Out and about

The last few days have been busy in the best kind of way.

soccer players at the center of the field at the end of the game On Sunday, we took the Little Guy to see a soccer game. We saw the KU women’s soccer team host the University of Nebraska-Omaha. My husband went to school at UNO and worked as both a student worker and professional sports information staffer with the soccer team. He had a chance to visit with the coaches and introduce them to the Little Guy. Then we went to dinner at our favorite pizza place (whole wheat crust and vegan cheese available and delicious!).

The Little Guy had as much fun playing in grass clippings as he did watching the game, although he did track the ball pretty well for a few minutes at a time.

The Little Guy dropping handfuls of grass clippings

I had one important physical revelation during the game. I can’t sit on the bleachers for more than 20 minutes. That means I’m going to have to either buy a stadium seat or bring my wheelchair cushion to football games this year. That’s going to be swell. Seriously, it’s more than a little embarrassing to lug that thing around. (I have to bring it with me to class every week because the desks are not meant to be sat in my anyone for 2.5 hours at a time, much less someone who is easily made sore from sitting unless I can hold perfect posture the entire time.) But, as one dear friend reminded me, it’s not a donut. “You just look smart,” she said. “It’s smart to be comfortable.” I’ll go with it.

Monday was the first day of classes as our university. Yippee! Truly, I love how excited everyone is at the beginning of the school year. The campus is beautiful, everyone feels like they’ve got a fresh start. It really is terrific!

But when we picked up the Little Guy from school he had a fever. I stayed home with him on Tuesday and he had a Daddy day today. We’re pretty sure the fever was caused by his new lower incisors, both which made their official appearance this week. He was out of it on Tuesday, but not physically ill. He liked being cuddled and he spent most of the day in my lap either napping or listening to me read board books. That was nice. But taking a day off in the middle of the week really throws you off. Ever notice that? I spent most of the day playing catch up from the day I missed and had to have a reality check at about 3 p.m. that it was Wednesday, rather than Tuesday. These are definitely “problems” that I didn’t have when I was too sore to care what day it was.

It’s crazy to think about that. And hard. It’s physically and mentally exhausting to make myself remember what it felt like, how I made it all work. And it makes me cry in gratitude of the fact that isn’t my reality anymore.

Today, I tested just how far I’ve come in a new and, thankfully, exhilarating way. I ran!

I talked with the wellness coordinator on campus last week, who is organizing a Couch to 5k program for faculty and staff with several participation levels. I explained what happened (briefly — as in “I’m nearly a year post-pelvic surgery and I want to get back to running. What do you think?”) She advised me to start with the beginner’s group, since I was told “activity as tolerated.” So, this morning, on the track around the football field, I ran for the first time since I was about 3 months pregnant.

For 10 seconds out of every minute for about 45 minutes, I ran. Next week it will increase a little. And, if all goes well, by the end of September I will run at least a majority of the Washburn Alumni Association Fun Run. How amazing is that? My husband and I walked that 5K when I was pregnant with the Little Guy. Last year I was in a wheelchair the day it happened and this year I’ve got my heart set on running.

I have promised myself, and my husband, that I won’t overdo it. I won’t push until it hurts. I will push until my body says that’s enough and that’s all. Today, until my muscles were loose, I felt some discomfort on the inside of my right leg near the groin. But once I was loose, everything felt great. GREAT! I almost bawled in front of strangers because I couldn’t really believe what was happening. Instead, I waited until I got into the car.

If I sat for more than 40 minutes in a row at work I got stiff, so I got up for short walks. But I should be doing that anyway. And tomorrow is yoga, so I’m looking forward to getting things loosened up there, too. I’ll need to warm up better before next week’s session. But I know I can do this. I know I can increase my strength and be the person I want to be physically. I just have to work for it. Just like I work for everything else I want in life.

I really feel like the fog around me is starting to lift. I told a co-worker that today. I told her I feel like I’m getting my happy back. She agreed. She said she was noticing that, too, and had missed the positive me. I’ve been missing the real, engaged me that thrived in my job. For so long I was in survival mode and now I finally feel like I can exhale, take it all in and understand things, make choices and prioritize rather than triage.

What an incredible feeling.

There are so many moms and families out there desperate for the fog to lift on their own situations. If you’re reading this by chance and you aren’t personally affected by DSP, please send good thoughts to them. If you’re one of those moms, or family members, please know it can be better. I doubt surgery is the best option in every case, but if you hurt you deserve answers and choices. If you’re not getting them, look for another doctor, get more information.

If you need an advocate, know that I will help in any way I can. I wish so much that we would have pushed for more information more quickly. I wish every single day that I would have gone to the ER, or let myself breakdown completely in front of the midwives or doctors who said it would just take time. I wish I wouldn’t have let them make me doubt myself. I was not a wimp. Neither are you. Please, learn from our experience and fight like hell for the answers you deserve. Don’t wait for something if you have another option

Jen, you are an inspiration to me. Keep asking your questions until you are comfortable with whatever decision you choose. It is your body. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve the answers you seek. Hang in there!

Sandra, I know every day feels like an eternity right now, but you can get through this and you will.

Heather, Sharon, Cristina, Karen, Jewel and all of the other DSP Mommas out there I haven’t met, keep on keeping on and know we’re all in your corner. We can advocate for, cheer for and hope for each other.
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't.

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