I feel it necessary to put a warning here to avoid this post if medical/psychological matters are triggering for you.
In the past I’ve used that kind of greeting to start a blog post after a long hiatus as a joke. Today I mean it in earnest. My last post was on March 2nd of this year. A week after that I had to be hospitalized for my ongoing back and piriformis issues as we try to avoid a very serious surgical solution. I was in and out of the hospital for two weeks. During the next two, both Elanor and Rhi had surgery to remove adenoids. There were a lot of jokes about how medical March was. Then, in the first week of April I got an infection that spread from my kidneys to my blood, putting me into the intensive care unit in septic shock. I was in critical condition for a few days, before the antibiotics were able to fight back against the illness and I stabilized. I spent two weeks in the hospital, getting antibiotics via iv. When I got home, I was so weak that walking for 5-10 minutes meant laying on my back for several hours. I had trouble keeping food down for a variety of reasons.
The physical side of my recovery has demanded more from me than any other medical issue I’ve faced in my life.
The mental recovery has been worse.
I’ve discussed in the past that we almost lost Elanor at a week of age to septic shock. This trauma was something I have moved past as my sick baby has grown into a normal six year old. But facing the illness myself meant that I already knew too much. In my (few) lucid moments in the ICU, I understood exactly what my odds were. When my veins collapsed from the demands of long term IV’s, they placed a PICC line into an artery (a long term catheter that goes from your arm down an artery to your heart). Elanor had a PICC line, and the idea of getting one myself was so triggering that I begged to be sedated during the procedure (it doesn’t typically require full sedation). I left the hospital coping with having been slapped in the face by my own mortality.
I found a therapist. I thought I was beginning to cope with things. Then I realized that I had started starving myself on purpose. During my time post hospital release, my weight had gone into free-fall because my muscles were wasting away and I couldn’t keep food down. Unconsciously I began to see the number on the scale as the only thing that I could control. The only “good” thing about having just almost died because of a kidney infection. But once I *could* eat, I didn’t want to. The universe owed me–if I had to go through this, at least I should get some serious weight loss in return, right? When overweight people are taught to diet, we’re also handed the tools to have an even more dysfunctional relationship with food. At a glance, I can give a pretty good estimate of how many calories are on a plate, and I began eating as little as I could. If the number on the scale kept going down then at least I was getting something out of this whole pointless mess, right?
I knew what I was doing was unhealthy, even dangerous. The rational side of me was screaming that as loud at it could. It drove me to tell people I trusted–Ravi and a few close friends. The irrational side of me understood my choices were risking what little improvement I’d made and didn’t give a damn. Until the night I fainted. I felt a roaring in my ears and like the world had gone fuzzy. I knew that I needed to get from my chair at the table to the couch to lie down. But I didn’t make it, and I fainted onto the hard marble of my living room floor. Ravi told me it looked like one second I was walking, then I tried to grab a bookcase, and then I was on the floor, although I didn’t remember the bookcase. That I fell to a seated position before landing face down probably saved me a trip back to the hospital. After that I confessed everything to my therapist, and I’ve tried to stay away from the scale, knowing no good can come from looking at it every day.
I’ve been home for two months now. I can drive. I can swim. I can cook dinner. But my physical and emotional recovery are going to be measured in months. Everyone asks me “all better?” but the only answer I can give is that “things are getting there.” I’ve had several set backs–a small infection put me on my back for a week, and I’ve caught every cold the kids have had–because my immune system is crap. I am constantly feeling the pressure of one step forward, two steps back. Naturally this has impacted my back and piriformis as well, making the pre-existing issues that much bigger. Emotionally I’m still exhausted, and the process is one of hills and valleys. There are good days and there are bad days.
Before my in-laws left, they sat Ravi and I down and told us that we needed to hire a maid again. We–mostly I–argued that we didn’t. I could make do as I had been for the past three-and-a-half years if I could just get a tiny bit better. Eventually, though, we realized that they were right. My physical recovery is a six-to-twelve month one if I do everything right. Doing everything right means not pushing too hard (like picking up Rhiannon, who is triple my current weight lift limit). Screwing up my recovery means further damage and likely worse consequences (like spinal fusion surgery) and an even more complicated recovery. My new 100% may not be my old 100%. No one knows.
So we made the hard decision to hire a new helper.
I’ve always maintained that families should do what is right for them. Since firing B in December 2011 not having a maid was right for us (we had a part time cleaner and a sitter a few times a month). The decision to hire someone new was not made lightly, but it is necessary at this time. I owe myself and my family as full a recovery as I can manage, and in order to do that I need more help than I could otherwise get. This is what’s right for us now.
Change is not always welcome, but it is inevitable.
Please bear with me as I begin to write again.