The weeks following my first post-op visit started slowly, with me only able to move around within the apartment at first, then small trips to the grocery (downstairs in the same building) or pharmacy (one subway stop away). I was weak, and I didn’t have a lot of energy. The first time I went out, I was wiped out for the rest of the day and all of the next – I slept most of the time. Two weeks after surgery, I ventured out to meet a local friend and watch a movie – I had found a theater that had reclining seats! Sitting in the recliner worked beautifully for the movie, but I’d had to walk a few blocks to get to the theater, and was definitely feeling sore from that.
Three weeks after surgery, I was well enough to spend a few hours out with my brother and his wife, who stayed with me for a long weekend in the city. We had bagels and ice cream for a brunch , after which I excused myself to return to the apartment to sleep while they attended a performance of Wicked. By the evening, I was rested enough to go back out for a nice lasagna dinner. While dinner was very good, sitting proved to be difficult after a while. Even with a donut cushion, I could only go about 45 minutes before the pressure built enough to make me uncomfortable. In fact, I was unable to stand for more than a few minutes, either. Walking was better, I could walk for 10-15 minutes, but had to take it slow. The next day, I gave them instructions on where to get a nice breakfast while I remained in bed!
At four weeks, I was feeling well enough to take the subway to my follow-up appointment, and the doctor told me that I was healing nicely.
Note: getting into some medical stuff – if you skipped Part 3, you might want to skip the next paragraph
At my 4-week follow-up, the doctor removed all of the sutures on the outside of my body (at my request – they were getting quite irritating!) and indicated that my skin had regained about 40% of its full strength and resiliency, and that at 2 months, I’d be closer to 90% of that strength. He also asked if I’d begun sizing up on dilators (I had, but only one size), and told me that I could proceed with sizing up as quickly as I felt comfortable doing so. This was a surprise, as I’d understood that it would take a few months before I’d be cleared to go to the next size up, and that at 6 months, I might be asked to try the largest one. Another surprise at this visit was that the examination room had an endoscope, and the doctor asked if I’d mind him using it to look at the insides of my vagina. He made sure the screen was angled so that I could also see, and then showed me around the inside of my vagina! How cool is that?!
Now that I was past 4 weeks, I could begin to increase my activity level to try to regain some strength and stamina. I was (and am) still not allowed to lift heavy things, or participate in strenuous activities, so I pretty much was limited to walking. Thankfully, New York City is a walking city, so I began having more outings. I enjoy the performing arts, so I decided to pick up an inexpensive ticket for a show at the TKTS booth, and went to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway(!). The show was so good! I was seated next to a woman who, as I discovered at intermission, was friends with the mother of the new Evan Hansen (where else but NYC?), and we discussed shows that we’d each seen – what was good, what was closing, etc. She told me that Anastasia would be closing soon, so I added it to my list of “want to see before I leave”. I discovered that sitting in a theater seat was good for about 50 minutes, after which, getting up and moving around helped to relieve the discomfort, so with Intermission, I was able to enjoy the show without too much discomfort.
The next two weeks became a seesaw of activity – dinner with a friend (sleep for two days), see a show (sleep the whole next day), see another show (sleep another day), spend an afternoon at the Met with a friend (sleep late the next day), enjoy another long weekend with a friend from home (sleep late every day). As the days went on, I found that each day was an improvement over the previous, but these improvements were each small and incremental. I might be able to sit upright for 50 minutes one day, then 55 minutes the next, or, be able to stand comfortably for 10 minutes one, then 11 minutes the next. But progress is progress, and as long as my recovery keeps going in this direction, I’ll be back to most of my typical activities within a few months.
A few highlights of those two weeks:
- An amazing dinner with a local friend at a high-end restaurant
- Dear Evan Hansen
- The Prom
- An afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with another local friend
- Another great dinner with another local friend
- Avenue Q (with friends)
- Lunch with a friend at a Brooklyn diner where Bernie Sanders had dined literally 5 minutes before we arrived!
Whew! I packed a lot into the last two weeks, but surprisingly, it didn’t feel like I was doing too much, because I was mostly in the apartment until it was time to go to these activities, and once they were done, I returned to the apartment and rested again.
But my time had come for all of this to end. I was well enough to take the 2 1/2 hour flight back home, and I needed to return to more of my normal activities. 6 weeks after my surgery, I boarded my flight and bid the city…