The operation
12. Entre la mañana y la noche

12. From morning to night

After the operation (Three days two nights), I was on leave for eight weeks. Eight weeks of continuous recovery, noticing the improvement from morning to night, from night to morning. It seemed incredible to me that the improvement was so noticeable in such a short space of time. It was as if biology was showing me directly that it was in favour of a change, in favour of this new opportunity which the operation gave me, in favour of a new life.

What I missed most coming home from the hospital was the adjustable bed, which allowed me to get up and lay down without engaging my core muscles. The bed at home is a normal one. Juanpe helped me to lay down, holding my hands and bearing my dead weight while letting me fall gradually. At first, this system worked really well for us. Then, I don’t why, but my body wouldn’t let me fall, it contracted, the pain was impossible to bear, and we had to find another way. Juanpe sat behind me, holding me from behind. I supported myself on him, and he reclined backwards as if he were the adjustable bed, until we were both laid down, one on top of the other, and then he exited sideways and finally I was left on the bed without any pain.

I feel very grateful for having been able to have company during my time-off. And especially for Juanpe being able to dedicate all his time to me during the first week. I think about all the women who, arriving home, don’t have anyone to help them, or those who even need to look after someone else. I think about how difficult the recovery process must be in a situation where your support is uncertain. I am very lucky in this sense, I feel that I have had and have everything that I need.

The first few days, despite taking painkillers, the pain was very persistent, like a background noise which increased in intensity with the smallest movement. I have realised how essential the core is for any movement that we make. Sitting, getting up, twisting, walking, raising your arms, holding weight, standing up, coughing, sneezing. Anything. I think that the worst times were when I was laughing. For some reason, during the whole time off, if pain was the underlying sensation in a physical sense, joy was the equivalent in an emotional sense. I was very happy. The operation had gone well and I felt like the hormonal “reset” was in motion. Juanpe was also very happy. They were lovely days, filled with lots of affection, and cracking jokes was very easy. It happened two or three times where I started to laugh and I couldn’t stop, and the pain in my whole abdomen was horrible and while I was laughing, I was crying. Eventually I gradually calmed down and everything stopped, the laughing and the crying.

Each day I could stand up a bit straighter, and I could manage stood up for a bit longer. I slept face up and used two pillows under my knees, simulating once again the adjustable bed. After three weeks I tried with one pillow. It was not until almost the end of the eight weeks that I tried sleeping without the pillows, with my legs and abdomen fully stretched out.

Feeling my belly stretch was strange, the whole area around the scar was numb and swollen, and the pain continued to feel electric and deep, intense. Internal pain like a burning open wound. Pain in the skin; irritation. I think before the operation I had never faced such direct and prolonged physical pain. I think I knew how to cope because I knew it was temporary, and that it would pass. And most of the time I tried to observe it instead of suffering it. One of my good friends has been in a lot of pain every day for around eleven years, Gugus. Her pain isn’t temporary. She is a friend who has also had several operations and she has tried sharing her experience with me to provide comfort, to help me not be scared, so that I didn’t have to experience this part of the journey with a lack of understanding. Perhaps one day we will share part of her story in this space. My friend has lots of courage and has had to dig deep many times.

One of the moments that impacted me most in this recovery period was uncovering the wound. In the hospital they put a waterproof dressing on me. One time, one of the nurses changed it for me because it was very stained with blood from the drainage, but I didn’t see anything while she was changing it and I came home without having seen the wound. I forgot to ask how long I would have to wait to be able to remove the dressing. So at first I showered with it and dried it carefully.

After a few days, and after connecting with the operation from the sensations and emotions within me, I felt that the moment of seeing the scar was approaching, of connecting with the operation from the outside too. I called the hospital for advice, and they told me that by now I could remove the dressing from the wound whenever I wanted, that with a few days having passed the wound would have already closed.

I took off the dressing on the eighth day of being at home, in the shower, with lots of soap and lots of kindness. Lots of care. Revealing the wound and seeing the stitches was important for me, I had considered my body to be relatively intact in a physical sense. The dressing peeled off easily, although I noticed that my skin was irritated from the glue while I was peeling it off carefully. I breathed deeply and calmly while I did it. I enjoyed the hot water and the soap bubbles. I stroked the bare wound with my hand. My swollen belly prevented me from seeing it, but it felt very smooth and very tense. I also felt the thread from some of the stitches.

I was moved and the thought of seeing the scar in front of the mirror awakened curiosity, joy, and apprehension within me, all at the same time. In a few minutes that moment would arrive.

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