It’s my favorite time of day; the time when the sky slowly shifts from black to gray as you watch it, but if you turn your gaze elsewhere for only a minute or two, suddenly blues have appeared when you look back.
I’m sprawled on the couch in my living room with a cat in my lap having been awake since somewhere in the 3:00 hour. I’ve been unable to stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time for the past two months, even with the aid of medication or supplements that are supposed to help you sleep. I’ve talked it over with both my GP (who I love like family) and my therapist (who I think is from a planet of wise elders) and they both agree that this is probably a symptom of PTSD.
I have other symptoms too…none too severe, I don’t think, but everything has sharp edges and hidden motives and I don’t trust anything or anyone to do or be what they say they are. I break out into cold sweats at random and shake. I cry a lot, too. And then there’s the fatigue. Oh my goodness golly, the FATIGUE. Of course part of that is my body trying to heal, but medical trauma PTSD certainly doesn’t help. Neither does the lack of sleep.
Time, they all say. Time is what I need. And today, it’s been two months.
Two months ago, at 9 or 10pm, after waiting 24 hours to be admitted to the hospital as I was hemorrhaging at an alarming rate from a surgery I’d had two weeks prior, my admittance quickly turned into, “we’re going into surgery now. NOW.” I signed paperwork as they wheeled me through the hallways, quickly, on a rolling hospital bed. I remember I’d lost so much blood that I couldn’t hold the pen very well or see the little signature lines clearly, so my signatures were just squiggles. I asked the nurse to write the dates for me.
That story here: https://adonkumentary.com/2023/01/03/two-weeks-two-surgeries-and-a-new-year/
You know it’s bad when the medical staff isn’t talking and they’re just in mode. When two anesthesiologists & the first of two surgeons asked me if I had any questions before they put the mask on my face, I knew I had a million, but was so fatigued, so confused, and so scared that I just said, I don’t think so. The older anesthesiologist, as he placed the mask, looked me dead in the eyes and said, “we’re going to take good care of you, I promise.” When the mask was secured to my face, just before all went black, I felt a tiny pool of tears gather against the rubber over my nose.
I’m not someone who gets queasy at the sight of blood: being chronically ill with blood draws several times a month, you get used to it. Also, when you work with spunky equine who like to play so hard sometimes that they break each other’s skin and it’s on you to tend to it, blood is, meh, not a big deal. But I cannot describe the fear of watching yourself hemorrhage and the fear that you might die in a waiting room because there are no beds available and only two nurses. Plus, having to ask the front desk for more and more supplies to tend to your bleeding is no fun, especially when, even if you’re whispering, people can still hear you and then they whisper to each other and watch you closely as you go to and from the bathroom. Ugh.
God love those nurses though; they were doing their absolute best, but they needed more people. I fear we’ll start losing these angels on earth in scrubs because the system wears them so thin. I wouldn’t blame them for leaving.
After 20 hours of waiting, a new nurse came by, not realizing the severity of my blood loss and she told me she had no idea if I would be admitted that day at all and by the way, I don’t even see you in our system–have you followed the proper channels? We have protocol, you know. In a moment of frustration, I replied sarcastically and said, “Yeah, I mean, I have my arm band that they keep scanning and they’ve been taking even more blood all night to check my hemoglobin levels. But it’s fine, I’ll just die on this bench waiting, then y’all won’t have to worry about me.”
I later apologized. That was uncalled for. But. It was the state of my mind at that point, I suppose. She told me it was okay–that they see people at their worst and trust her, they’ve seen A LOT worse.
Obviously, I made it to the other side of the second surgery, thank goodness. Much more in my past few blog entries if you’re interested in more of the story. But what I’m sitting here thinking about with a purring cat in my lap is that it’s been two months today.
That’s an eternity and a finger snap. Time, for the past several months, has made no sense.
I hadn’t mentioned that two weeks before my first surgery, my grandmother died. I was there, helping my sweet dad, her only son, make the decision to move her to hospice. That’s an impossible position to be in alone. My mom was there, too, via phone, as she took care of my kiddo and all the animals. My dad is a wonderful person and his mother was lucky to have him in her life.
I’m not keen on holidays, especially the ones that capitalize on consumerism like Christmas, but I did feel bad that the death, the funeral, my surgery, my care, my hemorrhaging, almost dying, my family’s fear of another funeral, and a second surgery took the holidays away from them. They’re not the curmudgeon I am about the holidays, yet they sacrificed so much of their time, their celebration, and their energy to care for me, my young son, and my farm animals. I am very lucky.
It’s been two months and I’ve thanked them all a million times to which I’m always met with, “it’s okay, that’s what family is for.” But I’ve told them and I’ll tell you, I can’t ever thank them enough.
I can’t thank the surgical team enough. They saved my life. I would’ve died had anything gone differently and I guess I haven’t wrapped my head around that yet. It’s made me hypersensitive but also numb and I don’t know how that’s possible, but it is…and I’m there.
PTSD, I suppose.
I’ve been slowly and carefully getting my garden into the ground (within the bounds of my physical limitations, of course) and that’s been a most welcome, therapeutic thing. I love gardening. I love it. And I love that I’m still here to plant one.
There are a million metaphors that compare plant growth to struggles in life: the whole, “seeds have to break open and push their way through dirt and shit to finally reach the sunlight and hopefully their needs are met in a way that allows them to bloom” thing. And I guess that’s where I am. Cracked open, but still in the dark trying to figure out which way is up.
And that’s okay.
That’s okay because I don’t want to subscribe to “the grind” anymore. I’m out of the rat race. I quit. At some point, we can’t make higher profits this quarter; the well’s been sucked dry, my dude. I want to take my time. I want to wiggle my way up the crumbly, smelly path where I’ll poke out in just the right spot for the amount of sun I need and hope that there will be enough rain or somebody to offer me water when there’s not so that my petals can fall open, colorful, playful, and something to be admired.
Two whole months. My goodness.
Hug someone you love today. Or if you can’t, let ’em know you wish you could. I know that what I need more than anything in the world right now is to feel seen. Like my post a couple back where I talk about being frozen and passed by–I want, so badly, for someone to stop and touch my hand. “I see you and you matter.”
I love you,
God bless you, Jess. Praying for total healing, body mind, spirit for you. You are loved!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I love you.
Hoping that you get back up, fully recover, and that someone stops and touches your hand. Through your Donkumentary, I see you Jess; you matter.
LikeLiked by 1 person
💜💜💜💜 my goodness thank you so much that means the world
LikeLiked by 1 person
oh my indeed. Thank you Jess for sharing so much and saying so much and being so much. I am far from you but you make me feel so close to you. My husband is one of your mom’s cousins who grew up supporting each other. your family is so nurturing. ANYway, oh my you make me so grateful. I don’t kknow how you are able to give so much while you are so challenged by punches in the gut. I learned today to give those medical people the benefit of the doubt (while I want to lash out because they don’t fix everything I expect . I expect too much; they are human, after all). well, thank you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
💙💙 thank YOU for what you said. I don’t know why I write about all this except that when I go poking around on the internet looking for camaraderie in the struggles of chronic illness, I’m always relieved to find others’ stories. I hate that so many people live with often debilitating illnesses and conditions, but I’m grateful for community anyway. So my hope is that someone who needs it mighty find me, too, and have it resonate.
I miss you a lot. All my love 💙