Due to he surgery I had five weeks ago and the subsequent infection I have been unable to use the car for the past five weeks. I was told I could drive if I had an emergency but it was unwise to do so before the graft was in a stable state. So for the past five weeks it has been mostly spent sitting or laying with feet raised. Then on Friday the community nurse told me the graft was healing at last and here I am, almost able to resume the life I had prior to the surgery. I say almost as there will still be a lot of things I can't do, excess bending and stretching, swimming, staying on my feet for a long period of time, tackling large numbers of stairs among them. I hope to go to church tomorrow and to meetings next week. As long as I have the chance to stop and rest instead of constant activity I should be fine. I will go to the Lions BBQ on Monday week if I am fit enough by then as I am sure the other Lions will take my place when I need to stop for a while..
This has all been a learning curve for me. I do a lot of hospital visiting and I have over time visited a lot of ladies sitting with bandaged legs due to ulcers or skin grafts and not even thought about the patience that recovery requires. After all aren't they retired and have all the time in the world now? Well I will not be so thoughtless in future but see if I can provide puzzles, reading materials or something similar to help them pass the time, because time sure goes slowly when you have to have bed rest or sit in a chair most of the time. It is a temporary disability but often under resourced, the need for support overlooked. I have had a lot of people offer help but only a few have followed through and come for a visit, sent flowers or made regular phone calls. As usual it is the loving people from Ray's Stroke Recovery group, those people who have taken time out of their own busy schedules to keep in touch with me, who have had the most compassion. We as caregivers ourselves know what is required to care for others. I am so grateful to them.
My daughter Shirley and her husband and children came down to visit me for a couple of days this week. It was good to have company and time to spend with the grandchildren. Chris will lead his school council this coming year, a real honour and one with responsibilities so I heard all about that from him. My grand daughter and I spent an afternoon competing in simple games on the Nintendo Wii and giggling hopelessly when we made mistakes, as a teen she is usually a bit less enthusiastic for my company so I was glad of her response. My daughter and son-in-law did some cooking and it was great to sit down to meals with them. I do so miss the family life we once had and feel sometimes as a widow that I have little to offer in that respect. It does make a difference when Mum and Dad turns into just Mum, a woman on her own. I don't know why it should, it just does.
I have been lucky in that I have had some friends come for a visit or to pick me up to take me somewhere, without that I would have gone stir crazy. I am unaccustomed to being at home for any length of time and do not like the enforced leisure. It is quiet in the neighbourhood because despite the children being home from school on the Spring break families opposite and either side of me have been away for the week so it has been much quieter than usual. Having my grandchildren here made up for that. I sometimes complain that I don't see enough of them but have appreciated how in this time of my need Shirley has taken time out of her busy life to support me. I know she has so much to do to run a busy Salvation Army Corps but she has put that aside and has really been there for me. My boys have been in communication by phone so I have been well supported in that way. I do still miss them all living close by though, it is one of he downsides of living in a country where people are so mobile and can, for various reasons, move so far away.
One of the good things to come out of this is that I have been recontacted by some former friends I hadn't heard of for some time. It is part of the problem of them thinking: "good old Sue, she can always cope with whatever is thrown at her", so I think the thought that I have had an encounter with cancer, which of course melanoma is, has taken them aback and hence the contact. Sadly I have missed a couple of funerals of church members but there was nothing I could do about that. Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans - to quote John Lennon. Whatever happens the cycle of birth and death will go on. With that said a girlfriend/cousin I usually stay with in England rang me today to ask when I am coming back to England so maybe I will put another trip to England back on my wish list.
We always say that in this sort of situation we find out who our friends are but I don't think that is necessarily true in my case. At my age many of my older friends are no longer driving far from home so of course they can phone but not visit. It is some of the locals who have stepped up and made sure I am okay. I appreciate all they have done for me and hope not to return the favour but instead pay it forward as I am able to. We all need help from time to time so I am sure an opportunity will arise. I don't intend to go back to full time duties at the church or in the community until I am quite sure I have the stamina to tackle the tasks. I guess all of this whole process has been a bit of a shock to me but none of us are bullet proof, we have the stroke journey to convince us of that. I am hopeful given a few more months of recuperation to be able to say: "all's well that ends well."