The Healing Journey Part 2: Accepting the Beast
“Oh. My. God. WTF is hurting my head so bad”
Those were my first thoughts upon waking up, and what a rude awakening I had. My head was splitting in pain and spinning in different directions. I was cold as hell freezing over and my tummy felt like it was in all types of pain. Oh yea….it was probably the surgery, splitting my eye in half in order to heal it that is causing me all of this pain. No wonder I feel like newly found shit. My left eye was completely sealed tight. Gauze, bandages, extra tape, an entire metal seal, and even more tape surrounded this eye. There was no touching it, rubbing it, even pressing it to relieve pressure. The pain I felt in my left eye was the pain I was going to feel for a while, no getting around it. The only thing I could do was open my right eye and stare at the ceiling greeting me. Ahh the grim cool walls of a hospital ceiling, with a swift breeze to accompany the understanding of my surroundings. Cold and shivering with only a paper towel of a gown to comfort me. Partnered with a pain I’ve never experienced, and a journey I wasn’t prepared for. And yet, here I was, awake from surgery, and one eye-less. Welcome to recovery Jaleesa.
The First Steps.
After a few dazed moments of awakening I was pulled into post-surgery life. Time to get adjusted, get up, get dressed, and get to recovery. Only…my body wasn’t moving as fast as my mind and especially not as fast as my nurses, who were speedily moving to get me out of the recovery room. I was sluggish, sore, and accompanied by a splitting headache. I was sick to my stomach from the anesthesia ready to puke at any minute and also…cramping?!? Yeap…cramping. “I am definitely cramping” I remember thinking before even getting to my plastic hospital bag filled with my belongings. So, full prognosis; eye throbbing like never before, stomach aching, abdomen cramping, head spinning, nauseated feeling, aunt flo commencing and only seeing out of one eye. And to think…this was just the beginning.
The day of the surgery and the day after all I remember is throwing up and my love nursing me. Going to the store to buy crackers, ginger ale, Pedialyte, anything he could think of to soothe my sickness from the anesthesia. When I made it to my next day appointment, my eye was shocking for me to behold. I looked like I had been punched straight in the face by Mike Tyson. I looked similar to Martin on that episode when he got beat up in the boxing ring. I looked damn near battered.
“Your healing will take time. I don’t think you understand, you didn’t have an easy surgery”
Boy was my doctor right; I didn’t have an easy procedure and I definitely did not understand the gravity of my healing journey. Not at all. Even after the first day I still believed it could be a quick process. Still thought I’d be bouncing back within the next week. What I learned is attempting to control the healing process is futile; healing is like a river; you have to let it flow. Placing timelines and deadlines on your own healing will only lead to your own frustration. The timelines being set were completely my own, not my doctors, not my jobs, just me. And the timelines I was setting definitely weren’t getting reached.
The Tipping Point
“I can’t take this shit anymore”
It had been five days since the procedure, and I was two days away from my next appointment and I couldn’t take the pain my eye was giving me anymore. It felt like stabbing, pulling, and rubbing of my actual eye, with no eyelid protector. As if Freddy Kruger himself had gotten ahold of just my left eye and had done some serious damage. My head would ring and ache from the pain my eye was causing me and I was forced to do the only thing I could do. Lay down and try my best not to cry.
This was not how I thought recovery would be at all. I wasn’t expecting to be tossing and turning in pain days after my surgery. I was five days into recovery and had no idea when I’d actually recover. My ideations of post-surgery life; walking outside in the sun, sleeping whenever I wanted, binge watching my favorite shows, was not happening at all. Instead I was rocking back and forth by myself, unable to watch my shows, in what seemed like all of the pain.
When I made it to the doctor, she explained that the pain I was experiencing was due to the stitches inside of my eye. Yes, STITCHES INSIDE OF MY EYE. I would not wish that on anyone. I feel like stitches in the eye could be a special attack in a video game, it is not to be trifled with. The stitches in my eye started drying because I neglected to use my eye lubrication. I had misplaced it and figured it wasn’t that big of a deal. Turned out to be a huge deal as I was writhing in pain the first week after my surgery barely able to move.
“Remember, you didn’t have an easy procedure.”
The words were really starting to sink in. After this visit to my doctor I had to accept I was not in control. After this visit I had to accept that my procedure was more than just a mark on my to-do list. I had to accept that my healing would happen on its own time and not my own. There was no removing the stitches, I had to wait for them to dissolve, which took weeks. There was no speeding up the healing of the swelling or reducing the headaches so I could feel norm. Medication only did so much, and I wasn’t about to overindulge in pain medication. Nope. I simply just had to take my time and heal. No shortcuts and no getting around it.
It’s a humbling experience to relinquish control and allow what comes to come, and what goes to go.
After being thrown on my ass by my surgery the first week of recovery I decided to do what I was supposed to do, allow my body to heal and not rush the process. I began celebrating little victories instead of placing timelines on how I wanted to heal. Celebrating when I could finally open my eye, when the swelling had gone away, when the bruising healed, and most triumphantly when I graduated from eye patch to new glasses. I began resting when I needed to rest and being honest about how I was feeling. I still had a few hiccups here and there, trying things my body honestly wasn’t ready for, but I gracefully retreated where I needed to.
As of now, I am still healing but much stronger than I’ve ever been. I am driving again, going to work again, and can even work out again. It’s all slowly going back to normal, with just a few extra hurdles to cross, and small adjustments. Now that I’m nearing the end of this healing journey, looking back I’m grateful for the humbling pain, the unconditional love from my loved ones, and the lessons I’ve learned. I know that I will continue to grow because of this process and that growth has helped me become an all-around better me.
Lessons Learned from Healing
- The journey is filled with ups and downs, but completely worth living through.
- Growth is a beast before the beauty arrives. A perfect mixture of pain, triumph, and sunshine.
- There are certain things that are out of your control. Accept it and you will have less stress throughout the journey.
Going forward I plan to live boldly! I have had holes in my both my retinas, a retina tear, and a full retinal detachment in my left eye and I did not go blind! Writing this I want to jump for joy and thank my creator for his endless and wonderful mercy. To be on the cusp of blindness and walk away is a blessing I do not take lightly.
“Your vision was saved for a reason” My fellow Guru told me and oh how right she was. This vision of mine goes beyond what I see and process. It extends to what I can create and build. My vision includes what I’ve experienced, what I know, and what I can share. My vision is bold and here for a reason. Spared for a chance to thrive.
And I will thrive. I have healed, and I am always growing. My reach is endless, and my journey has just begun.
Today, if you are struggling know that there is an other side to your journey. A side where all of the tears and pain you have experienced show you just how strong you really are. Keep pushing and you’ll get there, eventually you’ll see…that anything your going through is just to show you how truly unbreakable you are.
Back to Me. Living with my healed detachment.