I'm All Meshed Up

Bladder Mesh Surgery Gone Wrong

A little bit of mesh, a little bit of lupus, a little bit of Osteo Arthritis and my vanity is gone…

Today is a day about letting all the demons go…the ones in my heart and soul, physically and emotionally.

I have been wanting to write this post for a few days now but have simply been too tired to sit and write. I really don’t know where I am at emotionally, I feel like a black cloud has been cast over me and I can’t seem to shake it. There have been a number of events that have happened in the past week and from these events I have had a hard time not getting caught up in the spiral downward.

First off I want to say ” THANK YOU” to all my wonderful family and friends for the emails of encouragement and love. To sit down and answer each one is a daunting task and one I am not going to achieve, but PLEASE don’t stop emailing me! You guys are the bridge between my world and the real world…So, for now I have decided to send out an email and also post to my BLOG.

As I went through the individual emails I was overwhelmed with the love that was surrounding me because along this journey somewhere I have got lost in the worlds of Lupus and Mesh and have felt more often than not, I am just whining and complaining about my life. At times I felt like a hypochondriac and it scared the hell out of me thinking I WAS out of my mind!

When I got the diagnosis of not only Mesh complications and required surgeries to be rid of 75% of it and then the Lupus,  Fibromyalgia, Connective Tissue Disease and Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis, I felt over joyed because FINALLY my hard work has paid off, I am NOT crazy, that in itself was validation for me pursuing this task!

So now that I have all of this I am finding life difficult, I should say WAY OVERWHELMING because I literally feel like the life has been sucked out of me. Lupus fatigue is a fatigue like no other, I’ve never felt this before and it is difficult to get a handle on it. My Rheumatoid Specialist has encouraged me to join support groups but most of all to know when its time for my body to simply just rest.She said half the battle of Lupus is overcoming the fatigue.

That is going to be the hard part for me, rest…hmmmm…how can I do that when I have so many plans in terms of writing my book, advocating and educating women and men on the dangers of mesh, playing with my Lily and spending time with my family and friends. Please know that I appreciate each and every one of you and although we may not speak on the phone much or visit, you are all in my heart. This is such a difficult journey and I have to spend my time wisely in terms of visiting and going out.

There have been a couple of  events that I have  had to swallow my pride on and one was buying a “cane”. I cant walk without assistance right now as the Lupus has caused bumps to form on my feet. As I was purchasing this cane, I was in tears, it took me back to a time in life when I had to go cane shopping with Ron. I was so saddened when we got to that stage in his Cancer journey and remember thinking, “I wonder what he is thinking about this”…well I can honestly say I now know what he was thinking, all the sadness and loss he was experiencing. What I did do though was buy a really cute and sexy cane with butterfies all over it…I figure if I have to use a cane then I want it to be a fashion statement!! I  also got my handicapped decal last Friday and we tried to down play it by being “excited” about front row parking! It was sad and I felt hurt but I quickly got over it when we got to the mall and I got out of the car with my purse in one hand, my cane in the other and realized how thankful I felt to not have to walk far…

James and I had some errands to do yesterday and I wanted to go, against his advice,  and honestly after 2 hours I felt a fatigue hit my body like no other…I was in tears screaming how much I hate this new life and how the f*ck do I get the old one back! Jame”s is overwhelmed with frustration and wants to kick every Dr I have in the ass, except for my Rheumatologist!!! I see the knee surgeon tomorrow and he wants to come in with me to have a “talk” with him…not gonna happen! I know James will “rip him a new as*hole” and I DONT want to be around when that happens!!!

We both feel like we have been tossed out to sea and we are floundering around trying to find our niche’ in life. Do I fear that people will walk out of my life, yes, every single day, but I am learning to work with those fears and I guess bottom line is “if they don’t stay now and let me go then I guess they were never meant to be in my life”…a friend reminded me of that a few days ago and it is so very important for me not to take the blame for people leaving my life, this is not something I asked for or wanted but it is what it is…

I  came across a wonderful story the other day on my Lupus site and I want to share it with you all. It basically speaks of how to make choices in your life when you have Lupus or any other debilitating illness, or even at a really rough patch in life, which we ALL go through at some point or another. You have to make your choices wisely and pick your battles wisely as you will read in the story.

The story is from a woman who suffers from Lupus and how she lives day-to-day…

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoon As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse than others; some days I have more spoons than most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

© Christine Miserandino

I have to figure out how to live with this disease and I am still walking blindly into the night but I am educating myself on how to live a full productive life, maybe not as productive as before but that does not mean it is not as full and rich as it were, quite the opposite actually, it is filled with just as much friendships and love as it ever was and I am now very careful about not taking those relationships for granted.

My one big heart ache right now is Lily, I want her to know her Nana and understand that there will be days when Nana can’t do certain things with her but because I may not be able to be as actively involved with her does not diminish my love for her…When I look into her beautiful eyes and hold her tight to me, my heart is filled with so much love, how can this one little “princess” not make my life rich and beautiful, well she does and I will never let that go…Lily is the flame that burns brightly in my life everyday and she is my reason for fighting back against all that has been thrown at me. When I feel the tears run gently down my cheeks, it is  because Lily that brings such pure joy and love to my life and I cry not for what I have lost but for what I have gained and learned from my sweet sweet grand-daughter…

So please know on the days and/or weeks I don’t get back to you, it is not because I don’t care, it is simply because I have “run out of spoons”…

 

“Often daunted, NEVER defeated”

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