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September 6, 1999



I made it.

A little bit like hitting a reset switch, or something. One moment, I'm lying in a bed and a nurse is finishing putting something into my IV, and the next I'm finding myself breathing through an oxygen mask with my eyes tightly closed and I want to keep it that way. Breathing is good. Good to just concentrate on breathing. I only get one sentence from the whole time I'm in the hospital after the good drugs and that one sentence is that the procedure went well, they cleaned up significant, internal problems and she restored full anatomically correct function.

Reset back to basics again. Breathing, then sleeping, then walking a little, getting into the car. A whole day of just sleeping and drinking liquids when I can and trying to keep food down, which doesn't work spectacularly, but John really, truly tries. I am only up long enough to watch Iron Chef at 8 p.m. while John makes a neat little casserole that I even suggested that he put a green chile in, which was really stupid on my part after the stricture against 'spicy foods'. Well, I paid for it, though John felt worse about it than I did, I think. There's a certain relief.

Saturday, I'm still mostly sleeping, but better enough to get up and read Bujold's A Civil Campaign. Everyone is right. Carl, Trip, Cera, Marith, arcangel, everyone that burbled happily about it. It's good. It's fun, it's solid and it made me laugh way too much. I was coughing from general anesthetic lung, and the nurse in the hospital said that coughing was good, but it hurts the stitches even as it cleared out my lungs. It all gives me much more perspective on just how much Miles must have gone through as a kid, and I could see why and how he could be so completely quiet about pain as well as regard as a barrier that could be broken. Sometimes it has to. Sometimes pain is just the price for doing what you need to do. Sometimes, though, the price does really hit back.

It was a good book.

Sunday I got a little stir crazy, so went out with John on his errands and spent most of the time sleeping in the car. He made a good breakfast and I ate it and kept it down much more easily. He then did some making of root beer for the party next week, and had me do some of the experimental tasting of the pop. It was really different with the malt sugar, and it's smoothed out and nice. Then he Made Me Chocolate Cake. This time it was the chocolate zucchini cake from Bon Appetite. He used only part of the Giant zucchini, but we had all the other ingredients for various reasons. It turned out absolutely fantastic.

Of course the rest of my digestive system woke up from the reset to disagree and argue that life was really awful. But I ignored it, ate plenty of cake, but then went on a quiet diet of rice porridge until that part of me quieted down.

I tottered about the yard in the evening, watering the little tiny grasslings, bit by bit, feeling frail and old and in only mild pain. I didn't bother with the painkillers at all, as there wasn't that much pain, just the little cuts from the entry bits. Bandaid and tape type stuff. My internals felt funny, but not painful, really, though occasionally the carbon dioxide gas that they'd filled my body cavity with to separate things would make my shoulders and joints ache deeply. It's escaping slowly.

Noticed a catalog from the mail sometime in there. Illuminations seems to be a candle store. I really loved the pictures in the catalog and it would be fun to get a few things. I have hundreds of tealights and votives and there's something secret in there that has to do with ritual and meditation, somewhere. Though, maybe that was just because I had to be still for so long, I finally remembered what stillness is.

Monday was a bit more ambitious, all around. I had mild stuff for breakfast, then tottered about watering things again, and John asked me to help with Borax, to make sure that the front tires were realigned correctly. He'd gotten a new tire bar and he'd done the whole assembly, put it all together and we did the final tests and measurements before we took Fezzik out for a walk at one of the Open Spaces. I'd remembered one down by Baseline road that opened up near a stream and I thought it would be a quick way to take Fezzik to the water. Fezzik had been pretty quiet all weekend, so I didn't expect him to get all alert and bouncy and when we got on the trail he went full-speed everywhere. I couldn't keep up, so John helped keep Fezzik in-line while I caught up, slowly.

There were a couple of sections with playing dogs where we could let Fezzik loose and he'd chase them and run around and around and around and he got tired faster, but not as tired as I thought he'd get. That was good. We even met another couple with a Newf who looked at Fezzik and marveled when we said that he was 11. She said that that gave her some hope for their 9-year-old. Fezzik, as we were watching, was scrambling up one side of the stream and plunging into the other, all the time trying to out-puppy a black lab into playing like crazy. Scrambling, running around and bouncing about and Fezzik was really happy. He trotted happily back to the truck, with intermediate plunges into the cool water and ended up flat on the floor of the truck on the way home and asking John to lift him out of the back when we got home as he was so sore.

While he was still slow and tired, we tackled him and washed him thoroughly. His birthday party is next week.

By dinner time I was waking up and PBS had a special on about hot dog stands in the U.S. and so I had a craving for hot dogs. We went to the Dacono grocery store, found Jamestown Beddar Cheddars and hot dog buns and cole slaw. When we got home, I threw a chopped onion into a pan on the outdoor gas stove, and then got some mosquito smoke stuff and let the onions slow cook while I set everything else up. By the time the onions were almost done, I put the wursts on to heat up on the grill and then toasted the buns. When the onions were good and caramelized, I poured some beer into the caramelized onions to plump them up a bit and give them a bit more taste. So we ended up with the cheese wursts on toasted buns with a pile of caramelized onions and some of the beer mustard we'd bought near the beginning of the summer and mounds of crisp, cold slaw. Yum.

So I cooked my first meal, after the surgery, and found it good. Simple, but good. Sleep was harder Sunday night and Monday night, but with the painkillers, it was findable. Which was very different than the the week or so after my knee surgery. I'm still mildly woozy and I don't know exactly how well I'll do at work tomorrow, but we'll see.

Oddly enough, it seems important to me to be frank here where I am nearly no where else. No one really wants to know the 'private things' here in the public space of existence. I'm just frail, tottering, recovering from 'something'. I think, here, I tell the absolute truth, not so much because anyone wants to hear it so much as to be true to myself. To have a public record, to be real somewhere that someone can check up on me if they want to. A place where anyone can know my inner heart if they only look and read and think, the place where I am not perfect, where I am human, flawed, real, doubtful and unknowing and uncertain.

I once thought that if anyone tried to blackmail me with anything here, I could just laugh and point out that it's entirely public, that my parents read it, my friends read it, my husband reads it and that folks at work, in our families, all have access to anything and everything here. That, at one point, seemed important to me, too; but I find that it really isn't for any of them that I need to be honest and singular and total here. It's for me, so that I know that my public face is the same as my inner.

There is this scene in Bujold's Mirror Dance where Mark has accidentally evesdrops on Cordelia and Vorkosigen and he marvels at the fact that what they say in private is the very same thing that they say in public. So this is what integrity looks like...

I know that there are a lot of folks that don't think of integrity that way, especially not in such a way that their life is posted, public, to the whole damned world. But for me, this seems a way to check and balance my actions, my thoughts, my reality against what I feel, think and write every day. Maybe it is that some of it is that I don't have that internal check and balance, that I need something external to myself to weigh against. I don't really know, but I do know that this does give me balance and gives me pause for thought when I do things to see if there is anything I would regret as publically as I might do.

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