What goes up must come downJuly 27, 2013
When a person who is suffering from a chronic illness, and undergoes surgery in an attempt to “fix” issues, it can go one of two ways; either it can be successful and the problem is solved, or, in my case, although surgery helped, it did not solve my issues entirely. Part of the problem is that in solving one concern, it created others.
I received my permanent ostomy in September, 2011. In the nearly two years since, I have yet to say that I am completely “better.” I have great days, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT complaining. However, the other complications that have risen from surgery have given me pause. I continue to have consequences. Some are mild and others are more serious. I have come to accept that, although I have better days, I will never be better. That is a hard pill to swallow–no pun intended to those of us who continue to take a myriad of pills daily (I still take more than 10 pills a day). In any case, since my permanent ostomy surgery, I have had issues with a list of odd side effects from medications, problems with my appliance, other health issues, skin breakdown, battles with existing autoimmune problems, hypoglycemia and low blood pressure from not having the large intestine; the latter two cause me to faint or become light headed quite often. So, today I want to share with you the residual effects of the “solve one problem, create others” syndrome.
I am NOT Scarlett O’Hara
I needed to purchase a book for a gift and headed to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. I wanted to buy a copy of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein as a gift for a friend because ever since reading this book I felt it embodies the art of giving and compassion and selflessness like no other book I have read, children’s or adult. But anyway, I digress (books do that to me). I was in the store when I realized I was feeling the effects of my hypoglycemia and needed to take something quick so I reached in my handbag for a granola bar or Lifesavers and there was nothing; I was out. I made a quick beeline to the café counter to buy a tea and sipped on that but the feelings of that dreaded clammy, lightheaded feeling were over taking me fast. I needed to sit and get to a safe place, but it was happening too fast and before I could protect myself, I fainted, right in the mall, while exiting Barnes and Noble. It wasn’t some graceful faint that you see in shows like Gone with the Wind where the girl collapses on a lovely fainting couch with her perfect hair and makeup, her flowing gown falling perfectly in place, and where her hand lands beautifully upon her forehead with someone standing over her waving vapors under her nose and fanning her with a pretty lace fan.
NO. I went down like a ton of freaking bricks. It was a graceless, awkward, uncoordinated drop to the ground that resulted in some minor bruising. Customers and sales staff gawking at my green complexion, I was completely unaware of what was happening. I was fortunate to have my mom present to usher me to a bench in the mall, but soon after coming back to consciousness I quickly got nauseous and started vomiting. Yes, I vomited in front of everyone in my Barnes and Noble shopping bag. Lucky for me, my mom had the presence of mind to quickly remove “The Giving Tree” book. It was a revolting unladylike “I am too sick to care that I am making disgusting noises in a public place” kind of barf. Last time this happened all my mom had to offer was her hands. Yes, I have vomited in my mom’s hands. Once. We are not going to even go there! (This is why my mom and I are bonded for life. Seriously.)
It’s life, and sometimes it sucks
Humiliating experiences like this are sometimes few and far between, but they happen. The day this took place in the mall the security guards arrived to find out what happened. My mom, while trying to fumble with my one-touch glucometer and take my sugar count while simultaneously try to shovel bites of cookie into my mouth to bring my sugars up (they dropped to around 60), told the security guard what was going on. My mom doesn’t get ruffled by this. She is calm, and she will give anyone the death stare that even looks at me weird. The guard was empathetic as he shared the fact that he had a son with diabetes. He got it. I think a lot of people “get it,” but it still does not erase the feelings of shame and embarrassment from my soul. This sucks. I hate it. I thought by having to compromise my colon, living my whole life with a permanent ostomy would give me less complications. Oh, what a silly, naïve girl I am!
Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? Yes, yes there is.
The upside is this: I can live with some of this tumultuous health stuff. I don’t have to like it. In fact I downright despise it, but I realize it is an adjustment. Who knew that taking my colon out would result in me having a fainting problem?! I need to take care to watch my sugars and monitor them so that I don’t have a repeat of my dramatic fainting scene outside the Barnes and Noble (or any public establishment for that matter). This part of my health journey is somewhat manageable. I need to undergo constant testing for these problems that arise. I recently went through a table tilt test for Neurocardiogenic Syncope. Since my recent fainting spells, my doctors wanted to test my blood pressure which is always low. Their thought was this might be contributing to my light headed and faint feelings in hopes of finding a way to correct this issue.
I also underwent many other blood tests and lab tests, including an allergy patch test to determine if I have allergies to various chemicals. All of this was done to aid in correcting other issues I have been having. Yes, fainting is not my only claim to fame in this health pile up. Eighty patches on the back for three days + no shower for 5 days = no fun. At the end of this, I found out that I am allergic to: Dill, Havarti Cheese, Rye Bread, Sauerkraut, Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum, BellaPelle Simmer Down Lotion, Lotus Moon Willowherb Serum, Blistex chapstick, furniture polish, printing inks, paper, and waxes.
So, the journey continues to try to find a balance of good and evil in this health conflict. I sometimes take a mental list of pros and cons over my circumstance. I know that I will always be battling some type of issue or another. I realize and have begun to accept this fact. Truth-be-told the pros far outweigh the cons. I will say this much. The way my life has been, there is definitely never a dull or boring moment. (Just ask anyone at the mall that infamous day). So I look on the bright side…I pass out in a mall…pshhhtt, at least I AM AT THE MALL! I could be laid up in a hospital bed or tied to my toilet 30 times a day and SCREAMING in pain. (Short pause) Yeah, I would rather be at the mall.
“Everyday may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” Author unknown