The first thing they recommend on the post-operation information sheet in the section titled “Treatment” is “normal life”. Just two words to suggest I make every effort to lead a normal life. I thought of this as I sat upright in my chair and prepared myself to engage slipping a sock onto the tip of my toes. My foot, normally a close relative of mine, stared back at me as if it were on the other side of a canyon. There was no way I was going to reach it without help or bursting all the sutures in my belly. I now what the doctor’s were getting at. I really did. They didn’t want us to act like a bunch of invalids (an unfortunate term originally used for soldiers wounded in battle…if that doesn’t give you an idea of military regard for human welfare, I don’t now what does), bedridden for days on end. They wanted us to get back up on our feet and moving as quickly as possible, that’s what. But I am sorry. I have to differ. Two days before I could put on sock without the slightest problem. That was “normal life” for me. There had been a marked change in my life since then, so I was in the need of a little more information.
And that was the problem time and time again. Well-meaning people forgetting to convey to you just the kind of information you needed the most, making life exceptionally complicated. You see, no matter how hard you try to return to normal living, when they have surgically intervened in your lower abdomen, just about everything you do seems to prove that your life is far from it. Standing up, lying in bed, rolling over; trying to pick something up off the floor, reaching for a glass in the cupboard, taking a shower. And what about going to the bathroom? There was nothing normal about the fear that overcame me when I had to confront that situation. After just 24 hours I realized that very little about my life was normal anymore, so I began to wonder just what the doctors meant by that.