Hurricane Laura

No Overarching Themes: Pure Miscellany

Archive for the category “Ugh”

One more notch on the bad year’s bedpost

Last Thursday evening as we were getting ready for bed, I felt sick.  My lower back ached, on the right side just around my hip, and I felt shaky and strange.  We got into bed and I tried to ignore it and go to sleep.  The pain doubled, then it tripled, then it quadrupled, and very soon I felt so much pain that waves of nausea washed over me.  I got up and went into the bathroom, thinking that if I just threw up once or twice, the pain might subside and I could go to sleep.  Something similar has happened the last two months, where I get abdominal pain that is so bad it makes me throw up, so I assumed it was a variation of that.  But this pain grew much worse very quickly, and after trying to throw up a few times, I realized this was something else.  I ran back into the bedroom and woke up my husband.  It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve woken him in the middle of the night lately, but this time, he could tell it was worse than the usual pain.

Within a few minutes, I was close to fainting.  We got the things we needed – shoes, keys, wallets – and I stood shaking by the door, afraid I was going to lose consciousness.  I don’t remember much about the next hour – just pain and fear – but I know that I threw up violently in the car, all over myself, and I threw up again while the nurse was scrambling to get an IV in my arm in the ER.  The nurse seemed pretty confident about what was wrong – my shaking, my inability to sit still and my throwing up were clear signs that I had kidney stones.  I’ve never in my life experienced pain like that – pain that causes you to lose all control of yourself, pain that makes you wonder if you are actually dying.  The CT scan confirmed that I had two kidney stones, one in each kidney, and they gave me shots for the pain as well as prescriptions and a referral to a urologist.  Very routine for them – just a little bit devastating to me.

Since last week, I’ve spent a lot of time on a narcotic painkiller, waiting for the stones to pass.  Today I confirmed with the urologist that they haven’t passed, and if they don’t pass in another week, I have to have my fourth surgery of the year.  This surgery is a fairly simple outpatient procedure, but it does involve having a stent in my urinary tract for about 10 days, and the doctor told me “50% of people who have this say it drives them crazy.”  After the luck I’ve had this year, I just have to assume I’m part of that 50%.  So at the moment, I’m trying to pass the stones on my own, and in a week or when the pain becomes unbearable (whichever comes first), I will give up and schedule the surgery.

Another little kink in this whole situation is that I really do think this is related to my miscarriage – I’ve had IBS symptoms (which I’ve never had before) and IBS can lead to kidney stones.  My theory is that my body reacted very badly to pregnancy hormones, creating a situation where I developed IBS, which then lead to a backup in my kidneys.  I can’t really get a doctor to confirm this theory, but I think that’s largely because they don’t want to venture beyond their individual specialties and consider the bigger picture.  The urologist did tell me that I am now at higher risk for kidney stones during pregnancy, and they can’t do a lot for me at that point, since pain meds are bad for the baby and surgery is out of the question.

So this makes me wonder a few things, like:  is pregnancy just too hard for my body to cope with?  If I do get pregnant, am I just going to spend 9 months in a special kind of misery?  Would it be better to accept this now, cope with it and move on to adoption, or should I try to fight harder, go on a restricted diet, be very careful, and try against all hope to get pregnant and carry the baby to term?  These are the kinds of questions I face – and what’s not captured in my very matter-of-fact description of this is just how agonizing and heartbreaking this feels for me.  It is yet another moment when something that most of the population seems to be able to do easily – conceive, carry and give birth to a child – seems hopelessly beyond my reach, for reasons that no doctor has been able to fully explain to me.  I do what they tell me I’m supposed to do, I get the surgeries they recommend, I follow their recommendations, and WHAM!  Another unforeseen obstacle crops up to make things so much more complicated.  What’s hard is that there is no over-arching medical condition that explains why I can’t do this – I’ve had a few doctors tell me “there’s no obvious reason that you can’t get pregnant and carry a child” and yet…it seems impossible right now.  The pain, the deprivation, the sacrifice, the financial resources, the daily torture of testing myself, trying to stay calm, eating right, exercising and trying to be positive are just all combining in such a way that every day feels like a never-ending uphill battle.  But I wonder if I just keep going, will it be worth it?  How much longer should I fight?  No one knows, and no one can tell me, so the question is more about “how much can I take?”  I put a lot of pressure on myself to just keep on taking it, because I feel like I haven’t quite reached my limit yet….but sometimes I wonder if I am being too hard on myself and I need to recognize when the moment has come to throw in the towel and walk away.

I know better than to try and make decisions tonight.  I know I need to just focus on getting better, and when the air clears and I can see the world around me a bit better, then I can think about what to do next.  And I am desperately trying to be positive, which is not in my nature to do, but this situation has pushed me well beyond my own nature.  Here’s what I think right now:  maybe this is a blessing in disguise.  Maybe by learning all these physical issues I have with pregnancy I can prepare my body better and therefore get through it with more resources at hand, or at least prepared with the knowledge of what I might suffer (which can be everything sometimes).  Maybe dealing with these things now will save my life.  I have to cling to those thoughts, because they keep me from drowning.  And I find lately that I’m not comparing myself to others as much – I’m not bitterly noting how many people get pregnant without trying, how little they appreciate it and how easy it all seems for them.  Doing that has been torture and it isn’t helping me – and I’m in so much pain tonight I just need to make it easier on myself.  This is my story, this is the way it is going, and what happens to other people is not part of that.

Someday, I hope to be able to use what I’ve learned to help my own child with difficult things that might happen to her.  I hope I’ve learned compassion from this experience, and I’ve learned how to survive both physical and emotional anguish and keep going.  I think that might be the greatest gift I can give my child – it is what I wish I could get from members of my own family and what I lack the most in my life right now, so perhaps giving it to my child someday will finally heal me from the damage this experience is doing to me.   That’s what I want, that’s what I hope for most.  Let it be for something, you know?  Let it give a child a greater chance in the world and a sense that her mother really, desperately loved her many months or years before she was even born.




A year of disasters

This has been my year of disasters:  in the fall an earthquake, a hurricane, torrential rains that caused a flood, in the spring two uterine surgeries, being told I probably couldn’t have children, being told I might be able to have children, getting pregnant in March, losing my child at 9 weeks in May, and now this past weekend we had a “land hurricane” (a severe storm front called a derecho) that knocked out power to 2 million people and sent us scrambling for shelter and power.  The storm itself was terrifying – intense lightning and 80 mph winds – but that plus the combined effect of a year of disasters  have left me very jumpy about any perceived threat to myself or my family.  As soon as the power went out, I went into planning-and-survival mode.

By the next day, as the heat was rising to almost 100+ degrees, I knew we couldn’t stay at home.  When I went out to put gas in the car and discovered it was an hour-long wait to get gas at the one station still functioning, I started to realize things were bad and we needed to get out.  But we couldn’t go to any public cooling centers, because we have a dog and it was absolutely unacceptable to both of us to leave him behind.

In a way, our dog has been like a surrogate child the last year.  He knows, somehow, that things are harder for us lately, and he seems to provide just an extra amount of affection.  If he goes on a walk with either one of us, he always comes back in the room and heads straight to the one he left behind, giving a quick kiss of reassurance on whatever exposed skin he can find.  After my miscarriage, he spent a lot of time in bed with me, and even if he went for a walk or went in the other room to be with my husband, he would routinely come back to check on me, almost like a nurse would check on a patient.  To be perfectly blunt, he’s been more help to me than some of my closest family members, and I am not about to leave him in 100 degree temperatures with little food and water.

So instead, we packed up the car and left town.  We had no idea where we were going or if we were going to find a place to stay.  I figured if we headed down the highway and stopped at every hotel we found, eventually we’d find one that accepted pets.  It took us 3 hours, but finally we found a hotel that allowed pets in every room and had one last room available.  I didn’t even ask them how much it was – I was just so grateful to find a place with air conditioning where we could stay for the night.  Many times over the next few days, I broke down in tears of gratitude, so happy and relieved that a hotel was available where we could make sure our dog was looked after.  This is a direct result of my terrible year – I’m now emotionally undone by the idea of my dog getting basic care in an emergency.

Our power came back on Sunday, and we started the drive back home in the car.  While we were on the road, I cried again, telling my husband how much it meant to me that my little family was kept together and safe during a crisis, that we made it.  I shouldn’t even have said anything, because right in the middle of that conversation, our car started to stall.  We pulled over on the road and my husband turned the engine off, letting it cool down for a few minutes.  He re-started it carefully, as I tried to keep myself from panicking.  After a few minutes of agonized waiting, we got the car started and got back on the highway.  We’re still not sure if something is now wrong with the transmission, but we managed to drive the last hour home without incident.

But during that last hour, I lost it completely.  I was so freaked that something else would happen that I would barely talk to my husband and if he looked anywhere but at the road, I snapped at him.  I would barely let him change lanes to pass other cars on the highway, and I frequently made him slow down, even to the point of being below the speed limit.  I was rigid with fear that we’d break down or have an accident.

When we made it home, I finally let myself relax a little bit and guess what happened?  I broke down again.  I’ve been crying all morning – crying when the power flickered, crying when the cable came back on, crying at the idea of getting back in that car to run errands today.  I even cry when I look at the dog, thinking about how relieved I am that he’s ok, that we’re all ok and maybe life will get back to normal this week.

This is what the last year has done to me – I sometimes just come undone, when all the smoke has cleared and I have a moment to think.  I never used to be this easily spooked, but a combination of natural disasters and personal tragedies has shaken me so badly I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same again.  I know it could get much, much worse (and just thinking about how much worse it has gotten for other people actually makes me cry again — for them), and that idea has me shaking like a leaf.  I know I can handle it (I’ve handled it so far) but I don’t want to.  I just want it to stop.  I want a little space to get myself together again and feel normal for a while.  I want peace and quiet, but at this point, I can’t remember the last time I had any.


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