I was excited to finally have surgery on my right foot. My toe has been causing me pain for over a year. I was grateful to schedule at a time when Todd was able to take off work and help care for Emily. I was encouraged that the recovery was not as long as other procedures we have discussed over the past few years. I spent the last month preparing for the down time, or at least I thought I had prepared.
As I lay in bed with my foot propped above my heart, I am finding it difficult to write. It is also difficult to concentrate. I did not prepare for how limited my days would be with my foot elevated for 23 hours a day. I thought I would read and write, watch some shows, listen to music, rest and sleep. Well, it hasn’t exactly been the great respite I imagined. Recovery is time consuming and rest is not always restful. Does that even make sense?
I have slept a lot, but getting comfortable has been a challenge. I ended up taking some of the pain medication because, well, my foot hurt. This led to discomfort in other ways. It was not easy to stay in bed and request that Justin or Todd bring me water or food. I definitely do not enjoy waiting for others to take care of my needs. I dislike it very much. I wonder if Emily dislikes her dependence on others. The only life she knows is one where she relies on others to meet her needs and I grieve a different life she will never know.
As the house buzzes with business and tasks, I lay here. I hear Emily’s calls that I know well. Her sounds tell me she is bored, hungry, thirsty, or that Ben is pestering her. I am unable to respond to her requests. Asking Justin and Todd to do it is annoying to them. They tell me they are handling it and get irritated by my interference. I am so quick to meet Emily’s needs and take care of her and myself. I hate the feeling of helplessness. If I am out of bed, one of them is chastising me or reciting how many minutes I have been vertical.
We are five days into this new routine (hopefully only two to go) and I can tell the boys are tired. Justin went out with friends last night to get out of the house. Todd is snapping and short-tempered. Emily had an accident in her bed this morning and Todd is dealing with it. Right now he is bathing her and washing her bedding. Ben chewed up a brand new bath rug during all the other things going on. Todd is not handling all the chaos well. He is used to dealing with one thing at a time. His mind does not know how to handle all this stuff coming at him. I have empathy for him. I remember being like this. For years, I would get angrier and angrier as each circumstance piled on the other as if the universe was out to get me.
As things calm down, I decide to prop my foot up in the living room for a bit and talk with Todd. He is not receptive. He insists Emily is more difficult for him than she is for me. I remind him that a lot of how Emily responds has to do with his energy. I remind him that he used to tell me that all the time when I would lose my patience with Emily. I am not sure he gets it and I understand. We want to hold onto the stories we tell ourselves. I expressed my gratitude and empathy for everything Todd has done this week. I also express disappointment that I did the surgery. I am not sure it will improve my ability to walk. What if it was a waste of time and I have added stress to Todd for no reason? That was a lot to offload on Todd when he is already struggling. So then, I add guilt to the roller coaster of emotions swirling in my 60,000 thoughts a day. I know this is temporary and that I will be up and on my feet soon. It just cannot be soon enough.
This week has been hard. Being on the sidelines is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I have had a front-row seat to the life I live each day, but not participating in it. I discovered that I don’t like being sidelined. As difficult as it is to care for Emily, I love it and I am good at it. I have also learned over the years what I need and how to meet my own needs. I am not a great patient. I don’t like relying on others for anything. I am fiercely independent. None of these characteristics are great when you are expected to lean into other people.
This week has shown me the growth I have made over the last several years, and it has also highlighted the work that is left to be done. Each experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. As I continue to heal and recover, I am discovering more about myself and the work ahead.