Anchors: They Weigh

 “Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you “ Erykah Badu, Bag Lady
“Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor.” Sandra Cisneros
The Ancient Mariner and the Albatross around his neck
I have been wearing a wound-vac since Tuesday, April 29thor for 25 days.  In those 25 days, I have learned how much I miss daily exercise, wearing any clothes I want, and showers that don’t require waterproof tape or plastic wrap.  M has named the wound-vac Mr. Backpack. Mr. Backpack is attached to me 24/7, whether I am sleeping, enjoying my weekday Sex and City marathons on E!, or going out to our now-once-a-week family dinner(he gets his own chair.) I even made up a silly Mr. Backpack song to the tune of “Mr. Sandman.” All was going well with the new member of the family until I visited my surgeon for the first time in two weeks.  Yesterday, my doctor decided to keep me on the Wound-Vac  for two to four more weeks.  I didn’t take the news well initially.  I cried, raged, and moped. I considered reading the Book of Job again. But today I have accepted the news.
A wound-vac or wound-vacuum is a machine that provides vacuum pressure on a wound within a sealed bandage. Think of it as a Space-Bag to prevent infection and promote healing. (For those of you who don’t know or remember the TV commercials, Space-Bags are gigantic Zip-locs for storing blankets, sweaters, and other bulky items  by vacuuming out the air and increasing your storage space.)
As I did throughout my illness, I did Internet research to learn about wound-vac, particularly about others’ personal experiences.  My experience has been positive overall.  Home health nurses visit me three times a week to change the dressings. Thanks to a prescribed painkiller, which takes effect in a quick twenty minutes, I don’t feel a thing(of course, then I’m really mellow but unable to drive for about three to four hours.) One of the key aspects of a dressing change is the measurements taken. The wound’s length, width, and depth indicate the rate of healing.  So centimeters matter.  My wound is healing.  I am understandably impatient.
I had built my life around keeping busy.  Being on the Wound-Vac has made me remember that life happens. While I can do my best to shape and structure my lifestyle, life itself will go on, often times with events and experiences beyond my control.  That is why the wound-vac has become my teacher in humility.  Take the news from the doctor. I wanted to return to work on schedule. I wanted to parade vac-free in Carnaval this weekend. I wanted to jump in the shower, be in there for ten to fifteen minutes (yes I realize we’re in a drought), and wash and condition my hair.  Maybe do a samba step in celebration.  Instead I’ll be devising some bling for my vac bag and waving from a parade float. I will continue live my life differently for a few more weeks with my three-pound friend on my shoulder.
Mr. Backpack, bring me a dream.


At the mercy of biology

I’ve never been more aware of my body. Even during a half-marathon or while dancing or enduring a typical illness or injury, I have not experienced it the way I am these days. Now I am hypersensitive to what is happening in my various senses, systems, and processes. Every breath, taste, sensation is pondered, analyzed, and richly experienced. Mindfulness has gone from being a therapeutic goal to a vivid reality.

Most of the time, I enjoy this heightened state. Endorphin inducing activities are that much more appreciated. Take my Beatles kick this week. The A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack has been getting repeated play. The boy band Beatles make me want to sing and dance and bask in invisible sunshine. I’m singing harmony in my car or at home. And just wait till I get back to my samba class.

The flip side is that I am experiencing bodily discomforts like never before. For the third night in a row, I am up with tummy aches and some less than glamorous symptoms. I am taking it in stride, capturing the moment the only way I know.

The alarm is due to ring in less than two hours. I may as well snuggle up to Blues and cherish the joy of a loved one’s snores and the tug of war with blankets. And give thanks for the miracle mess that is my body.

Reeking havoc

My sense of smell has never been my most acute sense. True, there are certain smells I love: baby powder, fresh laundry, just out of the shower clean skin, rain, minty breath, ocean, dog fur, fresh oranges, roses.
Now I am overwhelmed by smell. All around me, molecules surround me, invade my nose, set the world spinning in different circles.
Or maybe that’s my hormones.