Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Through the looking glass.... part two

It has been two months since my surgery. Here are  my remaining "making some kind of  sense of the whole  crazy thing" vignettes.

I cannot believe it is still Thursday, but it must be. Partner is sitting and then standing at the side of my bed. I am having conversations, but then dropping off to sleep in the middle of a sentence or a thought. I am so happy to see Partner, I could cry, so you'd think I could manage to stay present for  a sentence or a thought .... but, I feel myself ebbing and flowing. Partner is happy that I am speaking and more or less with it. I have no idea how long we engage in this in and out form of  conversation, but it feels good to come back to the sentence or the thought and see that I am not alone. Since I was unceremoniously transferred to this bed on the ward earlier in the day, I have felt the weirdness of time ..... an endless day with moments that are too swift and fleeting to hold onto. Partner lets me know that visiting hours are over and it is time to leave. I am staying, of course, I think. We have tender words and light touches. Tomorrow, I think, I will be better able to hold onto my moments.... my sentences , my thoughts.

During the night, I pee 5 times. This means that I had to get myself up and drag my IV sentinel with me to the in -ward bathroom, not fall over with pain, dizziness or disorientation in the process, do my business, and return to a reclining position in bed. Sometimes a nurse will check, but mostly, I am on my own. My ward mates look out for me. My first time is bloody awful. I cannot seem to get the door closed all the way, but this is not as important as not falling over. I keep telling myself that it is important to get up and move around as soon as possible after surgery ( this is the mantra in the hospital..... for me, it is not quite 12 hours..... I am feeling quite heroic and simultaneously resentful ) and so no matter how bad it feels, it is still a good thing. Terrible how quickly I have succumbed to the hospital script. The next time, I get the door closed, but when I am finished my business, I discover that I cannot get the doorknob to work. It will not turn. I cannot believe this. I pound on the door and ask the fella in the bed next to the bathroom to ask for someone to come and help me get out. He buzzes for a nurse. One arrives and opens the door.
" What was the trouble?" she asks me.
" Doorknob wouldn't turn, " I say " I think it's broken".
She gives me the gaze. "you just have to turn it" she says.
I am not at the top of my game, so my typical sarcastic rejoinder of "Gee, I never would have thought of that"  does not fall from my lips. But I am not so far gone that I do not think that my sarcasm would be wasted..... it's hard to insult the stupid ones.
The next two  pees are uneventful. A nurse unplugs me from the wall, I get to the bathroom, leave the door ajar, get it all done and get back to bed without too much mishap. I am getting pretty good at this, I think.
Then, it is pee number 5. Nurse comes to unplug the apparatus, I get myself over to the bathroom. I leave the door ajar and get myself settled, and then..... the nurse closes the door.  "Hey," I yell ( it is not much of a yell, because I cannot enlist any stomach muscles or my diaphragm ) ... but it is to no avail. I get my business finished and attempt to open the door, but guess what, the damn doorknob still will not turn. I pound on the door again to get my ward mate's attention, but he is asleep. Here I am, trapped. At least I am sitting down. Finally after being in there for long enough without anyone coming back to check, I go for my last resort: I pull the big red handle  on the wall. That gets lots of quick attention and more unhappy gazes. I seem to have peed my way to morning, because soon enough  there is lots of activity signifying the start of the next morning. Nurses coming in taking " vitals" and breakfast trays  being placed  on the tables next to the bed. I am on liquids until I manage to "pass gas" which is tougher than you'd think. It sure as hell was tougher than I thought!! The nurse who has been giving me the glare through the night finishes up with another one of my ward mates and goes into the bathroom. I am thrilled to see that she closes the door after her. And to my utter delight, she is locked in there.  The fella who has been helping me out and I  call out to her " all you have to do is turn the knob".
But, who knew, the door knob will not turn.
Another nurse lets her out. She announces to all in hearing distance: "this doorknob is broken!! I am putting in  a work order" . It was fixed within the hour.
The perverse joy in the ward was palpable. Apparently ward mates bond quickly.

I puke most of the day on Friday, the day after my surgery. Not fun at all. I am also quite nauseous and dizzy. I am walking, but precariously, and not wanting to puke while I am walking. I hate puking, I'm funny like that, so I am also a bit weepy. Still no progress on the gas passing goal....
turns out the morphine which has been dandy for pain is not so great for other functions. Surgeon agrees to take me off it completely by next morning ( Saturday)  and begins to roll back the dose once he sees how much I have been puking. By late afternoon, I have thrown up everything I have managed to drink all day, and I am walking without staggering. By the way, puking is really painful with an eight inch incision in one's abdomen. I know I know, boo fucking hoo, you big baby..... but it was an awful day. I was sustained by my Partner, my sponsor, and one very thoughtful nurse. She suggested starting me on drinking hot water. This was the beginning of getting lots of stuff going in the right direction.
Saturday,  I am off the morphine, on an antiflammatory,  and feeling much better. I do about 50 laps of the corridor, making up for lost time. Sometime after 5:00pm, I achieve a fart. This means I can  begin to move up from liquids only and that I will go home on Sunday. I am terrified and grateful.
During that last night, one of my ward mates is going through profound delirium and is wailing and moaning and thrashing and groaning..... one of the other ward mates, an older woman, is yelling at him to shut up. It is quite unsettling ..... I get no sleep but console myself that at least I can continue to work on my gas passing project through the night. Small mercies. Around 3:00 am, the wailing and thrashing fella is moved to a single room to ride out the storm. The older lady promptly falls asleep and  snores like a  truck driver. I manage to sleep once she is awakened at  6:00 am for her vitals. No one takes my vitals..... a sure sign that I will indeed be going home sometime .... today.
I am glad to go home, but it is scary at first. Sheesh, even the car ride home was painful because of how I have to brace for bumps and turns.  I am aware of my own vulnerability. All the familiar places and spaces now are more risky than they were four days ago. I am ready to be necessarily cautious. I am ready to ask for help and receive it.
I like the quiet. Time to dwell in it for awhile.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Through the looking glass...

I suppose this should rightfully be titled " through MY looking glass...."
but, whatever.
It is one month since my last post. I have been recovering from a surgery that was necessary in response to a cancer diagnosis I received on July 25. There is lots of stuff to make sense of.... emotional, embodied, relational, intellectual.Writing about and through is one of the best ways for me to make sense of things,  so I am going to work through a series of vignettes, some absurd, some evocative, some just plain vexing. And so,  here goes.....

Vignette 1: Walking into surgery
that's how it happens now.  i arrive at the appointed time, having done the pre-op stuff several days previous. i change into two ridiculous gowns, one of which must drape off the shoulder to make room for the IV. and then there is an even more ridiculous hat, and booties that go over my shoes. so, in i walk, my blue booties covering my lovely lavender trimmed running shoes and the nurse who is the best with the needle gets the IV line in. this is important for all the goodies that will be poured in there later.....
i have " rolling " veins. this means that when one of them feels a needle coming close, it rolls away from the point. seriously. i get poked and stuck a few times before i get the line into a vein near my wrist. then, it's a waiting game in a waiting room filled with other similarly attired people all of us  guiding our IV sentinels and trying to avoid getting tangled up with each other on the frequent bathroom trips.
i am delayed about an hour. then i am called. the surgical nurse confirms i am who i say i am and i can tell her what i am having done today and who is doing it. apparently this means i am in my right mind ( !?).
then we, the nurse and i, literally walk into the surgical theatre.  i feel slightly incongruous in my booties and my hat, inexpertly dragging my IV pole. the table looks like a cross in the middle of the room, a long cocoon with arms outstretched to the sides. an odd letter T. i walk to it and place myself upon it. the lights are huge, and it is cold, so cold. i hear instruments clicking and soft voices. i realize fully, suddenly that this IS a theatre.  Everyone knows my name. i tell the story of who i am and why i am here again and again. it's a weird comfort, but i am also quite frightened. i stare up at the lights and almost feel like crying, but i don't. then, once the major players are all assembled..... they offer me the slow black buzz of sleep, and i take it.

Vignette 2: Waking up
the suddenness of the noise is startling.... i feel like i am emerging up out of a sea of ashes.....voices, lights, curtains, faces.... one voice closer than the others telling me that the surgery is over and i am alright and they will be taking me to the ward in a while.  all i see is shades of white... scrubs, curtains. blankets, masks.... then i am sharply aware of how cold i am..... i begin shivering.... i say " i am so cold"  and the voices around me say "oh my god she's shivering"  and then i get bundled, gently, in a soft warm blanket. they handle me carefully.  now it is safe to sleep again.

Vignette 3: A not so careful slide....
then i am awake again and a voice is telling me that i am going to be moved to the bed in the ward [ that's a big room with three other people in it.....]  in fact, here i am!! there is a blanket to be used and i somehow have to get myself onto it. roll this way, push push push, ok now roll the other way, push push push ..... every movement is organized around the screaming seam of agony in the middle of my pelvis. i cannot believe i am actually moving and being moved ..... ok, now we will just slide you over, brace your self. and then the slide. very fast. efficient and business like.  horrible. i lie there and feel myself actually on the beginnings of a whimper. but i don't. then the shivers start up again, and some thoughtful person  bundles me in another warm blanket.  i get the mini tutorial in how to work my morphine pump.  the red button stays with me. more important than the call button, which has mysteriously vanished down the side of the bed.  the last words i hear before i begin to fall asleep again are : you might want to give yourself a dose of that since your anaesthetic is just about worn off. good advice, i think, in that totally stupid way the mind works when one has no idea what one is actually feeling, thinking or doing. but, i manage to push the red button.

to be continued......