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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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. 🙂

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. 🙂

Control – I lost it

As most of you know I’ve been having a rough time lately. As if the work situation isn’t enough, I am possibly/probably heading for another round of gynae surgery before Christmas (unexpectedly but not emergently) and have scratched/smashed two cars in two weeks. Sigh.

I’ve found myself turning to time honoured strategies… in particular, The Food Thing.

I hate to admit it but I have been binge eating quite a lot lately. The worst episode for a while was last week. I got sick. Quite sick. So sick that it took me a couple of days to recover. And then I turned to another time honoured strategy: not eating anything at all. 

I have been trying to think about why I do this… if there are any triggers or any clues about what’s coming. I think there are. I know that as soon as work gets stressful, I start craving chocolate. And when I get upset or anxious, I just want to run. And when I can’t run, I eat. Even when I can run, I still crave food. Not just chocolate. Any food. Anything at all.

Sometimes I’m not even aware of what I’m doing… not until afterwards when I can see the mess, or when I’m suffering the consequences.

I know this can’t go on. For one thing it just generates more self loathing. Not to mention the potential weight gain that is itself a giant trigger. A ridiculously vicious circle.

I talked to my therapist about it this week. I foolishly gave her permission to tie me down and bludgeon me into talking about it. For some reason the stupid little leprechaun who lives in my head thought this was a good idea. Now I’m not so sure.

I came away with one side of my head screaming, “I HATE MY THERAPIST” and the other side saying, “No you don’t. She’s just trying to help.” In the cool light of day I realise she is just trying to help. It’s just incredibly hard and incredibly shame-inducing dealing with all this.

Sigh.

Sifting through

A few things have happened over the last few days to contribute to another downward spiral. I’m sorry this is so long – I’m trying to sift through.

1) I went to the gynaecologist on Friday, and had to endure the whole hideous gynae exam thing. As I’ve said before this is a tough thing for me; for all survivors (see these posts by Butterfly and Sword Dance Warrior). It was revolting. I flipped out. I was shaking like a leaf, and there were tears.

The gynaecologist was very good. He was gentle with me (although I don’t remember a heap about the actual exam) and he realised I was freaking out, so he sat with me and chatted to me for a while afterwards until I calmed down a bit. Very good of him.

I still spun out of control and ended up in what I can only describe as a dissociative state for hours afterwards. I don’t remember much about the rest of the afternoon (except I nearly had a car accident on the way home). I felt like I was on drugs, floating around, totally disconnected (although perhaps I should have taken my therapist’s advice and popped some valium before the appointment).

I was completely shattered – by the appointment itself and by my degree of flipping out. But, in a small twist, I somehow managed to be gentle with myself as I was coming back to reality (binge eating episode excluded). I lay on the floor by the heater, then went to bed early as I was so completely and utterly wrecked.

Ok, I know some of you will say that seeing a male gynaecologist is just plain dumb. Sure, I could see a female, but that’s just as bad. I still feel disgusting. And I still freak out (especially seeing as the last female gynae I had used to leave me lying legs akimbo in front of the window, with all my bits lit up for the world to see. She said no one could see in, but given I could see the patients through the windows across the courtyard, I wasn’t convinced).

2) Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, I am very clearly and very definitely “insane”.

How come I keep thinking my mother can give me the support I need? Last night she said to me that my therapist has been putting ideas in my head; that I should stop wasting so much time and money on her, and should just “pull my finger out and get on with it.”

She also said she doesn’t think it’s helping, and doesn’t see any difference in me now compared to a few months ago. I know that’s not true. Since she came to my therapist with me I’ve been trying to open up to her more, so her comments were just a giant slap in the face.

Plus she said she thinks it’s her fault I fell apart in the first place. I said I don’t blame her (which I don’t), but she said she doesn’t believe me and now I feel guilty for that too.

Here I am doing something to help myself – not just that, but something that could be the most important thing I ever do (albeit the hardest), and she comes out with these comments? She’s kidding me. I thought she said she loves me and wants to support me? She’s seriously kidding me.

I am still so incredibly upset. Completely shattered. Part of me wonders if she’s feeling threatened by the changes in me, and by the miniature boundaries I’ve been establishing. I’m not sure… I think I’m still too upset to really think about it.

3) My bestest friend in the whole world said something that upset me the other day. We’ve been friends since we were 3 years old, which means we’ve been friends for 35+ years. She knows a little of my past, and has also been to therapy with me once. For the last few months she’s really been my rock, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without her.

Anyway, we were out shopping, and lolling about on some couches in a furniture shop. There was one couch that was GINORMOUS and I made some flippant remark about there being enough room to have sex without rolling off.

She said, “You could, you know.”

I said, “Yes, I could go and root everything that moves. No thanks.”

She said, “No, I mean you could have a relationship if you wanted to.”

I was dumbstruck. I found her comment so unbelievably hard to swallow. Mostly because the concept of a meaningful and positive relationship is entirely alien to me and the way I see myself. Thoughts of relationships are just the fast road to self-loathing for me – why would anyone love me, for god’s sake?

I was hurt by her remark, although I know I shouldn’t have been. I guess it just brought home to me how much she really doesn’t get what I’ve been through or what I’m dealing with now.

Ugh. I can’t go there.

4) In my last post my friend Strangename said:

“Imagine your the little girl and listen to what you are saying! Kerro give yourself the comfort you wanted to give that little girl! Do a meditation, imagine the little girl sitting next to you, how she feels when you tell her all those nurturing things. Feel the intensity of how good it feels. Try and connect to the emotion, don’t bury it, just be with it. Allow yourself to feel good, this is a groundbreaking experience for you! I am in awe of some of the work you are doing…and I know its not easy, but push through it.”

I’m sorry, Strangename, I can’t. Just the image of me as a child, let alone the nurturing, is too damned hard. It hurts too much.