Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at www.PDPlan4Life.com) Copyright 2013-16 Sheryl Jedlinski
By Sheryl Jedlinski
It has been just a week since I came home from the hospital following major abdominal surgery, yet it feels like a lifetime. Nothing looks the same, feels the same, or tastes the same, and probably never will. The world around me has not changed, but I have. Experiencing the frailty of human life up close and personal will do this to a person.
My eight-hour surgery was much more extensive than anticipated. The good news is that my surgeon debulked 90 percent of my cancer, leaving only a coating behind to be consumed by upcoming chemo treatments. I remember very little except for three days of horribly frightening hallucinations that played into my every phobia. This post-operative anesthesia delirium is a common surgical complication in older adults, yet was totally unprepared for it.
Several days passed before I had the courage to look at my incision — a long line of staples stretching from a few inches under my bust to just above the pubic bone. My low hanging flesh revealed that my surgeon had nixed my request for a tummy tuck. At the very least, I expected to come home weighing a good 15 pounds less than when I went into surgery. Instead, my bathroom scale showed me eight pounds heavier. How could this be after my surgeon removed all of my internal female parts, plus a laundry list of things we have yet to discuss? These parts had to have weighed something. Indeed they did, but I was also retaining water, like the Hoover Dam.
With surgery now behind me, and my rehab ahead of schedule, I am mentally preparing for my next hurdle –- 18 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy. I struggle to remain grounded in the present, allowing myself to look ahead only one day at a time; anything more is too much to bear. Will I ever feel ‘normal’ again, or will I develop a new ‘normal?’ Will there ever be a day when I don’t look over my shoulder and worry whether or not the cancer has come back? Probably not, but I know that the passage of time will at least soften my fears, as has been the case with my Parkinson’s disease. Dressed in my Superwoman cape, powered by the many who are the ‘wind beneath my wings,’ I will beat the odds and achieve long term remission.