Every time I sneeze I feel like I'm going to bust a gut. Last night I was watching America's Funniest Home Videos and I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. I can't even walk my dog. One good pull of the leash could send me back to the surgery gurney. Do you know what it's like to have bikini season breathing down your neck while you have a giant hole in your stomach and a belly that is swollen and sore? To know that you SHOULD be seven weeks out from your next marathon and out celebrating your long runs and crazy mileage and flat stomach and defined muscles with some celebratory beers and a half a dozen donuts every Saturday night but instead you're sucking down another Carnation Instant Breakfast in your sweatpants on the couch?! DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE 27 TRAPPED IN THE BODY OF A 91-YEAR OLD?!
I'm only allowed to wear elastic-waisted pants. That means the only place that it's acceptable for me to be in public is Walmart. Whenever I do leave the house I am pathologically self-conscious that I'm being mistaken for a bored housewife in Lululemons out for her daily walk. I want to scream to passers-by that I would never normally wear sweatpants in public. That I have to wear these pants because I'm recovering from major surgery and have a four-inch gaping hole under my belly button that just won't heal. That I'm actually a professional and a marathoner and someone who likes to wear real pants and put on makeup and drink martinis and I'm not really pregnant, it's just that I'm clutching the giant lump of a stomach because it's sore and the pressure feels better. For the first time in my life I'm self-conscious about undressing in front of my husband because STOP LOOKING AT ME I'M A MONSTER.
Did you know that I bounced back from cancer in half the time it's taken me to recover from this? CANCER. CANCER?! That one of the first people in the world to receive a full face transplant was in the hospital for four days LESS than me? Do you know that I haven't missed an episode of Ellen in a month?!
I will say I have been keeping myself pretty mentally stable for how long I've gone without running. In a typical week, if I skip more than two days in a row the screws start to come a little loose. I haven't laced up in a month -- which is the longest I've gone since I was NINE -- and the fact that I haven't killed myself, my husband, or set the house on fire is a mystery to me. In fact, I've been downright ebullient, which I attribute largely to the fact that I also haven't gone to work in a month and I watch Ellen every day. But lately I can feel those screws rattling around.
B and I were in Philly this past weekend and on our drive back to Massachusetts, I cried every time I saw a 26.2 sticker on someone's car. Cried real tears. I pulled my stomach pillow up to my face and bawled my eyes out. On Saturday night B and I were out to dinner and I overheard a girl at the next table over talking about her long runs. I reached over and injected myself into this stranger's conversation so I could let her know that I too know the pain of a long run after one too many glasses of wine but I envied her for her ability to run and don't you ever take it for granted, NEVER TAKE IT FOR GRANTED, GIRL as I emptied my own bottle of wine into my glass because if I don't have my 20-milers at least I still have my booze. But I'm pretty sure booze without the 20-miler is just plain alcoholism.
I WANT TO GO RUNNING. I WANT TO WEAR A BATHING SUIT. I WANT TO SWEEP THE KITCHEN FLOOR WITHOUT RISKING A HERNIA. I WANT TO BE A REAL GIRL AGAIN. DAMN YOU, HENRIETTA. DAMN YOU.