Two-Thirds Home

Today marks two months since my ileostomy surgery, and one month until my reversal. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written, but life has been moving fast.

Being back at work has been wonderful. I wrote a note to the team a few weeks back about how I had expected to be tired, to need to work back into things very gradually, and to have generally less stamina — but then, how all of that faded quite suddenly as the work and connections with teammates re-energized me. I’ve still had to be careful not to overdo it, but it’s felt really incredible to be myself again. Work is a big part of life, and it’s tough to be your full self without it.

Not being able to pick up Addie has remained challenging, and frustrating — and probably most of all, inconvenient. But other than that, life is far better and far more normal than I ever imagined it would be during this stretch. It’s hard to believe I’m two-thirds of the way there. And while I can’t say I’ll miss my bag when it’s gone, I will admit that I’ve noticed some ways in which it has actually improved life — like not having to search for a bathroom in public, or on a car trip.

But I do miss veggies terribly. I guess that’s a good sign that my new veggie-forward, cancer-recurrence-preventative diet — temporarily on hold until I can digest normally again — is poised for success.

Being well past the halfway point has got me wondering how, in years and decades down the road, I’ll look back on this time. I think that largely it will be full of happy memories, of mostly joy-filled months that were so, so much better than the awful ones preceding them.

I’ll remember a surgery and recovery that sucked, but then a life with a bag (a “poo-poo bag” as Addie calls it) that actually wasn’t too bad or different. We’ve had family moments I’ve cherished every second of, from zoo-going to apple-picking to trick-or-treating. As the pain and discomfort have faded, the gratitude has skyrocketed, with a deepening appreciation for the many shades of luck I’ve been blessed with recently, from rotten in the early innings to truly phenomenal when the game was on the line. I wouldn’t say I’m any better at not letting little things — work problems, for example — stress me out unnecessarily, but I am better at quickly revising those first-draft reactions with a heavily gratitude-infused rewrite. Like, “Oh wait, I’m only reacting that way because I used to think these types of problems were life-altering. Carry on.”

How will I remember the fall of 2020? In a word, probably, “Wow.”

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