Lately I have felt like I couldn’t get it together. And I don’t mean the clean house, homemade cookies, PTA mom kind of together. I’ve never been that kind of together. I mean the cry in the car kind. It was like some kind of bad domino set up. One thing went down and then everything else seemed to fall as well. I felt like I was failing, in every area of my life. My family, my friendships, with old habits and even at work. And we have all been here. This wasn’t my first negative train ride. But, I don’t do sad well or for very long. I know what fixes me and can snap out of it fast enough. I usually need some alone time to think and pray and sort and then I need the opposite. I need friends and dates and lots of coffee and long conversations, long runs, to play outside with my kids, anything with frosting and a new hair color.

This time, I got stuck on the alone part. I spent a lot of time on my couch. I turned the ringer on my phone off. I didn’t ask people to do things. I tried to run but didn’t get very far. I tried to fix all those things that I felt like I was screwing up, but the harder I tried to more I seemed to get wrong. The dominoes kept falling. And I was getting more tired. And insistent that I just needed to keep stacking them up by myself. Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a sad rant. And that season hasn’t been so long. And I kept thinking that I needed to do all these things better by myself, that I needed to stop leaning on people. When maybe I just needed to learn to ask for help and lean in more than one direction.

A week ago I was walking up to my son’s soccer game. I had left my phone on the coffee table and they guys were already there. I wasn’t feeling right. And the more I walked the harder it became to breathe. It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. My hands were shaking and I felt dizzy and like throwing up. I needed to get to my son’s field. But it seemed miles away even it was just a few hundred feet away. I didn’t have my phone so I couldn’t call him. I thought about asking someone for help. But I felt ridiculous. So I sat down in the middle of the sidewalk. People looked at me funny and I’m sure they could tell I didn’t feel well but no one stopped. I’d rest for a few minutes and get up and try again. And then sit. I started to panic even more and knew I needed help. But still didn’t know who or what to ask. The last thing I wanted was an ambulance. Eventually I made it to a ref stand and instead of asking for help. I asked to use their phone. Only problem – I didn’t know my husband’s phone number. So I called one of the few friend’s numbers that I have memorized (only b/c she has had the same # back when I used to have a house phone) and told her who she could call to call Shaun. That I needed him to come get me. Instead of playing 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon on the phone I should have just asked someone to go to field 15 and get my husband. But passing out or puking seemed easier to me than asking a stranger for help. Eventually Shaun found me, and a ref who I thought had been ignoring me tossed me a Gatorade and told me I was dehydrated. I had to ask her to open it. And even then I couldn’t even get half of it in my mouth my hands were shaking so bad. Shaun pulled the car around. And I decided, that despite the fact that I had just gotten to the fields and eaten lunch that maybe I was dehydrated after all. I had gone on a pretty long run at noon. And it was 100 degrees out. And to just take me home rather than the hospital.
So I went back to my couch that I’d been spending lots of time on drank more Gatorade and dodged phone calls from people asking if I was ok. Of course I was ok, I even tried to keep my dinner plans. And eventually I realized I wasn’t. That my side and back and shoulder were sore like when I had what I was pretty sure were gall bladder attacks. Which I’d been having more of in the middle of the night lately. (and yes, a normal person would go to the doctor – but I had already done that years ago. Multiple times. And they never found anything despite sonograms, fancy hospital scans and endoscopies). But I couldn’t ignore my attack on the soccer field and my husband was about to leave the country for almost two weeks. So I drove myself to the ER. And friends texted me and asked if they could come sit with me or watch my kids. And I refused. I didn’t want anyone there while the doctor told me nothing was wrong and to see a counselor and get some sleep. The doctor asked if I wanted something for my pain and I was in quite a bit of pain, but asked her to give me something mild so that I could still drive home. Again, I didn’t want to call anyone. Which is ridiculous. My phone is full of people I can call. They found plenty of stones, which made me happy because I finally knew what was wrong and they gave the name of a surgeon to call and sent me home with some pretty strong meds. That I didn’t plan on taking. Because that would mean I couldn’t drive or work or watch my kids. And I’d have to ask for help.

They next few days were fine. I told Shaun, that he still needed to go on his trip because it wasn’t likely that that I’d get scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks anyways and that I was fine. I was still tired. And a little sore. But after he left, I knew something was wrong because my pee was not all the right color. But I just drank lots of water and scheduled an appointment with my surgeon. People at work told me I didn’t look well. I appreciated their concern but tried to make jokes. Through a string of travel gone horribly wrong, Shaun’s 2 week trip turned into only a 2 day one and I was relieved to have him home. And he couldn’t have made it home sooner. Because less than 24 hours after going through customs, he was with me back in the ER. That morning at work I started to feel like I did on the soccer field. I made it through my first few classes and emailed the secretary in charge of subs that I really needed to go home. This usually doesn’t go over well because it can be a nightmare to get coverage in the middle of the day. And so I really didn’t want to ask. Then I went downstairs and asked the nurse what to do. Another conversation I didn’t want to have. Then I drove myself home, even though I was pretty sure that wasn’t a good idea. And there were people who could take me, I just didn’t want to ask. ( see a trend here!)
I went home and dug out my pain pills and waited for relief and a nap. I got neither. So I called my husband to drive me back to the hospital. We waited forever. And they just ran the same tests. And came back and said the same things. Shaun went to run kids around and I started packing up to go home. They said nothing looked different from Saturday and they were waiting on one last blood test, but most likely I’d just need to keep my appointment with my surgeon the next day. I was feeling silly for dragging my husband out of work and dropping who knows how much money on a pointless ER visit. I was texting friends that I was about to go home (and this time, I actually talked to people!) and the nurse popped back in and said change of plans – they were getting a room for me. My lipase levels were through the roof and I had pancreatitis. I’m still not sure what that is but I did know that it hurt like hell and that it had kept my sister in the hospital for almost an entire week.

Asking for help suddenly wasn’t an option. I made phone calls and texts. Instead of telling people not to come, I was thrilled when friends showed up with magazines and books and chapstick or just to keep me from being bored. And trust me. I have not been good hospital company. But they came and stayed anyways. And I was greatful. I had to ask for help watching my kids, getting subs, making copies, help picking my kids up from school, help tying my robe, and even help getting up to go to the bathroom.

The gall bladder came out yesterday. And I am happy to see it go. Apparently when it isn’t working right you can have all kinds of issues besides just the stomach ones. Apparently the fact that woman have so many more problems with it than men has some correlation to estrogen. And well, my hormones have obviously been out of wack lately. And also can account for my exhaustion and apathy. So hopefully I’ll be a whole new girl when I get out of here.

And gall bladder surgery is supposed to be pretty minor. If you don’t start with crazy lipase levels like me, you go in early in the morning and they send you home around lunch. But I of course can’t do things the easy way. My pancreas calmed down much sooner than expected, but it still has made my day surgery at least a 4 day event. To deal with the pancreas you can’t have any food or even drink until it is fixed. The last meal I had was a granola bar Wednesday morning. And until last night, the last drink was water in the ER Wednesday afternoon. I asked the nurse that morning how long surgery would take she said 30-40 minutes. Mine took a lot longer. I woke up from anesthesia awful. I felt like they were still operating and I could feel everything. It hurt worse than my 2 c-sections combined. They gave me morphine and more morphine and then finally some demoral. And I thought I was going to puke. So they gave me something for that. Eventually my body relaxed a little and they took me back to my room. Well over 4 hours later. And had to keep asking for help. And I felt like such a pansy because this is such a minor operation. But I had a low fever. My insulin levels were off. And they kept giving me shots in the stomach and taking blood, asking if I had diabetes and when my last bowel movement was and I just wanted to go home so badly and the fever and blood sugar levels had it looking like I’d be spending another night! Shaun was sleeping at home with the kids and suddenly I wished I had asked him to stay. I was tired of being alone in this room. I was tired of hurting and nurses waking me up and alarms going off and I suddenly wanted to have a sobfest but thought crying would hurt too much. So I had to ask for the worst kind of help. For someone to just tell me it was going to be ok. To remind me to breathe. And to stop freaking out and go to sleep. And she said exactly all the right things. And this morning I woke up and my fever is gone, my blood sugar levels are closer to normal, they took out my IV in the middle of the night, pain is way better, they might let me eat breakfast and even better I think I’ll even get to go home late this afternoon or tonight.

And I’m ready for that. And yes, when I get there I will rest. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending less time on my couch than I have the last few weeks. Good riddance gall bladder. And thanks to everyone who helped me. Even when I didn’t want to ask.


Kate said...

I'm glad you're on the mend! I have such trouble asking for help, especially when I need it. But life is better with community. And it takes vulnerability. Doesn't it?

I had my gall bladder out about two years ago. My attacks were scary. I would feel bad and suddenly shake and quiver and curl up in a ball on the floor. I had a newborn. And we had moved to a new city. I didn't know who to ask for help. But, I tracked down a surgeon and got the thing out and it was so much better. Sometimes my digestion is funny. Eh, whatever. I'm not quaking on the floor anymore.

But I still need to figure out how to gather the group of friends to ask when I need it.

Alyssa said...

I'm so glad you wrote this out because I couldn't make sense of what was happening through the FB posts. I thought you were going to be discharged before I could get there; shame on me for not trying to come visit anyway. Life is much better without a gall bladder!

Margie said...

Gosh, Michelle! You have had quite a ride! Sorry to hear you went through all this but am glad you're on the mend. And that you had help. None of us like to ask for it, but we are always grateful when it comes. Looking forward to seeing you again soon in our little group!

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