One Year

Do any of you have those “a year ago today” apps?  I love them so much.  And mine’s been working overtime this week, recounting all the frenzied messages and posts leading up to my back surgery, which took place one year ago today.


My first Facebook post after waking up from my back surgery.

I feel like I need to write about it, in order to sift through all the feelings and thoughts, but then when I sit down to really think through it all I realize that I only have a hazy grasp on what happened during that time.  I remember pain, I remember anxiety, I remember euphoria (thank you, Vicodin!), I remember being tired, and, oh geez, I remember people helping me go to the bathroom.  Great memories; thank goodness they’re vague.

Mostly I remember feeling like a very small, very insignificant, and very disappointing version of myself.  And then I feel gratitude because lots of people stepped in to make up for my serious lack…and then they kept stepping along, while I just stayed in the background.

I’ve always been a bit of a show-off, which probably comes as no surprise given that I blog about the things I make:  “Hey!  You!  Look over here at the thing I made!  Look!  Look!  Right here!”  I’m a vocalist, which means I’m pretty comfortable standing in the spotlight, and I was a cheerleader, which means I’m also comfortable yelling at people and telling them what to do.  Need someone to take charge?  I’m your girl.

And then, with this back surgery, I wasn’t the girl to ask anymore.  People still asked, and I said yes a couple of times before I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to grit my teeth and fight back tears while wearing my Show Smile just so I could keep standing in front of the crowd.  So I said no a few times, and that’s all it takes to go from being a go-to girl to becoming a ghost.

Which is OK.  Sad, and frustrating, but honestly needed at this time.

I really dislike this version of me, the sideline version.  Watching other people do the things that I used to be asked to do…it’s frustrating, depressing, and makes me angry to be trapped in a body that just will not behave in accordance with the mental image I have of myself.  And then the broken foot which will. not. heal.  Seriously?

BUT…I am getting stronger.  I’ve had my eye on this anniversary for a few weeks now, and was feeling pretty bummed about it all, but then, last week, I realized that I went a full twenty-four hours without once feeling pain in my back.  That’s the first time that’s happened in fifteen months or so.

I just got rid of my walking cast (for the second time), and I’m going even slower this time with my recovery, and I went grocery shopping and my foot didn’t swell up afterwards.  There’s improvement everywhere–it’s just very slow and very small, and very easily destroyed if I try my usual routine of “pushing through.”

Patience.  So much patience.  Life is mercilessly teaching me patience.

I honestly do not know what to expect from this next year.  Will I be leaps and bounds better then than I am now?  Or am I going to kind of just stay at this level, no matter what I do?  It’s a sobering thought.  For now, though, I’m going to believe that there’s lots more improvement to be had, and I’m going to (patiently, and oh-so-slowly) work for it.

I mean, I’ve got the time now, what with being a ghost and all, right?

And it’s good that I was able to snag some ghost time–most days my physical therapy takes everything out of me and it’s a serious exercise in self-discipline to talk myself out of napping on the carpet in my workout clothes until the kids get home from school.  So, yay.  Life is benevolent, at the very least.

I think this next year will be rather ghostly as well.  Sigh.  Perhaps it’s time to…no.  Don’t push it, Cara.  Slow and steady.  I’ll be stronger next year.  We can think about increasing the opacity of my life then.

So, more “no,” more delegation, and more watching from the sidelines.  It’s not the worst thing in the world.  I can walk, I managed to get through it all without becoming addicted to narcotics, and I was mercifully blessed with some sweet crafting opportunities.  Life is fine.

Alright, Year Two…


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