Archive for January 2010

Chapter Six, Recovery

January 12, 2010

My girlfriend and I quickly got into a cab in front of the hospital, the snow was coming down hard and all I wanted was to get to the Upper West Side apt ASAP.
Before I knew it we were in the apt and greeted by my cousin Scotty along with Rebecca, his home attendant. Scotty is a couple of years older than me at 47 and despite his disabilities he has a very gregarious, warm personality. He proceeded to tell me what not to do.
“Don’t lift anything heavy, rest as much as you can… you  know… take it easy, and…”
I removed my coat and my girlfriend put down the blue duffle bag as Scotty finished giving me the bullet list of what not to do.
I said my goodbyes to my girlfriend since she had to go back to work since this was her lunch hour.
Rebecca was nice enough to drop off my prescriptions at the Duane Reade across the street as I laid down to what would be my bedroom for the month.
I looked at the top dresser and saw that there was a bouquet of Tulips in a vase.
I got out of bed to check it out and found an envelope attached addressed to me.
The bouquet was from a friend of mine.
What a nice way to start the month I said to myself.
The first week was spent walking around the massive apt – fixing Scotty breakfast on the 3rd day – Pancakes (his favorite) and lying in bed. During the day when I would be in the living room watching The Today Show or The View, Scotty would come in and inquire how I am and if I needed anything, you see… he is legally blind.

I would spend the rest of the day in bed.
I had a liquid diet for the first week, soups, teas and such. The second week I graduated to meals which consisted of pasta meals in light sauce, like angel hair pasta with olive oil. After the second week is when I started to eat “regular” meals.
I decided to call my Uncle and let him know what happened.
He was upset and in tears when he repeatedly asked me why I didn’t tell him earlier.
“I knew you would respond this way” I replied.
That Saturday afternoon he and his wife came by for a visit.
“Cindy, this is your best weight ever, stay this way”
“I’ll try Uncle” I replied.
Yeah, nothing like major surgery to lose massive weight!

The second week I felt stronger so I would walk around the block got a haircut and did some minor food shopping. Toward the end of the week I had an appointment with my primary Doctor.
This is the first time she would see me since the operation.
I would never forget that scene.
There I was sitting in the waiting room and I waved when my Doctor came out to talk to the receptionist.
She looked at me and with a look of shock she fell back against the door behind her.
Once composed, she walked toward me.
“Did you have the surgery?”
“Oh, yes – three weeks ago as a matter of fact.” I responded.

I was in her examining room.

“You don’t look like you had an operation” She said.
“Oh, trust me, I would have energy enough to just do a couple of errands, only to feel as if the energy switch has turned off and I need to go to bed immediately” I responded.
“You don’t understand” said my doctor “Most people don’t do errands; they stay in bed for at least a month”.
“Really?” was all I could say
“Yes, this is what a person looks like a week after surgery” and she proceeded to lie back in her chair with a catatonic look in her face.
I laughed.
“This is what a person looks like a month after surgery” and she proceeded to lie back in her chair with the same catatonic look in her face.
“Surgery just wipes a person out for at least a month, a person doesn’t feel fully recovered for at least 3 months” my doctor said.
“I seriously think that it’s because I take exceptional care of myself that I am able to bounce back so quickly” I answered.

“Really Cindy, you sure don’t look like you had surgery” commented my doctor still in disbelief as we were leaving her exam room walking down the hall. Sure enough, I lost all my energy the minute I walked outside.  I had to take a cab back to the Upper West Side apt.
I love walking around the massive apt and helping my cousin prepare dinner, then I get to observe her cooking, I learn so much just being in the kitchen helping her prepare the meals. It’s great having a large kitchen for which you could move around in and could contain more than one person. I didn’t realize how much I miss cooking – in my apt. in Midtown there are times when I get the inspiration then I look at my small Pullman kitchen and the urge escapes me.

The weeks were going by quickly, the following week after I saw my primary doctor I had a follow up appointment with the surgeon, the first since I was discharged.
The Physician’s assistant greeted me first, with her bright warn smile. Once we were in the examining room she hugged me and proclaimed how good I looked, then the surgeon walked in. and said the same thing.
As he examined my scar and abdomen he mentioned that channel 7 news is interested in doing a segment on colon cancer and people under fifty and if I might be interested in being interviewed.
I told him I would think about it.
That Saturday my cousin hosted a gathering for her block party association committee. The day of we went around the neighborhood … priorities first – we had our pedicure and manicures, then we went food shopping, first at Zabars to pick up coffee, then to Fairway. We then spent the afternoon preparing the food and played hosts that evening.
Halfway through the evening I suddenly become exhausted, like an “off” switch – no energy left whatsoever, I just got up from the couch and announced that due to exhaustion I have to retire. Off to bed I went.
I overheard my cousin telling everyone that I just had major surgery and sudden exhaustion is one of the side effects.
The last week of February was upon me, way too soon. I could easily have used another week – but I had to go back to work the first week of March.
Just went I was about to email my boss I get a call from her from my cell.
She wanted to double check if/when I was going to come back.

“Oh yes, my first day back is Monday, March 2nd.” I answered.
You could almost hear the disappointment in her voice.

The surgeon’s receptionist scheduled an appointment for me to see the oncologist – which I was to see every 3 or 4th month to see how I was doing. That Monday was my first appointment, the Dr. is (yet again, like a broken record) a handsome man with bright blue eyes. He asked if I was interested in being a participant in a study trial, I said sure. So I filled out the paperwork, the rest of the session was basically Q & A, about the first diagnosis, subsequent surgery and recovery.
Later on that day I get an email from the surgeon saying if I had thought about that interview for channel 7 news. I emailed him yes, I will do the interview.
I decided to move back to my Mid-town apt. that Thursday – at least it would give me the weekend to settle down back in my apt.
It seems that each time I move it was to a snowy, gray day – this was no exception. I didn’t realize how many cards and gifts I had accumulated throughout the month from friends who stopped by for visits, I need to borrow a small bag from my cousin to hold it all.
I said my goodbyes to everyone in the apt.
“Do you have to leave now?” asked Cousin Scotty, “Can’t you stay another day and leave tomorrow?”
“I would like to, but I want to have some time to settle in my apt” I answered as I gave him a kiss in the cheek.

My other cousin Michael helped me downstairs and got me a cab.
I’m on my way back home after being away for over a month and a half.