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6 Months Inpatient: Picking Up the Pieces of My Life After J-Pouch Surgery

December 22

It’s one of those dates

We all have them; dates that we never forget because something significant happened on it. Anniversaries, birthdays, deaths…

December 22nd was the date that I was finally discharged from the hospital after being there for 6 months. Six months! I remember the day very well. You know how certain memories just stand out more vividly than others? This one is one of those. I can recall scents, the clothes that I was wearing, even thoughts that I had. I can put myself right back in her body. By her, I mean me, but I am no longer the person that I was back then. For some reason I don’t even feel connected to her because that whole time was so traumatic for me that I think I have somehow tried to block it out. The mind is a tricky thing in the way that it protects itself. 

Admitted in the Heat of July and Discharged in the Snow and Cold of December

I was so weak that packing up my hospital room was almost too much for me to do. I remember how big of a task it felt like at the time. Just typing that amazes me as I think back to how weak I was. That standing up and gathering the things in my room was such a difficult task. But I remember it, and it was.

It was the holiday season and I had Christmas decorations all over my hospital room along with gifts that some of the staff had given to me. After being there for so long many of them got to know me pretty well because they had been coming into my room for months to clean it, transport me to tests and procedures, or do whatever else they were there to do.

I had a daily routine of walking down to the gift shop once I had gained enough strength and weight to be mobile on my own. Once there I would buy a few mini Reese’s peanut butter cups. A woman who cleaned my hospital room brought me some as a Christmas present. Even though that might seem like a small gesture I appreciated it so much and it’s something I’ve not forgotten. Now it was time to leave. I remember the wheelchair ride to the front doors of the hospital where I was being picked up and how it was the first time that I had felt cold air in so long.

It was snowing, there were people out there, this was life. It was going on without me all this time while I had been in that building.

People had been shopping, they already purchased their Christmas gifts, they’ve been doing things and my life had been on pause since July. That felt strange. It felt strange that I had entered the hospital in early July when it was summer and I was leaving when it was snowing. How did this happen? How was this my life? How did six months go by? 

Scared of the Unknown

I hate this picture. I was so young but looked so old. Pale skin, 82 pounds, atrophied muscles, a lot of hair loss, and overgrown eyebrows.

What now? 

What do I do with all this medical debt? Will I go back to school and become a teacher? What if my body never starts working right? What if I am always in this much pain? 

The pain! I am so tired of the pain. Will there ever be a day in the future without pain? 

A few days later I celebrated Christmas with new surgery scars and size 00 jeans. I lost more weight because I didn’t have my IV nutrition keeping me hanging on and I was throwing up a lot of what I ate and my surgeon wasn’t quite sure why but speculated it was an issue of motility. 

The first couple months after being discharged were difficult. My weight was down to 82 pounds and my muscles had atrophied so I was unable to climb the stairs to my room. I set up a “room” in the Living Room and slept on the sofa bed until I regained strength. I slept and slept and slept like I had never slept before. My hair had become very thin and I always had people telling me how I had lost all my color. Yes, I know!  I tried so hard to go out with friends but would be in so much pain that I would have to leave or I would get sick and throw up while I was with them.

Somehow though, after about another month or two, things started turning around. I was able to eat more without throwing up and I grew strength back steadily. Once I was able to eat comfortably all I wanted to do was eat and it seemed like I couldn’t get enough food in. I gained the strength needed to climb stairs and take showers and get ready. Within 3 months I found a part time job and I still work there. 

I started a new life and I moved forward. In a way December 22nd is like a Birthday. To me it’s the day my new life began.

Sara

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