Not Your Shoe Size

When I was still in Primary School, some of the boys enjoyed teasing me. Just usual stuff, hair pulling, insults, anything really to get a reaction. Sometimes, the teasing would cross the line and I would cry. I remember Allister in Year 5, the one with the rats tail, telling me in his mealy mouthed, spit dribbling way, to act my age, not my shoe size. Back then I was ten. My shoe size was already a size 10; I looked down at him through my tears, narrowed my eyes and said in that scathing way only primary-aged-girls to primary-aged-boys can: “I am”.

It’s a funny (peculiar) thing, to reach your forties and feel less like an adult than you did when you were a kid.

Lately I find myself wishing I had a mum who could take care of things for me.  Having tantrums when people don’t understand me. Wanting to lie in the grass and ignore the calls for dinner. Playing. Being petulant. Speaking my mind and all manner of other childish behaviours.

I feel like this chick.

Maybe it’s menopause, my early entry into the M-zone is not surprising for me, it came early for my Mum and my sister too. I certainly find the addition of hot flushes to my life to be a hair-trigger into the tanty zone.

Maybe it’s Maybelline.  Pffft.

I don’t know, but adulthood sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?  I recently took a break from Facebook, something I would never have contemplated a few years ago. Back when I was sick, Facebook was my lifeline. I love Facebook. But my inner child was stomping her foot and putting her hands over her ears.  Too. Much. Noise.

For the first time ever, we asked for a home stay student to be moved to another family. I found it so hard to do, I was broken up over the decision. It was the beginning of me realising that I am overstretched, not coping, not ‘adulting’ in the way I believe I should. You know that dream you have sometimes, where you are running and running and running, but the ground doesn’t move beneath your feet at all? Maybe that is just my recurrent nightmare, but I feel just like that. I’m running, but not getting anywhere. My voice is being whipped away by the wind. I’m overwhelmed with all the business required of me, but I don’t have the resources to meet demands.

So I have been taking these steps back, wherever I can. Maybe all women get to this point at midlife. Maybe I’m just pathetic. I look at my life and I wonder if I will ever achieve anything. I look at my kids and I wonder if I am doing a good enough job. I look at my marriage and I hope that he will love me through this season too, because I am not the woman he met all those years ago. I am changing. I am regressing into the child I feel like I am.  I see the moody ineptitude of myself and I want to run away from myself and climb a tree, stay up there until the sun goes down and someone forces me inside for a meal cooked by someone else, followed by bed.

My shoe size is now an 11.
But in European sizing, I’m a 42.  My exact age.  
It makes me smile a bit to think that I truly am acting my age, and my shoe size. Either way you look at it.

Are you finding yourself hanging out a lot with your inner sole (soul) too?!

A Stitch in Time

Some years ago, I had a rather significant operation. I called it the ‘hitch and stitch’. An internal lady parts renovation. One part of that renovation called for my uterus to be stitched up via my pelvic ligaments to my spine. It was a great thing to do, for good reasons, and it worked. But the stitch on the left side seemed to be the cause of debilitating pain through my pelvis and down my left leg and ankle. I’ve been managing it since then; pain, pain meds, the endless juggle of when I can take them and have the relief I so need.

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Waiting for surgery.

When you are taking really strong meds, there are some things that just aren’t right to do, like drive your kids around, or work. You can’t rock up to a teaching or a modelling job with a floaty head because you’ve just taken your oxynorm. So on the days I worked, I just had to deal with the pain. There have been many tears shed or short words delivered to my nearest and dearest when I am back home after a day of smiling through pain.

Pain sucks.

I’ve learnt to adjust things as I go. Thinking all the time “can I take my pills yet? When will they kick in if I take them now? What else do I need my brain for today?” and then, the pill is swallowed and the other-worldly, floaty absence begins. Sometimes, when it kicks in, I cry with relief.

I am still aware of the pain when I take my pills, but I no longer care about it. Unfortunately, I no longer care about most things when I am in that state and finding words is a challenge. I might drift off mid-sentence, or repeat the same thing multiple times.  Writing for this blog doesn’t work when I am under the influence of my pills, or doing the freelance work I used to enjoy so much. So I’ve written less.

Managing pain meds makes me anxious, because I don’t want to give myself an addiction problem. I also hate my kids seeing me like that, tuned out. I often don’t take my meds when perhaps I should for that reason. But what can you do? Life goes on. Mother work doesn’t seem to be outsource-able. Pain just exists and we survive it. Centuries of women have dealt with women’s issues and got through. And if we can’t, we fall in a heap for a while… and if we’re lucky, the troops rally.

I have felt so fortunate to be in remission from Pandysautonomia that I have felt I cannot legitimately complain. I mean, my life, even with pain is so much better than before. So mostly, I have just shut up about it. People don’t generally want to know anyway.

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…suffering isn’t usually something it is socially acceptable to ‘selfie’

The day before yesterday was an important day for me.  I had a surgery to attempt to fix the problem with that stitch. My uro-gynae surgeon is Tim Dawson, one of the worlds finest medical people. He’s so kind. Previously he had done a hysteroscopy and identified the inflammation, and the location, of the rogue stitch so he knew exactly what to do. We are fairly certain this is the culprit. And here it is.

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This little stitch caused me a lot of grief!

My arch enemy, the cause of my pain, the author of all that suffering. It’s so small! But so are the nerves it harassed. Aggravated nerves can pack a wallop of pain when they’ve been bothered for a long time. When the nurse handed that stitch to me in a specimen bottle, I examined it closely: my Evil Nemesis. I thought about how much I hated it, that small but powerful stitch. I felt like you might feel if a scary spider that bit you is trapped in a jar. Like a victor.

Now, we wait. We wait for the bruising and dissolvable stitches from the operation to repair. We wait for the other procedure he did (an intra-uterine ablation) to heal. We wait for a good number of weeks on strong pain relief to see if my brain can cease firing on the same old pain pathways. And then, we’ll know if it worked. I feel hopeful.  I’ve been working with the Pain Team from ADHB and they have been so outstandingly helpful. They made sure that this time, there would be no re-admission to hospital from pain flare. I’m so lucky to have access to that team, they really know their stuff.

Wouldn’t it be great if removing this stitch in time, saves nine!

Here’s to all you ladies, who like me, never seem to have an easy time of the lady-parts-shebang. To all the girls suffering with difficult periods, menopausal madnesses, fertility frustrations and women’s woes. Here’s to you, to us.  We often don’t discuss these things because it is awkward, or embarrassing, or deeply personal. But if you are out there hiding in plain sight, suffering because of your lady business, I send you solidarity. Hang in there sisters!  The other side of menopause shines like a beacon of joy just over the horizon!  Let us sally forth!

And especially, here’s to the ladies who stood by me, offered to help and made me feel okay, to Pru and Tamra, to Flo my ever-wonderful bestie, to Mo and Toni, Noodle, Bunny, Bee, Nettie and Trissy.
Sisters in biology and sisters in soul. I am lucky to have you on my side.

Just look at what we can do even WITH the difficulties of our ‘downstairses’.  Women are incredible!