Monday, August 13, 2007

A Beating Heart

Like a long-neglected lover, my heart responded eagerly to the attention I was finally giving it. It beat with a happy thump as I pushed up the trail through the thick August air to Moose Hill. Just 15 days ago I was lying, unconscious, on an operating table. A giant machine, like an inquisitive alien, was scoping, probing and snipping inside my body through five punctures in my abdomen. Only four days ago I was still carrying tubes and bags. The technology and surgical skill that would ultimately save my life was also changing me in ways I will fully understand only in time. I was returning to Moose Hill on a quest to begin to understand this new me.

My throbbing heart was part of the old me. Through my surgery and early recovery, my heart served me well, repaying me for years of cycling and running. Several times in the hospital when a nurse would stop by to take my vital signs, she would not trust the high-tech device that recorded my temperature, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and heart rate. She would take my wrist and read her analog watch the old fashioned way to verify that my resting heart rate was indeed as low as 48 beats per minute. I was happy with my heart even as other body parts let me down.

It was warm - in the high 80’s (F) – as I climbed Moose Hill last Saturday, but I don’t think it could have been too warm. I wanted to sweat and feel the blood flowing through every vein. I wanted my heart to bring life-giving oxygen to every cell and to wash away the poisons that made me feel weak. I wanted the warmth to penetrate to my very core and depths to bring life and healing.

Like those recovering from traumatic injury, I would have to learn new ways to do things I’d been doing quite well all my life, thank you. When in a good mood, this need for new discoveries could seem interesting, if challenging. When less upbeat, the doubt and uncertainly about my future could be depressing. In every mood, the preoccupation with my disease and the resulting surgery and their impact on the rest of my life put me in a strange state of mind. The things that used to hold my attention held little interest. I wasn’t listening to the radio or even music. The TV sat silent (One thing I hope I grow to like!). I couldn’t focus on the newspaper. Early efforts to get back to work, even if only for a couple of hours, were, at best, endured. I didn’t even want to think about blogging. The world was passing me by, and I didn’t care. I was beginning to wonder if the anesthesia had poisoned my brain.

This walk was about me. I needed to take a long hike to reassure myself that my past self was not completely erased and that I had hope for a happy and healthy future. After about four miles of brisk walking a good kind of fatigue began to set in. My heart and legs were telling me I had done the right thing but it was time for rest. As I began the final descent out of the woods my spirit bird the pee wee called, as if reminding me that he would be there and ready to teach me the deep secrets when I was ready, once again, to listen.

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At 8:07 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

Your soul is yours alone, it's still there. Godspeed in your recovery.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Lilly said...

Take your time. When I was recovering from surgery, the "professionals" expected me to recover more quickly than my body . . . any body . . . should be forced to recover. I needed time to get ahead of the pain, time to let go of the pain killers, time for my body to relax from the trauma and trust itself again.

You're doing great , walking four miles after only 15 days! I hope you give yourself plenty of rest as well, and a generous amount of cuddling and care.
Best wishes,

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Larry said...

GLad you made it through o.k.-and good to hear from you again!

At 8:47 AM, Blogger nina said...

Glad you're up and about!
Nature is a great healer--soak in it and be well.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger I_Wonder said...

Glad to hear you had a good day and you're on your way to renewed health. Best wishes!

At 6:22 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

Al-- I don't know how you ended up on an operating table, but I am so glad to read that you are up and out and about. Yes, our hearts respond to the care we give them, both the physical and emotional exercises. I send wishes for your continuing recovery and good health, my friend.


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