It’s the first day of fall. It’s the autumnal equinox. It’s time to move from light to darkness and from warmth to cold. - that was how I started a post on my personal blog earlier today.
You guys, I LOVE fall! I love the Michigan apple orchards, the crisp air, the colorful leaves. I love wearing sweaters and hoodies and drinking more pumpkin spice latte’s than the amount of times Lindsay Lohan has been arrested (and that’s a lot!).
I love bonfires, hayrides, taking walks, going on road trips, and just soaking in all the beauty bursting from the earth. What I am trying to tell you is, I LOVE IT dafkjgkdleedk;aj! <—-there are no words for my love.
So you can imagine how hard it was for me to skip over this season a few years back. I did. I missed the entire season! When the first day of autumn rolled around a few years ago I had already been in the hospital since July 6th, and so I had missed out on the summer as well. That September a few years back, I had my second surgery on the 10th. It was the surgery that took down my temporary ileostomy and would allow me to start using my j-pouch. Except that surgery came a lot sooner than it was supposed to. I wasn’t even scheduled to have take-down surgery until the end of October, but I found myself being rushed into surgery that September 10th because the two days prior I was plagued with terrible pain that never relented. The pain was accompanied by constant vomiting of dark green bile. I never knew it was possible to throw up such a large amount! So I was told by my surgeon that he would operate to figure out what was going on, and while he was in there he would just do my take-down surgery early so that I wouldn’t have to go through a 3rd surgery in a month. Those two days were the first time I ever found myself wishing for “a break”. The pain was at a level that I could not handle even with the high amount of pain medication I was on. This time I wasn’t scared for surgery, I sat in the prep room on the stretcher holding my bucket of vomit, and wanting more than anything to get on that operating table just because I knew I would be put to sleep and it would be the first break I had from pain in a long time. It turned out I had adhesions strangling my small intestine and they were causing an obstruction.
The next thing I remember was my surgeon explaining to me that he had to cut back open my long surgery scar. I looked at my two abdominal scars - the long one freshly cut open again with a new set of staples. And then the area where my stoma used to be was just an open wound packed with gauze. I had been having months of pain and complications and I was assured that this would be the end to my misery. They said maybe all of the problems were created by my ostomy and now that I was to use my j-pouch that they probably would go away.
I was discharged after about 10 days of trying to adjust to my j-pouch with no luck (another story for another time) and was readmitted 2 days later…the first day of autumn! I think the world was playing a sick joke on me. Maybe it was because I had been in that hospital for so long. Maybe it was because my hope for a normal life was running out. Maybe it was because I was still in so much pain, and having so many problems, and was so SO tired, but being admitted AGAIN was really hard on me. And my health, well, it only got worse.
My body was weak. It was tired. It had been through too much for too long. I was down to 82 pounds at 5’5” and hardly able to walk. My pain was still terrible, at one point I landed a trip to the ICU for a few days after getting an infection, and my j-pouch was a mystery to my doctors and surgeons with the way it wouldn’t work. I became a mean angry person to anyone who came to visit and soon started to push everyone away.
Autumn in my room: During the beginning of October my nurses were what saved me. I had 3 of them who kindly did a “makeover day” with me and spent time putting makeup on me and doing my hair. Only, I felt embarrassed for them to see how much hair I was losing because I was sick. It had been falling out in clumps for weeks prior and I didn’t want them to think it was gross when it fell out in their hands. One nurse in particular, Pat, really took notice of me. Without me even having to say so, she expressed how hard it must be that I hadn’t been outdoors in such a long time. We talked about how much I loved fall and she told me about a tree in front of the hospital that was really pretty right then. She took time out of her day to put me in a wheelchair with my IV and push me around outside. At that time I didn’t want to go. I was in pain and I was weak and the thought of being out there sounded like too much. But she insisted, and even though I was depressed and miserable she talked the entire time and picked colorful leaves off the trees that she taped to my hospital room wall. She said it was so that I could have autumn in my room.
Halloween in my room: I got discharged again at the end of October and was invited to a Halloween party where a lot of my friends would be. I wanted nothing more than to make it to that party. To celebrate one of my favorite holidays with my friends and to feel like a normal person again. Except…I got admitted again on October 30th. (See?! A sick sick joke the universe was playing). Kindly people tried to make me feel better by decorating my room for Halloween and bringing me Halloween candy, but I was sad and miserable. From that October 30th on, I spent my time in the hospital on TPN and high doses of pain medication trying to fix all the problems I was having with my j-pouch and to see what else could be going on (again, i’ll have to write about this sometime). Eventually I stopped being a miserable meanyhead to my family after my mom stopped visiting me and told me she wouldn’t come back until I could be nice. My parents would come push me around in a wheelchair and take me to the cafeteria where they ate and I couldn’t because I was on TPN. My dad and I spent hours watching the Food Network and episodes of Deadliest Catch in my room. My uncle during this time was diagnosed with brain cancer and had surgery and his room was down the hall, so that I would come visit and I had lots of family around.
Thanksgiving in my room: I spent another favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, in the hospital. Thanksgiving to me is all about the food! It’s also all about family. (and also about how greedy American’s give thanks for what they have and then wake up early the next morning to shop for all the things they don’t have on Black Friday). I felt so guilty that holidays were spent with me in the hospital. My parents having to eat hospital food, my sister at home because she was always too upset to see me like that, and my brother having just moved to Tennessee. That Thanksgiving I had a delicious meal of nothing and my parents had bad cafeteria food.
December finally rolled around and by then I had made friends with most of the staff at the hospital because I had been there for so long. I received Christmas presents from one of the ladies who cleaned my room every day and from a few other staff members. When I had gotten stronger I would walk myself downstairs to the gift shop and buy little mini reeses peanut butter cups almost every day, so someone bought me those as a gift. Friends came to decorate my room for Christmas…and finally I was discharged. December 23rd was the day that I got out. The end of my six months of hospital (July 6 - December 23) came to an end. It felt strange leaving that time. There was snow on the ground and I hadn’t really been outdoors since the summer. It was like I was walking out into this world that had gone on without me.
Like I said on my facebook page, I like to reflect back to the time I spent autumn in the hospital. It reminds me to appreciate something as simple as being able to go outdoors and see the leaves that have changed color. :)