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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

'Out of Service' Like a bus, at midnight

It's New Year's Eve and every time I move more of my precious life blood pours out.  Sorry...I know...Gross out factor 10/10 but it's a reality faced by a huge section of the population so please be generous of spirit.  Or not, whatever!
The weirdest thing is...its okay.  I'm taking the prescription again; I forgot a couple of days and this is the scary result, so I should be back on track by tomorrow night.  I will, however, still need medical treatment, and I'm ill.  Its such a blessed relief to finally admit this and stop fighting it.  I'm going with it, I'm transforming.
I've told my friend this, as his texts are relentlessly hopeful, 'hope you feel better soon' 'hope this...hope that'   In the end instead of my usual 'thank you', I yelled (texturally) WHY? Why do you hope that I get better soon?  I LIKE being ill, its honest, its painful, its uncomfortable, but its ME.  Its a different kind of Me, not the me that runs around cooking and cleaning and googling  your symptoms and worrying about your appointments, but a Me who is not at anyone's service.  I'm like a bus at midnight, I'm Out Of Service.  Closed.  Out Of Order.  Thank Fuck.

If I now wish to be alone, or read, or sleep, or write, or weep or pray, I shall.  Transformation time!
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Friday, 27 December 2013

Spa Weekend Away







What sort of sick mother actually enjoys a week in hospital?  I guess for a mother who is trying to arrange Christmas on a very tight budget for a large family, mentally and physically exhausted, and not a little unwell in to the bargain, a week of being waited upon, listened to, and generally very kindly treated and looked after, was really quite nice.
My haemoglobin levels were so low that I was falling asleep all over the place and really couldn't give two hoots where the hell I was so long as it was acceptable to close one's eyes for a while, but to finally be somewhere where they encouraged me to rest, was enough to bring tears to my eyes, if I hadn't been too tired even to cry.
Over the hours it took to admit me, and take blood, get a night out of the way, then get the gynaecologists to see me,  I dozed, read, ate, drank tea, made friends with the other ladies, and simply closed my eyes when I did not wish to talk any more.
It was a ferociously busy six bedded bay, post-op ladies with complications, a lady with hyperemesis gravidarum, a very disabled lady with a multitude of difficulties.  I  fell into the hospital rhythms, fitful dozing all night as people cried, vomited, shat themselves, and were admitted or moved, drug rounds, tea rounds, meals.
Everyone flat out by six am, and awake again within the hour to florescent glare and pills and tea and toast that was just warm bread that hadn't been toasted at all.  Doctors' rounds, nurses doing obs, lunch, rest, visitors. Tea, dinner time, obs, visitors again.  If any of this constant merry-go-round became to much, my eyes could close, and I could
sleep, or not, or read, or not, whatever I wished.  Nothing was expected of me, there was no one to let down, or annoy.  Only kindness.   People moaned about the food, but I chose salad, and it was simple and healthy and good quality.  I guess in the absence of likelihood of a spa weekend or a retreat, the simple austerity I imagined prison to be (I know it isn't really like that) would have suited me.  I could imagine learning an instrument, or spending vast amounts of time in meditation, but probably not ever finishing a book.
After a couple of units of blood I felt able to get up and wander to the chapel where I was relieved to find no-one but the presence of something out of time and physical pain and welcoming of my contemplative mood.  I experimented with praying just to pray, not imploring an invisible force for something, but communing with something, opening up to something, and being opened in return.

All too soon, I felt physically better.  I still had the gynae problems, but pills were controlling the bleeding, and the transfusion had restored my vitality. Equally healing was the cocoon of kindness I had felt wrapped in whilst being a patient. I guess it shows how bad my life has become, when the only time I feel able to accept simple care and kindness is when I am officially ill.
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Tuesday, 4 June 2013

One of these mornings, You're gonna rise up singing...



An otherwise ordinary Tuesday, and Mr M and I and the family, and associated girl and boy friends, gather for a farewell meal for our eldest child who is moving far away.  He hasn't lived at home for a year now, but he has been nearby.  We eat outside in the evening sun, and take pictures of ourselves on the lawn.
I remember nursing my boy in just that spot, under the shade of next door's apple tree, on a blanket I had spread on the grass.  It would have been this time of year too, many years ago when he was just weeks old.  He would have been feeling the sun on his little body for one of the first times and I remember him watching the leaves fluttering above him, and beyond them the blue sky.  Now he's ready to spread his wings and fly away into that blue sky.
My eyes didn't cry.  It was important to make this an upbeat time, and it wasn't a chore to do so.  It was like the sailing of a great ship; the weather fine, the bunting flapping, the well-wishers in fine spirit.  But as we laughed and ate in the garden where they had all played as tiny ones, I felt that loosening inside, that sickening ache as fibres twist and break and big warm drops of glistening red life start to fall.  The living wall of his original home was breaking down as he left me, like it did the first time.  The ink of my soul starts to fall like rain.  Or tears.  Fare thee well and have a good life my beautiful son.

I'm always relieved when it begins, it's comforting to see my red friend and break the spell.  Next day my hair was curly and my clothes were right.  Women know this feeling.  You're effortlessly, unconsciously at your colourful, bold, coordinated best after days of pale disordered tension. The hands of the clock click round imperceptibly, and in a record book somewhere, if there is such a place, a page turns, my period has begun and my first baby has moved out.
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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Condoms, coils, contraception and Carburetion. (An explosive mixture for internal combustion)


Free stock photo of sky, sport, jump, bike

I had decided  (obviously this all happened before my hysterectomy) that it would be more sensible to visit the doctor for contraception than to fall pregnant with my sixth child at the age of 49 because I'm fed up with condoms and getting complacent about using them due to the fact that our combined age was now 101, and that's surely to old to conceive?

I hardly ever go to the doctor, so there was a little list when I went, (a large wart and my boring old bad neck) and confronted with this list, the doctor actually thought that the diaphragm was a low priority and could wait.  Bad judgement call in my opinion doc, but I made a non-urgent (because I'm not seriously ill) appointment to see her again in two weeks so that she could then fully concentrate upon furnishing me with my contraceptive of choice.

She spent this second appointment telling me about the coil.  No thank you doctor, I don't want that, I have heavy periods.  Aha! then you will love the Mirena coil, which has a little tiny hormone which all but eradicates periods.  No, doctor, I wouldn't love this.  I do have heavy periods, but I don't want them 'eradicated'.  I just want to not have a baby, but to have sex, without my hormonal cycle being messed about with.

"Diaphragm it is then Mrs W.  Oh, I must ask," (to satisfy the computer screen, for statistics, for drug companies)

"how did you hear about the diaphragm?"

God Almighty Doctor, I'm nearly 50, I'm a trained nurse, mother and grandmother and avid reader of women's magazines, and I haven't spent my entire life living under a stone, so how would I not have heard of the ruddy thing??  

Poor doctor with her cup of cold coffee and acetone breath and her petulant peri-menopausal patient. She peers at me over her spectacles.

" Alright Mrs W, on your way out make an appointment at reception, to see the nurse, for the fitting."

Now I'm most certainly not about to make this appointment in reception in front of my fellow villagers who will no doubt suspend their coughing just as she clearly enunciates the the word 'diaphragm' whilst looking at me, mad menopausal old Mrs W.  (you know, her with all the kids)

No. Instead, I go home and telephone the receptionist, who repeats my name with a questioning inflection in her voice.  This is usual..there are two Mrs Ws using the surgery, so she confirms my address.  I hope that the collective village, sitting stolid in the waiting room are not listening to her end of the telephone conversation as she says, with an even more urgent questioning inflection in her voice (as if she's never heard of one)

"Diaphragm?"

"Can you please not say that out loud in front of everyone?"  I'm wanting to bury my head under the cushions of my sofa.

"Sorry.  There's no one here anyway. (!?) Is that for contraception?"

I hesitate for a second whilst my brain shuffles through its files of information on the diaphragm.  What other use could it have?  A fold-away soup bowl for Lilliputians?   Not boiling hot soup obviously but maybe gazpacho.  The only other diaphragms I have ever come across, so to speak, are the ones in the float-chambers of carburettors in spluttering motorcycles which are inexplicably losing power in the mid-range. Usually flexibility has been lost through age, resulting in a crack in the dry rubber which means they need replacing.  Which can be a pig of a job depending on the arrangement of the carbs.

"Well its not for my carburettor I can tell you that.  Yes yes, for contraception." 

 She completely ignored my carburettor joke, unless it had confused her because then she said,

"You don't mean the coil?"

We made me an appointment for some weeks hence. Well, I realised the following week, that I'd screwed up on my timings and couldn't make the appointment, so I telephoned to cancel.

"Ah Mrs W, we've been talking about you and your diaphragm.  The nurse can't do it and she thinks you will need to make an appointment with the doctor first."

This is a true story.  If a knowledgeable, worldly-wise battleaxe of a mother and nurse can't get herself sorted in less than six weeks and four appointments what hope is there?
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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Back to the town where I was born

Free stock photo of sign, dangerous, travel, station
I'm rattling through the dark old brick tunnels of London's underground system, looking at my reflection in the window opposite.  My mother would have made this journey from the pub where she worked to the dingy flat she inhabited alone during the short few months we spent together as one.  The rattling crazy hurtling of the tube would have felt the same, that sucking vital movement of the blind speeding train.  The hot breath issuing from the tunnels, the impersonal anonymity of the crowd, that smell, the Victorian tiles and filthy floor.  It would have been the same for her, and, curled inside her, for me also.

My life story began here.  Now I'm back, travelling these same lines, hospital visiting my friend. He's pleased to see me, and I eat his lunch.  He is stoical, he doesn't think too hard about the future.  I tell him about the enormous shift that is happening within me, the realisation I have had that the first breath is where we take in everything around us, and the exhale is where we go from there.  The message that its not safe, that unhappiness and fear are all around, is the starting block for the trajectory of my life.  I need to go back and adjust that, but I've only just learned to exhale.

He gets it.  One time, way back in time, in the silent womb-like void after love, he held me like a baby, and in the dusk his eyes were like the eyes of my father.  I was loved, and safe, it was safe to be me.

All too soon its time to go. I need to avoid rush hour, I'm too old to stand all the way home, my womb might fall out.  I watch the countryside rush past, the same places that my dear old dad would have commuted past for thirty years of his working life.  On the same tracks. Working for me and mum, providing for us, before dying too young.  I'm looking forward to better times, to making hay whilst the sun still shines.
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