Week 1

Hopes and fears – OK, so I got through Week 0. I’m home, I’m on the road to recovery … or so I’m told, but what does that actually mean. I seem to get out of breath (is this an asthma effect?), everything I do seems a little harder than I expect it to be. What I want to feel by the end of the week is that I’m back in control of myself. I want to be able to enjoy a walk. I want to be able to do some simple tasks around the house. No real fears … just a few concerns. What are the next 5 weeks going to be like!

Ojectives for the week – Some good walks. Taking a shower and dressing myself completely by myself. Doing my breathing and shoulder exercises. Resting and trying to get some sleep.

Sat 24th October

@JoeNicholls & H drop by to see us before their trip to Tunisia. They’re really looking forward to just having a complete rest and giving the children a holiday, which after a rainy camping week in Ireland they probably need! JN hands me “Two Hearts” a biography of “The Boss”, which is just a little lighter than “Echoes” so hopefully, with my recuperation progressing well, MrsJKH will allow me to pick-up and read :-). It was great to see them and I’m looking forward to hearing about Tales from Carthage.

DJ and P arrive before lunch and DJ takes his mum out shopping – he’s promised to cook a meal for us tonight, and P is left “looking after the patient”. I suggest we walk down to the Llanishen Model Shop where I want to follow-up an earlier visit with a purchase, and more advice. We’re so lucky (first as parents, and now as grandparents) to have a proper model/toy shop at the bottom of our road. P had no idea it was there, and she’s a local girl! I wonder how many others in Cardiff/South Wales know of its existence. Anyway, we manage the walk successfully. I purchase a pair of Scalextric convertor tracks so that new kits can be added to all the existing track we are storing for DJ and @PGHarison, and I ask advice about new controllers, cars etc. After all, I do have two grandsons in Leeds and although the eldest is only 4, one does need to get ready … early; and of course the next 5 weeks or so will provide me with ample amounts of time for mindless activity … like cleaning Scalextric track :-).

Back in the house P quizzes me on how I feel in respect of The Borg Scale. It would appear that I’m operating at least at the level I should be, and maybe even higher – is that good? I don’t know. Should I only be exerting myself to the level suggested, or is it a minimum level that one can exceed if you feel it’s possible. I’m working on the latter.

We have a quiet afternoon before an evening’s TV-viewing. DJ was upset at the way his dinner turned out, but we were very grateful and it tasted fine. By this time, I was getting tired and with @RuthHarrison and DJ now operating in brother and sister tag-team mode, I made my excuses and retired, tired, to bed.

Sun 25th October

A generally quiet day. DJ and P didn’t appear until lunchtime. P had been asked to clear her room out by RC so that he could decorate it. So the car is full of P’s things as well as the dogs for the return trip to Leeds!

I’ve experimented by reducing the number of Paracetemol I’m taking, seems OK so far.

Mon 26th October

Today I have to ring-up Dr E at the surgery to discuss sick-notes. I do that and also get an appointment arranged for November 19th to go and see him. I may need an earlier appointment if I’m appearing to run out of drugs, but hopefully that won’t be the case.

@breadedcod “swings by” on his way home. It’s great to see Paul and we chat about his forthcoming trip to Denver with @brandrethe, the family and weeks without children when they spend time with their grandparents. The time flies past and he’s soon back on his bike and off to Cregiau.

I feel very tired tonight and go off to bed early, but unfortunately don’t sleep well. Finding it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position on my back. Jenny (aka MrsJKH) comes to bed an proceeds to play with the iTunes on the iPod – “what’s this one? who’s the artist?”. Eventually, she falls asleep, but I don’t and I start listening to brass band music, Peter Skellern and compilation albums. Tomorrow is going to be a hard day.

Tue 27th October

As expected, am exhausted by the time Jenny has woken. I go and make a cup of tea – first time I’ve done this on my own. Too tired to do much else after that so am resting on the bed after having had a shower when the door bell rings. It’s a parcel for me. Jenny opens it and it’s a chocolate heart with the message “Get well soon GeeCee”. I break into uncontrollable tears, wailing almost. The whole range of emotions that I haven’t allowed myself to feel for 6 months come out over the next 15 minutes.

I haven’t felt anger. I haven’t said “why me?”. I haven’t paused to consider whether this is “life-changing” or not. I haven’t wondered how it might effect others. I haven’t felt.

Now I’m feeling, and how I’m feeling! It’s painful. It’s exhausting. Why has this happened to me. Eventually I fall asleep after we find out that the gift has come from Shells and @PGHarrison – don’t you just love the Internet?

The rest of the day passes. I’m tired, not a little depressed but I pull myself together when @MartynHarrow gives me a call. It’s great to speak to him. The whole of Information Services at Cardiff University have been so supportive to us both and he, and they, have been a big part of this odyssey.

Wed 28th October

Let’s draw a veil over most of the day. Although I sleep well, I’m not at my best, but then that’s probably a good thing. I needed to go down, discover myself, get off that fluffy cloud for ever and then push-on.

I’m back on full-dose of Paracetemol again btw, suffering from back ache and the wounds in mending so well are drawing the flesh together making everything feel tight. Must do those exercises though!

Thu 29th October

Today I’m feeeling much better. I go down the village with Jenny. I sit on the “old people’s bench” by the bus stop. I’m asked whether I’m waiting for a bus and whether I know when it’s due. Surprisingly … I don’t; but then I don’t normally travel in the middle of the morning.

Walk finished I start to catch-up on email, tweets, etc. This is better, my mind is working the way I want it to. I’m back in control. Jenny tells me to stop doing so much. This is great. I’m on the mend. For the first time I’m spikey and stand my ground. I’m back!

The afternoon ends with a knock on the door and the delivery of a basket of tropical fruit from work – very special people; a few more tears are shed!

Fri 30th October

So today, JG is doing the massive train journey down from Leeds and back to see us. We walk up the “rocky road” to the station to meet her. The sun is shining. She arrives on time having left Headingley c.7:00am with absolutely NO connection problems. Amazing. She looks well. She comments that its strange to be in the house by herself with us – no husband, no children, no brothers and sisters around. We can’t remember when that last occurred.

We have a happy five hours. I have a nap after lunch and JG slips out to the village; @RuthHarison returns from College – it’s the first time she’s seen JG for a long-time too. We exchange some presents and DVDs are loaned to help me fill the time in. We accept gifts brought by JG from J&J who’ve been so generous and kind to us both. Must remember to have major operations (both of us) at the same time as our birthdays (again, both of us) next time … NOT!!!

All too soon, JG is leaving the front door. She rings later to tell us that the return journey has been just as smooth but she’s caught a taxi to take her to Headingley station to pick up the car. She’s home by 11:00pm, with a weekend to recover from the trip. Thanks love, we both appreciated it so much.

On a factual note I finish the week at 70kg (11st) and with a BP of 114/76 – that must be good! Everyone’s commenting on the slimmer DIH. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a haggard DIH 🙂

Learning points …

  1. When the emotional wave hits you, just ride the wave. Don’t fight it, welcome it. It’s an essential part of the recovery. For some they will have separate occasions, for me – with my denial before and through the operation – it was rather more an explosion and The Scream is a good way of describing how I felt.
  2. Family and friends are essential parts of your recovery. You need them (sometimes in just quantities, mind) and they force you to retell your experiences which is of course also a “good thing”. I’ve got to the point now when I’m getting closer to be able to do some things for myself, but family and friends “have to be there”. I can’t do it without them!
  3. Routine is important. I’ve got myself into a good routine so that the drugs get taken at the right time; the walks are taken when they will be beneficial and not be too tiring; and the meals are regular and generally earlier than we used to eat before. I must admit to not being as good as I should be with the shoulder exercises however, although I am exercising my leg regularly.

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