Monday 9 June 2014
In Sickness and in Health
When I found myself lying on my bathroom floor two weeks ago, in the fetal position, my husband beside me with an enema bottle, a lot of thoughts went through my head. One of which was I have to write about this. And, I needed to do it before too much time had lapsed so I could still feel the raw emotion of it all. Hence, here is my return to my blog after a few weeks’ absence.
It’s not that I have a sado-masochistic relationship with my readers or that I’m determined to gross people out, but rather that I’m committed to writing and showing all sides of cancer. One of the reasons I started the blog was so that other people going through a similar experience, or caring for someone who was, could learn, relate and not feel so alone. I vowed I wouldn’t sugar coat anything or hide things that might make people feel uncomfortable because I wanted to be authentic. This brings me back to the enema.
One of the hardest side effects of pain medication for me has been the constipation. Of course the more I stress and think about it, the worse it gets. Eventually, the pain is one of the most unbearable for me, crippling me every time I try to walk. In fact, the only time I have relief is when I don’t move at all so I spend a lot of time in bed, not moving. In trying to deal with it, I take numerous laxatives and stool softeners, but it gets to a point where there can be no action with additional help. Nurses toss around words like impacted, extraction, enemas. I toss my cookies just thinking about it.
I’ve never had a colonoscopy and don’t deal well with any talk or treatment related to things of that nature. It’s probably one of my biggest fears so despite the pain I was in I just couldn’t comprehend doing what I knew needed to get done. I loved the nurses’ description that I would be feeling much better within 15 minutes, but making the decision was a tough one for me. In the end, I decided I needed this to be administered by my husband because he knew how scared and uncomfortable I was with the idea and so I figured I could use all the empathy I could get. I knew the nurses would be empathetic and compassionate too but, I just wanted to be in the comfort of my own bathroom and cry like a baby if I wanted to.
This was a tough call because I still had some pride and wanted to hang on to as much dignity as possible. “Please,” my husband said, “I saw you give birth….your dignity was lost a long time ago.” Fine, I agreed, but I told him I was going to write about it and he was going to be a lead character. He wasn’t so crazy about that. He asked why I couldn’t just say a miraculous angel descended on me and gave me relief. No, I countered, this was not going to be the immaculate extraction.
To feel like I needed to have some control I insisted that he read every warning, instruction, hazard symbol on the bottle. Even then I didn’t trust I was getting all the goods and because I couldn’t read the bottle myself, my daughter generously agreed to type out everything that was on the bottle in an extra-large font so that I could read it myself. God bless her because that meant not only was she learning step by step what was going to be done to me she also typed it knowing her dad was the one going to be doing it. It wasn’t long after that she bought me a magnifying glass to be able to read all my other medical instructions up close and personal all on my own. Too much information is now an understatement in our house.
So there we found ourselves, husband and wife, bathroom floor, in a position I never would have imagined. I wept knowing fully for the first time since all this started what it really meant when we said those vows ‘in sickness and in health’. In the end we got through it and it worked and while I wasn’t quite doing the happy dance I felt better than I had in weeks. It was a good thing too as it was just the start of a rough couple weeks ahead where I at least had one major issue off my health plate. I am diligent about continuing to take laxatives and I live on watermelon and liquids. I hope it never gets to that point again but if it does I know there is a solution and I know I will be able to get through it thanks to my partner.
Later that night after I picked myself up off the bathroom floor I tweeted the following “going outside your comfort zone, pushing through pain and having someone with you who you trust 100%, that’s when good shit happens.” I had a lot of people favourite and retweet that and I don’t think they realized how literal I was being, but whether it’s literal or figurative, it sure is true.
Thank you to all those who have told me how much they have missed the blog but understand how important it is for me to rest and get better right now. I do hope to continue writing in the coming weeks but it may not always be weekly. I am constantly feeling blessed by all the support and kindness shown to me and my family.
Until next time…..carry on.