Tuesday, March 9, 2010

About blogging and Ben's recovery (about half way down)

One afternoon after Ben left the hospital, we watched "Julie and Julia" on the TV in our room. The RC offered a large selection of movies-on-demand and though it felt like a splurge (after all, we have Netflix dvds at home...in Sebastopol), it also appeared to be an enjoyable alternative to watching Curling on the Olympics. “Julie and Julia” seemed like a good fit for people who love to cook, eat, and talk about food as much as we do. I can remember watching Julia Child cooking shows with my mom on our black and white TV. Ben and I frequently watch the cooking channel together, too, critiquing the recipes or the chefs. Those are the moments he’s told me he wants to be a food critic when he grows up (and an architect and a chef and a photographer) and I point out that he needs to actually develop a more extensive palate than mac’n’cheese (the way Daddy makes it), or corn flakes, or cheeseburgers (preferably from In’n’Out), or chicken tikka masala. We often cook together, Ben and I. We’re currently working our way through a book of pasta sauce recipes, not exactly methodically, but at least with a “no recipe is too complex for us to whip up one hour before dinner” attitude.

We loved the movie. Pretty much everything about it was enjoyable: the story, the acting, the characterization, the glory of food, the sweet love stories of two solid marriages. But, the surprise for me was the part that focused on Julie’s blogging and how it became something so big and meaningful in her life, that led to something more. I’ve often thought of publishing my work, or should I say, trying to publish my work, but I will admit that I don’t have the core of iron needed to send my pieces out into the world only to be rejected. I don’t have the stomach for it. Blogging is a great alternative. You’re reading this, right? (And you and you and you and you and you…well, maybe that’s excessive.) How hard was it for me to put this blog up and share my writing with you? I’m an opportunist, a nice opportunist, but an opportunist none the less. Ben’s surgery gave me an opening, really, to get my blog up and a readership hanging on my every word. Sounds brutal, but it’s true.

The hard part about the blogging in my real life is that it is a major distraction. As you may have noticed, the time to write is more elusive in my real life, the life that includes three boys, two cats, two donkeys, two horses, one husband, homeschooling, a messy house, appointments, classes, friends, meetings, cooking meals, cleaning up meals, and doing the laundry. Did I forget anything? Most certainly. Suffice it to say, one thing I loved about being at the RC was that life was less complicated. And I had time to write. In my real life I’m not disciplined enough to wake up early, feed the animals outside, pour myself a cup of tea, and sit down to compose jaunty phrases before the kids all wake up and wonder who’s going to make them French toast or crepes. I’ve tried (all of those things, including the crepes) and it just falls apart. It’s the sitting down to compose. Actually, it’s the getting up from sitting down that gets in the way. “Just one more sentence…” I say. Now if I could blog in short bits, that would be better. Instead, the tea gets cold. The kids turn on the tv. The animals bray. And I try to squeeze out a new post. The rest of the day is shot to hell. (And don’t even ask me why don’t I try writing in the evening before I go to bed, just go talk to Mark, who’ll tell you he thought I did write before I go to bed, but really I’m only answering emails.)

A while ago Ben called to me from bed. (In case you’re wondering I did hit “save” and go to his side, but I might have written another sentence first. Or two. He didn’t sound too distressed.) His pain is up some this morning because we got cocky last night. We got off our schedule of pain meds because he was doing so well yesterday. We know that we can head it off at the pass if we keep ahead of it. If we lighten up or go without, the pain sneaks back up and he starts having muscle spasms (think Charlie horse in your back, side or all over your body). Last week I was surprised at how much pain he still had. For some reason I was under the impression it would ease up to Advil-only levels by the end of the week. If you’ve looked at his x-rays you’ve seen the huge change his body is adjusting to, and luckily my friend, Nurse Shawna, reminded me about how angry those muscles are. After all, we’ve made them move, stretch, and reconfigure. Their complaints take the form of spasms and they come out of the blue if we don’t keep him dosed up on pain meds.

Yesterday our friends the Kellys threw him a sweet surprise Welcome Home party with all of his buddies. He was completely surprised and enjoyed the attention, happy to see everyone and celebrate. Everyone was beaming at him, there was much laughing and tentative, but sincere hugs. Sawyer gave him a hat and scarf she'd knit just for him. (That drew an ear to ear smile from him, he's a bit partial to her.) Claire, Harry's girlfriend, came in and went straight to him with a heartfelt hug. I got my hugs too, my mom friends were waiting for me in the kitchen. It's so nice to be home again!

Ben took a break midway through and went into a room by himself to lay down, emotionally and physically overwhelmed. He clouded over, a bit like the sky outside which was going from blue to heavy rain clouds in an instant, feeling lousy that hanging with your friends requires too much of you, that even just having fun and playing video games is more than you can handle. Suddenly, the fact that he has metal in his body and set off the metal detectors at the airport made him feel different, not special. He’s still recovering, so very up and down, and we can’t push it. Remembering to monitor our speed as we move through this recovery period is challenging us. I suppose our normal speed is just way too fast for someone just out of surgery.

Well, I've dodged the bullet, but it's late already. I've been sitting here for two hours trying to get this done. I like writing too much. But the crepes are calling. (Note the eggs up top of this post.) And so are the donkeys.


susan said...

#1 - I LOVE this photo!!!

Other comments to follow.

susan said...

#1 - You are a writer and your blog is really interesting and well written and ... "pretty."

#2 - You are doing such a service and providing such an important perspective for families going through this type of surgery. Your comments about Ben having the metal inside him call to mind things Garrison Keillor said years ago about his heart surgery. Apparently when they exchange all your blood and put your circulatory system on a machine for the duration of surgery some integral part of YOU is lost. This is mystical material but what better place to be in for considering such things than the great state of CA.

Keep posting: It's a lovely and wonderful blog.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. It's great and is totally well written. Now if you could just make it into a movie you would be set.
Give everyone a hug and keep bloggin!