Posts Tagged ‘surgery’

Into the swim of things

January 30, 2022

I got back in the pool today!

First time since my surgery.

Second time since my prior surgery.

Yeah.

It’s been a minute.

I was thinking to myself, as I checked into the facility, that had I known how many times I would be out due to surgery, I wouldn’t have bought the year pass.

Sigh.

Oh well.

When I look back over the year, I got the membership last year at the end of January, so basically a year ago, I did have a good run to begin with.

Then I got hit with the appendicitis a few weeks into the membership in February.

That knocked me out for a while.

I got back into the pool about three, four weeks after the surgery.

Then I had the brachioplasty at the end of July and well, frankly, that one still hurts.

Not as bad, no not as bad at all.

But my arms were so damn tender and achy, for quite some time after. I literally could not lift my hands over my head for months, that I didn’t get back into the pool until months and months after that procedure.

And when I did, I barely managed 400 yards.

Half of that was kicking while holding a kickboard.

Then I was back getting surgery at the end of October.

That one little time I swam 400 yards was it for me.

Partially as I really wanted to stay COVID safe and so stopped prior to the next surgery.

But mostly because I was defending my PhD dissertation on October 15th and I had to bust ass on getting my stuff complete and preparing for the defense.

Then I had to get ready for the next surgery.

That surgery was done on October 26th.

Which seems like it was so long ago, but in reality, was just three months ago now.

I have been impatient at times with myself and wanted the recovery to go faster.

I am used to being strong and connected and embodied and not being able to move fast, well fuck, I could barely hobble around for weeks, it took a lot out of me. So much. Hell, I couldn’t even stand up straight for weeks.

And because it’s been a slow recovery I haven’t addressed a lot of things that I would like to have dealt with by now.

Like.

I still have things stacked up in my kitchen–boxes of research and my Christmas tree–that I have not put into storage yet because I can’t quite lift heavy things yet.

But.

I will soon.

I can feel it.

And despite being cleared for exercise a few weeks back, I just didn’t feel that comfortable with the idea of getting back into the pool.

Sometimes just taking a shower can zap the energy right out of me.

But something whispered to me last night, “go swim tomorrow,” and I did!

I got my swim bag out of the closet and loaded up my toiletry bag with all the things and checked to make sure I still had a working swim cap and goggles and I got my flip flops and queued everything up to walk out the door in the morning.

I didn’t even sleep in!

I can on Saturdays, but I didn’t.

I was up at 7:30a.m., without an alarm! I made my bed, did my routine, pulled on swim suit, put my binder over the top of it, and put on sweats.

I was out the door by 8a.m. and in the pool literally twenty minutes later.

And it hurt.

I won’t lie.

And.

It felt so damn good.

I mean.

I am tired now.

Like exhausted, swimming makes me really tired.

But it was also so lovely to be back in the water.

I thought that I was not going to be able to do much, the pain was pretty quick, but I was like, just swim a length and do a flip turn and if the flip turn fucks you up too much, get out.

I was pretty proud of myself for just getting in the damn pool in the first place.

And!

The flip turn did not fuck me up.

I was able to do it.

Yeah, again, there was some pain, but tolerable.

I knew I wasn’t going to push myself, but my arms felt pretty damn good and I felt like I could keep going so I did a bit more.

Not a crazy amount.

I mean, I swam 600 yards, that was it.

But it was luscious.

The water felt so good and I was happy to be back in my happy place.

I am not a super talented swimmer, but I am a decent swimmer, and just moving through the water with ease, albeit it slow ease, felt so damn good.

So I told myself, “good job kiddo,” and got out of the lane after my 600 yards and hit the showers.

I was happy to take it slow in the shower and slow getting dressed and just go gently.

Like really gently.

My body is still healing.

And.

It will continue to change for a bit yet, full recovery is estimated at 8-12 months.

I’m at 3 months.

I’ve still got a ways to go.

But, I’ll be back in the pool soon.

Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.

But that will be it for a few days.

Prior to all my surgeries I was swimming four to five days a week.

I’m going to start out with two days and see how it goes.

Soft and gentle.

Easy does it.

And it was nice to also be at the club, as it’s close to the Ferry Building, which had a farmer’s market today.

I bought myself some flowers and some late, I mean way late, end of season persimmons, and had a nice walk through the market, noticing all the things that are changing and the early signs of spring foods–radishes and lettuces and budding pussy willow branches.

I love a farmer’s market.

I came home afterward, had a lovely breakfast, with some of those persimmons, drank my latte and did a ton of writing.

I went grocery shopping.

I went to Dolores Park and hit up a friends birthday party.

And I walked 12,000+ steps today.

I am done in.

Like I said.

I wasn’t going to even write this blog, but something compelled me to.

Whatever it was, I have to say, it’s nice to be back here again too, doing the writing, dumping out the days’ contents onto the page and letting it go off into the ether.

My arms are sore.

Both from the swimming and from the writing.

But it is a good sore, a welcome sore, and let me tell you, I will be sleeping like a baby tonight.

Swimming through the stars, sliding through the water of the night into the morning.

When I will wake up and do it all over again.

Sweet dreams.

My friends.

Sweet dreams.

New York State of Mind

November 7, 2021

It’s interesting what a little down time and sitting in my bed for, what now, twelve days?

What it will do to your mind.

I’ve been bed bound recovering from a surgery.

Third surgery this year.

Kind of crazy.

I have not had any surgeries in sobriety until this year.

I am no longer afraid of the pain pills or of becoming addicted to that shit.

I do not like them.

No.

I do not.

Ugh.

Gross, wonky thoughts, horrible nightmares, weird mind meanderings, drugged sleep.

Not for me.

When I was out there using and drinking and smoking and fucking around I liked the up all night kind of drugs.

Cocaine was my spirit animal.

This girl liked to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time.

I didn’t like the slow track.

Never have.

Likely never will.

I have a good girl friend who tells me I drive like her step mother.

Now in some vernacular circles that might come across as an insult, not in this case.

Her stepmother was a rally race car driver.

What my friend doesn’t know is that I slow down when I have folks in the car with me.

heh.

Anyway.

I will also add that pain killers, they do work you know.

I have found myself asking for them.

But only right after the surgery.

The first surgery this year happened in early February.

Burst appendix.

Well, it wasn’t burst until I was actually in the ER.

Then it burst.

Guess that’s a lucky place to be if you’re appendix is going to pop, might as well be where it will be taken care of.

I eschewed the pain meds, I said, no thanks, I’m sober, don’t want any, no way, no how.

Except.

Well fuck.

It was surgery.

And coming out of it was excruciating.

Apparently when I came out I still said no to the pain meds on offer, I have no memory of this.

However, after about twenty minutes or so, maybe more, maybe less, it’s hazy, I couldn’t take it.

The nurse who was typing up a note looked at me and said, “honey, you’re dying, let me give you something.”

Tear leaked down my face and I nodded yes.

Oh sweet God.

Was the relief immediate and welcome.

That was the only time I took anything.

I refused the rest.

But after having gone through that experience I realized I could handle surgery.

And not relapse.

Thank fucking God.

I also realized I was tired of my belly.

The loose skin from the weight loss.

Weight loss I’ve sustained for years and years and years now, twelve I think.

I was too old when I lost the weight for my skin to bounce back.

It just sagged.

I have always been self-conscious about it and it was disarming to lose all that weight and then be left with a body I still had to come to terms with.

I think that’s why a lot of folks actually gain the weight back.

The skin is depressing.

I did a lot of work.

I did a lot of praying.

I did a lot of acceptance.

And I had beautiful body experiences.

I have dated men who were stunning.

My ex for sure.

Gorgeous and hyper fit.

And I still felt self-conscious.

Not as much as I used to.

But it would happen.

No matter how many, “thank you God for this beautiful body” prayers I said, I still felt something.

Sometimes is was dismay, like if I hadn’t been messed with as a kid would I have drown myself in a sea of sugar to cope with the feelings that wouldn’t ever leave me.

Add weight to protect myself from the world, from the predatory gaze of men in my family or on the street on in school.

Would I have been just a normal size kid?

A beautiful body to match my beautiful face.

I used to wish that I could just cut off my head and put it on another body.

And yeah.

The work has worked and the acceptance has worked and I’m hella grateful for this body that I have been given to walk around in and ultimately, that it saved me, it took the brunt of the mental and emotional pain I was in and held it for me.

Thanks body.

And.

I also wanted something more.

Something transformative.

Like all my tattoos.

A new story for this body.

A new experience.

The appendectomy and the healing that happened and the focus on that part of my body pushed me to inquire about skin reduction surgery.

I have talked about it for years with my therapist.

I have dreamt about it, if I win the lotto type dreams.

So.

I talked to my GP.

And she agreed.

And she referred me to a plastic surgeon at Kaiser.

And I stood naked in front of a mirror and took 365 degree photos of my body and the sagging skin on my stomach and upper arms and sent a stranger photos.

My first naked selfies.

Probably my last.

And I met with the surgeon and he asked me why I wanted the surgery and I told him my reasons and I told him about all the work I have done and how long I’ve been abstinent and how much I wanted to do it, with tears on my face.

And he said.

“You’re the perfect candidate for this surgery, you really are, you deserve to have this surgery done.”

And he said.

“But your insurance won’t cover it, Kaiser won’t cover a dime of it, believe me, I have fought for this for many a patient.”

He asked me one other question, “does the skin on your belly prevent you from walking?”

Um, no.

And he said unless it was so much skin that it prevented my mobility my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

And he ended with, but I still think you should do it and I’m going to refer you some numbers of colleagues in the Bay, as Kaiser in San Francisco is not doing any cosmetic surgery at the moment due to the pandemic.

I took naked selfies for no good reason.

Ugh.

And for all the right reasons.

I called all the numbers and I got no after no because pandemic, because booked up, because on vacation, blah, blah, blah.

So.

I decided to go out of pocket.

I found my own surgeon.

Dr. Kenneth Bermudez.

And he is special.

He is fabulous.

He was amazing to meet and he’s been a dream to work with.

He was not cheap.

I blew all my savings.

I’ve been saving to buy a house.

But instead I decided to remodel the one I live in.

I also used student loans.

I ain’t gonna lie.

I figure I’ve become a great therapist, I have a full client load, I have a lovely business that I have built and worked on and put my heart into creating.

I can afford it.

I will make the money back.

So we set a date, July 16th, to do a brachioplasty, belt lipectomy, and butt lift.

There were some complications which meant that I had to derail the surgery a bit, turns out I was anemic and the surgeon wouldn’t due the full surgery.

But we compromised.

He did the brachioplasty.

And I’ve been recovering from that, pretty well, too I think.

It’s been rather extraordinary to not have the wings of skin hanging off my upper arms.

My arms are still healing and it was painful to go through the process, but man, it was worth it.

After a month and a half of healing I got an iron transfusion to accompany the plethora of iron supplements I had started taking in July.

And my surgeon set my date for the belt lipectomy for October 26th.

hahahahahahahaha.

Right after my PhD dissertation defense.

Can I just say that whole thing was stressful as fuck.

I successfully defended.

I am a doctor.

Huzzah!

And I pretty much turned right around and started getting myself prepped for the belt lipectomy.

Big ass surgery.

And in hindsight I am grateful that there were complications with the first surgery, I don’t think I could have dealt with both my trunk and my arms being inoperable.

It would have been too much.

So I went in 12 days ago and got it done.

He removed 7lbs.

7lbs!!

Of loose skin and tissue.

Fucking amazing.

I’m still too swollen to see much of a change, but I am excited for getting healed up enough to see the difference.

And wear clothes and buy new clothes.

And walk outside of my house.

I’ve been pretty bed bound for the last twelve days.

But.

I am happy to say.

That once again, I got off the pain meds really quick.

I was on Percocet, which is basically Oxycodone.

I hated it.

I mean.

In the beginning I took it without thought because I was in so much pain.

And I slept a lot, a lot, a lot.

But after my six day post-op follow up appointment I felt ready to titrate off the shit.

I went one more full day on the meds, going longer in between taking the pills.

And I had a plan to wean down and cut the pills in half and be off of them by this past Friday.

But.

Ack.

I remember one night, Tuesday it was, one week after the surgery, where I realized that I didn’t need them and that I didn’t want to continue taking them and I was afraid I would become bodily addicted.

So I stopped cold turkey.

And yeah, it wasn’t fabulous, the first night, Wednesday, was hard to sleep and I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching videos, but I got it out of my system and I haven’t had anything since this past Tuesday.

Four and a half days now.

Just Extra Strength Tylenol, lots of bubbly water, and videos.

Movies, series, cooking shows.

And for some reason.

An awful lot of what I have watched has been set in New York.

I have always wanted to live in New York.

And in some ways I sense it’s a good thing I didn’t when I was till actively drinking.

I think New York might have been the death of me, San Francisco nearly was.

So I never made it there.

I never moved there.

But I have thought of it often.

A brown stone in Brooklyn.

A therapy practice.

Seasons.

Granted.

I know winter there is not the bucolic cinematic scene that I watch cozied up with my fuzzy blankent.

Winters are brutal.

But spring, summer, fall.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

I am nostalgic for a place I have never lived in, though I have visited three times.

And I fit in.

I fit in quite well.

I love the characters, and the character of the city.

I also know it can grind a person down and I know a lot of folks that have moved away.

But there is something about it.

Even now, on the cusp of turning 49 I think about moving to New York.

Though I sense you have to be young to make it in New York and really get established.

I am too old.

I have my one bedroom rent control apartment in Hayes Valley and my office is a five minute walk away.

I have the fog and the cable cars and the trolleys, the ocean, the multitude of beautiful hills and vistas, the Victorians.

Sure.

Yeah.

There’s homelessness and rampant drug use and shit on the sidewalk and some guy in the neighborhood who walks around with a super huge sound system strapped to a rolling cart, but there is still beauty.

So much beauty.

And just like I fit in New York.

I fit in San Francisco.

I’m in year twenty of living here.

So.

I don’t think I’m moving to New York anytime soon.

But there is something there.

A life maybe, running parallel to the one I am in now.

That once in a while I can just see out of the corner of my eye.

So when I’m ready and fully healed up I think it might be time for another trip back.

Which might be a bit yet, I do have to heal and I am going to Hawaii in February for a conference.

Maybe in the summer.

A four day weekend.

A stay at some swank hotel or a cute Air BnB in Brooklyn.

Until then.

I’ll keep watching videos.

I’m still on bed rest.

But I’ll keep the dream alive.

New York, you’re so often on my mind.


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