From 2013-2014 I was sick with some kind of cold or infection almost continuously. First, it was a cold, then a sinus infection, then an ear infection. Wash, rinse, repeat. I remember talking to my mom on the phone and telling her I was starting a round of Amoxicillin for a sinus infection and she said: “Oh my gosh girl, you are always sick!”.
I wasn’t sure why at the time, but it got me when she said that. Right in that spot. You know the one: the center of your ribcage, just below your bra line and about 2 inches about your belly button. That spot where when something really hurts, you feel it there.
I remember defending myself to some degree. Mumbling something about being just fine last week but truth be told; she was right. Even when everyone else in the household was healthy I had some illness running me into bed. I found myself jealous of The Hubs because he never caught any of my viruses and the kids, for all their time spent in the germ pit of middle school, never seemed to catch a single one. It was miserable.
At some point, I started taking supplements and probiotics to help boost my immune system and repair my gut and it worked wonders. Since that time I have come down with a few colds and had a sinus infection or two but it’s a vast improvement. In fact, last season The Hubs was the germy one and I was not. (I am shamefully proud of this for reasons that should be obvious.)
Outside of routine maintenance for Endometriosis I’ve been relatively healthy.
Then, as most of you know if you’ve been following along, the Ovarian Cysts started in March of 2017. (Catch up here) It was difficult, but I managed to make life work in between growths and ruptures and as chaotic as it was, we went into surgery #1 of 2017 as a planned, “tune-up” kind of situation.
But life rarely goes the way I ask it to, as you know from previous posts, and surgery #1 quickly gave way to surgery #2 and in between recovery times I was so sick. I had a constant fever and pain, oh my gosh, the pain. I could barely walk, or eat, or sleep. It was awful for me, as well as the family I’m sure, and I am just now starting to process the whole thing. (more on that here)
Once I was healed up from surgery #2 I broke my foot. After 12 weeks of being in a cast with crutches, I went through weeks of physical therapy.
After that, I got straight back to life and undertook a huge painting project in the house, which led to a pinched nerve in my neck that is wreaking havoc on my left arm. It started as intermittent but it is almost 24/7 at this point. To add insult to injury (literally) I went and fell out of a god damn hammock and won myself a concussion. And don’t forget about the severe depression I suffered as a result of all of this. (you can read those posts here and here.)
Are you laughing?
It’s like one of those slapstick comedies where the characters fall all over the place getting kicked in the junk and covered in cake or something equally as messy.
By the time I got the concussion, I didn’t tell anyone about it. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to people “tsk” over my misfortune, or to laugh at the cracks about wrapping me up in bubble wrap or buying me a helmet. (For my birthday, in March, The Hubs gave me a roll of bubble wrap as a gift. I wanted to die.)
I was miserable with dizziness, fatigue and the frustration of being, yet again, restricted by my body. So I just told people that I had a stomach bug and had to stay in bed.
Eventually, I did tell my parents and brothers via an ongoing family text string and they did not disappoint with the jokes. I told a few friends because there is only so long you can fake a stomach bug, and I was met with either deep concern or what felt like indifference, and of course, the jokes.
Since then every few days someone asks me how my head is and after I respond I grin and laugh through some kind of “geez girl” exclamation and the ever constant bubble wrap comments.
It’s starting to feel like the only thing I bring to the table is comedic inspiration.
I frequently crack jokes at my own expense, so why wouldn’t the people around me? Aren’t I teaching them how to handle my ailments? If I make a crack about needing a new foot when it swells up all weird and angry like, why wouldn’t my friends? Why can’t my friends?
Maybe the difference is that it’s my foot so only I get to insult it. Kind of like no one but me can call my kids monsters. Or maybe it’s because I am the one doing the coping, so I should be the one bringing the levity.
My surgeon never agrees when I say “sounds like a party” before surgery. It’s not a damn party. It’s awful and it sucks and it’s okay for me to call it a party in the OR because I am the one walking around in a body that hurts. But this isn’t his affliction, and when he walks out of the OR he gets to go on with his day and leave my suffering behind.
So when I say “sounds like a party.” And he says “It is most definitely not a party.” He is practically forcing me to process this trauma, rather than enable my attempts to avoid and deflect.
What’s more is he is acknowledging-without me asking him to-that this is straight up awful and that is why I hate being the butt of everyone’s jokes.
It delegitimizes my struggle, my symptoms, and my entire existence as a person living with either a chronic or acute affliction.
Look, I’m not saying that it’s never okay to get goofy about all of this. Hell, I need the release of it and I need my people to be able to find the humor in the suck. But I also desperately need validation. To be reminded by just one person (that isn’t paid to say it) that I am so much more than Endometriosis, or a broken foot or a freaking concussion.
Because chances are that the more jokes I’m cracking about this, the harder I am trying to cope.