign out of your head – I know I have).
I know that I’m going to get there again, too. I know I’ll be okay, that I won’t actually die alone, gnawed on by Meak or his future brethren. Virtually everyone that reads this blog and many, many others have put in time in the last while to help hold me up, to keep me moving and to remind me that there will be an end to this – a moment where I can return to the land of the fully living, to return the favour a hundred times over.
So, thank you, thank you all so much for everything you’ve done, for your support and love. You have done more than you know to help me start to heal. I love you all so much.