Sunday, 15 May 2011

What A Long, Strange Trip...

"Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it's been." ~ Grateful Dead 

Well now that was an intersting little journey.  The past eight weeks that is.  The journey will continue, of course, but hopefully with less drama.  And pain.

I had certain expectations of my time off after surgery.  I was going to knit, catch up on reading (technical reading even), and learn the German language.  What I spent most of the time doing was hanging on for dear life the positive attitude that I thought would get me through anything and everything.  I did learn a lot from this experience - the biggest lessons being that I don't know how to relax and that a positive attitude can be harder to hang on to than one thinks...

The beginning of all this started with the emergency hopsital visit and the subsequent surgery.  Things looked bright just before I went under the knife.  My surgeon, bless him over and over again, was going to proceed with the surgery in a way that was going to be difficult for him, because of the size of the fibroid and utereus, but in the long run would be good for me and my active lifestyle.  I will forever be grateful for him putting his patients needs first!

As I am still breathing, it is obvious the surgery went well; however as they were wheeling me out of the surgery room, or somewhere, the first challenge hit - a severe asthma attack.  I was just coming out of my drug induced fog so I have no idea how I got into the seated position, but I do know that I couldn't take a breath without some rattling happening in my lungs, non stop coughing, and severe pain in my abdomen where I had just had my girly bits removed.  Coughing was really something I didn't want to do for a long time, and this type was especially painful.  I think they put oxygen on me or something, but finally it the attack was calmed.  I rememeber my doctor looking at me with very wide eyes.  I must say, this was not comforting. 

It turns out my exercise induced asthma can also be triggered by stress and, as I was told after, I will have to be careful about this from now on because of the severity of this attack.  Ugh.

The week in the hospital was the worst part of this whole journey.  First the attack, then air bubbles in my I.V. tube and a nurse who said 'Oh don't worry it won't hurt you!'  It took me having a complete 'insane patient' crying, yelling, and if I could have moved I would have been jumping up and down meltdown to get her to take the IV out of me.  I'm sure any medical people reading this may say, 'Ah, it was nothing to worry about really.'  However, I was terrified like I had never been in my life and when the I.V. machine kept alarming even with her telling me not to worry - it was time to have the meltdown.  I'm sure it didn't help that I was coming off my morphine induced coma.

Speaking of the morphine, it turns out I get one of the side effects - itchiness.  Seriously, having itching on your legs when you can't move because your abdomen is all stiched up and you have inflatable compression thingys on them making you sweat is like slow torture. 

I must say one thing about morphine though.  Apparantly even though I felt completely out of it, to the point that it seemed like my eyes would roll backwards into my head everytime I tried to open them, I was told I appeared coherent.  I recall my parents being in the room, and Julie calling on my Dad's mobile and me talking to her; however, I do not recall helping my parents plan their move and explaining what should be done, nor do I remember my conversation with Julie, which she had to remind me of.  Very interesting....  The parental unit told me later that I appeared to know what I was talking about...hmmm....I actually still have no idea what I said to them!  Giggle. At least it seems everything I suggested worked out!

I did manage to have some fun while in the hospital.  Part of the recovery was to try and walk.  Oh how easy that sounds.  Afterall, I had been walking for at least 40 years now!  Alas, there was the pain factor.  I must say, all that Ironman training came in handy when dealing with the pain factor.  I was now off the morphine so really had to rely on just breathing.  Deeply.  I tried to walk around the ward, but part way through I would want to keel over.  My Mom or Dad would be walking with me and being my support and could tell when I would start to restrict the blood flow in their arm that I was done walking.  

Oh, right, the fun part.  Well that was in the form of a little ol' dear that I would see walking past my hopsital room.  She had a pretty good pace and I was determined to match it!  I started with a mere shuffling of my froggy slippers.  I kept scheming as to how I could get faster and beat her.  In fact, my sole purpose was to leave her in my dust.  None of my plans panned out however, and she left me in her dust.  And she lapped me.  Oh the humiliation....  I still have thoughts of going back there, dressing up in hospital clothes and beating her!  Assuming she is still there of course, which really, I hope she isn't. 

After the stay at the hospital it was all about recovery at home.  Home being wherever I was with my parents or Marco looking after me.  The first few weeks I was with my folks while Marco finished his work up North.  I want it written for the record that I really do have the best parents in the world.  Now I know you may think you do, but I'm sorry, you don't.  My folks win hands down because when the doctor and nurse told them I had to be treated like a Princess while I recovered, they did.   Well, at least until I felt well enough to be cheeky and say 'The Princess would like a cup of tea please...'  That's when Mom gave me the finger and dad just laughed at me.  Priceless!

After the stay with the parental unit, Marco took over 'Princess Duty' and did a wonderful job!  He was my rock through this - as cheesy as that may sound!  As you read on, you will understand that his job was not as easy as it may sound...

I will spare every little detail of the last eight weeks.  Suffice it to say that my emotions would get the better of me most times, and I never know how much I treasured the ability to walk, heck just move on my own, so much!  I hurt.  A lot.  I thought I could deal with the pain.  Some days I could.  I would be positive about it all and tell myself that this is all just short term stuff.  Then I would set about whatever task it was I was trying to do, get out of bed, use the washroom, shower, and I would just take it one breath at a time.  These tasks took double the usual amount of time, but I dealt with it. 

Some days though, the pain got to me, the inability to walk got to me, the stress and guilt of having people look after me, Miss Independent, got to me, and that's when I would cry and have a wee pity party for myself.  Mom, Dad and Marco were the witnesses to all of this.  Of course, I would get even more ticked when I would cry or feel negative.  I saw some of the people in the hospital.  I was lucky!  This WAS a short period in my life and I would heal from it.  Others aren't so lucky.  The mind is a strange and powerful thing though and when I would get upset...I would get upset!  Even though I knew I should stay positive about all the little accomplishments and all the good things that were happening.

I seemed to somehow place myself on some sort of healing schedule.  I figured because I was young, relatively speaking, in good health and quite fit, that I should be running up and down stairs in no time.  So when I still couldn't walk for more than a little while after 5 weeks, and it was only supposed to take 6 weeks healing, the frustration bubbled up.  I was to see my doctor for my scheduled check up and as soon as I saw him he said those words that men should never say to a woman on the edge....'How are you doing?' 

That's when I burst into tears.  I mumbled incoherently about not being able to walk, the pain, not having paid sick time from work, cancelling vacation, blah blah blah.   Again I will point out how wonderful my doctor is.  First off he explained the pain - it turns out that my ovary was adhered to my abdominal wall. So in addition to having my internal girly bits removed the doctor also had to try and detach this. It couldn't be totally detached, so they did what they could. This was causing me all the pain and why it felt like something it was tearing and burning on my right side when I would try and walk!

Next he said I needed to relax.  Really relax.  I made it my goal to do so for the next two weeks I was off on leave.  I am happy to report, I think I have a better hang of relaxing then I did before.  Granted, I still keep thinking, I need to knit! I need to study German! I need to read up on failure analysis techniques! I need to organize things!  But I catch myself thinking that and say, I need to sit and have a cup of tea. 

I am a firm believer that if you are open to it, you can learn lessons with every challenge or obstacle you are given.  I learned a lot these last eight weeks.  I hope I keep remembering them, but I know if I don't, the Universe will remind me some way.  The biggest thing I hope to do is stay more positive in times of trouble.  I really thought I would through all this, but it was harder than I expected!  I have a new appreciation for, and truly admire, people who face unending illness or other challenges and who maintain a positive outlook.

Thankfully, I have the most amazing support from my family and friends!!!  They helped me discover that laughter truly is the best medicine, and that it's okay to lean on others.  Every day I give thanks for all of you and mentally shower you with peace, love and hugs!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Now it's on to baby steps in getting back to my 'normal' life.  Tomorrow is my first day back at work.  I will also attempt to get back into the gym.  I promise, I will go SLOW.  Oh, and there is swimming... And of course making sure I continue to RELAX!  Granted, that wasn't part of my 'normal' life before, but will be from now on.  I can see now how much I need it. 

Peace out my lovely friends and may you continue to be blessed with good health!