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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Weeks

That's how long I'm giving the post-anesthesia depression. I think it's reasonable. About one week per hour that I was in surgery.

Today I'm acknowledging everything I feel.

Yesterday was my post-op check. It didn't go amazingly well. Surprise!

My doctor's still scratching his head. He chose an anti-inflammatory from a different drug family from the ones that cause my body to get horribly sick and lose consciousness, hoping that I would be able to tolerate it. I had the same reaction to it, but sooner than with the others so I was still in the hospital when it happened. Then part of my lung collapsed in spite of the fact that I was doing the respiratory therapy and taking in larger volumes of air than most post-op patients. There's no reason for that to have happened. I speculate it might have something to do with my having asthma and being under anesthesia for nearly four hours, but I'm not a doctor.

Then there's the no pain thing. Hysterectomies and collapsed lungs are notoriously painful. I've had zero pain. None. I tried to talk to him about how sometimes trauma people shut down that part of their brains. It's not a conscious thing, it just happens. Especially (for me, anyway) if they're triggered intensely or for a long duration. He just shook his head and said the lung should be cutting through all that. Well, it's not.

Then he laughed and said I was one of his most puzzling patients. Thanks. Thanks for that. I think I need a t-shirt with a fun slogan now.

And, of course, I had to have a vaginal exam. That's yucky.

But I'm cleared to drive and go walking and go on road trips if I stop every couple of hours and walk around. And I can do planks and all the maintenance exercises for my bionic hip. And I can lift up to 10 pounds.

So I suppose if I have to label the feelings in order from most to least intense, they are as follows:
1. Lonely
2. Sad
3. Freakish
4. Unlovable
5. Unwanted
6. Frustrated
7. Grumpy
8. Afraid

And I suppose these are the things I wish would happen:
1. I wish my parents would call me and see how I'm doing. My brother is trying to go through a divorce, so they're sort of distracted by that, but I still wish they'd just call. Still, I'm using their house while they're gone so that I can have peace and quiet during the day, so maybe it's okay if they don't check on me.

2. I wish my sisters would call me. One of them has. And another one has been texting me - she doesn't have to call because her 14-year-old son was in a 4-wheeler accident and is all broken right now. She's got lots to take care of, so I'm happy with the texts. It's nice that she thinks of me in spite of the stress she's under. But I have three other sisters. One I contacted prior to surgery because she's had a hysterectomy before. I was hoping to be able to ask questions and get some reassurance. She never returned my calls or answered my texts. She still hasn't contacted me. I wish she would. I don't know. My family's never been good about talking to me when I'm having difficulty. Silly to wish for the leopard to change its spots, I guess. And my kids are making sure I'm okay. And Darrin. Even Darrin's dad checks in on me. So it's not like no one's talking to me. Still, I wish my sisters would.

3. I wish anyone would call me. Weird. I'm even answering the phone when a scammer or solicitor calls. Just to talk. I mean, I let them tell me all the reasons I should buy or donate, or that my computer is at risk, or someone is using my internet without my permission, or they're from the IRS and I owe money so they're taking everything I own. And I tell them I don't want to buy or donate and that I'm okay with risk and internet use and I'm pretty sure they're not the IRS because the IRS uses snail mail, not phone calls, to contact people. And then I say I've had major surgery, and I really appreciate them calling and talking with me because it's been pretty quiet lately. And I ask them about their families, and their jobs (and suggest they get real ones), and sometimes I say I have a great recipe to share with them, but mostly I don't get to that point because they hang up on me. Sigh.

Okay. It's pretty clear that I'm needing people. Also clear that talking with strangers on the phone isn't filling that need. And weird for me. I'm not used to wanting to be with people.

People interaction, however, is beyond my control. I've initiated contact a few times. I've called or texted people. But it's not the same as being contacted by them. After three or four days of that, I just feel like a bother. So I've stopped doing that unless I'm really in dire need. Like yesterday. After I saw the doctor. I was pretty messed up, emotionally, so I checked in with Tolkien Boy. He was at work, but he talked with me a bit. I felt badly about bothering him at work. But it was sort of necessary to talk to someone. As I said, I was messy and I really needed a person. I hate it, but I'm not stupid. If I don't find someone when I'm like that, it gets worse.

Since people interaction is pretty much beyond my control, and I've been cleared to start walking, I believe that's what I'll be doing. And I need to get more books to read. And I have enough work to kill me. Toward the end of the week I'll start practicing again. Maybe I'll find something good on Netflix to watch.

I am going to make it through this depression thing.

Oh, yeah. And I'll be talking with Therapist soon.

Someday, I would like to not be like this - not needy and stupid vulnerable. I seriously need to figure out how to do things on my own.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How am I doing?

I'm actually not sure why I write here anymore. Maybe to keep a record? I'm pretty sure it's not because I feel the need to share. Writing it down brings more distress than solace now. Probably, when all is said and done, I am simply a creature of habit, and I've been writing about my life for more than a decade.

I came home from the hospital with a catheter. The surgeon wanted to make sure that all his scar tissue removal and rerouting and whatever else remained undisturbed until yesterday, at which point I could have the catheter removed. At least, that's what I remember being told.

Having the catheter placed was terrifying. And painful. But I survived. Sort of.

Having a catheter means I am being touched 24/7 in a place that triggers all sorts of PTSD symptoms, none of which are pleasant. During the day, I can manage it. At night, management is impossible. Sleep was scarce, and when it happened, the nightmares were terrifying. But it was only until yesterday, and I could manage.


I wrote that last Tuesday. Then I got tired and stopped. I'm tired a lot.

When they removed the catheter on Monday I was informed that I needed to pee, then a straight catheter would be placed to measure what was left in my bladder. If it was determined that I was not voiding enough, another Foley catheter would be placed and I would be sent home to heal for another two weeks.

Then the nurse asked if I felt able to urinate. I said no. She told me to go home, drink lots of water, and come back when I was able.

So I walked to the car with my husband who had accompanied me because I'm not supposed to drive until I'm a week post-op. And then I had one of the biggest meltdowns of my life. It continued until I got home, then continued when I got inside the house and basically consisted of me crying hysterically and saying at different volume levels:
1. I would not have another catheter.
2. They can't make me have another catheter.
3. I'm not going back to the doctor's office.
4. I would rather die than be touched ever again in my entire life.
And then I vomited a few times just for good measure.

You see, I made it through having a catheter for five days and four nights. That's five days and four nights of constantly being triggered. Five days of constantly managing feelings that threatened to overwhelm me and make me die, and four nights of continuous nightmares, paranoia, and terror that I was being molested and raped over and over again. Reading those words, I can see how they don't really convey the depths of what was going on. After all, I'm only talking about feelings and nightmares. I suppose the depth lies in the fact that I've lived the reality.

Darrin let me rant and rave and vomit, then, after assuring me that the I didn't have to go back, he suggested maybe it would be a good idea to just go talk with the doctor so he'd know what was going on. I thought about it for an hour, then decided maybe I could do that. But I didn't want to. And I was scared out of my mind to go back.

We got to the office and were put in an exam room. The nurse came and told me that everything was set up in the bathroom for me to use. I said, okay, but maybe we should talk first. I meant to be lucid and calm and just explain everything. I started out that way. I told her I had PTSD and that drugs could not be prescribed for me so I ran and did physical exercise to manage the symptoms and that hadn't been available to me for the past five days during which I had been triggered constantly because the catheter was touching me constantly. Then it ramped up into another hysterical crying jag that ended with me saying that I didn't know why my bladder had to be checked to make sure I was emptying, but if it meant that something bad happened inside and the surgery was all messed up or I bled to death, that was okay with me because I wasn't having another catheter, and then repeating several times that I would rather die than be touched again.

She looked a little shell-shocked. Then she assured me that I didn't have to have a catheter, and told me the reason for the procedure was to make sure I was emptying completely because apparently, having a too-full bladder for too long can cause the stitching to become unstable. Then she assured me she would talk with the doctor, suggested I try peeing, and sort of ran out of the room.

So I did.

And the bathroom was right next to the exam room so when the doctor came to talk to Darrin, I heard everything. Darrin was asked if I was getting help for the PTSD. Darrin said yes. Then he was asked if I had seen a mental health professional. Darrin said yes. Had I been in contact with that person prior to surgery? Yes. Then Darrin said that, given the amount of emotional stress I had been suffering due to the length of time I'd been required to wear the catheter, he thought I was reacting very calmly, and suggested it might be a good idea for the doctor to ask a few questions of his PTSD patients and make sure they were okay before prescribing procedures that traumatize those patients. The doctor agreed that he ought to have gotten more information about me prior to surgery, then let Darrin know I needed to stay in contact with the therapist because otherwise, given the things I'd just said, they would need to report the incident and have me admitted to the hospital for further mental/emotional help.

I have no idea who they would report it to. That's just a weird thing to say.

Darrin said that was the plan. Then he said that while I was in the hospital they had checked my bladder capacity with an ultrasound machine. Surely that could be used again? The doctor said yes, so I decided it was safe to come out of the bathroom.

So the end of the story is that I had to go back one more time that day and pee again and be ultrasounded, and then I went home and tried to recover from all the crap that had been happening PTSD-wise. And I drove myself. Screw waiting until a week post-op. I'm finished feeling like I have to have people do things for me.

And yes, I talked with Therapist. And he actually was upset at my doctor. He says people go through lots of training, but they either get it or they don't. My doctor understands that I've been through something, but he should have asked me about things that cause me distress. And I should have asked more questions. And probably I wouldn't have made it through surgery without being triggered, but at least I would have had a physician who was checking on me and making sure I wasn't breaking down.

As a side-note, my anesthesiologist got it. He talked at great length with me about things that could be done to make sure I didn't lose it during recovery. He said he'd like to use a spinal as well as general anesthesia and told me why (something about it making 3.5 hours of surgery less traumatizing all around), and asked if I was okay with that. I was. He checked on me three times during recover and, weirdly, while I don't remember much, I do remember that. He always introduced himself and told me why he was there, then asked me how I was feeling, if I was afraid, and what he could do to make things less scary. And he introduced my nurses to me each time. They were always the same two, and he assured me they would be the only ones with me during recovery. But he understood that I wouldn't remember that in five minutes, and he wanted me to feel safe. He gets it.

And when I cried during recovery because I didn't know what was happening to me, the nurses explained. I think they did that repeatedly because I kept waking up in terror, but they didn't seem to mind. They held my hand and reminded me who I was, where I was, and why I was there. Over and over again. They get it.

And now it's Sunday, 11 days post-op. I'd like to say I'm fine, but the post-anesthesia depression set in today. I think I've been crying for six hours. I know why. I know I'm fine. I understand this happens every time I go under general anesthesia. But it sucks. A lot. I can't even describe the level of sad and lonely and worthless I feel.

Three weeks is the longest I've ever had post-anesthesia depression. I can make it three weeks.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Picture Perfect

That's what this was not.

1. My insurance has denied the claim. All of it. Apparently, if I was in the ER, bleeding to death, and an emergency hysterectomy was called for, they would review the case and think about paying for it. As it is, because the surgery could be scheduled, it has been ruled an elective sterilization process which is not covered under any circumstance. Yay.

2. Things did not go as planned. With me, they rarely do. I was given Celebrex and can add yet another drug to the list of those that try to kill my body. No more Celebrex for me. My potassium and magnesium levels became critical, which means I got to pay for another two days in the hospital. They're still not great, but good enough to release me, finally. And I have a collapsed lobe in my left lung, compliments of a 3.5-hour surgery and asthma. Yes, it did take that long. There were leftovers in my vagina from rape and a posterior first birth that my surgeon cleaned up for me.

3. This morning Darrin and Tabitha went to run errands. They were gone from 8 a.m. till noon. Normally, that would have been fine. Except somehow I managed to go into shock. My body couldn't stop shaking. I was freezing cold. And I was in more pain than I can describe. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to bother them, I took some pain medication and put myself to bed. I'm told now, that was a big mistake. It's really difficult to know what the proper course of action is when one is in pain. And I didn't die. So that's good.

4. Depression. Worse than I've felt it. Ever. It began in the hospital when my potassium and magnesium bottomed out. I truly did feel that it would be better to die than to try to get better. I've never felt that before. I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. That still sort of hangs over me. I think it's what I thought when I put myself back to bed this morning when my body went into shock. Not a literal thought, but there was definitely the feeling that I needed to just go to sleep and not wake up. I don't really know what to do about this. I tried to contact people and ask them to check in with me, but at this point, I don't even know if that would help. Therapist texted me and asked if we could schedule a phone call, but I was too tired. I'm still too tired.

Things did not go as planned. I sure hope tomorrow goes better.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

TMI always and forever

Things I've been doing to prepare for surgery:

1. Running. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. Because I can't stop panicking. And I'm exhausted. My nurse told me it was due to loss of blood, but I'm not bleeding right now. And I wasn't bleeding yesterday. So I figure, as long as I'm not losing blood, my blood stats can't go lower. So I'm going to run. Because after surgery, it will be six weeks minimum before I'm allows to do that again. Six weeks. God help me.

2. Crying. Because regardless of what stupid people who have never had one might say, a hysterectomy, in any form, is not "routine surgery." If it was, fewer women my age would have their uteruses. And they do have them. I've asked. My friend 10 years older than I has her uterus. My sisters have theirs (and I have a lot of sisters). My online friends have theirs. This is not a rite of passage, nor is it something every woman will experience. My 98-year-old grandmother died a year ago, still in possession of her uterus. Stop telling me this is common and nothing to worry about! I'm worried! Well, actually, I'm terrified.

3. Cleaning. Because I'm supposed to spend the first two weeks doing nothing. I'm pretty sure I've never spent two weeks doing nothing. Ever. In my whole life. I don't even know how to do nothing. This is giving me a panic attack so I should probably stop writing about it.

4. Having sex. Often. Every day. Sometimes more than once a day. I would say, "Poor Darrin," but he seems unfazed. I am doing this because a good percentage of women who are uterus-less lose the ability to achieve orgasm post-surgery. I like orgasms. I want them. This seems an unacceptable and unfair side-effect, and I have contemplated just not having the surgery and just bleeding to death as an alternative to the chance of never having an orgasm again. Don't judge me. However, Darrin and my children have suggested that they would like me to remain alive and not bleeding, so I'm doing this. But I am not happy. Even if orgasm is achievable post-surgery, it will be hugely different. The uterus is a large part of female orgasm. And they are taking my cervix, as well, which supplies necessary lubrication. This is a problem. Imagine drying your mouth out completely, then filling it to capacity with something that rubs back and forth. Now add about 100 times the number of nerve endings to that equation. If you don't come up with excruciating pain, you did the math wrong. Also, no sex for at least six weeks. Do I sound unhappy about this? I am. And a little bit angry, too. So I am having sex. Whenever possible. Every single day until I'm on that operating table. 

But I'm also really scared and really sad. Really sad. And tired of having surgery. And just tired. Actually, it would be a very good idea to avoid me for the next three months. I have a feeling I will be fit company for no one. I know right now I'm a complete mess. And unpleasant. It's a good thing Darrin thinks I'm sexy no matter what. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

At a loss

I am having trouble coping with this day.

Yesterday I got bad news about my health. Major surgery-type news. I can't even think about it. Also, it is a terrible idea to do online research about bad health news. I was scared before. Now I'm beyond terrified.

My Facebook feed is filled with reactions to the people who were killed yesterday. All I can think is thank goodness Trump will build a wall when he's elected. That way we can all stay inside and kill each other. Innocent people of color can be killed by police officers, and other police officers can be killed by peaceful protesters protesting the deaths of the people of color. In-between acts, we can nurture our rape culture so that those who stay alive will be entertained by flashbacks and constant fear. Lives matter? I can't stop crying about this.

On top of everything, I'm living with my father-in-law who is sweet, but helpless. We're supposed to be moving to Utah. Darrin and I are supposed to be looking for jobs. We have to decide what to do about our house lease here, which we are supposed to sign in a week.

I feel like my life and my country and its citizens are all messed up, and there is nothing I can do about anything.

Probably it's time to stop looking at Facebook. And the news. Maybe all the internet.

Terrified with intermittent crying is not a good look for me. I need to find a new thing.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Going Home

I've never really felt like I was home. Anywhere. Probably this has something to do with the fact that I lived in six different cities/towns during my first decade. It's difficult to feel stable when you move every couple of years. And when we finally landed for a longer space of time, my life became surreal. I think there's a lot of logic behind the feeling that I don't really have a home.

I asked some people what home means. I wanted a descriptor, a synonym. Love, safety, belonging, familiarity, family-- those all figured prominently on the list supplied to me. Those are all danger words for me. I don't experience them as I assume others might.

It's likely that the closest thing I've experienced to a "home" feeling has occurred when I was with selected people - with Darrin, of course, but there have also been others. I remember talking about it with them. Probably that was a mistake. Many people enjoy experiencing feelings, events, closeness, whatever, but they don't necessarily wish to analyze or discuss those things. And then there's the common problem that occurs when one person feels something, but the corresponding person does not. That's when the pity emanates from them.

I don't understand pity. Empathy, yes. Sympathy, also yes. But pity implies that one is somehow less because of whatever situation incites the pity. In my particular case, it implies that I am less because I feel comfortable with, or I feel a larger portion of love or intimacy toward, a person who does not reciprocate. I used to be embarrassed that I felt something unreturned. And frustrated. Today I don't believe I feel that way anymore.

You see, feeling at home with a person, for me, is a huge accomplishment. It's also something that for a very long time I wasn't sure I'd ever feel. Feeling love and safety and belonging - those are not things that come easily for anyone, but are for me complicated by past trauma. And probably, if I allow myself to cultivate those feelings, there will be many times when they are misplaced. I'll choose people who don't want me. I'll choose people who enjoy my company but have no interest in closeness or frequent contact. I'll choose people who initially reciprocate, who feel that I have become family, but who cannot maintain that threshold and allow us to relax into casual friends. This will happen.

And if I address it with those people, I will encounter pity. They will look at me and think me less for investing in them.

They are wrong.

I am not less. Each time I try, I become greater. Each time I see that look of pity, or hear the words, and move beyond them to try again, I become better. Each time I invest and trust and love, I become the person I truly am. I deserve no pity. And if one truly knows the cost of trying again and again, I probably deserve accolades and celebration.

This is what Therapist tells me. He says most people give up and retreat, and that is a normal, logical reaction. The fact that I keep trying, he says, means I am courageous and hopeful.

I actually think it means that I'm stubborn, I believe with all my heart that I am going to find the people who love me back - who feel at home with me. And giving up is something that is just not in my DNA. Therapist says I'm just rephrasing what he already said.

I need a T-shirt that says, "If you don't love me as much as I love you, you're missing out."

Monday, July 4, 2016

Do not feel sorry for the crazy people.

I'm not kidding. Also, I'm not politically correct. Do not feel sorry for the mentally challenged? the reality benders? those who cannot remember?

It doesn't matter. All I have to say is that those whose minds are losing capacity do not feel stress. They're fine. They make their own realities. It's those who are sane who suffer.

I just listened to my husband tell his father that the phone jack in his bedroom is broken.

Father-in-law: Let's just plug this in the wall here.
Darrin: Dad, remember, the phone jack doesn't work in here.
FIL: Right. So we have to plug it in.
Darrin: No. The phone outlet doesn't have service in here.
FIL: But we have to plug it in.
Darrin: Well, you can try it. But it doesn't work.

FIL plugs in the phone line to his MagicJack (no, I don't know what that is).

FIL: It's still not working.
Darrin: Because the phone jack doesn't work.
FIL: But I plugged it in.
Darrin: But you plugged it into an outlet that doesn't work.
FIL: How come it doesn't work?
Darrin: I'm not sure. Something to do with the wiring, probably. It hasn't worked as long as we've lived here.
FIL: Oh.

FIL unplugs his phone line. Then looks for another phone jack in the room. He spots the same one and starts toward it.

Darrin: Dad, that phone jack doesn't work.
FIL: I'll just plug it in the wall here.
Darrin: Dad, remember, the phone jack doesn't work in here.
FIL: Right. So we have to plug it in.
Darrin: No. The phone outlet doesn't have service in here.
FIL: But we have to plug it in.
Darrin: Well, you can try it. But it doesn't work.

Six times. This has happened six times. My husband is going to heaven. That is all.