I’m getting better.
I forget this, sometimes, because the day-to-day change is so subtle that I miss it. Then I get frustrated at the perceived lack of improvement, and I feel stagnant and pathetic. But when I’m smarter, I’ll take a step back and compare myself today with what I was able to do a week ago, and if that’s not a big enough contrast then I’ll look a month back… And there it is: the change I needed to see. The things I can do now that I couldn’t even conceive of two months ago, that I considered long-off goals one month ago, and that I was frustrated at the feeling of being so close but not quite there a week ago.
There was a certain hesitancy in me, a fear that sharing my accomplishments will come across as arrogant. I’m still predominantly sedentary, and so I’ve had the time to carefully think about that. And so I feel I can speak with some conviction when I say, Bullshit. Sharing my accomplishments is celebratory, and frankly if I was truly afraid of appearing arrogant I wouldn’t even have a blog. Blogging – posting the minutiae of your life with the expectation that other people will read and respond to it – is an inherently egotistical activity, and here I be.
Anyway, I am getting stronger. There are 18 steps between the street and my living room. For the first few weeks that I was home, I was effectively stranded inside, because those stairs were serious, scary effort. Just in the past week or so, I have started occasionally taking the stairs with feet alternating instead of always needed to plod up with both feet resting on each step, toddler-style. Which, OK, I still do, most of the time, but now I can alternate feet if I want to.
I’m also starting to bear a faint resemblance to my former physique. I’m already well below my pre-pregnancy weight; I’m quite astonished that the Coma Diet hasn’t already taken Hollywood’s celebrity circuit by storm. Spend a week unconscious, and a few more days in this vague, unpleasant, dreamlike in-between state, and those first ice chips taste like the nectar of the gods. You get one every 15-20 minutes, spoon-fed to you because you’re still restrained and too sedated to handle the complexities of operating such a dangerous piece of machinery as a plastic spoon, or just to scratch your own nose. Oh, my word, were they just amazing. I have eaten in four-star restaurants with less sensory response than what I had with those first slivers of ice. I actually conspired with a random physical therapist to smuggle me a contraband cup and spoon, with probably a tablespoon’s worth of ice, after the sedation decreased and the restraints were removed. Anyway, I’m back up to my normal eating patterns now – perhaps even overcorrecting a bit, but I can’t find it in me to care about that one tiny little bit – and the last time I checked I had lost about 50 pounds since the height of my pregnancy, placing me about 25 pounds below where I started. Perhaps, by writing about it here, I’ll be sparking a national trend: the pounds just melt right off!
Unfortunately, that number is completely meaningless, because my limbs are thin and essentially free of those pesky, healthy-looking muscles, and my abdomen is hugely swollen, not to mention wildly misshapen, due to the myriad of surgeries and procedures inflicted upon me. (Sorry, Hollywood… better stick to the other fad diets for now.) Since returning home, I have lived entirely in yoga pants and elastic-waisted skirts – and shirts, too, because walking around topless would just be a form of cruel and unusual punishment to any onlookers. Even though my two biggest, remaining wounds are covered in gauze, I still have enough scars and bumps and long-lasting bruises to create a tapestry that would make Frankenstein proud. Not pretty, and not easily crammed into regular-person clothes. But, on Friday, I had Willem dig out an old bag of clothes, from years ago when I was at my very heaviest, and I found some non-elastic-waist pants – including actual, normal-person, denim jeans! – that fit. They’re not exceedingly comfortable, but they’re not torturous, either, which is not a given, seeing as how my wounds sit precisely at waist height. Exciting stuff.
Last but not least, my latest accomplishment has been the development of a new habit. I’ve done it more nights than not, in the past week, so I feel like I can call it a habit, now, instead of looking at it as a momentary fling. My achievement? I’m taking walks after dinner. I take Isaac every time, and often one or the other of my bigger kids. I want to say I take the baby because I want the quiet time with my youngest child, but the real reason is that I can use his stroller as support. My walker is fine for very flat, level surfaces but the roads and sidewalks near my house are neither flat nor level… and going for a walk with an empty stroller just seems a little too creepy, somehow.
The first few times, I made it to the end of the block before running out of steam and turning back. I pushed a little more each time, and am getting to know my neighborhood better than I ever did back when I was a healthy, mobile sort of creature. Tonight, I walked a long loop through a park and the Salem State College campus, and I would guess I traveled 3/4 of a mile or so. Took me an hour and I’m still tired now – and I know I’ll be wicked sore in a day or two – but I’m also very proud of myself for doing it.
So, there you have it. Baby steps, with the occasional backslide, but overall there is clear improvement. I’m getting better.