The surgery is over. I have been “resting” for 13 days. 13 days! The first few days home were entirely uneventful. Sit upright, eat healthy, take meds, try to sleep and hope to poop. Time flew by and then a new week began. Work, 3 kids, household chores, bills, errands, emails, etc. all pushed aside because I needed to “rest.” The outpouring of kindness from beautiful empathetic souls was immense. Dinners made and delivered. My children picked up and dropped off from school. Visitors coming to check on me. I felt a sense of normalcy and structure that filled me with comfort.
By day 7, I was feeling better physically, although my temperament had changed. I was incredibly quick to frustration…more than normal, and I seemed to be absolutely overwhelmed by my own children which was a heart wrenching realization. With the bit of energy I had gained and the kids off at school, I felt the insatiable need to be productive in some way, any way! I found I could still be useful via my laptop. I could return emails, pay bills, do research for my travel articles, the kids summer camps, the dogs vaccines etc. And If I could do that, then I could try to put the laundry away and pick up toys around the house like an asshole that doesn’t listen. In the few days that followed, I was met with a relentless exhaustion well before lunch. I had to lie down, close my eyes and focus on my breathing. Everyday was proving to be an emotional roller coaster. From gratitude, elation, and inspiration, spouting powerful rushes of positivity to myself-
“I can do this!”
“I am coming back strong!”
I am recovering so quickly!”
To free fall drops into hopelessness, helplessness and a deep dark abyss of “utterly overwhelmed.”
“Shouldn’t I be feeling better??”
“Why does everything still hurt?”
“When will I be able to open my fucking left eye and see??”
“I need to go back to work!”
Pounding headaches presenting themselves out of nowhere. Dizziness and shortness of breath immediately following any kind of non strenuous physical or mental activity. While it is so simple to say “take it easy,” and “don’t push yourself,” implementing these words of caution had proved to be much easier said than done.
I was feeling confined and frustrated over the next several days. Fidgety and restless throughout the day having made feeble, half assed attempts to heal. On day 12, however, I awoke optimistic and determined. I wanted donuts, gourmet donuts and I deserved them! My husband and personal chauffeur drove me to my dessert breakfast paradise.
Arriving to a 30 minute line down the sidewalk was no surprise. I was feeling confident! There was no question that I could do this! The air was fresh, slightly brisk and the surroundings were surprisingly quiet. After just a few minutes of standing and waiting, I subconsciously began to sway back and forth just as I had done in the late stages of all three pregnancies. My right leg had begun to take on a dull ache as circulation was clearly struggling. Discussing donuts and flavor combinations with my kids kept me distracted, anticipating my special treats. the closer we got to the door, rapid surges of emotion quickly came and went in my mind’s eye.
Arriving at the entrance, a ridiculously narrow and cramped glass door, dread began to creep in. I took a deep breath and attempted to concentrate on the task at hand. But upon entering the building, my wounded and imperfect brain was met with a relentless onslaught of noise and over stimulation. Pandemonium ensued as loud music and a crowd of people lined in elbow to asshole formation attacked my senses. A bubbly employee called to me from behind the counter to take my order while my overly excited son pulled my shirt, my 9-year-old tapped me in the back, and the 11-year-old tried to get my attention repeating “mom,” “mommy,” “mom,” simultaneously.
I grabbed my husband’s arm to signal that something was wrong and I needed help. He took the reins from there and I struggled to gain control of my breathing. Just as our order was complete, I noticed rainbow-colored laser lights flashing sporadically on the walls and that was my breaking point. Biting my lip and digging my fingernails into my palm, I involuntarily began to visualize myself falling to the floor, lifeless, and inconsolably bursting into tears. Powerful feelings of confusion, uncertainty, and terror flooded my delicate mind. My brain screaming-
“I CAN’T DO THIS!”
“I’M GOING TO PASS OUT!”
“GET ME OUT!”
I tried to counter each negative statement with-
“YOU CAN DO THIS!”
“JUST ONE MORE MINUTE!”
My world seemed to move in slow motion for the next 30 seconds as I held tightly to the counter and helplessly watched my surroundings fade to black in a sinister tunnel vision. A cold sweat of panic and vulnerability manifested itself over my entire body. Utterly defenseless and unable to process the situation, everything was a chaotic blur. Suddenly, I was outside although I don’t recall walking myself there. There is no memory of releasing my grip from the counter and propelling myself forward, but I had done it.
I tried desperately to regain my bearings in the moments that followed, allowing the cool air to fill my lungs. As my children bounced around jovially towards the car, tears began to drench my pale sticky face. I was shaking, overcome with bewilderment and fear. Defeated and overwhelmed in a moment intended for family fun. I was mentally exhausted, searching with every step for the safe haven of my car. My husband’s hands full of donuts, I reached out for his elbow, squeezing it tightly for some sense of tangible safety. He had no idea of what I’d just experienced. Wiping my tears with my sleeve, I did all that I could to not allow my children to see me in that state.
For a full two hours following my “episode” if you will, I was physically drained, hopeless and scared. Was this a panic attack? Was this the onset of a seizure that by the good graces of God, I was able to control?? My surgical incision began to throb and ache leaving me dizzy and debilitated. I was clearly NOT ready for an outing of any sort. I was NOT ready to practice the once familiar traits of a typical extrovert. The rest of the day left me questioning my healing progress, my character and my inner strength as a human being. As I sat in silence with my thoughts of self loathing, my brain was strong enough to stop me from going down the path of anger and spite, reminding me to trust my body and respect myself. As I silently agreed, my son handed me a bracelet. A bracelet with the word RELENTLESS written on it. That was my moment of clarity. Long overdue, and unquestionably necessary.
My body and emotions are experiencing raw, unshielded vulnerability and hypersensitivity. Two things that are absolutely unfamiliar and foreign to me. My overzealous and stubborn personality which I rely on heavily to fuel my productivity and drive have left me drained and empty. The side effects of my surgery seem to be relentless, but I too can be relentless. Relentless in hope and courage, never faltering and doing my damnedest to turn a negative into a positive. This is a healing process. A healing process of life itself and the ability to function properly. I cannot fight it, I must trust, and heal, and thrive. My beautiful life depends on it.
Have you have been here, or know someone who has?
Let’s inspire and encourage one another! Strength and support are always welcome!!