A trip to the local mall is a fairly routine occurrence for my family, and last week's visit proved no different. After landing a rare, perfect parking spot, my husband Bob and I strolled hand in hand the to the entrance.
Our first stop, a visit to the Men's section of one of the four department stores that anchor the mall. Bob, whose stocky frame has withered from a size "XXL" to a welcoming "Medium", needed a new wardrobe. I helped him pick out some designer duds, and gave him a reassuring thumbs up as he modeled shirt after shirt. However, by the time we stood at the sales desk to pay for his polos, I felt my body starting to give out. Indeed, the familiar exhaustion that has plagued my bones had begun to rear its ugly head.
Against my better judgement, I ignored the warning signs to stop and sit down, opting instead to go on a quest to dress for success by searching for professional business attire in the Misses section, a short distance away. While Bob found an uncomfortable bench to wait, I set my sights on the selection of the bright summer styles that beckoned from beyond the perfume, handbags, shoes, and lingerie.
Would I be able to reach my destination?
The answer? A resounding NO.
Bob's expression of surprise greeted me as I plopped onto the bench beside him.
"Why are you back so soon?" he asked. "I thought you were going to try on dresses."
"I got too tired," I responded, ashamed of my lack of energy. "Do you mind if we go home?'
"Of course not," he replied, his kind smile showering me with love as we strolled, hand in hand, out of the mall.
The reason for my frustrating fatigue? Major surgery to correct problems with my "plumbing", which involved a partial hysterectomy and pelvic floor prolapse repair.
What I have discovered since leaving the hospital a mere seven weeks ago is that nobody - not the doctor, not the nurses - nobody tells you what to expect.
Nobody tells you that your favorite jeans will gather dust in the far reaches of your closet, thanks to the swelling and bloating that make them impossible to put on.
Nobody tells you that you'll need clothes with extreme elasticity to avoid putting pressure on your tender tummy.
Nobody tells you that you'll need a nap every few hours, or that a trip to the mall may as well be a climb up Mt. Everest.
Nobody tells you that when you steal a quick glance in the mirror, a stranger with a strange body will be staring back.
Nobody tells you that as your body heals, you'll just feel, well....different.
Fortunately, a strong, steady presence in my life has kept self-pity at bay. My sweet, selfless, oh so wonderful Bob! Not a day has passed since my discharge that my husband doesn't tell me, assure me, and remind me that I am beautiful.
I must learn to believe him.
I must learn to accept who I am....a woman who has now entered the last phase of her 40's, armed with the unfortunate knowledge that a week's worth of dieting will no longer result in the loss of five pounds, as it did during her 20's. In fact, these days, a week's worth of dieting has the strange potential to add more weight, thanks to swelling and bloating.
So, while I wistfully stare of photos of a 25-year old me, I will no longer do so with the longing to look like I looked back then. I will heed the predictable, yet beneficial advice echoed by experts by the thousands - eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.
After all, I want to enjoy every moment with my sweet, caring husband, and give him the pleasure of telling me I'm beautiful every day, for 50 more birthdays to come!
|My wonderful husband Bob and me.|