I’m a fountain

I’m back, sort of. I’m out of hospital and at home recovering, though my head is still fuzzy, and I’m still feeling exhausted and pretty sore. The surgery went well – the pain I had last week has gone, and now I’m just resting and recovering.

One thing went slightly amiss after surgery. I had been to the bathroom and turned around to get into bed when I suddenly sprung a leak. I was a fountain. Quite literally! It was momentarily unnerving but also kind of funny. There was talk of sending me back to theatre, but the surgeon was able to stitch me up without that, thank goodness.

So, I’m home. My mother is staying with me this week, which is actually really nice.

Thank you all for your kind wishes for my recovery – I’ll do my best to respond to your emails and catch up on blogs over the next few days, if the blur in my head will let me. 😉

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Not-so-Nice – Part 3

I’m feeling better about the situation with Not-so-Nice Guy. Not better, exactly, because I still wish he wasn’t Not-so-Nice, but I don’t feel so wretched anymore. In part because of things the Wonder Therapist said; in part because of things you have all said; and probably in large part because my attention is diverted elsewhere for the moment, but more on that later.

I talked, and sobbed, with the Wonder Therapist. She said a couple of things that have really stuck with me. Not that I quite believe them yet, but at least they’re in my head:

  • Why end my life over a guy I’ve really only known for a short time?
  • Why does Not-so-Nice Guy’s “rejection” of me (which is how I see it) mean that I’m stupid, useless, worthless?

Of course, I couldn’t rationally answer either of these questions. She also said that what I’m feeling is completely normal. It’s the natural grief over a broken heart/broken relationship. It will pass. Rationally I knew this, but it certainly hasn’t felt like it.

I also talked to a friend. One of the women from The Group, who has also had some relationship issues lately. She suggested I think about what I can learn from this. Sounds clichéd, I know, but I think some of her questions are helping me process this.

  • What would you differently next time? What would you do the same?

My instinctive reaction to this is that I wouldn’t open myself up so much next time. It only leads to hurt. But this is a double-edged sword, because if you don’t open yourself up, you potentially miss out on great things. I guess I need to learn how much to open that door – enough to enjoy the good, but not enough that I get sucked in to believing there’s hope and that I’m onto a good thing, when I might not be.

  • What did you like about yourself in the situation? What didn’t you like that you can work on?

How’s this for confoozed? What I liked is that I was able to open myself up… aarrgghh!! Not completely, but I was able to walk some scary lines, share a little of myself without being rejected (initially at least) and be open to receiving something positive in return.

And now just to really mess with your heads, what I didn’t like is that I opened myself up; I let myself believe that this was a good thing (and it really was) … that only ended in tears.

  • What didn’t you like about him? What are you looking for in a person that you can look out for next time?

This is really tough for me. It’s hard to name things I didn’t like, because there was so much that I did like.

What I’m looking for in a person, and what I largely got with Nice Guy, is someone who’s intelligent, funny, shares some of the same interests – particularly an interest in politics and current affairs (even if our views were almost polar opposites). I’ll never forget the night he said to me:

Nice Guy: “You might think this is really weird. Don’t think I’m nuts or anything, but on election night, I like to sit at home and watch the count.” Looking embarrassed.

Me: “Oh my god – me too!!!”

And then we talked about all the things we like about doing that, how it’s the highlight of our political cycle, and how it annoys us that other people think we’re nuts because, even if watching the count is a bit like watching grass grow, when you’re a political junkie, it’s awesome!!

I also want someone who’s sensitive, kind and compassionate. Nice Guy fit that bill, too. It shone through in spades in the way he talked about other people, especially those important to him – like his family, and even his ex-wife. He also showed an interest in me. He sensed that something “not quite right” had happened to me in the past, and he was patient, and caring and understanding about that. I never did disclose anything to him, but he was nothing but kind in wanting to understand and being patient with me.

I also want someone who understands the meaning of the word “no” when things get, ahem, hot and heavy. Simple, right? Apparently not with some men, though Nice Guy oozed respect in this regard.

I want someone who has a job and a life. It doesn’t matter what that is (within reason), but I don’t want someone who is struggling to set themselves up. This might sound horribly judgemental, but I figure at my age, being “set up” comes with the territory. If you’re not set up, either something terrible has happened or you just can’t get your sh*t together.

If I’m completely honest, I could have lived without a little of the passion he had about things that don’t interest me – like cars and military history. But I still loved that he was passionate about those things, even if the subjects themselves bored me to tears. 😉

I’m sure I could keep writing, but that will do for now. It’s something for me to think about anyway.

The other reason I think I’m doing better is that my brain is fairly full thinking about my health issues. I saw the specialist again today and I’m having surgery on Friday. Not the greatest news, but at least they can do it sooner rather than later. I’m hopeful that this will be the end of these troubles, but there’s no guarantee.

I’m also kind of proud of myself because I talked to the specialist about my gynaecological health, and fertility prospects. I was incredibly (and I mean INCREDIBLY) scared about asking those questions. Even though I really want a family, I’m not sure I want to hear some of the possible answers. He was fine about it – he always is. He’s a gentle, caring soul. We’re going to look into all that once the surgery is done with.

I expressed concern to the Wonder Therapist about the prospect of having another general anaesthetic. Here’s what she said:

The Wonder Therapist: “Sorry, a minute ago you were telling me you’re going to top yourself over a guy you hardly know, and now you’re worried about the health impacts of another general? That seriously doesn’t make sense.”

Me: laughing “I know. I never said it was rational!”  

Both of us laughing.

Bless her

I just woke from what I think is the best sleep I’ve had in a week. It was only an hour’s nap, but I feel better than I have in days.

I saw the Wonder Therapist last night. That helped, but isn’t what I want to talk about today.

I had to have some tests this morning to see if those health problems are back. Unfortunately they are, and with some added “bonuses” I wasn’t expecting. I see the specialist tomorrow so will know more then.

I sent the Wonder Therapist a text message after the tests, as she’d requested. Here’s a snippet of the conversation. It made my day.

Me: “This week just gets *better*. Can I move into your office for the rest of my life?”

The Wonder Therapist: “Sure you can move in full-time. Bring a mattress for you and kitty’s blanket.”

Bless her heart. 🙂

Grateful

Some days I’m incredibly grateful to my therapist. Today is one of those days. I’ve been feeling utterly miserable for a couple of days, and today my therapist spent a long time with me, helping work things through. I felt like the weight of a thousand worlds has been lifted off my shoulders. Of course, I am completely and utterly stuffed too, so apologies if that’s reflected in this post.

A couple of things have happened this week to tip me back over the edge. Firstly, I saw my specialist and it turns out that some of the health issues I thought were done with have come back. 😦 I fell into hysterics when he told me (well, after I’d left his office). It’s so unfair. I’m so upset. I’ve been in a bit of pain the last few days, which also isn’t good.  I’m having some tests next week (the earliest available time) and we’ll know more then, but it’s so wrong.

Second, Nice Guy hasn’t been so nice lately. Well, may be he has, I wouldn’t know. After seeing him earlier in the week I haven’t seen or heard from him since, despite us agreeing to catch up later this week. May be it’s just me, but the lack of communication, and having phone calls, text messages, emails all ignored is doing me in. It makes me feel devalued. I rang him today and invited him for dinner tomorrow. Haven’t heard back. If I ever see him again I’ll talk to him about communication, coz this is driving me crazy. May be it’s just me, but I also think it’s bordering on just plain rude.

The other thing that has tipped me over the edge is that one of my very close friends had a baby yesterday. Rational me is very excited for her. Emotional me isn’t coping at all. This now makes me the only one of all my friends (except one) to be childless. I feel vulnerable and raw when talking about this, so that will be enough for today.

Anyway, my grateful thanks to the Wonder Therapist for helping ease the nastiness. 🙂

Flasbacks post-surgery

*** Caution: could be triggering ***

In a recent post I mentioned flashbacks post-surgery. Trouble trying to get to sleep. Intrusions in the shower. Apparently it’s not uncommon.

I remember before the operation. I remember checking in, doing paperwork. Waiting. Feeling anxious and asking the anaesthetist for a pre-med. Being told “no, you won’t need it, you’ll be in there soon” and then the interminable wait. Waiting. Feeling anxious. Feeling vulnerable, naked in the hospital gown. The anaesthetist’s assistant talking to me, trying to calm me, taking me into theatre. Hopping up on the table.

The anaesthetist and her assistant joking with me, asking if I knew that feeling when you’re at a party and have had about three glasses of wine? Telling me I was about to feel like that.

Tubes and cannulas and machines. Red ones. Blue ones. Lights. White ones. Blue hospital gowns. And the cold. Icy cold. Apparently because surgeon’s like to wear two sets of clothes so everyone else has to freeze.

The insipid nurse holding my hand. Me wanting to tell her to “rack off”. Feeling woozy. Being asked if I felt drunk yet? Yes. Sleepy.

The surgeon arriving. Still sleepy. Asking if they’ll do a D&C. Being told yes. Wanting to say no, but too sleepy.

Very sleepy.

Waking up. Not even in recovery. On a medical ward in a bed I didn’t recognise with a nurse chattering endlessly. Sort of sitting up with tubes and machines and nastiness. Oxygen mask. Cannula. Cather. And the beloved self-administered morphine. Sleeping. Waking. Sleeping. Talking to my mother.

Feeling bandages on my stomach. Asking the nurse if they had to cut me open. Her asking if I had spoken to the doctor.

Me: “Did they have to cut me open?”

Nurse: “Have you spoken to the doctor?”

Me: “No. Did they cut me open?”

Nurse: “Have you spoken to the doctor?”

Me: “They cut me open, didn’t they? They had to cut me open.”

And falling back to sleep.

Being moved to the surgical ward. The blokes joking and laughing as they moved me. The rattle of the bed over the entry to the lift and the pain piercing through my stomach as they did. The endless chatter of the annoying nurse. Falling back to sleep.

Asking for a private room. Being told there aren’t any. Me saying, “it’s too noisy.” Nurses saying, “it’s quiet.” Me saying, “no, it’s not. It’s noisy.”

Crying. Hurting. The nurses debating whether to move me into the new bed. Me saying “no”. The nurses arguing. The “good” nurse saying they shouldn’t move me. Me thinking “thank god”. The annoying nurse, still talking, wanting a replacement bed for her ward, then stroking my head. Telling me how soft my hair was. Asking what shampoo I use. All the while talking. Apricot coloured walls. Beige coloured curtains. Falling back to sleep.

Tubes and machines and noises and lights. Blood pressure cuffs. Thermometers. Nurses checking my incision. Checking how much I was bleeding. Me pressing the beloved morphine thingy. Often. Machines beeping. Being told my oxygen was too low. Tubes in my nose. Ripping them out. Nurses putting them back. Blood pressure low. Oxygen low. Tubes. Blood pressure. Beeping machines. Catheter taped to my leg. It’s huge. I’m scared.

Being offered dinner. Meat, gravy, carrots, peas. Stomach turning. Nurses closing my curtains. Water. Ice chips. Shuffling in the bed. Pain. Morphine. Machines beeping.

Other patients. Noise. Lights. Machines beeping. Sleep.

Worrying about my bags. Wanting my glasses and my phone. Asking repeatedly. Panicking because my bags don’t show up. Nurses talking. Nurses making phone calls. Finally my bags arriving from theatre. Feeling calmer. I can see. My stuff isn’t lost.

The surgeon visiting. Apologising for being late. Telling me his father is in a nursing home or something. Telling me about the operation. Telling me that I started bleeding and he had to cut me open. That my recovery will take longer. Weeks. I could have bled to death. He had to get in there. Looking sorry. Sounding flustered.

Waking up. Trying to send text messages. Falling back to sleep. Losing my phone in the bed. Seeing the surgeon again in the morning. He’s still flustered, but better. I’ll have to stay longer in hospital. He hopes I can go home by Christmas.

They take blood. The count is low. Lower than after surgery. They’ll monitor it.

I ask if he did a hysterectomy. “No,” he says, “we were a long way from that. Your uterus looks beautiful now.”

He tells me to take the morphine pills when they come. I do.

Falling asleep again. Phone ringing. Patients talking. Appendix. Three of them in the room with me. The young girl not wanting surgery. Me worrying that she’ll die. Me asking the nurse about her. The lady in the bed next to me talking. Constantly. She never shuts up. She could talk under water. She pulls back my curtains. Now she’s talking to me. So much noise. Boring into my head.

More talking. Patients endlessly talking. Lights. Nurses laughing. The lady in the bed next to me asking if I was in pain. Listening to my iPod. Being unable to hear the music above the chatter of the room.  

I’m in hysterics. I can’t stand the noise. Tears. Nurses. “Is there a private room?” I ask. “Yes, later today,” they say.

Sleeping. Waking. They have a private room. Thank god. Sleeping.  Sleeping peacefully.

Eating some meal or other. Feeling sick.

Sleeping. It’s quiet now.

Post-surgery update

Can you believe this? I’m three days out of hospital with a 20cm (8 inch) slash in my belly, and my mother says:

“Surely you must be feeling better by now?”

This is sooo not how I imagined this blog post starting, but really, who could let a comment like that slide by the blogosphere? (David, your airline ticket is already in the mail so you can come over here and slap some sense into her!)

As many of you know I had surgery last week. Surgery that didn’t exactly go according to plan. I was scheduled to have a laparoscopy for some gynae problems. Unfortunately, I started bleeding during the procedure and the surgeon had to open me up to stop the bleeding and then deal with the problems he went in there for in the first place. The surgeon said, “it was that or let you bleed to death.” I guess that’s pretty scary, although I’m still trying to comprehend it all.

The result? Nearly four hours under general anaesthetic, a 20cm (8 inch) slash in my belly and a very sore and bruised tummy. Oh, and a mother who makes ridiculous comments.

I seemed to be coping with my family and the whole Christmas charade quite well, with most of it passing in a post-surgery fog. Not even a pain killer fog because I’ve been too scared to take the “real” pain killers. But I’ve somehow survived, even things like my mother’s incessant and meaningless (but generally harmless) chatter; my father’s endless complaining; my mother and father yelling at each other; and even my father’s ridiculous comments about women being “baby factories”. Ugh.

I’ve survived. That is, until today. Until my mother’s comment, which has come closer to anything to tipping me over the edge.

Damnit.

Control – I needs it

Having lost control recently, I think I’ve learnt something important. I need to feel in control of things.

“No sh!t,” you say?

“Yea, it’s true,” I say.

My therapist asked me to I think about the last time I felt good about my eating habits and my weight, etc. Having found my way out of “I hate you” and towards “you are just trying to help”, I realised that most of the things she suggests work out ok (episodes with p-doc and Stone Therapist being the notable and prize winning exceptions).

So… when did I feel good about eating?

  • When I was eating well – listening to my food intolerances and eating in moderation (birthdays and Christmases excepted)
  • When I was exercising 5 to 6 times a week and doing yoga regularly (ok, so this had a tendency towards unhealthy obsession, but at least it was regular and I felt fitter)
  • When my weight was sustainable and I could fit comfortably into my “skinny” jeans (which aren’t really that “skinny”, but fit me when I’m “skinny”)

The thing is… I was an emotional robot then. I controlled everything and I felt nothing. Now I’m feeling all this … this … “stuff” and I feel quite out of control. It’s as if my feelings are controlling me and not the other way around. This is scary stuff, for robots like me. I guess my challenge is to find a way to have healthy eating and a healthy emotional life.

I know the need for control is common among many survivors, and one of the first things the sexual assault agencies suggest you do to help victims (give them back control, I mean). May be it’s just taken a while for the reality to sink in.

I think this need for control is one of the reasons I dislike my job so much. I have very little control there … I’m at someone else’s beck and call most of the time, even though I am a manager and get to direct things and delegate and all that. It’s weird, but this lack of control makes me entirely totally fundamentally anxious, most of the time. I don’t like it one little bit.

After my mother’s shenanigans about the timing of surgery and the traffic, I asked a friend whose parents live near mine if she could drop me over there for Christmas. This may not come off, but it feels good taking some control.

As you know I’m having surgery this week. Even though this is a situation in which I have very little control, I’m taking control of what I can. I cancelled a couple of social engagements this weekend so I could relax and organise myself. I’ve got some frozen meals in the freezer for when I come home; some sitcom DVDs to keep me company; and some comfy clothes all ready to go. And by the time I get to hospital, I will be packed for Christmas. Last time I went to this hospital it was an emergency procedure, so I didn’t get a chance to do any of these things. It feels good, and helps with the anxiety.

I’ve even told my mother I’m not sure how long I’ll stay over Christmas, it will depend on how I feel.

Take control. It feels good. 🙂