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. 😉

All alone

I talk quite a bit here about my mother. She’s not a bad person, really. It’s just she has no clue.

I’ve been struggling a bit at home post-surgery. Not only do I still have a 20cm slash in my belly, but I also have an infection in that slash, so I’ve been feeling quite … well, blah.

It’s hard when you’re on your own, have no siblings, and most of your friends are away. I still need a lie down after a shower, and find it hard to do simple things like preparing meals, washing, making the bed. I went to the chemist this morning. It nearly killed me. By the time I got there I thought I was going to pass out.

My therapist convinced me that it would be good to have my Mum around to help me. Even if she does drive me nuts, what I really need right now is someone to take care of me, to help out, even just to keep me company. Apparently she thinks my mother cares and that may be she just needs to hear that she’s needed. We all like to hear we’re needed, right? Apparently not my mother. She said:

“It’s too hard right now with your father. Why don’t you ask your cleaners to help make the bed?”

I’m so upset. I know I’m extra fragile right now, but really… does she honestly care more about a man who has treated her like sh!t for the last 50 years than she cares about me? Even when she’s been telling me how rude and obnoxious he’s being, just this week? And what about my friends? Apparently they don’t care either, even if most of them are away on traditional summer holidays.

So I’m alone. All alone. So completely and utterly alone. It makes me wonder what the point of anything is. It hardens my heart and makes me realise that everything the wonder therapist told me about people caring and me not being alone was just baloney. And before you all rush to tell me you care: at the end of the day I’m just words on a page. It doesn’t matter whether those words appear or not. There are plenty of other words out there to fill the space.

It makes me wish I’d done the unthinkable when I had the guts and the irrationality.

The tears arrive

The tears are here.

I’m not sure if they’re post-operative tears, or therapist-poking-around-in-places-she’s-not-wanted-tears, or oh-my-god-my-wound-is-gaping-and-I-think-I-have-an-infection-tears, or just general my-life-really-is-cr@p-squooshed-all-over-the-abattoir-floor-tears. Whatever the reason, here are two songs I find oddly tear-jerking and comforting all at the same time. And the artist has one of the most amazing voices. I’ve been trying to distract myself with the movies, too.

I’m hoping my therapist is right and they are just post-operative tears and will go away.

“Into the West”

Lay down
your sweet and weary head.
Night is falling.
You have come to journey’s end.

Sleep now, and dream
of the ones who came before.
They are calling,
from across a distant shore.

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see.
All of your fears will pass away.
Safe in my arms,
you’re only sleeping.

What can you see
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come
to carry you home.

And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
All souls pass.

Hope fades,
Into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time.

Don’t say,
We have come now to the end.
White shores are calling.
You and I will meet again.
And you’ll be here in my arms,
Just sleeping.

What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.

And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
Grey ships pass
Into the West.


How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done
But when I start to try to tell you
That’s when you have to tell me
Hey… this kind of trouble’s only just begun
I tell myself too many times
Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut
That’s why it hurts so bad to hear the words
That keep on falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Falling from your mouth
Tell me…

I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you’re thinking
And I’ve heard is said too many times
That you’d be better off
Why can’t you see this boat is sinking
(this boat is sinking this boat is sinking)
Let’s go down to the water’s edge
And we can cast away those doubts
Some things are better left unsaid
But they still turn me inside out
Turning inside out turning inside out
Tell me…
Tell me…

This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I’ll never tread
These are the dreams I’ll dream instead
This is the joy that’s seldom spread
These are the tears…
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel ?
’cause i don’t think you know how I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
You don’t know what I feel

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.

A tenuous grip on reality

I think I must be genetically wired for PTSD or something. Since surgery – or more particularly since coming home from the hospital – I’ve been kept awake at night by flashbacks of stuff that happened in the hospital. It’s not fun, and makes me think my grip on reality is more tenuous than I thought.

I’m keen to talk to my therapist – and she sensed this when I spoke to her briefly yesterday – but I can’t right now. In part because I have no privacy at my parents’ house (and there’s certainly no room for getting upset here), and in part because I’m too afraid to let this loose and lose my grip even further.

I want to talk about what’s happening in my head and why. Why is this stuff – MORE stuff – following me around like this?

But I can’t talk about this now. So I’m hanging on. I’m not taking the proper pain killers because I’m too afraid they’ll tip me over the edge. I couldn’t deal with that. Not while at my parents’ place and not when I have no escape.

I know that going home would be the logical thing to do. Trouble is I can’t drive at the moment, so am relying on my mother to take me home. Tomorrow? No, because “the traffic will be too heavy” (ugh!)  Hopefully the next day.

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.


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. 🙂