My apologies for the silence – the last month has been a bit of a whirlwind.
The quick overview: my infection finally started clearing, my graduate application to UND was accepted, and I was able to receive a refund for the classes I had to drop this semester. I’ll be taking one class this summer (starting next week) and graduating just in time to start my GTA.
I didn’t want to write for a couple of reasons: first, I was unmotivated (sorry) and second, I didn’t want this to become an online diary. Things have an emotional roller-coaster, what with dropping out and then getting into grad school. Some of my friendships have gotten a bit complicated. Family matters have been taking a bunch of time (and that’s all I can say about that). Don’t even get me started on dating (even my gynecologist thinks my love life is…complicated).
Things are a little more stable now – or, I’m at least being more of an adult about it and dealing with the ambiguity that is life. I’ve been working on my three-tiered plan – things are going much better now that I can move around without my abdomen screaming at me.
Which brings me ’round to the “plan.” I’ve modified a bit, as I expected to. I’m shooting for running three times a week rather than every day – something a bit more realistic for someone like me. As for yoga, I’d underestimated how much my abdominal muscles were affected by the surgery. I’m fat, but under my blubber I have muscle, and quite a bit of it. It seems that there’s a lot less now in my abdomen (I wish I could say the same for the fat). I can’t get through 30 minutes even the most basic of yoga workouts (yes, I know there’s more to yoga than the physical health benefits, but right now I’m focusing on the physical…we’ll talk spirit later). I like the kind of yoga that leaves me utterly exhausted – I find my meditations are much clearer after that kind of yoga versus a few sun salutations. Maybe it’s a spiritual shortcut I shouldn’t be taking, but I still don’t feel “right” unless I leave my mat sweating through my bra, shirt, and pants.
The other night, I started trying to work my abdominals back into some semblance of shape. Ironically, I’ve been doing kegals ever since I could tighten my pelvic floor without screaming in pain. It didn’t occur to me that I should be doing the same with my abs, especially considering they’re so well hidden (’cause pelvic floor muscles are so easy to see).
Today, physically, has been hell on earth. I’m used to being able to whip out literally hundreds of crunches, no issue (again, yes, even with the flabby tummy). I couldn’t do that last night…but I tried. I shouldn’t have tried. There’s a difference between general muscle-soreness (like the kind I get after trying to shave time off of my runs) and surgery-healing pain (like the kind that you get when you’ve had your abdomen cut open so an organ could be removed). I had trouble sleeping last night due to pain. I’m actually thinking I might have to break into the stash of big pain killers that I have left over from recovery in order to get a good night’s sleep tonight. I could barely play in lessons (and yes, violin does involve abdominal muscles). Oddly enough, running wasn’t an issue, though. I’m planning on cutting back on the crunches and upping the planks.
Spiritually, I’m still researching. I’ve talked with people who I respect about their spirituality (yes, I know how to go about this without prying or overstepping my bounds) and have complied a bit of a list of what spiritual health means – at least to me. I want to give back to the community somehow. I’m thinking volunteering as a coach for youth volleyball or softball, but that’s not something that I can do until I’m 100% again. I don’t like the idea of donating money, food, or clothes mostly because that doesn’t really do anything in the long run (unless it’s money for research, in which case I’ll empty my pockets). Please don’t misunderstand – I still donate clothes and food too, but I want to do more than just give out the canned goods I’m not going to use and clothes I don’t wear anymore. There’s more I can do than just that.
However, something that came up repeatedly when discussing spiritual wellness was the idea of living for yourself versus living for others. I’ve always thought that putting yourself first automatically put me in the “living for myself” category – and I don’t want that. However, what happens when I get sick? You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? I’m struggling to find a balance giving while maintaining an equilibrium. It’s a work in progress, for sure, and definitely something I’ll keep wrestling with.
As for the third tier, mental health, I’m starting to get some more concrete goals set. I know that I want to learn how to handle schedule-upsets better – it’s a pretty good starting point. I’m also working on being better at recognizing panic attacks when they’re happening in order to better recognize triggers. Panic attacks are funny that way; they’re not just hyperventilating while in fetal position. Sometimes they are a suffocating numbness that utterly blinds you. Other times my mind goes on a flight of fancy while my body goes into autopilot. I’ve gotten so used to working through them (which, to be honest, didn’t work) that I’ve gotten really bad about identifying them when they start. I’ve already come far enough to recognize when they’re over or happening, I just need to do the work that will help recognize them in time to stop the panic.
I’m also starting to focus more on my love life. Though part of this is probably the increased sex drive, another, bigger part comes from the fact that I rarely, if ever, actually go for what I want. I made strides last summer that I cannot forget, and I’m glad I took those steps – they’ll help me on the long road ahead. I’ve learned that it’s not only okay to ask for what I want, but beneficial in the long run. What’s bigger is that I’ve gotten a bit more used to the idea that I deserve to be happy (just like everyone else does). I’ve never, ever had any doubt that my loved ones deserved happiness, but for some reason I could never let myself be okay taking steps to make myself happy. Something in me felt like I didn’t deserve it – and I’d be lying if I said that something isn’t screaming at me right now to stop talking and go make myself throw-up (I know, I’m so healthy).
Ultimately, this surgery is something that has worked in all of the ways that I hoped it would. I haven’t had a single smidge of an endo flair. My kidneys haven’t been doing anything they shouldn’t and, since all the endo around my ureters has been burned out. Things are really, really good right now, and looking to stay that way. Now is the time for me to take my life and turn it into a life rather than just a fight to try and reach “normal.”
NOTE: This was going to be published on May 11, but I got lazy and then anxious and put it off until now. Click here for featured image.