Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things I've learned In the Past 3 Weeks

3 weeks and 1 day ago I underwent major foot surgery.  I had a lovely genetic defect called Haglund's Deformity in my left foot.  Basically it means that I have a lot more heal bone than I should.  That,  combined with a tight Achilles tendon led to a pain filled disaster.  At some point the tendon started breaking bits of bone off the back of my heel.  Those bone fragments caused inflammation and pain in my tendon and led to it's demise.  When I went to see my foot surgeon the first time I really didn't think my problem was surgical.  I thought some stretching, some orthotics and I would be good to go.  Then I saw the x-rays.  Ugly.  The word surgery was one of the first out of his mouth.  We did try stretching and orthotics first but I just ended up in more pain. 

I committed to the surgery but every single day before it arrived I thought of chickening out.  I would be in a cast and non-weight bearing for 8 weeks, then months of painful walking and physical therapy and I was told I would feel better in about a year.  A year.  Daunting to say the least.  With two active little boys at home, a blind wife and trying to pull my weight in a house we share with my mother I was scared.  The scariest part of the whole thing was 8 weeks non-weight bearing.  How could I care for my family on crutches for 8 weeks?  Then, the more I learned about the surgical recovery the more scared I became.  Not only was I expected to be non-weight bearing I was expected to live in bed or on the couch getting up only to use the bathroom.  I was not to leave the house until, maybe, week 6.  What????? 

I'm a bit of a control freak and tend to do a lot, more than I should sometimes, so the thought of doing nothing was intimidating.  It was also exhilarating.  Suffering from depression I often put on my happy face and go about my day.  I had done that most of the summer while the boys were home and kept them pretty active.  I did it the weeks leading up to surgery as I scurried around to get as much done as I could.  I cleaned the house, changed summer wardrobes out for Winter ones, shopped for Winter gear for the boys, stocked the pantry, chaperoned a field trip while I still could, squeezed in appointments and basically tried to make it so my family would have less to do while I was unable to help.  By the time surgery was getting closer I was terrified but also a little excited.  I'm not going to lie, after being happy me (as happy as I could muster some days) for 5 months I was ready for a break.  An excuse to lay in bed all day?  An excuse to take mind numbing painkillers?  An excuse to watch all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights, AGAIN?  Delightful.  I've learned a lot in my last 3 weeks on the couch, more than I thought I would. 

It takes 3 weeks to watch all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights if you only watch during school hours.
Vicodin makes me nauseous but also makes me care about NOTHING.
My boys tire of my company quickly when the most I can offer is a cuddle on the couch.
People who are forced to take care of you become resentful quickly.
You become resentful of the people who are resentful.
Some friends actually DO show up to visit and others, well....I guess I know who the real friends are now.
People think lasagna has healing powers.
Some days laying on the couch watching TV and doing nothing else is amazing and feels great. 
Some days laying on the couch watching TV and doing nothing else makes me want to stab my eyes out.
People post some boring stuff on Facebook but when it's your only connection to the world you read every little bit.
When you try to do more than you are supposed to after surgery Karna slaps you one and you fall and make everything worse.
I have muscles I didn't know existed in my body.
Every inch of muscle in my body hurts from compensating.
There's a smell in my living room I can't pinpoint and I hate.
I've learned that my idea of clean and the way I have to live now are completely different and I have no say in the matter.
I've learned that showers are luxurious and really one of the only times I feel good.
Naps help pass the time and without them I am a cranky bitch by dinner.
Healing is a lot of work and even though I sit and do nothing all day I am exhausted, almost all the time.

Today is day 22 of recovery and on day 52 I will shed the cast and be allowed to bear weight as long as everything goes exactly according to plan.  I have another 30 days to sit here and I'm sure there is still a lot left for me to learn.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Changes On the Horizon

I've been a stay at home mom for 8 years and 4 months.  I remember the first few weeks staying home with Aiden.  I was so excited to do it but when it happened it was hard.  Having no one but an almost 1 year old to interact with all day was less than stimulating.  The big decisions were when to ditch the bottle for a sippy cup and to sleep train or not.  I remember taking him out to play in the hard in the hopes that someone would walk by and stop to chat for a few minutes because lordy, lordy I was lonely.  Eventually, I found a groove and we started going to story time, art groups, and play dates.  While I was thankful for the education and stimulation for Aiden I was more thankful for the adults I got to see and talk to.  There were other moms with spit up stains on their shirts and ponytails were the norm because none of us had a minute to call our own.  It made me feel a little more human every time, to see these women who were going through the same things.

I never believed those people who said that you lose yourself when you have children.  Heck no, I wasn't going to lose myself.  I was a strong, intelligent, educated woman and I wasn't going to lose any of that.  I could be a mom and still maintain my sense of self.  I would carve out "me time", go out with friends, perhaps pursue my masters degree.  Ha!  It's funny now to think how cocky I was because damn if I didn't lose sight of me within months.  Strong, intelligent, educated woman became a mom who's priorities were how to get stains out of baby clothes, making sure Aiden's needs were met 24/7 and cleaning my house because as a stay at home mom I felt that that was now my job.  "Me time" was a laughable 3 minute shower while Aiden destroyed the bathroom or 15 minutes of doing dishes without Aiden clinging to me if it was nap time.  I couldn't pursue my master's degree because with only one income we were poorer than poor and my dreams had to take a backseat to diapers and formula. 

I lost myself, my dreams, my ambition, my confidence.  Kids teach you over and over again that you aren't going to do it right.  You, as a parent, will almost always feel like you are doing it all wrong.  And that, combined with having nothing else I could call my own equaled a loss of me.  Every decision I made as a parent I questioned and I soon learned that if I vocalized my questions and concerns with other moms they would question my decisions too.  Moms have a way of tearing each other down and telling each other they are doing it wrong.  I don't know why moms get so competitive and nasty but if I thought Aiden should have a sippy before the age of 1 I had at least 3 moms tell me I should wait until after he turned 1 and that he should be able to be a baby as long as he wants. 

Here I am over 8 years later and I struggle.  I have to go back to work soon.  My youngest is in school full time and there's no reason for me to be home.  Part of me still wants to be so I can volunteer at school and in the community and be here when my kids need me but financially that isn't possible anymore.  Honestly, I am also wanting to stay home because I am scared and this is safe and what I know.  So, a few months ago I applied to be a substitute teacher in our school district.  The pay isn't great but it's really the only start I am comfortable with.  I used to think I was a great teacher and could handle anything but now?  Now I think I am great at cooking, baking, cleaning boo boo's, consoling hurt children, cleaning my home and keeping our home full of the things everyone needs.  I don't know if I am a good teacher anymore, I don't know if I can handle working every day and all the responsibilities I already have.  I don't know if I am enough to do it all.  I will find out next month when I start subbing.  I hope that I can surprise myself.

I know I am not the first mom to feel this way nor will I be the last.  I also know that I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think.  Winnie the Pooh taught me that.