Embracing Convalescence

My new favorite word is convalesce; it has a certain Victorian-era ring don’t you think? When I imagine what it means to convalesce my brain immediately conjures up Helena Bonham Carter. In my mind’s eye, she’s artfully  arranged on a fainting couch. The room is filled with overstuffed furniture and complexion-flattering sunlight. Behind her, sheer curtains billow softly in the breeze. Ah, to be Helena…

Okay, I’m not exactly Helena (and whether or not I’d really like to be is a bit of a digression) but I am intrigued by the idea of exploring convalescence, maybe doing some Gonzo-style journalism looking into what it feels like to be a convalescent. Being self-employed adds a scary twist to the “convalescent challenge.” The longer I do nothing, the longer my bank account starves. But money shmoney. With any luck, my trip to the world of convalescence will be brief, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. 

Since “blog time” runs a bit behind “real time” (for me at least), I admit I’ve already started my undercover investigation and, so far, I’m more than a little disappointed. I think the problem is that convalescence doesn’t look that different from my everyday life. Thus far, there’s been much napping, ignoring of the phone, and letting email languish in my in-box. Obviously, I’m not trying hard enough.  

In an effort to get my game face on, I took my dog for a long walk in the woods this afternoon. Walking in the woods seems like an appropriate Helena-like activity.  Of course, I often hike with my dog when I’m not convalescing–remember, I am a lesbian–so I had to take great pains to make this particular outing stand out in a meaningful (aka more sickly) way.

To that end, I walked more slowly, more thoughtfully, more like I thought a convalescent might. I even stopped for a few minutes to sit on a rotting log and soak in the view of a distant lake. I was pleasantly surprised to find that hiking like a convalescent was easier than I thought. Namely because my chest hurt like hell and the sutures securing the plastic tubing to my body (uncomfortable on so many levels) kept pinching and pulling my skin in ways that make me gasp and clutch at my sides. So, yes, I’d say today’s journey into convalescent-hood was a rip-roaring success. Tomorrow, I’m golden because I’m seeing my surgeon, a convalescent-worthy errand if ever there was one.

In the meantime, I’ve gotta talk with Mary about the possibility of a fainting couch…

5 Responses

  1. Beth says:

    I just pictured “A Room with a View”. On your next walk, make sure to put flowers in your hair.

  2. Beth says:

    FYI – it’s not really 3:30am. Although Caroline did just start crying.

  3. Laine says:

    Yes, yes, convalescence is so Helena Bonham Carter! (with the exception of her character in Fight Club).

    I remember first hearing the word spoken when I was recovering from a surgery about 12 years ago. My cousin visited and said, “So how is the convalescent?” And my first thought was, “That sounds so…romantic.” (Though the opposite was true; I’d had gastrointestinal surgery which is the least romantic variety of surgery.) I’d never put the visual to it before, but HBC captures it’s essence perfectly.

    And it all makes me think of the romantic way I used to think of illness when I was young. It was all so Anne of Green Gables — my best friend would contract a very tragic heart ailment, I would nurse her back to health but in the process contract the heart disease and die while my good friend survives all due to my selfless tending and ministering.

    Illness is so often romanticized (even today in movies and serial shows and not just in HBC period dramas), but is the furthest thing from it. Illness, like most of the rest of life, is complex and messy and decidedly unromantic.

    I love the blog — if not the reason it exists — and I look forward to more.

  4. Mary Bryson says:

    hey Catherine,

    I love how ‘drains’ is now a tag on your entry. Yes. Those *&^%W drains. Amazing how a couple of feet of plastic tubing can be annoying and painful.
    I thought about you this morning – your previous entry — I put on black jeans and a white t-shirt and briefly caught a profile view in the mirror. And I had a really energetic “WOW – She is cute!” moment catching the boyish sight of the flat chest, white t-shirt, black jeans James Dean’ish silhouette.
    It’s been one and a half LONG years in coming – that appreciative glance of self on self.


  5. Clare says:

    So now hiking w/your dog in the woods is a lesbian thing? Better slap a rainbow sticker on my wagon and be done w/it.

    If you’re going to go full-on Merchant & Ivory (and yes, Helena Bonham Carter is kind of hot, even now in her always totally disheveled state), don’t forget to get out the good china and redo the sitting room in chintz.

    How’d the visit to the surgeon go? I’ll bet you’re a “model” convalescent, you overachiever you. With love, Clare