Saturday, March 31st, 2012
I finally slept!!! It was glorious. I still can't lay on either side very well...but it's improving. The gravitational pressure still hurts a bit too much to be totally comfortable, but it's better than just the shifting of my hips I was able to do in the hospital. Jim tells me (and so did Mom) that one night in the hospital I was actually on my side... again, small improvements....
I stink....I don't mean I have a bad attitude or I'm Negative Nelly... I mean... I STINK! Baby Wipe Baths are barely sufficient at cleaning. I long for a shower. My hair was washed and dried a day before I went into ER, thank goodness... At least I can be very grateful for very thick hair that I don't have to wash ever two days. Still...even MY thick hair should not go 5 days without being washed and it's in DIRE need.
Mom and I book appointments at an Aveda Salon across the street from Jim's place. Jim takes off to spend the day with his son for Conference and his daughter's 'graduation clock out' for her cosmotology school. We head to WalMart for some 'quick errands'.
I overestimate my energy level...but I'm DYING to get out and do something normal. I last about 10 minutes in WallyWorld, walking super slow and holding my stomach before I have to sit down. My mom takes off with the cart to finish up and I realize how slow I am. How fast the world seems to move around me.
I see people and think, "Your life is normal. You walk normally. You shit normally, like... alone in a bathroom! You don't have to have a conversation with someone while your bowels are emptying into a bag and act like nothing is going on. You might get to play with your kids today. You have NO IDEA that I've been sliced open, stitched up, and had appliances attached to my body. To you, today is just a Saturday. To me, I wonder how I will take a shower, bet you didn't wonder how you were going to take a shower...." I feel the tears coming...but I distract myself with texting and I remind myself that I'm alive, I'm getting stronger, I have people who love me.... I'm going to be okay. I am.
Get home. Mom unpacks the items. I lay down for a nap. I have a GINORMOUS coughing fit and it rocks my body. I hold my stomach, my incisions and Siggy...I can barely breathe. Drink water....It finally subsides when I cough up a bit of junk...Whew... THAT hurt!!
SCARE FOR THE DAY: I wake up at 12:45, we have our appt at 1:00. I go to the bathroom and POOP COMES OUT MY BUTT!! I'm trying, trying, TRYING not to freak out but I can NOT for the life of me figure out how I can poop out of my butt!! I thought they just made that impossible with the bag of shit attached to my side! SERIOUSLY!?!?!
I come out of the bathroom and say, "Well... we might have cause to be alarmed, Mom. (She stops dead in her tracks and looks at me with abject fear in her eyes - I can't make it better.). I just shit out my butt. Time to call the doctor."
While I'm on the phone with the doctor, she's trying to get a hold of the Ostomy Lady, Bridgette. I get through to Dr. Simon's on call buddy....who informs me THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL FOR UP TO TWO WEEKS!!!! WTH??? And NOT ONE PERSON THOUGHT TO TELL ME THIS!? Holy Cow... I am altogether relieved and seriously pissed off. Everyone apologizes and informs me this is the left over stool from the rectum. Great. Fantastic. Beautiful. JUST LET ME FREAKIN' KNOW!!! SHEEESH.
Okay...crisis averted. Let's go get our hair done......
Bobbie (a Master Sytlist who used to have her own salon about 2 miles from my mom's house in San Diego) is my gal and does a FANTABULOUS job fixing the hack job my previous stylist did on my hair. I love it!! Amazing, AMAZING what washing and styling my hair does for me emotionally. I begin to feel a bit better....hope...
I go home and attempt my first shower post-surgery. Here we go....
It's about an hour event. I take off my clothes and I still can't recognize my own body. I've got residue adhesive from the five telemetry leads they had stuck to me, bruising from the blood draws on my arms, a rash all over my entire torso from the antiseptic for surgery, two pinched scars (one on my belly button, one to the right), the bag, and I'm still kinda bloated - I try not to hate my body, try to be gentle to it and encourage healing, try to believe that I won't look like this forever...I try not to cry - yet.....
I attempt at using one of the Shower Shields we got at Wally World...but I'd put Cortisone 10 on my torso to deal with the body rash and the second I get in the shower, the adhesive for the patch comes loose and I'm trying to wash my body parts and hold this patch over my stoma. I can technically get the stoma all wet and soapy...no problem there, but the adhesive on the disc surrounding my stoma will weaken and I don't want that. Forget shaving my legs. I hurry to get out...and my stoma decides to start pooping...small amounts, easy enough to clean up....but still....
The tears come and don't stop for about 10 minutes....
I'm exhausted. I'm a bit demoralized. Who knew a trip to WallyWorld and a shower would be too much to do...It's going to be a long recovery.
I'm still awake when Jim comes home and I recount the day for him. I'm able to laugh about it at this point...especially the pooping out of my butt part, and it's all part of my emotional swings back and forth. It feels amazingly comforting to have him home, and have my mom here. We have a normal evening of talking together...it's solace to my soul.
I can feel the tears building again... Jim and I have some alone time as my mom has gone to bed. He can tell I'm sad...as I begin to cry he attempts to break it down for me so I can feel better. But I'm just so overwhelmed by it all. I KNOW I'm going to be okay, but my fears run riot on me at times and the little girl part of me fears that I won't be. I KNOW I'm healthy, but I feel so unbelievably broken and deformed. I KNOW I have people who love me and are willing to help me, but I feel so terribly alone at times... it's emotional whiplash... I say to Jim, "I know this is what I have to deal with... and I really, REALLY just do NOT want to. And... I have no choice."
He gets his scriptures on his phone and proceeds to read to me Joseph Smith's lament to the Lord while he's being held in Liberty Jail. The tears just flow, I'm almost sobbing. It's a beautiful passage of scripture, of a heart hurting and longing for comfort, longing for aid...and wondering when it will all be okay. And the Lord's response is also profoundly comforting to me...endure it well and in due time all things will be restored to you, you will know the things you need to know, and your friends will welcome you, love you and support you. "This experience, Shannan.... Is YOUR Liberty Jail." He then proceeds to encourage me to have the faith I need, to take care of myself, to be gentle with myself... but to know I'm making progress and I'm going to be okay. I can choose the love or I can choose the fear...We talk a bit more... I thank him for reading that to me, for loving me and knowing me so well to know that THAT passage would help.
I drift off to sleep, trying to get comfortable half on my side.... my bag farts at me....I sigh... and sleep.
Sunday, April 1st, 2012
Well, it's no April Fool's Joke... I still have the bag.
My stomach is feeling stronger today, getting out of bed is easier. I slept very well... I didn't wake up at all until 6:30 to go to the bathroom.
Today... nothing planned. Just resting and healing and being with those I love.
I have been able to talk with my kids some. They have no idea how serious this is...and that's okay. I just wish they'd call more. So I reach out to them. Madison is sick, too...she went to Urgent Care and has strep throat. Braden calls frequently and chats with me. His voice sounds so little on the phone. He makes me smile. I realize I can't see Madison until she's not contagious anymore...so I won't likely see her tomorrow when I get home.
The plan is to rest today, drive home with Mom tomorrow. Good plan.
We walked yesterday around the apartment complex where Jim lives. Today, Jim and I walk off the complex grounds and across the street to get a movie at Walgreen's. Jim notes that I look stronger and that I'm walking normally - not super slow, not hunched over... PROGRESS!! :)
I nap when we get home, Mom cooks dinner. We talk and enjoy ourselves. I actually laugh a good portion of the day...
I have another coughing fit... but it's getting better... progress!!
I'm trepidacious about leaving Jim and engaging in my life at home in California. I know it's inevitable, but I wish I could delay it a bit. Oh well... I take courage in knowing I've got my mom there with me one more day. I take my Dad up on his offer to come down from NoCal...stay with me from Wednesday evening through Saturday morning. I don't really want to be totally alone.
I'm still scared. I wonder how I'm going to do all this...how will I exercise, how will I deal with kids, how will I work with clients?? I calm my fears by realizing how much progress I've made in not even one week...I take hope and strength in the healing capacity of my body and mind. I can do this. I can!
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Today, we just pack in the morning after Jim leaves for work and we're on the road. The only plan for today...get to California.
I sleep for about 1.5 hours of the drive. Mom and I talk...it's a nice drive home. I can feel the pressure building in me...but I remind myself that I really do not HAVE to do anything...it's okay to just rest and heal.
It does feel strangely good to be home. I love being at Jim's and I'm very comfortable there with him...but after only having my own place since February 1st... I'm surprised at the comfort I do find when I walk in and smell my own home, see my own things...It's going to be okay.
Mom takes my bags upstairs. I have a chiropractor appointment with Brother DeLaMare...he does wonders on my back and neck. I feel better already!! Progess!!
My loving step-dad has driven up from San Diego to 'extract' my mom... lol... they leave by 4. It's quiet. I'm alone. I feel okay...not thrilled about being alone, but not terrified of it either. It's alright. Braden comes over for a couple of hours. Doug wants to know if I can drive yet... I say no. Braden and I do some work for a school project together on my computer. It's SO GOOD to see him!!
He is curious and asks about my bag... he asks to see it. I'm not sure he won't be all grossed out about it... so I kinda warn him. He says it's okay.. so I show him. He says, "That's gross." I laugh out loud... "Yup, buddy, it's crap. It's gross!" We laugh. He leans too far over me looking at the computer screen...squiggles his nose up in a bunch and says, "Mom, you stink like a baby's diaper!" Well... IMAGINE THAT! Again, I literally laugh out loud... I go change the bag... ask him if that's better...he smiles and nods his head... we giggle. Doug picks Braden up around 8:45, I think. I hug him, he hugs me back...such a sweet boy.
I crawl into bed after talking with Jim...the tears come again, but only briefly and I don't really remember falling asleep. I sleep soundly until about 6:30...then I drift in and out until I get up at 7:30.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Suzanne, my dear friend, comes over around 12:30 or 1... we talk for a long time. I tell her the whole ordeal. She is an ER nurse and a very close friend. I've asked her if she would be willing to help me remove the bag and disc patch for the first time I have to do it alone. I'm afraid I will pass out since it was a close call at the hospital. She lovingly agrees. (There really are just not THAT many people you can do this with... I'll tell you that!)
She helps me, I don't even come close to passing out...and I being to think that maybe I will truly be okay. Maybe I will get to the point, like Ostomy Lady Bridgette said, where I will be able to do this so fast I won't even think about it. Maybe....
Sister Thomas and Sister Larson bring dinner in Tuesday night... and chat with me for a visit...it's very nice to have someone to talk with about it. The dinner was yummy... and I really appreciated the time on the visit.
Tomorrow... Dad arrives... I plan on another visit to the chiropractor... Suzanne is going to come over in the morning and we'll walk her dogs (I won't hold the leash!)....I'm looking forward to it.
I talk to Jim on and off during the day, I miss him terribly. My mom checks in with me several times... she said she had her own meltdown (she JUST did this with my step-dad and his 5-day hospital stay about three weeks prior... poor Mama!!). She's doing better, resting and trying to catch up on her school work (Interior Design) and keeping tabs on me.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
Suzanne and I walk a mile... ONE MILE! Her dogs are adorable...German Shepherd puppies. It feels glorious to be outside, walking, moving. I look normal, actually... I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I actually put on my workout clothes and feel....well, not STRONG really... .but strongER.... it's a good thing.
I got to the chiropractor and my adjustment feels great. Head home, unpack all the rest of my clothes I didn't do the other day. Lissa Deuschane comes over with dinner and we talk for a while...it's so nice to have visitors and to know that people care. I joke with her about the most unnerving part being the fact that I have to converse with someone while my bowels are moving... We laugh as we remember our kids, pooping in their diapers, faces turning red, slight body tremors... then ... they just keep playing. I say, "Yeah... maybe I should just do that. Hold up my hand (wait signal) to stop the conversation... Have a real look of consternation on my face... pause... 'Okay, I'm good. Continue with what you were saying!'" It feels good to laugh about it. Just as she's leaving, my dad arrives....
Dad gets settled, we visit...it's a nice evening. I talk with Maddie and Braden today, Braden comes over again, he's super mad at his dad and ends up spending the night with me. He snuggles up next to me in bed...He wants me to rub his back but I can't really do it the way he's used to...he tolerates my adaptations. He drifts off to sleep...
I text Jim a bit, not too much, and I really still miss him... but life being what it is...it's all good.
I gently cry...hoping for the best... Hoping that my three months of living like this will being to feel less jarring, and my reversal surgery will go as planned... I drift off to sleep.
Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Kids have half day today, Maddie stays home. Dad takes me to my Hyundai dealership for my 30k service. We do some more shopping for my supplies, some food...wait the two hours for the car.
My boss calls and inquires how I'm doing. As I begin to really discuss things with him, I can feel his concern re: my ability to work with my clients. When I tell him I've discovered that Beano really does work wonders and I don't have random belly farts anymore, when I tell him that the bag is completely concealed under my clothing and no one can see or smell it....he sounds less than convinced. He doesn't want me seeing clients until he can see me in person. We schedule a meeting for Tuesday, April 10th - our regular supervision hour. I have to reschedule clients around, he wants to be at the office when I see clients and that means only Thursday and Friday of next week - not a full client load.
I've already missed out on two weeks of income...it's going to kill me financially. After the $400 service on my car, they also show me how low the tread is on my tires. I need new ones. I begin to feel so overwhelmed by it all... I'm fearful of how I will survive financially, how will I keep earning hours toward licensing, etc. My mom and step-dad immediately offer to buy my tires. Their generosity makes me weep. My dad offers other financial assistance as well.... I am so amazingly blessed... and I feel ridiculous at being 45 and in my situation which requires them to help me so thoroughly. However, I know that I would do the same for my children if necessary and I graciously accept their help.
Dad goes out for dinner alone tonight... I'm too tired and I've had meals brought in... I don't need to go out. Braden wants to come spend the night...but I'm too tired to go get him...he stays with Madison at their Dad's.
Dad comes home, I think I'm watching Gray's Anatomy... I start writing these blog entries and it helps me work through it all... Dad goes off to sleep...
Jim and I chat for a bit...He's busy with his daughter moving in for a while at his place...it feels so good to connect to him, as usual! He's happy for me that I was able to walk a mile yesterday morning... and that we got my car serviced today, and that my dad is there for me... His encouragement, his love, attentiveness and support just keeps me afloat each and every day. What a joy he is to me, he adds so much to my life... the hard things are made easier, the good things are enriched so lovingly... It's really a rich life...
Friday, April 6th, 2012
I slept well last night... I figured out how to brace my tummy with a small rectangular pillow, eases the pressure on the stoma and I can actually lay fully on my side. I hardly woke up at all until light begins to flood in through my window shades. Another day...Yup...the bag is still there. I will attempt another shower today...
The Shower Shield works GREAT today and I realize the Cortisone cream was the culprit. I am able to wash my own hair, shave my legs and wash properly. AHHHHHHH!!! No tears after this shower.
As I'm drying my hair... a long process :)... Madison calls and tells me that they need to be picked up from the barn. I won't be able to fully dry my hair...oh well...I think I'll just straighten it later then.
As I get into the car, I look into the mirror... and WOW... my hair looks okay!! This tells me what a GREAT job Bobbie did on my hair, I'm SO excited... I look at myself... and I think.... "Wow... I look normal!" I think, for the first day since this ordeal began... I feel a bit ... like... ME.
Saturday, April 7th, 2012
Dad and I go through the Antenna toppers in the garage...getting a brief index of them so he can help me sell them. Then, we go to the bank and he deposits some money for me, to help me. I am so incredibly grateful for his help - to compensate for my income loss - I am moved to tears.
Dad tears up a bit.. hugs me, and encourages me. Tells me it's going to be okay...
He takes off for LA, then to NoCal... I head to San Diego to spend the rest of my weekend for Easter with my mom and step-dad.
Robert takes me down to Firestone and buys my new tires. Again, I am moved to tears at the generosity of my parents. Their unconditional support and awareness, and willingness to help me is amazing to me. When my fears get going in my head... this knowledge keeps me calm and I can remind myself that I am going to be okay... I really am.
I spend about 2 hours at the pool at my mom's. I'm so warm, but I can't go swimming...I dribble water over me to cool me off. I'm concerned about the bag being visible under my suit... basically it's just heating up... I'm sweating from the plastic of the bag, too. I'm cookin' my crap!! LOL... it's weird.
I go home, change my clothes...take a nap. I sleep so hard for a couple of hours that when my mom wakes me up about 5:30, she has to really call my name a few times. I was dreaming that I was running, training for my half marathon (the second one that I've had to pull out of). I don't have the bag in my dreams. I wake up... and for a brief moment... I forget that I have it. Until I move.... and I'm reminded of my circumstance. I am agitated... I don't cry, but I sigh heavily... I keep trying to remind myself "This is temporary (but what if it ISN'T?)" "I will get used to this (but what if I CAN'T?)" "I am loveable (but what if I'm NOT?)"
I go downstairs... Robert says... "Let's go!" "Where?" I ask... "To get your car, baby!" Oh yeah... wow... I forgot THAT, too!! That nap really zapped me!!
More texting with Jim today, no phone call... he's busy with his children. When we have our kids... we realize that they are first line and get our time first. I miss him so much. I'm really looking forward to seeing him on Tuesday. I will drive up there on Tuesday after my meeting with my boss because I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday.
Being with Jim... is like a 'reset' button for my operating system. His touch, his humor, his love... just makes everything else slide away and I'm just in the moment with him...surrounded by all that feels so loving. It's a recharge, rebalance.... and I long for the time I get with him.
I'm up late....doing more writing, some texting to Jim.... I usually sleep on my mom's couch very comfortably and I'm hoping tonight will be no different.
I have only a few tears tonight... I've noticed that my emotions are usually in check during the day, but at night, with the quiet, when I'm alone... those final moments of solitude with myself before I drift to sleep... that's when my tears visit me...wash over me, cleanse me from my fears as I let them go... and I sleep.
Sunday, April 8th, 2012 Easter
Easter holds special meaning for me today. As I ponder the Atonement, the miracle of the Resurrection and all it implies for us individually; I am moved as I realize that this broken, scarred and altered body of mine, that feels like it's betrayed me... WILL one day be raised to perfection. I will be made whole in a very real physical way at that time... and I also realize that this process I go through will also make me whole emotionally before that time.
As I learn to rely on my God, my family, my loved ones and friends... I am made whole as they give to me and I allow myself to receive in love... I am made whole. It won't likely happen in one day, I'm sure the tears will continue to wash over me in my moments of quiet... but it's okay... I'm on my way.
I don't know when I'll feel beautiful again, when I'll feel totally normal again. I have no idea when I'll shower without feeling like it's an EFFORT, I don't know when I'll be able to work out and run again... I don't know when I'll feel comfortable with this condition my body has given me, maybe never.
What I do know.. is that I am a work in progress. The Lord knows me, he knows what I need... He knows how to heal me in his time... and I do know that each day I see signs of improvement. These signs give me hope... that maybe, just maybe... there will possibly come a day when I do feel pretty, or sexy, or normal... little by little... day by day...
And, so... I show up. I wake up. I participate in my life. Because really... it's a good life.. and I have too much to be grateful for to get too depressed about the difficulties.