Or as John Lennon so famously said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” In my case, life had some very unexpected sharp curves for me; at the end of August, I was the recipient of a ruptured colon and an emergency resection. DISCLAIMER: This whole post is about my life and not much about fiber arts. In the honest and vulnerable way that I conduct myself, I thought you might want to know what’s been going on.
This adventure included a panicked trip to the ER while trying not to scream in pain, plus a lot of even more exaggerated moaning once we were in triage – I was feeling it, yes, but they were not taking me nearly as seriously as I needed them to, until they got me down to the CT Scan to see what happened, and suddenly EVERYONE was taking me seriously. Funny how busted guts will do that.
One resection operation later, I found myself in a hospital room, with tubes down my throat and everywhere else, and so, so tired. And because of the nature of my ailment, I ended up with an infection that we couldn’t banish through every antibiotic known to mankind – so the whole time we were trying to get that beat, I was stuck in my hospital room, which stretched on for twelve days before I was allowed to go home. I was barely eating unless it was something Mom brought for me. I lost a lot of weight [I’m down 20lbs at this point, which was not how I wanted to slim down!] and was pretty weak. Nothing tasted good, eating was a chore, and I was just so ready to leave and recover someplace comfortable. The staff there, especially the nurses, were lovely… but hospitals are terrible places to recover past a certain point.
So I get home and I’m basically as weak as a kitten. I can’t do any of the things I’m used to doing – heck, I can’t go up and down a flight of three stairs without help. I can’t work, my studio is in the basement. And honestly, I don’t have the concentration or energy to make anything anyway. I am freakin’ helpless and thank goats for my Mom, who has been at my side helping me along the way. Recovery is slow, and even now, a month and a half later, I am still low on stamina and weak. I have perhaps spun 20 yards on a spindle, and I’ve woven a little on a circular loom. I can wash dishes, put away clothes, and take care of myself by showering, etc. That’s the real extent of my skills.
I actually had what I’d call a mixed bag of setback and blessings a couple of weeks ago. The mystery infection that the doctors had been so worried about basically outed itself by busting one of my almost healed outer stitches open and letting itself free. That was both a great thing and a bit of a healing setback, because now I had open wounds to heal up. Everything until this point had been sutured, stapled, etc. This was [is] new, and is still going on. I have to go to the doctor every day to get my bandages changed and my wounds checked. This is great for feeling taken care of and for monitoring healing, but super exhausting. on the up side, I know every person on my surgeon’s staff now!
Eating is slowly getting better. My tastebuds have entirely changed; things that I have loved, like plain steamed veggies, taste bitter to me. Tomatoes are even more amazing than they were. Fish is currently gross. Apple juice is the best thing I’ve ever drank. Go figure.
I’ve had to give myself pep talks about not being useless just because recovery is taking so long. And for someone who always needs busy hands, that’s a hard sell. It’s been tough on my ego, and my self-esteem. I can’t work, I had to let friends run my Spin Together team – they did a great job, and I am so grateful – and I can’t lift much or drive or even stand for more than 30 minutes without needing to find someplace to rest. It’s not me.
But this is the new normal, at least for now. And I wanted to share that with you, because I haven’t updated in ages and I feel like it’s important that you know that I didn’t fall off the face of the earth and here’s what DID happen!
So what happens next? Health-wise, I work on healing. I have a colonoscopy coming up so that we can look for more answers and insight into what we’re calling IBS/Colitis for now. We don’t know what caused the rupture, so the doctors want to look for more inflammation or weak spots, and of course make sure there’s no cancer.
HEY! ARE YOU 45 OR OLDER? GO GET A COLONOSCOPY! If I can do it, you can!
I’m hoping that once the wounds on my belly are healed, I can get the go-ahead to start going back to the gym so I can slowly regain some of the muscle and tone that I’ve lost. Considering that I still haven’t managed to get down the basement stairs yet, that might be a while. But building stamina = being able to work again, teach classes, get out of the house more regularly… all things I both want and need to do.
I have a bitchin’ scar probably for life, and I’ll show it to you if you ask because I’m not embarrassed. 😉
I am still mourning my garden which was all dead by the time I got home. No rain for over a month + caretaker hospitalized = dead plants. My indoor plants Mom kindly watered, thankfully, so I only had a couple of losses there. Losing the garden affected me pretty hard; I was just getting tomatoes and the mint was ready to harvest and I lost all that labor and love. But what can you do? I guess that was my sacrifice for getting a healed colon.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to be able to get back to spinning and carding SOON – no dyeing for a while, as that requires heavy lifting – but a friend put together a GoFundMe to also help with all the bills that I haven’t been able to tackle as my saving run out, which I am both eternally grateful and endlessly embarrassed about. I’ll share the link here, and if you can help I will be in your debt – and if you can’t, I still appreciate you so much. This whole thing is giving me many lessons about ego, self-reliance, being humble, allowing people to help, and the different kinds of strengths. I didn’t know that I needed these lessons, but I’ve learned a lot. One of the hardest is saying “I need help.” At my age, it’s hard to unlearn the habit of trying to take care of all of it on my own.
I’m learning. I’m growing, and I guess I’m healing now too. Huh.
Here’s the link if you’re inclined to contribute. Thank you.