The fifth instalment in a series in which I answer the ongoing question “How do you fit it all in?”, which people ask me when I tell them what I do. Read more
On October 25th 2017, a surgeon apologised to me. Not just any surgeon, but my surgeon: the one who’d been tasked with removing my Angry Internal Organ. The day after the operation he arrived at my bedside clutching a small sheaf of papers, and began to say he was sorry.
I’d presented at A&E at the beginning of March with a set of symptoms which I was swiftly told were “impossible” because they didn’t spit out an immediate answer from the computer. I’d then run the gamut of tests: bloods, ultrasounds, cameras in the belly. The guy who did my first ultrasound said things didn’t look good, that I should be taken in for surgery as soon as possible. He sent me downstairs to follow up with the person responsible for admissions, and somehow in the 20 minutes it took me to get down there in the lift (I could only walk very slowly, being in too much pain), his concern had been translated into “stick her on a waiting list and hope for the best.” Read more
This week has been better than the two weeks that preceded it. I’ve done more work, which was fun, and read fewer books but done a lot of sleeping. I’ve also watched every episode of Would I Lie To You? David Mitchell is fantastic. So angry! So sarcastic! SO DAMN RELATABLE.
I have spent the past week stuck in a hellish circle so ridiculous that I ended up having to laugh at it.
(If you are squeamish, especially about menstruation, this is your warning that you may not enjoy this post.)
Without wanting to sound too morose about it, this week was shit and I have nothing much to report. I was very ill and I spent most of it either in bed or in the bath. However, in the interests of making sure you all know I’m still alive, and of keeping people updated so they don’t inundate me with messages asking how I am, I will write a short post anyway.
On Thursday I spent a record 15 hours in the bath, 12 of them in one straight run. About once every two hours I’d get out, drain the water and run a new one. I’ve now used up my annual allowance of water, I think.
As we all know, I’ve been stumbling through life a bit pathetically over the past few months, after my internal organs started trying to kill me. They probably won’t succeed, because they haven’t succeeded any other time they’ve tried and because I’m getting treatment, but in the meantime I’m pretty much housebound, except for occasional trips to the supermarket at the end of the road on days when I have enough energy to walk there.
Yesterday was one of those days (yay!) and I went to buy some washing up sponges and some pears. Now that I can sometimes eat successfully, I am experimenting with different foods. So far most non-citrus fruits seem to be OK most of the time (double yay).
On my way there I bumped into a friend whom I haven’t seen since just before I got ill. We had a brief conversation, then he went on his way, I did my shopping and came home. On the way back I realised that his reaction has been a textbook example of the best way to act when someone you know is seriously ill. I know it’s a subject that’s understandably difficult for a lot of people – what should I say? when should I say it? is it OK to ask stuff? – so I thought I’d use him as an example and write a post about it.
A few weeks ago I pushed myself too hard and had to spend a lot of time in bed. I’d neeaaarrllyyyy recovered from that by last weekend, when I had to do something that involved a huge amount of energy. Unfortunately it was genuinely necessary and there was no way I could get out of it. I knew it would put me at a deficit, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I did it anyway, and then I crashed again.
On Tuesday afternoon, with a little encouragement (read: direct order) from a medical professional, I got into bed. I thought “I’ll just lie here for a bit…” and then I fell asleep.
Which pretty much sums up the rest of the week as well. I slept a lot, I barely worked, I read quite a few books, and I watched some stuff on Netflix.
…because this is how these things go. One day I’m swimming for three quarters of an hour, pounding laps up and down the pool, walking home in the light mist of rain under the orange glow of the street lamps, climbing the stairs to my flat, winding down with a book for the evening, getting into bed feeling almost well.
And then the next day I wake up and my ribs are aching and I taste blood in the back of my throat, and it feels like there is acid coursing through my veins. On the way up the stairs from my bedroom I stumble into the wall and have to rest there for a moment, because seven steps is just too many to be able to climb in one go. I try to work, of course, because I am me and that is what I do, but ultimately I have to admit defeat and pull a blanket around my shivering skin and curl up on the sofa.
Finally, things are starting to stabilise. Rather than having no energy at all, I have a teensy bit of energy, which lets me do about one thing requiring exertion per day, unless I am having a Particularly Bad Day, in which case no things are done.
That’s much better than being able to do one thing per week, though.
The doctors have said I can try doing a bit of exercise again, and as someone who normally swims every day, the fact that they recommended swimming was highly pleasing.
Last week’s post left off just as I was about to go into hospital to find out when they’d be booking me in for surgery. I had been hoping that it might be fairly soon, since I’m apparently an urgent case and I’ve barely been able to leave the house in months, but hope is a treacherous and flighty beast, and of course things didn’t go quite so smoothly.
The waiting list for surgery is 4-6 months long; the minimum amount of time in which I’ll be booked for surgery is four months. Then there’s an eight-week recovery period, so basically whatever happens I’m essentially taking the rest of the year off.
They can’t push me up the list unless my Angry Internal Organs actually rupture, which made me start wishing they would, until I remembered that would have irritating potential side effects like involuntary sudden death. So I figured maybe I’ll obey the doctor’s instructions and not do anything to make this whole situation any more precarious, and look after my Angry Organs, and hopefully maintain this tenuous truce for as long as I can.