Monday was a whole different story. It was the third day post-op and from the moment I woke in the morning I felt brighter and able to cope with reality once more. Was it the visit from friends the afternoon before? I don’t know. Was it the fact that by day three the anaesthetic had worked itself out of my system? I don’t know. But the desire came back to eat, to read a book, to talk to people. I could interact at a different level with the nurses. I was able to shower by myself with only a nurse on standby. I was able to walk assisted down the corridor. I felt like the old me was starting to return again. It truly was a complete reversal from feeling heavy to feeling light overnight.
It was a day of rest. My parents skyped that evening. Four days had passed since the initial skype conversation on that ‘in between’ day. Mum and dad had also started to emerge from the shock of the past week and asked whether I wanted them to return to Australia. I explained our plan. Once discharged from hospital, not knowing yet when that will be, I will stay with my brother’s family for the recovery time. Mum and dad trust my brother and after being reassured, they made their peace with staying in the UK. But they had another observation. And one that disturbed me. They noted that I was looking more relaxed than what they have seen me for years, since before I moved to Adelaide. I realised that they were right. For the first time in four and a half years, I didn’t have the weight of my job. I was strangely at peace. After the trauma of the past 48 hours, it was a surprising realisation indeed.
But what was troubling me more was the disparity between what people expected my reaction to be to this whole saga and the reality. Those who have been distant friends for the past four years replied by email and on facebook with words such as, ‘I’m really sorry. This must be extremely stressful for you’. And they are right, it should have been! While I replied with a deflecting comment, what was really going on in my mind was the thought that this had been less stressful relative to the last four years. There have been events over the past four years that have nearly broken me. Events completely out of my control. I couldn’t do anything in some circumstances, I had to sit and watch from a distance, helpless. The loss of function in my right leg, the surgery, and the prognosis, would normally be incredibly stressful, but the truth is that this is one of the less stressful major changes within the past four years. The surgery could address the problem and there are steps that I can take to recover function in my right leg. There is a lot out of my control – absolutely. I don’t know how much the nerves will recover and I don’t know the time frame. But whatever happens next can be managed. There are ways forward. There were situations over the past four years that I could not manage and just had to trust that God had all in his control when the world looked so out of control from my perspective. And in the midst of realising that for the first time in years I was not experiencing high stress levels, I knew that I could not return to the level of stress I had been living with and living with for far too long. It wasn’t just the nerves in my lumbar spine that needed to be decompressed; my entire life needed to be decompressed. Life had changed dramatically in less than a week; life needed to change. I understood, and I mean that I really understood for the first time in years, that I need to pursue a healthier pattern of life where I was actually living, not just being alive.