My family was awaiting my return. It was passed 1:30 in the afternoon when we arrived at our house. As Mariano unlocked the door, my mother and Lisa were right behind it. What a warm welcome it was, with my daughter running straight into my arms. With some caution, I knelt and hugged her. “God, I miss you.” How could I expect her to understand what was going on and why I had been away from her for so long? She hadn’t forgotten me… and I didn’t want to remind her of the reason for my absence.
Every thing needed to move in slow motion for a while. The delicateness of my torso was intimidating for all of us. They couldn’t feel the tenderness of my skin, but every one was consciously careful around me. They were happy to have me home, but I could see they avoided hugging me too hard.
Though my chest and belly were still numb, there was much sensitivity at the same time. Even today, when someone touches the area – including myself – it feels tender. Without any stomach or strength there, the feeling is almost inexplicable. Some think the sensitivity is gone, like my nephew or brother-in-law who play-fight sometimes. I can barely touch it, so the discomfort or pain with pushes and the like, are awful. The abdomen feels (and is) empty, like you can punch right through it.
“Wow, what’s all this?” There was a feast laid out on that metal table my parents had given us – until we could find a dining room set we liked. We hadn’t bought all our furniture yet for the new house. Aside from Isabella’s bedroom set that was new, we had many more rooms to fill now that we were out of that basement four-and-a-half-room apartment.
For the first time in my life, I felt threatened by all the food scattered across the table. There was no hunger or comfort in the thought of eating without some kind of professional to help me if something went wrong. Even prior to the operation, when esophageal pain was present, food was the enemy. It was frightening, wondering where it would all go now that I didn’t have a stomach or feel a physical need to eat.
My sister, Lisa, asked, “Do you want me to make you a plate?”
“Oh, no. I can’t have this… I only just started having solid food.” It did look really inviting for those who were waiting for it, but I wasn’t hungry at all.
I realized I would never be able to splurge again when it came to eating. It was a whole new world for me, like a baby receiving pablum for the first time. Unrecognizable, I had to question all that I knew about eating and myself, and try every thing as though it was the first time. This brought on fear that created an immediate defense to stay away until I was ready.
“But we waited for you, so we could have lunch together.”
“Go ahead. I’m not hungry.” If I was, I wouldn’t know it anyway. At first, I didn’t realize how Lisa would react, but I soon felt terrible about all the trouble they went through for me. Pizza, coldcuts, cheese… my mom even offered to make soup for me. They were probably famished, but didn’t want to eat without me, especially on my first day home. The truth was that I was afraid to eat outside of the hospital environment. The last thing I had eaten was at the hospital this morning. What if something made me ill? The last thing I want is to return to the hospital.
Hope you and your children had a safe and fun Halloween!