Let's flash-backward to my first walk after surgery. The morning after. Thank goodness Meredith, my slightly weird but incredibly friendly and knowledgeable night nurse with the strange Celtic tattoo, warned me what it'd be like. She said, "Tomorrow, they'll pull your catheter, and they'll want you to walk. And you will feel like you're 101 years old, and you'll be unsteady, and you won't be able to pick up your feet. You will shuffle. Day two is the worst - you will feel awful. But don't get discouraged, because day three, day three is when it all starts to tick up." Oh Meredith, I will never see you again (God willing), but I'm throwing thanks into the universe for that . . . the image of you, milking my catheter drain, giving me physical and psychological relief as you squatted beside my bed at 3 a.m., that's etched in my mind forever. I might've looked three-sheets, but I was taking notes.
One of the women on my breast cancer message board likened her walking the day after surgery to that of the "Old Man" character Tim Conway played on the Carol Burnett show (example here - and if I were cooking day two, I'd be slicing just like that). Between that hysterical image and Meredith, I was prepped. And it came true. Dave had to help me. I couldn't make it all the way down the hall. I needed to hold on to him, to the wall rail. I had to stop along the way. Along the what? The 40 foot way. I am a 7-day-a-week-exerciser. A heart-rate-monitor-wearing, calorie-torching machine. And I was in serious danger of falling over.
I kept at it, as I am wont to do, and worked myself up, 'til by discharge on day three, I could walk around the square that was the ICU/Burn/Plastics unit on the 13th floor at MGH (Taylor Swift's lucky number, and maybe mine now, too). But I was still weak, and tired. And itchy and greasy. Not yet ready for the big time. I was wheeled out in a wheelchair and home to bed.
But ladies and gentlemen, two weeks later and I'm pulling out. This old horse is out of her gate. And while I fully understand the limitations I'm under for the coming weeks (no heart rate up, no arm swinging, no repetitive motion, no lifting), in my mind, I'm flying . . . 'cause I can leave the house and ambulate around my pretty neighborhood. With real clothes and lace-up shoes, just like a big girl. These are my training wheel days . . . then'll come my two wheeler, then my motorcycle, then my big, friggin' jet-engine airplane.
Watch for me as I fly over - higher than ever. Six weeks, and I will be free, again!