I had sex reassignment surgery (SRS) on April 11. Dr. Gallagher told me that I could begin running six weeks after surgery. Six weeks will be May 23.
Two days after surgery, when I first was out of bed and onto my feet, I moved around the halls of the hospital at a pace worthy of tectonic plates. Between the swelling and the pain, I questioned in what kind of shape I would find myself come late May.
The next day, as I was to be discharged, I asked Dr. G how much I could walk. She told me the two things I expected: don’t overdo it, and if it hurts don’t do it. I wanted to be sure I had all the information I needed, so I asked whether I could hurt myself if I walked as much as felt okay. She told me, no, I wouldn’t hurt myself. For my part, as a child reassures her mother, I promised that I would be very mindful about my body, not wanting to do harm to her hard work.
Soon after arriving home, my first effort found me barely getting out of the driveway. Soon, I was on our street. Then half-a-block down it. Every day, I got out two or three or four times. By Sunday, April 23—twelve days after surgery—I found myself able to walk a full mile, albeit at the baby-taking-her-first-steps time of twenty-three minutes.
April 23 meant that I had exactly one month to get up to the speed and distance that I desired, so that I would be in good shape to begin running. It seemed at times doable and then impossible.
I wound up two weeks ahead of where I thought I would be, pre-surgery. Yes, I had some challenges; because my swelling is only gradually easing there’s a lot of rubbing of flesh that creates a lot of soreness. Hello, petroleum jelly! And, sadly, my numb left foot has been cranky about my wearing running shoes. Add to it that of which I wrote previously, the jabs and stabs of the nerves waking up. Evenings, especially, have found me very uncomfortable, often suffering significant pain in both surgery area and the fussy foot.
I persisted, preferring to move forward—to get as much mileage as possible out of this old body, and to enjoy the glorious spring weather and the beautiful colors and cheerful birds’ songs of the season.
Besides, I have been just plain bored.
Sitting up in a chair has been THE hardest thing to do, so sitting at my computer to write has been a challenge. And, I found, even Netflix can’t keep me entertained as many hours as I have to fill before it’s time to make supper and welcome Julie home.
Walking became a refuge in the storm which has been my physical healing and emotional struggle because my hormones have been messed with so badly. It’s hard to suffer when you are out walking.
That, my friends, is a profound and important thought: it is hard to suffer when you are out walking. The mind and body are busy. The body is working hard and the mind is enjoying the sights and sounds. There might be no better medicine for the hurting person. Plus, the positive effects continue for hours afterward.
You simply feel good, and good about yourself. I sure have.
While I did not increase my distance and pace every day, I was methodical about adding to it every couple of days and, as my body allowed, picking up my pace.
The day I hit 1.53 miles, my pace was a still-slow 18:56 per mile. Three days later, I hit 2.00 miles, dropping almost a minute to 17:59. On May 3, I dropped another 1:30 on my pace as I walked 2.30 miles, and May 6 found me achieving 2.76 miles and quickening to 15:35.
I now thought my goal was achievable, to be at five miles, under 15:00 per mile (four miles per hour), by May 23.
On May 10, I broke the three mile mark, totaling 3.30, and bettering the 15:00 mark by eleven seconds per mile. After hovering around those for several days, on May 15 I found myself ready to tackle four miles.
I did it, netting 4.11 at 14:51 per mile. The next day, I hit 4.20 and, feeling really strong, did it at a dandy 14:24. I felt that I could have gone the eight tenths I needed for five miles, but opted not to overdo it.
The next day, Wednesday, May 17, six days before I will resume running, I walked 5.04 miles and, dig this, worked it out at a zippy 13:57 per mile, which is my second-fastest five mile walk pace this year. (Thank you, petroleum jelly!)
I. Am. Back. Woo hoo!
My goal is to keep plowing forward the rest of the week, tuning and toning and honing and homing in on the best shape I can achieve for May 23. I don’t assume that I will run a lot that day. I will begin slow, maybe even only running a few tenths of a mile at a time, mixing in walking with it, so that I will run only a portion of what I hope will be a five mile route.
I next see Dr. Gallagher again the afternoon of June 9. That gives me two-and-a-half weeks of running. I have in mind a running goal for that day, so that when she walks into the examination room I will be able to smile wide and say, “Dr. Gallagher, guess how far I ran this morning!”
In the mean time, I now have more to do than walk and run. Julie and I planted our garden on Mother’s Day. If you have your daily walk in, and your Netflix list simply isn’t doing it for you right now, you can give this short garden tour a look-see.
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But, wait. There’s more!
As I add this, it is Thursday morning, May 18, the next day. Not only did I do another five miles and bettered yesterday’s time, I had my best time ever for a five mile walk since I began using an app in 2015. Here are the screen shots, and note that, once again, my fastest mile was my fifth mile.