I have always taken pride in myself when it came to being physically strong. By no means was I a body builder or anything near the Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno type, but I always took pride and believed that I was a strong man. I would be there to keep watch over those with me and would be able to help protect them. When I was actually in shape back in high school, and even when I was very over weight later in life... Hell, call it what it is, I was fat, but always felt I could still protect those around me. But now... Not so much. Now I can't walk much on my own and not without a walker. I walk leaning forward and bent over. The medical staff at the hospital called that "guarding." I was guarding my incision in my belly. Though I could not quite figure why I guarded my belly but not my back because both were opened during surgery. I never asked why, but I figure it is because I could see the belly incision. The one in the back I could not see, so out of sight, out of mind I suppose. I now also have to pull around this little cart that has a green oxygen tank on it that is attached to me via the tubes and nose tabs. The nurse is not allowed to let me walk down on my own, no matter how much I may have wanted to (which actually wasn't all that much to be honest). I doubt I would have made it very far anyhow. Even standing was draining. Also being sent home with me is a collapsible walker. A walker...The one piece of medical equipment that I always used to make jokes about. Saying that when I got old I would have to always go get my walker. Well guess what? NOW I have one with my name on it. I guess this means I am old. Old and worn out and useless at 50. Complete with a walker and an oxygen tank and not being able to stand up straight without being uncomfortable. Even my clothes are already hanging off me, regardless of the fact that it is a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt. I should be glad. I'm going home to my own bed and lying next to my beautiful wife and our kids and our dogs... but I'm not. At least not as much as I should be. I mean I AM glad, but I'm ashamed. I am not me. I am a shell of me. Who would want to be with me now? I've been gutted like a fish. I will literally have a shoe box full of medications to take every day. Pills, liquids and breathing treatments on top of the constant oxygen and the CPAP for the sleep apnea. *I* don't want to be with me. Depression is setting in hard. To Lea Ann's credit, she is doing her best to make the day happy and bouncy keep my mood up. I'm trying to play along, but I doubt I am doing a very good job.
Rolling down to the lobby of the hospital while Lea Ann goes ahead to get the car, I stay basically quiet which is not my usual M.O. I'm usually joking and talking, but not right now. Just not in the mood. We get to the ground floor and sit just inside the sliding door waiting for Lea Ann to drive up in our car. Once she arrives, we go outside and load the back seat up with all my new stuff. Time to get in the car. I try to stand up and my legs are shaking so badly I am afraid I won't be able to do it, but I will myself to it. I mean, come on! It's only standing for crying out loud. I walk slowly over to the car and start to get in, but I can't get in like a normal person does. I have to stop and turn my back to the car, then bend over and put my butt in first, sit down, then rotate around to slide my legs in. God do I feel old. Who has to get in a car like this? Once I get settled and get the seat belt on, they put the little oxygen cart next to my legs and the handle kind of digs into my side to remind me its there. The nurse bids me a farewell and wishes me good luck. I tell her thank you and attempt a smile, again not sure how convincing it was. Another issue running through my head is driving. Ever since ever I have been one of those people that always wants to be the driver. I don't like being the passenger. I want to be in control, but for quite some time into the future I won't be able to. I trust Lea Ann. I trust her to the moon and back. She is a great driver and I know she can take care of me and keep me safe, but *I* am the one that should be doing that. I need to heal FAST and get back to normal if at all possible. I make a small joke about not being the one driving and Lea Ann takes it in stride and jokes back, showing my that pretty smile and her laugh that makes me smile. And it works again. Its like a magic bullet straight to the heart. My mood lightens a bit as we pull away from the hospital. I am actually going home. There were times over the last 19 days when I wondered if I would ever see that place again,but here I am driving home with the love of my life, who somehow is sticking by my side. I decide that maybe, just maybe I am just a little lucky. I know I am far from out of the woods, but I have a great support in my wife and my family and my friends. It was kind of like seeing a candle flicker in the fog-filled distance. Just enough to get me moving a little. The candle light being her, and the fog being the depression that is all around. It is human nature to move toward the light. But it was still far away in my mind. The fog was still very thick and could hide that flicker still, too. There is a titanic battle going on in my mind. The part that wants to hold on to the anger and depression and hurt vs. the part that wants to be happy I am going home and that I am still alive after all. This battle will be waged for quite some time to come. Sadly.
It is a sunny day, as usual in Arizona. Maybe a bit on the cooler side for there as it was mid-February. I had donned a jacket when we were leaving, just to get that extra warmth. The music is playing in the car. Music is my sanctuary. Always has been. I can't play any instruments or anything like that, but I can listen the hell out of a song, and I do on a regular basis. Lea Ann says she knows when I am having a hard time because my music increases as the hard time increases. She is very right. I retreat into the music, and I have been listening to a lot of it while recuperating in the hospital. Put those ear buds in, turn up the volume and close my eyes and get lost in the music and usually fall asleep. That is where I escape the most. She knows me very well. I notice a lot more around us from the passenger side of the car. The trees, the sky and clouds, the birds, the people, the landscape... It's amazing what you actually don't see when you are driving. But I have to ask, is it because I just didn't notice it before, or is it because I am paying more attention now because of all that has been happening? Maybe a little of both. It is nice to notice more about your surroundings and appreciate them more. The saying is right, you don't know what you have until it is gone. In my case it wasn't gone, but it could have been. That forces a new perspective. I'm actually getting a little more excited about getting home now. Maybe even smiling a little. Not sure. Maybe I think I am but I am really not. Who knows? The ride is 25 minutes from the hospital door to our front door. As we pull into the driveway and a certain amount of that weight lifts from my shoulders. We are home. No one was trying to fool me or anything. We are HOME. This feels good. Lea Ann gets out and pulls my walker out of the back seat and opens it up for me then opens my door. I try once to get up and can't get enough of my feet under me to stand up. She offers her hand and helps get me right up.She tells me to start walking to the front door and she will be right behind me with the oxygen cart and to make sure I don't fall. We go in the house and I stop just inside the door for a moment to look around. Home. Its just how I remember it, just several new plants and cards around from the people that sent them while I was in the hospital. This is what I want. This is where I want to be. Home with Lea Ann and the kids and our grand daughter and our dogs. All the familiar people and sights and sounds and smells. Home...
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