I worked hard to walk a little further each day. Sometimes we'd bring the kids along, but most of the time, we'd go out after the little ones were in bed. I felt a real accomplishment when I could finally make it around the block without stopping or slowing my pace. On Memorial Day weekend, I needed to get out of the house so we took the family to two local cemeteries, just to look around at the different headstones. I found myself walking up and down small hills. It was great exercise for my lungs! I was grateful for the few grave markers that were actually benches and told my sons to think about doing the same thing when they bury me. I felt like things were really turning around. Like improvement was actually happening. It buoyed my spirits. I was slowly starting to wear a little makeup and leave the house more often. The following Monday was our wedding Anniversary and I actually surprised my husband by getting a babysitter and making dinner reservations. It was the first time I had worn something other than pajamas or athletic clothing since the surgery, though still no bra. I tried, I really did, but was so unbelievably painful, it only lasted 60 seconds. Still, even without a bra, we had a great time, being out, being together, and shedding our caretaker/patient roles.
Then two days later, I crashed.
I woke up with a very pronounced bubbling sensation in my left lung. It felt very much like subcutaneous air. It was so pronounced, in fact, that when you placed your hand over my chest tube site, you could physically feel it click or bubble. It got worse when I was lying down and the annoyance of feeling that "click" with every breath began to keep me up at night. I started experiencing some milk shortness of breath, and I was very fatigued. It was as if I took three steps backward in my recovery. The only explanation I could come up with was that I had an air leak, only I knew there was probably nothing that could be done about it. I had to believe this wasn't part of my new normal.