When life hands you lemons, don’t F***ing squeeze them in your eyes!

I know it’s been a month since my last post, but I promise you it has been the most craziest, stressful month I have had in long while. Those of us with BPD and BD, tend to over-exaggerate what we think are crazy and stressful times, but just wait till you hear my story before you judge that. I’ve had a hard time coming up with the right words and where to start with this story, so I decided to pick up where my last post left off. My doctor had told me to consider gastric bypass surgery so we could remove the gallbladder at the same time, and he ordered a CAT scan to see what might be causing the pain on the left side of my abdomen.
I did the scan and got through to my next appointment for the results. He started by telling me that nothing abnormal was causing me pain on my left side. I have an enlarged spleen and pancreas, but he said that could be because of my weight. He then repeated that I had gallstones, and from the scan, it showed that the wall of my gallbladder was so thick that the stones and the extra bile it carries is causing me major problems. He said at my last visit that it was risky to have surgery because of my weight, and at this visit, he said it was riskier to wait. So, we have scheduled my cholecystectomy for the 26th of this month, which at that point was only two weeks away.
In the article that I posted in the rabbit hole post, I mentioned trying to find the “real” me. One of the personality/character traits I own that I know is set is stone, is the one where, if someone I love is down, depressed, sick, or just needs a smile; no matter the situation or circumstance, I’m going to step up and be the shoulder, smile, laugh, punching bag or whatever it is that they need in that particular moment. I generally love helping and taking care of people, so you can imagine how much more I love helping take care of loved ones.
I think I have mentioned that, because of my moods and isolation, I have pushed my mom and sister away, and I was trying to fix that. For as long as I can remember, we three have had a tight closeness that I thought was unbreakable. I miss that and three weeks ago I was determined and almost desperate to get it back. I called my mom and sister for a family meeting, and was ready to get down on my knees, beg for their forgiveness, and promise to do anything they wanted. But, when I got there, my fate and plans took a nose dive down to hell and back.
When I got to my mom’s house, and my sister got there; I was then informed that in the last week and a half, my sister had found a lump in her breast, saw a doctor, had a mammogram and ultrasound, found out it was a tumor, referred to the local Breast Cancer Center and was consulting with a surgeon the next day about getting a lumpectomy (where they go in and remove the lump/tumor). I have no idea what my face looked like after all that. I just know that my thoughts, and my feelings, my actual reaction, and what reaction that I wanted to project, were a jumbled, chaotic mess. I didn’t know up from down, or left from right; I just had an image or a memory of my 12-year-old baby sister needing me, even though she’s thirty. Somehow I stayed calm and appeared collected enough to start asking questions, making plans, and making it very clear that I was here and available for her in anything she needed.
I don’t know why we tell people not to worry, especially when you are face-to-face with uncertainty. I would never admit it to my family (even though I’m admitting it on here), but I live my life in a constant state of fear. With my mental illnesses, EVERY emotion is felt a hundred times more than you can even imagine. In my mind, at any given minute of the day, worrying about anything and everything occupies half of my brain. I’ve explained what cognitive distortions are, and thinking negatively about every place, person, thing, situation and whatever you can imagine, is crippling. And then, at the same time, the other half of my brain is trying to do schoolwork, housework, errands, and other things that have to be done. I have used this example with my family, and it’s not exactly how it is, but close enough. When I get to that certain point, where my brain absolutely can not handle a single grain of anything else this is what I feel like. When in the movies, someone gets overwhelmed and objects, memories, voices, and whatever else starts circulating around that person’s head. It gets thicker, faster, and louder with every rotation, until they can’t take it anymore and start screaming to shut up, even though no one is talking. It’s like that multiplied by a hundred.
Sitting there in front of my sister and mother, I had to push that tornado of feelings down at least three separate times. Looking into her eyes, and seeing the depth of fear and uncertainty there, helped me stay in the moment and be the big sister I think she needed me to be. When we all hugged it out, left, and went our separate ways, I felt stronger and more alert. Even when I got home, I didn’t break down. Looking back on it now, I don’t think it had fully hit me yet that my baby sister might be battling cancer at that very moment. Also looking back, I probably looked a little crazy to my husband and children. Because I stayed up for two days after that, pouring myself into school, my blog, and my compulsive list making. I do it to stay out of my head, because I knew the second that I stopped, that tornado that I had been fighting was going to obliterate me.
After two days straight of being up, I couldn’t sit in my house anymore. I bought my niece a book of postcards that you can color, so I made her an address book and went and got her some stamps. I went to my sister’s house to deliver them, and she was by herself, almost in a panic attack. I stayed and we talked. I made it a point to not think about how I was feeling and really listen to her worries. She is a very private person, but between us we have always been able to see more that the words spoken. We promised each other decades ago that we wouldn’t sugar coat things. She was worrying about everybody else and their feelings, and not giving a thought about herself. This is typical for her, and it made me a little angry. I stepped up and told her that no matter what happens everything will be taken care of. If she had to go through chemo, between momma, myself, her new boyfriend and my two teenagers; her kids, her house (she’s a major clean freak), and everything or anything else would be taken care of. She’s a nurse in the local emergency room and they have already discussed arrangements for her to keep her job.
She then asked me a question that quite literally took the breath right out of me. She asked if I thought it would be a good idea for her to make out a will. In that split second, it became real for me. I’m actually proud of myself for this moment. Even though I was imagining a world without my sister, I kept repeating to myself “Be there for HER right now!” I didn’t sugarcoat it, and told her that I thought it would be a good idea and would probably take some of the worry off her shoulders to have a plan in place for the “Just in Case” scenario. Her shoulders dropped a little then, and she told me that she met with the surgeon and they were going to go ahead and remove the tumor and then send it off to see if it’s cancer. If it came back cancer, then she would have to go through a year of chemotherapy. And since we have a history of ovarian cancer in our family she was going to do a genetics test to see if she carries the marker for it. This was on a Tuesday and her lumpectomy was scheduled for the upcoming Thursday. This made me worry about my mom for a second, because both of her daughters were going under the knife within five days of each other. We then just chit-chatted until she was in a much better mood, and then I left.
When I got home, I finally told my husband what was going on, and that was when I let go of everything I had been holding onto for the last few days. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was ugly crying. I finally got some sleep that night, but I was a little obsessive-compulsive for a while. Music is really the only outlet that I have that doesn’t allow me to think too deeply about stressful situations. This is what got me through until my sister’s procedure, which she came through just fine. Then it was just waiting for results, and I was a nervous wreck. My surgery was on Tuesday, and when my husband came home from work Monday, told me that she had posted on Facebook that the results came back negative. Whew! The relief came with tears then too. Now all she needed to do was the genetics test.
On Tuesday morning I went to the hospital for my surgery. I wasn’t nervous at all. My doctor had told me that one of two things were going to happen once they got me on the table. They were going to try to do it laparoscopically, but he didn’t know how far my gallbladder would be from my skin due to my weight. If this happened, I could go home that day. If he couldn’t do it that way, then he would have to open me all the way up, and I would have to stay in the hospital for a few days. I was hoping for laparoscopically, but with my kind of luck I was prepared for the stay. My husband took the day off to drive me home and help me out. When they got me settled in pre-op, they brought my family back. I thought it was just my husband, but I got a surprise when my mom and sister came through the door as well.
I still wasn’t nervous when they wheeled my bed to the surgical ward, but my nerves showed their ridiculous side when the anesthesiologist came to drug me up. The nurse had to come in and try to settle me down. She asked me to try and pinpoint what exactly was making me so nervous. I told her for one, it was the drugs, but the rational side of me knew that I needed them so I could have the surgery; and second, I was finally realizing that I was going to have to recover from all this. I am an independent person with trust issues, even towards my husband. I was not looking forward to having trouble walking, sleeping, going to the bathroom, or anything that I would have to ask someone else to help me with. She told me that being an independent person was a good thing, and that it was going to help speed up my recovery. That did the trick.
I was then wheeled to the operating room and put to sleep. When I came to, it turned out that the doctor did the surgery laparoscopically, but had to put a drainage tube in. EWW! As I am writing this, it has been exactly a week since my surgery. It hasn’t been as bad as I thought it was going to be. Everybody has been wonderful in helping me, checking up on me, or letting me do my own thing. I feel so grateful to my mom, sister, husband, children, and stepmom. I go in two days to get the tube taken out. In my opinion, that is the only thing causing me pain at the moment. I have been wary about what to eat, only knowing the pain certain foods have caused me in the last year, but I’ve ate whatever has been given to me with absolutely nothing but the pain from my surgery. That by itself has been worth all this trouble. I will try not to wait so long before posting again!

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