Day Fourteen Challenge -WHAT WOULD YOUR YOUNGER SELF BE PROUD OF YOU FOR TODAY?
I have accomplished a lot…I have a career I’m proud of and I have raised my son to be a loving, kind, and caring human being…all by myself. I can’t take all the credit for my son as my family has been a big part of his life. Throughout this challenge I have been forced to take a long hard look at myself. I feel as though I am on the cusp of accepting myself for all my good qualities and all my flaws. I’m realizing everything is not perfect and that’s ok because everyday I’m making changes. I’m finally seeing progress and how negatively I used to see myself. Looking to others for validation or acceptance is definitely not productive for anyone. Essentially I am all there is no matter who comes in or out of my life. The only acceptance that matters or has any validity is of myself. Being truly acceptant of one’s self means you can offer the world your gifts being authentically you. My younger self would be proud of how far I have come…all I have been through.
One particular story of survival I want to share: On August 6, 2005, my mom’s birthday, I became deathly ill. For about 2-3 weeks prior I had this pain in my abdomen that would move around. It was a sharp pain, I was moving boxes so I thought maybe I pulled a muscle. At one point the pain was so intense it would wake me up out of dead sleep. I went to see a doctor who told me he thought I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). He sent me for blood work which showed no abnormalities. I accepted his explanation. Although deep down I knew something was seriously wrong but at the same time I didn’t want to deal with it. I was scared of the unknown, maybe I had cancer. On my mom’s birthday my dad and I went out for last minute supplies (we were both procrastinators), her cake and birthday present. We got back to my parent’s house and the pain started with an intensity I cannot begin to describe. I did everything to find relief lay down, take a bath, take some tylenol. My father, God Bless him, wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused. After all it’s just IBS. I became incomprehensible and my dad put me in the car and brought me to the ER. The ER was packed with people and in triage the nurse told my father I am probably just dehydrated so she sent him to wait in the car (there was no place to sit). I was waiting with everyone else but one nurse (she saved my life) took one look at me and said authoritatively “You come here”. My blood pressure was 64/32, my heart rate was 162, the colour of my face was green. I started vomiting and didn’t stop. They took x-rays and moved me to ICU where they took an MRI. I was in and out of consciousness, I was in pain that feels like dying would be a good idea because at least you would have some relief. I had multiple IV’s of morphine and fluid. The ICU doctor came to me and explained to me that I am septic and have an obstruction in my small intestine. An obstruction means that parts of my intestines are not getting blood and therefore the tissue is “dead” or “dying” spilling its contents. She didn’t know the extent of the damage but explained that if I didn’t go into emergency surgery right now I was going to die very soon. The surgery lasted 9 hours. Can you believe I was so delusional that I thought I would just have the surgery and go home in a couple of days (rather funny when you think of it now). There were three surgeons in total, two gastroenterology specialists and one general surgeon. They removed several portions of my small intestine and large intestine. Dr. Richards (the main man) saved my life and I am forever grateful to him. I was on the ventilator in a medically induced coma for several days, I had an epidural for several weeks, and the nasogastric tube (that’s in your nose) for almost 3 weeks. When I was woken up I had to be on morphine around the clock on top of the epidural. Under my skin I have 150-160 stitches that are there permanently. I had 14 staples and I have a permanent scar that goes from my belly button to my pubic bone (I guess bikini modelling was never in the cards). I lost 40 pounds because of muscle wasting and the severity of what my body had endured. Towards the end of my hospital stay, one night I was walking around wheeling all my IV poles with me and I decided to go to the floor with the outdoor space. While I was waiting for the elevator I looked at the reflection in the window, it was night time, and I thought,”Oh there’s another young woman”. When I turned around and there was no one there I realized that was me in the reflection. I didn’t even recognize my own reflection that was a turning point for me. I decided I am not going to give up. My food finally started staying down after I ate and the nasogastric tube finally came out. I was on parenteral nutrition at this point. I was discharged home nearly a month after my mom’s birthday (one unfortunately she will never forget). I survived. I am a surviver.
artwork credit – James Tissot “The Political Lady” and “Quiet”