Surgery recovery

The days are melding into each other. Some days I sleep, some days I don’t. I have visitors that I have to book in, because doing too much tires me out more than I thought it would.

I’m not doing much reading, my plans for a 100 books this year are up the wahoo by now. I can’t concentrate on the words, or I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again.

I have churned through TV and movies though; Stranger Things, The Fix, and The Cook and The Chef, Nigella and Rick Stein on SBS on demand.

My periods have been the bane of my life pretty much since they showed up. After a buffet of medications, trial and error (including two mirena implants) on 8 April I had my long-awaited hysterectomy. I was first on the list for Simon’s afternoon surgery, went into theatre about 1:30pm. I can remember crying from a mixture of relief and happiness as I was put under.

After that, time is relative…

Random photos on my phone while I was still groggy, show I got taken to the ward about 5pm. Hubs and Archie came to visit, I was in pain, but while I sat up in bed eating I FaceTimed them to show Arch I was feeling better.

About an hour after that, I barfed my food back up again. It was the single most easiest vomit I’d ever done, I know – TMI, but it was instrumental in pain relief as it meant I got a second bag of tramadol :D I was helped by the nurse on shift overnight, Olivia, who helped me tidy myself up and clean my teeth. My tummy settled and Olivia and another nurse gave me some morphine tablets. I put my audiobook on, earbuds under my pillow and an ear plug in and I got three straight hours of most excellent wafting.

In the morning I was visited by Simon and two of his doctors who showed me the requested photo of my uterus, (huge, chock-full of fibroids) all three inspected my wounds. I staggered to the bathroom, had a shower, sitting down in a chair, but still bliss; my dressings were changed and I was sent home. Less than 24 hours after surgery.

I was sent home so quickly, the physiotherapist missed me completely. The social worker managed a corridor conversation with us to make sure I wasn’t going home on my own, this was interrupted by the pharmacist who took my prescription and told us she’d meet us at the pharmacy. The Mercy oncology department (don’t stress, Simon is a specialist in difficult cases) have decamped to another part of The Austin while plumbing works take place in the Mercy tower; they’re the only department that can be transferred into and out of the Austin. All the preemies, OBGYNs and other specialised lady-bits doctors and departments have been moving up and down the tower floors while the works take place. The ward the oncology department are working from is in the Harold Stokes tower, basically I was on was on the other side of a large hospital. I was as weak as a kitten and my insides felt like they were falling out, there was no way I was going to be able to walk to the car.

Aman, a lovely porter who also refilled my water jug first thing in the morning, took me to the pharmacy in a wheelchair. Hubs got me the hard-drugs from the pharmacist and Aman popped us all in the lift. I managed to get from the lift to the car, then thought ‘Oh shit’. My mouth was dry, I felt dizzy and really quite awful.

We stopped at the 711 around the to get me some water, I swallowed some pain relief and sucked on an anti-nausea pill then Hubs gingerly drove home. For a 20 minute journey, it took hours. Getting out the car my lips were blue and teeth were chattering. Archie took my shoes off, I crawled into bed and stayed there for two days.

Three weeks later, all the work I’d done leading up to the surgery was worth it; I’m walking and recovering well. I am listening to my body, if I do a bit too much it’s counterbalanced out with a nap. I’m not in any pain and already my energy levels are improving. I’ve still got a few weeks off work to carry on resting up and I’ve got an appointment with a trainer at the gym the week after next. I don’t want to go charging back to the gym, I need an all-round, gentle program to get me back to fitness.

The pathology results came back as benign, Simon called me himself to let me know. I really couldn’t have been in safer hands. I’m going to miss hanging out with him every six months.

Work in progress

Sooooo, I learned that I do not honour or am proud of being sober yesterday. We had our Book Club break-up at a wonderful private house in Camberwell. We mooched around the garden, took masses of photos and were offered lemonade, fizz and Pimms. I asked for lemonade.

I got this.

Then my glass was empty, it got refilled with fizz and I didn’t say anything.

Then I asked for a glass of Pimms, because I’d already blown the week out the window.

Sigh.

I don’t got this. Today I looked up AA meetings. I need help as this is bigger than I can handle. :/

—o0o—

In other news, a friend at aforementioned party, took a photo of me that I posted on Instagram and Facebook with the following caption:

Those of you who know me, know I struggle with what I look like. It’s rare for me to have a candid picture taken of me that I like. But I love this one!
#bodydysmorphia #mentalhealth

I’ve had some messages come through about what Body Dysmorphia means, so I’m going to try to explain it; as best I can. I was in Wiltshire when I was diagnosed, so about 2001? I have hid the diagnosis, because like many mental health issues, I was ashamed of it. Only a few close friends, and I mean close, know how much I struggle with what I look like. Some days, it’s so bad, I can only do my make-up looking in a compact mirror, because then I don’t see all my face at one time.

I’m getting ready to go to work, or on a night out and I look at me in a mirror; I take care over my appearance and think, “that ain’t bad”. Then I take a selfie, because I don’t think I look too bad, and WTF is in the camera? Or someone else will take a photo and WTF is in the camera. Some photos of me will never be on my timeline, because WTF is in the camera. So far, so normal, right?

I have also been the height I am since I was 12 years old, I towered over people at school. On my first day at high school, I was told off for not telling someone the way to a classroom, because I didn’t know it. The teacher thought I was being difficult? a bully? obnoxious? who the hell knows.

I would sit down next to girls my age and feel huge next to them. I was taller than them; sitting down on anything, my thighs were bigger; my hands were bigger, I bit my nails through nerves. I took up so much space compared to everyone else. I’m lanky, gangly, walk into things all the time, stooping to try and hide it; so now at 43, my shoulders hurt.

My feet are bigger than my husband’s. I remember so clearly at junior school, one of my favourite teachers trying to address the problem of people picking on me by standing me next to the smallest girl in the class (hello Sophie if you’re out there). Talk about exacerbating the problem. It took a full meltdown for him to understand the impact of him slipping my shoes on to take the rubbish out before he understood how fragile my f*cking feet make me feel. Feet! I am so proud of them because they’ve taken me round endless KMs of running in the past few years. I’d no sooner got rid of one duff nail when Archie trod on two more and I’m waiting for them to grow out, so I’m still trying to hide my feet.

What with being mistaken for a boy for most of my childhood and teens, the feet, the entirely too big, too tall, not girly enough, short hair because it was easier while I was in a swimming pool all the time; who I am, what I look like, got warped along the way. What I look like does not match expectations and people have told me so, all my life. It’s gotten to be so normal for me, even if in reality most people don’t care, but that’s the thing with BDD, depression or anxiety, what you tell your brain make no difference, one iota.

Because the voice in your head is so loud, it deafens out everything else.

I completed a Mental Health First Aid course today, (I am aware of the irony). But you see, I’m perfectly placed to do this, because I know people. I pick up signs when you’re not 100%, I ask questions, peer intently at them, check in on you, because when you’re hiding in plain sight – I see you. Coz, I know all the secrets about appearing normal; functioning when you can barely function or hold it together.

The alcohol thing? Self-medication, because if I’m buzzing, I ain’t feeling the weight of perception on my shoulders. Perception to be all things to all people. Perception that I’m not enough. That I’m less than. That my make-up isn’t on point, as I’ve not contoured correctly, (really? ffs). That some days I can barely move from my bed because my soul hurts. That some days only the thought of Archie means I hold it together, because I don’t want him to be the child that grows up without a parent. That I am sick of people talking over me when I’m trying to say something.

BDD goes hand in hand with everything else I’ve got. But like everything else I’ve got, it doesn’t define me. It makes me, me.

Father’s Day, weekend redux

Had an odd Saturday, on the one hand – excellent as I got to meet one of my favourite humans; on the other sh!t-house because of a poorly managed night out that left me in the middle of a room on my own staving off anxiety. C’est la vie.

On Friday night Osher Gunsberg shared on Instagram he was whizzing into the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, and was doing a signing in the Atrium at 12:30pm on Saturday. I told Hubs I wanted to head into the city to get my book (re) signed, as I’d brought a signed copy from Booktopia.

We headed into the city to watch Archie play hockey, his last session of the season, which means no more running by the Yarra for me on a Saturday for a few months. But I  spent a half an hour there doing the VA thing, supporting a project I’m passionate about. We drove into the CBD proper from South Yarra; driving past Melbourne Football Club training in a park, watched by fans from the sidelines. No extra security in sight, you can’t imagine any club in the Premiere League doing that.

We parked up, and went to get coffees from one of the coffee shops in the Atrium. I ordered a croissant for the boys to share, and a pear and almond friend for me. Both came out cold, which we weren’t expecting (#brrrr), but they were tasty. The boys headed off into the city to a model shop, I sat on a chair and started to read Osher’s book. I’d been saving it since I knew I’d inhale it, and I must say it’s been a PITA having to go to work and do stuff.

Then suddenly there he was. I’ve got an odd relationship with him, he’s a major party of my life, even if he has no idea who I am. I’ve been listening to his podcast since he was still living in the USA, so we worked it out that was five years. I think I was also the only person in the queue who doesn’t watch the Bachelor(ette), if anyone tries to get anything other than sport or cartoons on our TV at home – good luck.

Osher was as sweet and as gracious as he is to his guests on the podcast; he came round the other side of the table to meet us, when I got my phone out to take a photo, whoever was with him (his manager Lauren maybe?), offered to take a picture. For a nanosecond, I hesitated, then put my arms right round him and leant my head against his. We talked some more, he signed more in my book and after saying ‘Give my love to the girls’, I kissed him and left so other people could get a chance to spend some time with him.

I would so love to talk to him for hours though. It’s not like my schwarm for Tom Hardy or George Clooney; it’s more like how I feel about Stephen Fry, Oprah, Cmdr Hadfield, Brené Brown or Mel Robbins.

—o0o–

In the evening, I’d been invited to an 80s night at the RSL with some of the school mums. I brought my ticket from someone I’d never met and arranged to meet people in the foyer at 7:30pm. I arrived to find no-one waiting, and when I posted in the event on Facebook, I then found out that two separate dinners had been organised without anyone asking if I wanted to join either of them.

Okaaaay.

One school mum rescued me, introduced me to a friend of hers who arrived shortly after me and went back to finish her meal. We made small talk, two more people arrived that this lady knew, but I don’t follow the VFL so a lot of the conversation I watched. We went upstairs, I stood there while we tried to work out where to sit or stand, as there was nowhere free.

Texting my running buddy that as it was Father’s Day, I wouldn’t be able to meet with her as we normally do on Sunday mornings; having said that I then messaged ‘I’m not sure how long I’ll be out for. I’m standing here like a lemon with no one talking to me‘ As I typed it, my anxiety bubbled up and within three minutes over the text conversation, I was out the door and heading back to my car.

I wouldn’t mind, but I’d been updating Instagram stories with my exploits as I was so excited about going out with new people. Sigh. Bless her heart, she checked in on me first thing in the morning to make sure I was ok.

I was ok once I got home and talked it through with Hubs. We sat up in bed and read together like the old married couple that we are; I’m currently on American Wife, which is frickin amazing.

Sunday morning we were up and at ’em, outside of bacon and eggs and on the road to Werribee Zoo, we got there early, arriving in time to hop on the first bus heading off on the safari at 9:50. Archie wanted to show Hubs around as Hubs had never been there before. We got up close to the animals, walked round the African part, had a coffee and were out the door in two hours flat. Perfect timing as it was getting busy as we left, we had parts of the zoo to ourselves, talking the whole way round. We saw so many birds too it was wonderful. From Superb Fairy Wrens, to honeyeaters, eagles, kites and little Red-browed finches who look like they’re wearing superhero masks.

I also have perfected poached eggs, I think I’d done them once or twice before this weekend, but Archie and I did some serious YouTube research, cracking the eggs into a tea cup is the way to go folks. It’s amazing how you can learn stuff online so easily now.

Sinusitis – again

I’ve been knocked sideways by my second sinus infection this year. Two too many said the GP I saw on Wednesday. She signed me off work for two days (more in a minute), wrote me a prescription and referred me for a CT scan of my noggin when I’m well. She wants to see what’s going on inside my head. Don’t we all?

It’s been hanging around for a couple of weeks, not developing into anything, and because I’ve been mostly sneezing, it was hiding as hay-fever, until I woke up on Wednesday and my teeth hurt. I made an appointment in the late afternoon as I had to update the Managers on the preparations for our office move at a meeting at 2pm, and carried on at work. Even moving bins in and around the office, as there was no-one else to do it.

109 people are changing desks on Monday and Tuesday, I know this because I’ve counted them. Part of the working group, Thursday was our big clean-up morning, hence all the bins arriving on site and being dotted about the office. I’ve missed the pizza lunch after the clean-up. I’ve missed our Christmas in July – that was deferred after a biblical rainstorm in December last year. But after one antibiotic tablet, on Thursday morning I could barely move. Thank goodness for pre-packed lunches and only having to run Arch down the road to his holiday program. I clapped a beanie on my head, kept my PJs on and dropped him off. I got back to bed and we’re now on Saturday morning and I feel almost human again.

I’ve wafted through Bridesmaids, various Hairy Bikers programs, and despite asking for Netflix requests on Facebook, I couldn’t concentrate on anything so have just added them all to my watch-list for ‘Ron. Mostly I’ve slept as I couldn’t read either as I couldn’t hold a thought in my head. Hubs came home on Thursday to a house in darkness, no small boy in sight and went back out again to get Arch, coming home with pizza, but sad he couldn’t find me creme caramel or creamed rice pudding.

On Wednesday afternoon while waiting for my prescription to be filled, I brought comfort food supplies. Ranging from fancy yogurts to laksa soup to chilli – knowing what I want to eat when everything tastes like cardboard anyway, I prepared for my bedraggled state. Staggering into the kitchen yesterday, I was so grateful I had brought the chilli in readiness I high-fived myself. I had a shower yesterday evening, today I’ll strip the bed, this morning I wanted a coffee. Baby steps all of them…

Hubs arrived home yesterday with more Laksa soup and six pots of creme caramel (slight overkill, I’m not complaining), but still no creamed rice pudding. Ambrosia you’ve failed me! Mind you, I’ve not had their tapioca pudding since I moved here and still crave it. I’d kill for Pad Thai, every so often I’d open up Uber Eats to look at the local restaurants, but I can’t justify it.

The cat has been very happy I’ve been home, sleeping on either my legs or my pillow, he’s stretched out flat on his back by my legs at the minute. So here’s my stream of conscious update for you. As is. No editing. I feel much better today, but will stay at home with the wee man. I’m looking forward to moving to the couch to watch a DVD with him, but now I’m off for a nap.

Pooh-Bear

Be like Christine

Yesterday, the world lost a kind, gentle soul who spent her whole life looking after others. Chris held her family together with love, and then shared her love with countless others through a lifetime of teaching, before it reached our little family to boot. Hanno’s mum was my heroine, for so many reasons, but mostly for the love she sprinkled through the world so freely.

We’d meet at Hanno’s house for races, or his plays, in between swapping texts and the odd game of Words With Friends, (that she wiped the floor with me in). Occasionally we’d call, but mostly to organise food; nevertheless, when we were together, we picked up where we left off. Fitting into the banter and laughter of familial insults of longstanding relationships. Archie has grown up with her in his life as someone who talked with him, not to him.

From the devilled egg standoffs with her daughter in law, to the roast dinners; from the chicken salads, to the breakfast rolls; from coffees to copious amounts of wine, our relationship revolved around food. Us ‘ladies what lunch’ drove to Rutherglen for some downtime away from the boys and endless football codes. We sampled wines, had lunch, went to the chocolatier, Rosie (my cousin) and I chatting in the front seat on the way home, Chris snoozing in the back.

We sat in a Laundromat drying bedding and towels in companionable silence, getting coffees on a cold, wet day, again getting out the house from the football! Walked round Farmer’s markets and brought fresh veggies, cooing over the soil still damp on the carrots, exclaiming at the crispness of the greens. I loved cooking for her, because it meant she sat down and didn’t do anything. From when she woke up to when she went to bed, unless she was sitting down to have a cuppa; she was on the go. Looking after Keith, cleaning the kitchen worktops, sorting laundry, if it needed doing and you didn’t stop her, Chris did it.

We cheered Hanno on from the back of the hall at his first play, slowly being allowed closer to the front of the hall through the years as his confidence grew. Archie telling me loudly to ‘Be quiet Mama!’ when I got the giggles.

The time we spent with Chris and Keith was filled with laughter, food, joy, food, love and more food. From my first trip over in 2007 where Chris had changed the bed in the spare room for Hubs and I, smoothing the sheets over with love. Folding the towels like a hotel, she made sure we were welcome. Never knowingly under-catered, we always had more food than we knew what to do with, Hanno’s house had elastic sides with people crashing on couches, in beds and cousins joining for breakfast after sleeping in a caravan on site just down the road.

Archie and I visited a few weeks ago, taking some flowers he had chosen for her. We only stayed long enough for Archie to eat his lunch, and a quick catch-up and a hug. He’s missing her already, trying to explain it all to an almost seven year old is hard work. While Archie knows that she’s gone, Chris will never be forgotten. Forty years of teaching, almost fifty years of marriage, two proud sons, four indomitable grandchildren, family, friends. All of us who knew Chris are better people because of her.

Be like Christine, pay your love forward. Greet the world with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

Well, that explains a lot

I had an ultra sound last Thursday; the technician was awesome, she explained everything that was going on all the way through the appointment. Short story, I have endometriosis.

She asked heaps of questions; how long I’d been struggling with my periods – um, for as long as I can remember? Was I ever in pain – yes. On and on we went. We found lesions all the way through my uterus, luckily it hasn’t migrated anywhere else, but it looks like it’s done enough damage as it is.

I am acutely aware I’m very lucky as all my organs are moving around freely, nothing like a good stomach palpitation to check that out *crosses eyes*. Other women who have this condition diagnosed can have lesions that migrate around their abdomen, causing all sorts of problems when it adheres to different structures.

Unlike most, I don’t actually remember my first period. but I remember thinking I had it one evening before a swimming club Christmas disco. I do know my periods always had a big impact on my moods, my life. Some days I was so sluggish in swimming races I didn’t even make my qualifying time (to get our entry fees back); a time a few weeks earlier that I’d been able to meet with ease. I remember one 200m breaststroke heat at Crystal Palace, it felt like I was swimming through treacle. My parents and coach were disappointed, I did the second turn (50m pool) and was in tears through the underwater phases, everyone in my heat had turned miles ahead of me. I just had to keep on going otherwise I’d be disqualified. I was just too slow, my arms and legs going through the motions, but not getting me anywhere.

As I hurtle towards the menopause, I do wonder how much longer I can do this. Sitting at my desk on broiling hot days with hot water bottles on my stomach, carrying undies around ‘just in case’. Le sigh. To add insult to injury, I’m now going to have to see my GP for paracetamol and codeine – from February, the hard stuff isn’t available over the counter any longer, which is a good thing. Unless you need it because you can’t move and are curled up in a ball in bed, as I can’t now send Hubs to get it for me. [As an aside, if you can’t get into your GP to help manage long-term pain issues, what do you do?]

I cannot believe that a few days shy of my 43rd birthday, probably thirty years after they first announced themselves, I get this diagnosis. The technician also said to me last week that if it was any consolation, my ovaries are in overdrive with heaps of active follicles. No, it wasn’t any consolation thank you very much. o.O To my girls who have struggled through trying for, IVF-ing or miscarriage – I’m sorry that apparently I’m a veritable battery chicken over here.

Anyhoo, I see my OB/GYN early next month as what precipitated this entire event is that the mirena that I’d been ‘given’ decided of it’s own accord to fall out just before Christmas. Simon wrote “any changes to periods, refer back to me” Thank goodness, the ultrasound was the first part of investigating what the umpity-ump is going on. It’s a start, and hopefully the end as I argued for and lost the battle to have a hysterectomy a few years ago. But I’m done. I am sooooo done.

periods

Picture credit – the inimitable Sarah Anderson

Fur babies

I had a very lazy morning today. We were woken up at before 7am, but I stayed in bed until about 10am. Dozing, wafting, whatever you want to call it, I was out of it today.

Waking up, WhatsApp said I had a notification from Mum. “Branston has just passed away, very peacefully on the floor by the bed.” As soon as I read it I rang home; stoic at first, then as I told her about my ‘phone call with Bec yesterday, I started weeping.

It’s not just about a cat, it never is. As Dad said just now when we talked on FaceTime, they do leave footprints on your heart. Cats choose you, if they don’t want to live with you or your family – they’ll toddle off and find someone else who suits them better.

Chief Brody chose us when we went to the cat rescue, yelling at us until we got him in the carrier and home. I am very much his human, but he sleeps on Archie’s bed most nights too. I chose Doctor Hooper from kittens needing homes at work, but his personality was too domineering to live with CB who is very skittish (as he was sixteen weeks old when we got him, we have no idea what his history was before he was left with the cat rescue). Doctor Hooper in the end was re-hoomed to live with Ruby, a friend’s daughter. His first night home with them, now renamed Taco, he slept in her room and has been an integral member of their family since.

Branston was one of two cats I’ve not re-homed from a shelter; I was on a wait list for kittens and thought I’d missed out on this particular litter. However, another lady who was going to choose two didn’t call back. So I got a phone call, “Can you come over today to choose your cats?” I didn’t hesitate and whizzed over. Branston and Pickle. Branston pure tortoiseshell and Pickle, one of those big, fat white cats with blobs of colour on. I wanted kittens because ex-husband was in the army in the UK and we would be likely to move around a lot. I wanted them to be resilient and come round with us.

We lived next door to a couple with Borzois, one day Donna asked us to keep the cats inside until she’d let the dogs out because they wouldn’t go into their garden as Branston was out there wanting to play with them. She was still a kitten, this teeny, tiny thing scaring dogs who stood level with my waist.

Pickle was a lot like Chief Brody, a bit skittish and more than a bit stupid too. She’d climb trees then couldn’t work out how to get down them. We moved house but she didn’t cope with it, she started weeing everywhere, in the end we surrendered her to a shelter where they’d already got a lady lined up who wanted an indoor, loving cat. I do wonder how she got on, and if she had a happy life?

Branston was cheeky as. She was so little when I got her she’d curl up in a six-egg carton to sleep. Then when she was too big, she’d push the cardboard around on the floor because it sounded good. I took them both to the vets for their initial check after they’d been home a week. They got given a treatment for worms, fleas and ticks. With gunk in her ears and eyes, and dribbling white medicine the look of indignation she gave me was one I can still see now.

I’d let them out in the morning, call them in before I’d left for work and quite often would miss the bus I’d want to catch because Branston would be off and away, running like a rocking horse up the alley behind the houses. But if I gave up on the game of getting her back in and leave her out, I’d be greeted with angry yells when I got home.

One days she came in and was ill, so sick after she’d vomited, she fell over sideways. Picking her up in a towel, we took her to the vet where she was put on a drip. For two days I was a mess, but she came home and was fine. We never did figure out what it was that caused it. When dickhead and I went to Cuba for a holiday, Dad moved in to the house for two weeks to look after them both as the cost for a cattery was more than our holiday. Branston and he bonded then, when dickhead and I separated, I went to live with Mon Bears, who had an indoor bunny. I asked if Aged Parents could have Branston for me until I sorted myself out.

By the time I had sorted myself out, Branston was definitely my Dad’s cat. She adored him, following him around the house. It was on his side of the bed she passed away today. When he was ill in hospital last year having surgery for bowel cancer, she would sit in the window and wonder where he was.

But for me, my overriding memory of this cat was her gregariousness. I’d never known another cat like her. Ex-husband’s brother was a mechanic, doing a mini-service on our car on a visit down to us, I sat on a picnic blanket talking to them both. Branston sat beside me, as a car drove past, she’d go back to the house, stand in the door way, then come back to sit beside me on the blanket. When you stayed with Mum and Dad, you’d wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, then see the cat looking at you, ‘Yow’.

The last few years of her life, she got a pet-passport and went camping with Aged Parents, she loved it. In and out the caravan all day long. She would appear on the table when I’d talk to Aged Ps over FaceTime. When I walked in the house in March this year, I called “Branston!” she came down the stairs and looked at me in disbelief then started singing with joy when she saw me.

If you’re thinking about buying an animal for your family for Christmas, think about the time investment it is, whether you really do want that cute fur-ball until the end. Think about what it will feel like at the end of their lives. Fifteen years Branston was with us, Pickle was with us for three. Fluffy (because she was), Beaky (another tortie who looked like an owl), Sooty (black all over) and Susie (black and white, occasionally black all over after she’d been asleep in the coal hole) were members of our family for between five to twelve years too.

I’d have them all over again, my life has been all the richer for them.