No, this is not a post about Scandal or Olivia Pope or Instagram. But this little phrase did teach me something. The other night I was going through my Instagram feed and saw this gem posted by @Phumezamzai, lovely girl that she is. And it hit home….I am a gladiator…more so in the last 5 weeks than before.
Now those of you who follow me on twitter would have been made aware of a recent hospital visit, an operation and a pretty long recovery process. I was mostly quiet during the bulk of the hospital visit and even since then the details provided have been pretty sketchy. It’s taken me a while to process it all, to get better and to be OK with putting pen to paper. Beating the odds (for the second time in your life) does that.
It all started with an intense pain early saturday evening. There we were peacefully watching a movie when all of a sudden I experienced a pain I was unable to pinpoint or describe. The closest I got was “it feels like each of my organs are being individually squeezed by a vice grip“. After much deliberation I managed to convince the guy person that the pain seemed to be easing (which it was) and I headed home, only to be flooded by wave upon wave of pain as it got later. After vomiting for 4 hours I finally dragged myself to my car and drove to Netcare Sunninghill. I’m not going to into a hell of a lot of detail about the casualty visit at 1am in the morning but what I will say is that I’m far from impressed. I waited forever to be helped while I was quite clearly in agony, I was given a single disprin for the pain before the doctor indicated that I was being a wuss and there was nothing seriously wrong with me. Blood was taken but I doubt the doctor even glanced at the prelim results that came in before they sent me home telling me that the pain was muscular in nature. I was sent home with a script for Buscopan and a note for an ultrasound “just in case you still experience some pain on monday“. Stupidest thing a doctor has EVER done. I should have been admitted right there and then.
I spent most of sunday curled up in a little ball in absolute agony, unable to walk or eat and throwing up like there was no tomorrow…muscular my ass! Monday morning I drove myself back to Sunninghill for the ultrasound. Crying all the way as even the slightest movement caused the worse pain EVER. So here’s the thing…because of my car accident and the damage that caused and the constant pain I deal with, my pain threshold is pretty high. For me to be in this much pain and crying…well it says a lot. The lady who did the ultrasound nearly had a heart attack when she finally got the scan done and I was immediately admitted and put on a morphine and anti-biotic drip. And EVERYONE was asking how the hell I got sent home by casualty.
The short version of this is after spending Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in hospital with an acutely inflamed gallbladder, liver, colon and pretty much everything else it was finally safer to do an op to remove my gallbladder. The specialist surgeon (most amazing man alive) had hoped that they would be able to reduce the infection and be able to perform a standard keyhole surgery. This was however not the case…as we know by now I do nothing in half measures. I only came out of theatre more than 3 hours later with a tanked blood pressure (which gifted me with a stay in high care) and huge cuts…a 45 min op turned into a 3 hour butchery. That week in hospital was the worst ever. Before the operation the pain of the infection was so intense that i was on 8 different types of pain meds all the time (which didn’t work). I was eventually given pethadine in conjunction with these in order to at least give me some relief. I was swollen, yellow and very very sick. After the op I had to deal with the fact that I was not only trying to recover from a major infection but also seriously invasive surgery, shredded core muscles and pneumonia as I wasn’t breathing properly due to the pain.
As it turns out I didn’t just have an infected gallbladder, or a gall stone or something…no no….I had gangrene. A horrible, gangrenous, angry gallbladder which had started infecting everything around it. I got completely stuck on that the first time the specialist explained that to me…so much so that i missed the next 5 minutes of what he said. GANGRENE!!?? I had a serious WTH moment…a reality check…and once I got home I had a bit of a cry. The truth is…in my Specialist’s words during my second follow-up visit “you were slowly dying“….scary scary stuff. Nobody is exactly sure how this happened and how I haven’t been in agony for ages as I’ve obviously been sick for years. My guess is that it’s like a frog in a pot. If you slowly turn up the heat he doesn’t realise he’s cooking. I’ve just gotten so used to pain that I never even realised just in how much pain I was until it got really really bad. It’s no secret that i’ve had food related issues for years…this is probably all related to the same issue.
But I’m getting off track. As I lay there in hospital, both before and after the operation, I wanted to die. I didn’t WANT to deal with the pain..it was too much. I couldn’t even cry because it was too sore. Now that I’m well on my way to recovery that sounds ludicrous. And I can’t even begin to imagine being in enough pain to put me in such a mindset…but I was. But here’s the thing….I don’t get to run. I’m a gladiator. Gladiators don’t run. They fight. They slay dragons. They wipe off the blood. They stitch up their wounds, and they live to fight another day. I don’t get to run.
And as I sit here typing this I’m filled with more gratitude than I can begin to explain. Grateful for my family (they rushed to come and be with me while I was in hospital and my mother dearest stayed on to look after me after I got out of hospital as initially I couldn’t do ANYTHING and they were just more amazing than i can put into words), my guy person (I can’t even describe how utterly amazing he’s been), my friends (who went above and beyond to visit in hospital, take care of me afterwards and check in on me all the time) for all the love and support and for all the prayers. But mostly I’m grateful because even in my darkest moments, and even in the emotionally draining pit I was falling down God was there with me. He knew my pain and He also knew that I was stronger than that. It wasn’t my time to go yet and I was never alone…not once.
So here I am…I’ve started driving and can, for the most part do most things. I’m not allowed back in gym for a while and I’m not allowed to lift heavy things and I have ZERO core strength at present. But that will come…so will speed (everything currently happens in slow motion as fast movements are painful). I’m celebrating the small victories such as being able to reach my toes without wanting to die, being able to get upright after lying in bed without help, SLEEPING ON MY SIDE! Every day little things that we so often take for granted. I’m sporting 3 brand new scars, 2 of which are small and subtle but a third you’d have to be blind to miss..since i’m already riddled with them I’ve decided to embrace my brand new battle scar and to be honest I think in time it’ll fade quite nicely. It’s over 15cm, but the surgeon went to a lot of trouble to use cosmetic stitches rather than settling for the norm and he’s done a damn good job:)
The fact is…life is good. It has to be, because I choose it that way.