Balanced Rock in the Chiricahua National Monument, AZ
I don’t like to admit that I am getting older. In fact, I pretty much like to deny that fact, and try to carry on as if I were still in my thirties. But, lately my body has been sending me major messages that it needs attention. I had an illness that slowed me down over the summertime, then, in October I got really sick with some unknown virus for over two weeks. Once I was over that then my knee gave out and I was on crutches for a week. This was not good, since I was hoping to accomplish so many things in the two weeks before December 22nd.
Yes, I said December 22nd, because, unlike almost everyone else, that is my deadline. On the morning of December 22nd I will be going in for a major female abdominal surgery. It will lay me up for 6 to 8 weeks. At first, I was really afraid of the surgery, but now I am afraid of the aftermath, because I will be restricted in my activities, especially lifting. That might seem like a small thing, but stop and think about how much lifting you do in your daily activities, and the lifting thing will apply for the rest of my life. Every day I lift laundry baskets and bird seed. I move furniture out of my way. I lift the corner of the mattress to make the bed. I lift bags and bags of groceries and carry them into the house. I lift my cats and snuggle them. I hope to pick up and cuddle my new granddaughter when I finally get to see her next year. When I go to visit my mom, I rake and shovel, and carry bags of bird seed for her. I help her garden and grab bags of soil. I lift plants for her. Earlier this year I carried her microwave up and down a full flight of stairs when it broke and we had to get a new one. While I will eventually be able to do some of these things again, I will not be able to do them all, and that frustrates and frightens me. I do not like to depend on others or have to ask for help.
There is also the sadness I feel over losing one of my internal organs. I am having a hysterectomy as part of this procedure, so they will remove my womb. I know that is an old-fashioned term, but I am an old-fashioned girl, and I like being a woman. I am the mom of four wonderful kids and having them has been the greatest joy in my life. I know that that part of me is all shriveled up and falling out, but it is still the place, the “nest,” if you will, where my little babies grew. I believe it deserves honor for providing that function. This may seen sentimental, but I wish I could say good-bye to it.
You may wonder why I would write about something so personal. Well, because writing is how I deal with things, and because being open and honest is who I am. I don’t know how to write in code or try to be evasive. When I write about birding and being restricted to the house, or why I cannot go out and fill my bird feeders over the next few weeks, I won’t have to dodge the issue. I know this blog is about birding, but it is also about me and my relationship to the birds and to nature. I want to be “in” nature and surrounded by it. I will not let this stop me, but it will slow me down for awhile. Eventually I will be able to walk and hike and go birding again, but the lifting restriction will last due to the need of a mesh sling to hold everything in place. I am told that I will always run the risk of pulling that out, and I do not want to have to have another surgery. Heck, I don’t even want this one! But, when I stop and think about it, I have to admit that I am so glad I live in a day and time when such things are possible. I cannot imagine just having to live like this for the rest of my life, which would have been the case if I lived a hundred years ago.
So, while Christmas and then New Year’s roll around, I will be home watching birds through the windows while my sweet husband fills bird feeders for me and cooks me dinner. The hardest thing will be keeping my two cats off my lap or even off my body, because they walk all over me when I am in bed. They seem to think I am their personal heating element!
In preparation for the winter and the surgery, we have moved some of my bird seed up from the basement and put it by the back door. This way it is easier to get at and I can carry it out in small portions if needed. One good thing is I hope to maybe, finally get caught up on offloading my photographs and writing blog posts about birding adventures I went on but never had time to write about! I still have never written about meeting and birding with Sandpiper Lin, or Gaelyn the park ranger. I still have photos of Life Birds I have seen and not offloaded or posted, including a California Condor! Moving around the country with my husband does allow me to see so many new places and new birds but every time we move things get put on hold and I have to start over again. Life happens and it is happening to me every day. I am still counting birds out my windows on Mere Point, as well as the parking lots of all the places I go to in town. You would not believe how many birds hang around parking lots, and I eBird them all! Nature has been my solace throughout my life, and Nature and the birds will get me through this once again.
December 20th update: Since writing this post I found out that my mother is going to have to have another round of chemo after her recent breast cancer surgery. It is only going to be four treatments and they will be spaced three weeks apart, but she will lose her hair again. She starts in January and I will not be able to go down and help her and she will not be able to come take care of me, and we are both frustrated by this fact.
My friend, Donna, took the photo at the top of this post. It is of a place I have never been to, but I found this and another photo she took of the Chiricahua National Monument so inspiring that it seemed to grab me and give me something to hold onto. I hope to go back to Arizona for a visit next year and if I do, I want to hike to this place and see this rock and this view. Until then, it will be a mental journey and a goal.