“Stephanie that is going to be the tricky part. You’re biggest risk after you leave here is bleeding like you did in the PACU. It will be important for you to give your body time to heal. If your heart rate climbs too high too early after this procedure you will throw a clot and bleed. I am going to recommend 10-12 days of no activity. Do not climb stairs, do not take walks, stay sedentary.”
I nodded at him calmly. “But after 10-12 days I can train right?”
“Not exactly. You may resume normal activity. As far as training like you were before, you will need to ease back into it.”
I nodded again more vigorously “Ok. Cool.”
But Dr. M was not fooled. He knew I had stopped listening after the words resume normal activity and he wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily. “Stephanie if you do not go back to exercise slowly your body will make you slow down but in a much more unpleasant way. Be aware. You will feel light headed, nauseous, and your nose may spontaneously bleed. You might pass out. If you are out on your bike it will be dangerous.”
I scowled at him. How did he know what my body could handle? My arms and legs had not been operated on. They were fine. Give me my running shoes, I’ll trot out of here right now. Spontaneous nose bleeds. What did he think I was a second grader with a habit for picking my nose? I would show him.
I think my stubborn nature and ignorance at recovery from major surgery amused him. He didn’t crack a smile but I saw something change in his demeanor. Maybe it was recognition of a kindred spirit. Someone who did not have time to be slowed down by the inefficiencies of the human body. I would learn later from one of his colleagues that he competed in Iron Man triathlons and ran marathons quite competitively until his knee had forced him to retire.
“Patience is a virtue Miss Fahs.”
As he said what I can only guess is his mantra because I have heard him say it multiple times now he moved closer to the end of my hospital bed. He looked down at my legs still wrapped up in compression boots, “I understand your frustration. It will take time but you’ll get there” and then he reached down and placed his hand on my left foot and gave it a quick squeeze. It only lasted a second but I remember it surprised me. Even though this man had been rooting around inside my head yesterday this felt like something a friend would do as a show of support. I don’t think he even meant to do it. It was an impulsive act and as soon as he did it he pulled his hand back quickly like he had accidentally placed it on a hot stove. I remember feeling a little smug. Dr. M had just betrayed himself. For his cool, unfeeling, and mechanical demeanor, Dr. M had a soft spot.
He would never want his patients to know it but this Tin Man had a heart.