Thursday, June 10, 2010

TMI-Thursday--The Past I Can't Let Go.

No intro other than I needed some therapy today. Oh, and no Friday post this week.

Every day I promise myself that today is the day that I forget, but I never do.

8 years minus 2 weeks ago.

I'm only twenty-eight, but my body feels old. Tired. Achy. I stare at the ceiling fan above the bed while I lay surrounded by pillows. Ten to be exact. Sound luxurious? It's not. They are the thin lumpy pillows I brought home from the hospital. They are placed strategically to hold my body in a normal shape, while the grand canyon I call my belly heals.

It's day two at home, and the last day that insurance will pay for a nurse to come change my bandages. She removes them and I cringe as it pulls at the dried edges. She cleans the wound by pouring sterilized water into it. The cold dribbles down my skin and is soaked up by the towels. She's ready to measure everything for her last report.

I try not to watch, but I can't take my eyes off the bright red meat split open down the length of my stomach. The little white globules of fat are gone, and now it just shines and oozes. Two brackets, laced with nylon string keep the sides from pulling farther apart. The brackets sit on top, the nylon strung through my abdominal wall. Every time I cough or sneeze, I fear my insides will spill out.

"Eight inches long...four inches at the widest point...three inches at the deepest."The nurse talks and writes as she measures. "Alright, let's pack you back up."

She dips the gauze in the saline solution and places them inside me. She tries to be gentle when working pieces between the wire and brackets. It takes a lot to fill the canyon. Finally, she pours more saline in to keep everything moist until tomorrow. Tomorrow my husband will have to do this for me. No man should see his wife like this.

Tears fill my eyes. Shame. Fear. Loneliness. My three week old baby cries in the other room. My sweet new boy that I'm too weak to hold. Guilt.

So starts a downward spiral.

I feel I should say that I was very blessed to have a mother-in-law who stayed with us that first month. She changed my bandages until I was able to do it myself--so my hubby didn't have to. She cared for my three children, cleaned my house, washed my laundry, and fed us all. Late at night she held my baby boy who cried constantly. His tummy couldn't handle formula (we tried them all!). She earned her wings as far as I'm concerned.

When I close my eyes I still remember what it looks like inside my stomach. I still remember how it felt to have all the gauze pulled out and packed back in. I cried myself to sleep for three years. I couldn't move on, part of me still hasn't I guess.

There is a week and a half of my life that I can't remember. I've been told stories, but my own memories are very few. On June 5th, I went to the hospital to have a baby. On June 10th, I returned for a two week fight for my life.

  • I remember walking into the hospital.
  • I remember the sound of sloshing inside as I turned onto my side while waiting to be seen by a doctor, and thinking that was a strange sound for a body to make.
  • I remember laying in the MRI and crying because a voice kept asking me to take a deep breath. And I couldn't breathe at all. Crying didn't help.
  • Days later I remember thirst. Thirst that made me want to die. I begged for water, ice chips, anything. A nurse gave me sugar free Everest gum. Peppermint flavor. It was a nightmare. You need spit to chew gum. You need water to make spit.
  • I remember the day I could walk by myself holding onto my IV pole without help from someone else. 
  • I remember wondering if I would ever ride roller coasters again. (I don't know why that sticks with me, but I was worried about that. I have ridden several since then.)
  • I remember that once I came home, nothing tasted good. Nothing made me comfortable.
  • I remember people telling me how great I looked because I lost 40 lbs in 2 weeks. I smiled and said I didn't suggest the diet, but in truth I cringed. I knew what I looked like under the new clothes and new haircut. Most of that weight was muscle loss, not fat. 
  • I remember going to the doctor for check ups each week hoping they would sew me up, and crying when they didn't. They never did--they wanted to make sure no infection took root in the healing tissue. I can understand now, but at the time...
I don't want to dwell on those days, but they haunt me. I've moved forward, and I almost made it this year. I almost didn't remember. Then I did something to my back and felt that helpless, useless feeling again. I couldn't stand up straight, I couldn't get up on my own if I lay down (just like when healing.) A friend of mine also had surgery and I watched the way she held herself. The way she moved very carefully. The way she grabbed her stomach anytime she coughed--like she had to hold everything in. How pale she looked. And I remembered it all. Then I looked at the calendar--June 6th. *sigh*

I almost made it this year.

Maybe next year.


  1. This is what I went through, almost exactly. I went in for hysterectomy. Two weeks later I had to have another surgery to remove pounds of flesh due to e-coli infection. Gaping abdomenal wound. Home nurse. Loads of pain. I still can't move good. I still hold myself when I cough. I still feel like I'll never be healed, even after all these months of 'recovering.' I'm sorry to hear you went through the same thing.

  2. I remember calling you when I heard what had happened. You were still at the "I wish I'd died." stage. You have moved on quite a bit from that, right?
    Depression is sometimes a good catalyst for change, but I'd swap my weight loss from each of my postpartum crazies for a nice first month with my newborns.

  3. Ah, good lady. What a rotten experience. 'Tis brave of you to share it.

    But the beauty of the sharing is that someone, a week or month or year from now, might read this and feel understood, not so alone. Sometimes we just want to know someone else understands.

    You may help someone with this post. And that's a lovely thing.

  4. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that Charity. You are very brave not only to share this story but to keep living. That takes a special kind of bravery I think. You are doing amazing, even if you thought of it this year. Best wishes and big hugs

    Crystal :)

  5. Wow Charity. What an ordeal. I'm so sorry you had to go through it. But I'm glad you are doing better.

  6. Oh, Christi, we should start a support group. *hugs* I hope we both keep moving forward.

    Edith, I've definitely moved on from that, thank goodness. I remember one of the most amazing good things that came out of the ordeal--seeing how many real friends I really had.

    Simon, I wish I could say it was brave, but mostly it was pure selfishness. Hopefully someone will stumble on it though and realize they are not alone, and we can pull ourselves back into happy lives.

    Crystal and Carolyn, thank you! I should say that all these years later I live mostly in the happy moments, and the bad ones have to sneak up on me now. Every day is better, filled with blessings that I can now see.

  7. Wow. I had no idea. I'm so sorry. Funny, I read this post this very week. Just when I've been wondering if my own health will ever be "Normal" again. Thanks for sharing. I think I needed to read this. It does get better, even if it isn't ever quite the same.

  8. Wow. I am so stunned to read about what you had to endure. I don't know if it would possible to forget such a horrific experience. Maybe it's healthy to remember, to know what you have to get through to be where you are now. I think you are amazing -- and an amazing writer! -- and that you are wonderfully strong and brave. Thanks for sharing this with me.

  9. Awe, thanks Amber. I think I need to postpone my scheduled Monday post to share some of the most positive things. Such as--I was told I would never have children again, that was part of my depression. I was a stay at home mom. That was it. If I couldn't have children what was I? (Yeah, I know that is twisted because I had three children already, but depression does weird things to your head.)

    Four years later I had child #4. Finding out I was pregnant actually helped me knock some of the fuzz from my clouded mind and continue getting mentally stronger. Life is so strange isn't it? Filled with heartache and beautiful blessings from heaven.

  10. Charity, I cannot believe your story. I cringed when I read it, imaging what that felt like. Probably no one can know unless they go through it.


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