Friday, August 14, 2009

Road to recovery

I’ve been cleared to return to work Monday. If I feel then like I do today, it will be an especially painful experience.

Yesterday I had my second follow-up appointment with Dr. P. This week’s medical student showed me into a room and told me to undress from the waist down, which I had not done the previous week. I also noticed that this examination table, unlike last week’s, had stirrups at the ready. Not the dreaded stirrups . . .

The medical student asked a series of specific questions that made me want to interrupt to say simply, “All systems functioning normally, Captain!”

Except one—I told her I seemed to have developed a painful external yeast infection as a result of the antibiotics. And that question wasn’t even on her list.

She mentioned “vitals” and then went to get Dr. P., who proclaimed my incisions 100 percent better than they were last week, explaining why to the resident, who had not seen them before.

The medical student, mistaking herself for my mother, said encouragingly, “Tell Dr. P. what you told me. adding that it was better if she heard about it directly from me.

I described the yeast infection and its effects, which felt strictly external to me, and asked her about oral medication (which I’d already researched). As we were talking about it, her eyes fell on the stirrups, and she suggested we take advantage of them for a closer look.

Okay. Anything to get a prescription for the magic pill.

After “scooching” further down the table several times, never easy but especially not after surgery, I found myself trying to look between my legs at the peering faces as the resident explained the lay of my land to the medical student. “What do you mean by ‘no lesions’?” I wanted to say. “It feels likes there are plenty of lesions!” But I didn’t have to say anything. When Dr. P. decided to use her finger(s), both of them probably got a slight adrenalin rush when I jumped and screamed.

Yes, it hurt that much.

They left, undoubtedly wondering what was wrong with me. While I was dressing behind the curtain, a perky nurse came in to take my vitals. “Is your blood pressure normally good?” she asked with some surprise, telling me it was 112/66. Everything was “perfect.”

When Dr. P. and her shadow returned, I asked her to complete the short-term disability form and write a return-to-work note. “What is it you do again?” she asked. “I write,” I said. She looked a little blank at that, so I added, “I sit around all day.” That must have decided her, because I can sit at work as well as at home, and do something for which I will be paid. I’ll have used three of the four to six weeks the surgery entitles me to, which, given how I feel and what I do (no lifting), seems an appropriate amount of time.

Returning last week, as I had wanted to, would have been premature, I realize, but now I am probably ready. I may tire easily, but I will have to remember not to push myself, and not to allow myself to be pushed. This weekend I’ll make a list of those things that must be done ASAP and focus on them on Monday. Of course, I’m sure that more will have been dreamt up in my absence.

On this, my last day of leave, I woke up in some pain and not feeling well, and spent most of the day sleeping or trying to. One step forward, three back.


  1. “Scooching” along the road to recovery is preferable to “scooching” along the highway of life. At least there are no stirrups at rest stops! The point is: “This too,” like the pain, “shall pass.”


  2. I have to remember that three weeks ago at this time I was in the hospital, a stay that felt like it was never going to end. And here I am, already returning to work!