Last month, while my sister and brother-in-law were over, I became I’ll with what I thought was food poisoning. A few hours later after not being able to hold down water, my husband took me to the ER. I threw up right in the lobby which made me terrified for whatever was happening to me. I was given meds for pain and after a few hours and a CAT scan, was misdiagnosed with appendagiatis (not appendicitis) which can mimic those symptoms.
I have a need to understand what has been happening these last couple of months. Writing or talking it out with family/friends/therapist or praying or crying alone and distracting myself with good TV and books is usually gets me where I need to go. But this has felt like a ride I cannot get off.
I was told I could go home and take Ibuprofen. It would all be over in a few days. I was given water. After a couple sips, I was back to writhing in pain. When I asked how could I go home and not drink water, the doctor asked me “So you want to be admitted?” I said yes even though he clearly didn’t think my condition warranted it. He made mention of having seen over 40 patients that night and having 12 minutes left on his shift. He did however agree to let a doctor know who would want to evaluate me for admission before beginning their shift.
It was strange and sad and infuriating not having my pain taken seriously by him. After the next doctor came in, she correctly suspected it was my gallbladder which was confirmed by an ultrasound. However, she made sure to show me a picture of my uterus, telling me “I had to take a picture of it.” I was thinking for what and are you planning on showing someone? I told her I was aware of my fibroid situation and my embolization was actually originally planned for the next week. She said she believed I could have both surgeries in back to back weeks because they are “different organs.”
I don’t know who needs to read this but we are not a series of parts. My body or anyone else’s should not be treated or spoken about as if we are a game of Operation. Healing and rest are essential. Taking your time is vital.
The decision was made for me to remove my gallbladder. There was no chat about drainage of the infection or anything else. Through a morphine-induced haze, I asked about medical nonsurgical intervention and she waved it off. The next day I was in pre-op and the doctor came to see minutes before being wheeled back. The anxiety I felt was unparalleled. I thought she was there to explain what was going to happen and provide a bit of comfort as this would be my first major surgery.
Not so much. She started one of her sentences by saying “This may not be the right time” and launched into pressuring me into getting bariatric surgery. I was flat on my back, panicked about going under anesthesia and praying for peace of mind. I was flat on my back having to turn her down and defend my decision not to undergo bariatric surgery.
I was exhausted, angry and felt powerless. My trust was broken. I trusted her to see me as a person in a vulnerable position, not some kind of defective set of parts or an amorphous blob. The nurses could see me and treated me with kindness and respect. This is what still infuriates and haunts me. Even though the surgery went well. Even though the rooms were clean, food was fine and my love was by my side in recovery.
A couple times, two of the nurses would either not not give me my full dosage of pain meds or just Tylenol. Yes, I had stitches and painfully practiced walking down the hall and had to press a pillow to my stomach not to scream when I coughed or laugh.
But I made it home. A few days later, my beloved grandfather died. A week after that, a friend who brought my husband into my life, passed away unexpectedly. Grief is a wild animal, feral. I have no idea when it will creep up and in floods fond memories, what ifs and the gut punches that sent me sinking into the floor.
The optimist in me wants to look for the happy for every sad: the service was beautiful, I felt strong enough to write a poem for him, I got to reunite with my father’s side of the family, all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there, at least my surgery was successful and we flew to and from Florida safely, I applied to be my city’s next Poet Laureate during my recovery, met virtually with my Rainbow Fund writing group, and when my car didn’t start this week, we had another to drive Hubby to the ER (he is ok) and he is healing through a particularly painful flare while at the end of a stomach virus.
Tomorrow, I am facilitating a full class entitled “Our Whole Black Selves” and I have the opportunity to write and discuss our joys, strengths and triumphs in a safe space with other Black people. I need this time. Part of me wants to crawl out of a deep soaking tub and into the comfiest bed to sleep for a week. It sounds great but being in community, writing and releasing is truly where I need to be.
I should add I did confront the surgeon at my post-op appointment. Her apology was more of an excuse as to why she said what she said and in the vain of “I’m sorry you felt that way” and congratulated herself on the gallbladder catch. I wanted her to hear me when I told her but if she couldn’t ever really see me, why did I think her ears would decide to open? I told her I hoped this would make her a better practitioner and that her larger patients already know they are big. We have mirrors and other people regularly pointing it out. I emphasized that I never asked her about weight loss—not even once. I also dealt with a back up for my primary who was rude and blamed the onset of my PCOS on obesity. I was 12 and not big in the slightest. His bedside manner was atrocious.
I am unsure outside of filling out the hospital’s survey and speaking to my real primary if there much to be done. My fatigue is real but so is my hope and will to open eyes.
I love myself enough to know when to enforce boundaries, advocate, embrace peace without shame and search for the joy.
We all need it.
I am craving it.
I love myself enough to acknowledge it’s healthy to mourn lost loved ones like my dear Papa Ze and Ms. Tina Zapata and allow myself to move through it all even when it’s ugly —especially when it’s ugly.
There is strength there, too.
In putting aside the pretty.