This week was a strange, strange week. I am thinking about all that has happened and trying to come to terms with how I feel. 2020 frequently brings out the warrior in me. The part of my personality that is determined to fight with EVERYTHING that I am for my family and for those that I love is fierce, but she is also, thankfully, older and wiser now. As the second wave of covid-19 sweeps through Victoria, we have not been untouched. Gosh, I wish I could go into all of the ways that we have been impacted by this thing – but I won’t. I won’t because there is no point, others have it far worse than we do, but the point is that we have been impacted. When my heart decided to misbehave in March we knew that change was necessary. When 2 of our kids ended up needing trauma counselling and Steve had surgery……well, we knew that things were going to have to change and change they have.
I have learned that fighting is less necessary if you trust. There is something about the conviction of a person who knows exactly where they are heading and is fully convinced that they are going to reach their destination. I find myself spending less time fighting and more time being profoundly thankful in each moment. I used to believe that all the trials that we face in life are bad. I was of the opinion that if it is a trial then it is evil but I have truly dismissed that type of value system – I think perhaps Jane Austen had it right “misfortunes, we are told, are sent to test our fortitude and may often reveal themselves as blessings in disguise”. I am not just thankful in my situation, I am thankful for the opportunities that come BECAUSE of my situation. Yes it may be a shituation that you find yourself in. Some things suck balls and there is no two ways around that kinda saltiness but the wonderful thing about shituations is that if we got ourselves into it, then there is also a way out of it. If I had not found myself in the most uncomfortable and troubling place that I have ever been in emotionally, I would never have been willing to make the changes that I NEEDED TO MAKE. Sometimes we bring things on ourselves because we are stubborn, sometimes we just have to let things go, sometimes we bring things on ourselves out of ignorance and sometimes shit just happens because it does. Thankfully we have the opportunity to decide if we will suck the lemon that life tossed our way. We can take that bitter pill and let it skew our thinking, or we can decide that we are gonna mix the bitter with some good stuff and turn that crap into something that will quench our thirst. Make lemonade out of the lemons that life tossed your way.
For me, well I needed to change. I know that now. I have stopped fighting and started trusting. I needed a different job, I needed more time with my boys and they needed things too and everything has been taken care of. Did any of that happen how I thought it would – ummmmm nope it didn’t. And that is the thing – we do not have to have total control over each step of the process, we simply have to trust that the right doors will open. The ones that are meant for us, and that they will be there at the right time. That is my current lesson – waiting for doors 🙂
When a was a child I had a favourite toy. It was the cutest My Little Pony and to me – well that toy was just the beginning and the end of all things. I loved it with all of my heart. In fact, I am fairly sure that I still have it somewhere in my garage. I think what I loved the most about it was that it stood out. Who doesn’t want a blue horse with a pink mane and tail right! I can remember taking it to school and no one else had the blue one! I thought “oh no! I should have got one that was like all the others!” and there began a lifetime of wanting to be like everyone else and never quite embracing my me-ishness!
Over the years I have been drawn to many sparkly unicorns 🦄 but eventually I put my me-ishness away in a box and decided that it was going to be better for everyone if I just stopped trying to be me. I shouldn’t want to grow my own food, and I shouldn’t enjoy making everything for my family from scratch. I should put away my long floral skirts and pretty mobiles that used to hang around my house. Apparently, so I was reliably informed – they were going to summon demons to my door 🤦🏼♀️ (Just quietly, I have always had one in our bedroom, given to me as a gift by someone that I absolutely ADORED when I was 15 annnnnnnnd no demons 🤷🏼♀️😂) Sewing was old fashioned and embroidery was worse. Why would I want to make preserves and why would I mix my own washing powder and why would I dream of a self sufficient life, on land – (with a mote and crocodiles to bite intruders – okay, okay perhaps that part was taking my introvert sensibilities a bit too far 😂😂😂😂) but seriously I spent so long trying to be someone that I wasn’t and I never quite managed to do it. It was not an authentic way to live and it was exhausting.
Then, one day I realised how stupid it all was. I realised that I was making myself miserable for other people. Those people didn’t expect it! I placed unrealistic expectations on myself and made myself miserable by trying to be something that I wasn’t. I wanted to be something other than me. I wanted to be a little less sparkly unicorn-ish and a lot more mainstream. I had fallen, hook, line and sinker for a story that brought me so much pain, misery and hopelessness. Comparison is a heartless bitch and I had been deceived by her narrative for decades. The day that I realised that, was the day that I decided to be me again. It was the day that I started allowing my dreams to bubble up in my heart again.
My biggest concern was, “would I be able to find her!” She whispered and sung and felt free among wide open spaces and lived right where quirky and mainstream collide! Thankfully my fears around not being able to find the real me were, for the most part, unfounded. After all, I think that in our heart of hearts, we do know who we truly are even if it worries us and even when we are afraid to dust off our inner unicorn and just be our own kind of weird and wonderful.
It took a while, but eventually I managed to locate the real me, she was buried under a huge pile of self loathing and pain, but she was still there, right where I left her. Still in love with the whimsical things, still a dreamer and still joyfully content with the simple life. It has been a revelation to find myself again. To find so many parts of me that I had lost along the way. To find the joy in being authentic has changed my life. This change happened because of an inner knowing that I am a better, kinder and more joyful soul now than I ever have been before and that I am responsible only for my own responses. There is a confidence that comes from knowing that I am loved as I am, imperfect, a bit broken and totally aware of my own failings but I am also wake to my own value.
I don’t expect anyone else to take care of me emotionally anymore. I know that I am responsible for the welfare of my own heart and soul and I do take responsibility for it these days. What a different life it is. My life is slower, more intentional and I listen to myself much more than I used to in the past AND I trust myself. I care for my body, I am kind to it in the most nurturing way possible. I have a small, tight circle of people that not only love me but see me. They are true friends, not people that stick around on our socials for the juicy goss! They are the flesh and blood people with hearts full of love for me and mine and purpose filled vision in their sights. They are the bringers of chocolate, gifters of meals, speakers of wisdom, value and purpose and offer a good slap of reality if I am in need of that too. When I stopped feeling like I needed to apologise for my very existence I learned how to live. Weight loss surgery gave me the confidence to deal with so much more than physical weight. It made me believe that I could deal with the emotional weight also.
Let’s talk for a minute about the Cost of Bariatric Surgery. Many of us pay quite a sum just to have our surgery in the first place. But the costs that are ongoing are something that we don’t really talk about a lot. That’s not to say that WLS isn’t one of the best descisions I have ever made because it is!! But these are things I didn’t think of beforehand. Some of the things that I have replaced because of weight loss surgery include the following.
- My mattress – I was in pain from lying in my “big me” sized mattress hole.
- All my shoes – I am now 2 sizes smaller
- All of my underwear 4 times over as I found out the hard way one can’t wear undies that are too big and not risk them falling off in public – yep it really happened 🤦🏻♀️
- My car seat – this is a weird one and I upgraded my car because it needed an upgrade anyway BUT the drivers seat was broken because of my bum and my weight.
- My lounge suite because I broke it 😔
- My dining chair – I am going to have to replace the set but am making do for now.
- My entire wardrobe because going from a size 24/26 to a size 4/6 means that nothing from bigger me fits me anymore.
- My supplements and vitamins ongoing but for me the cost of my weekly food and vitamins and supplements is still less than what I used to spend per week on my food (I ate a lot).
- Skin removal surgery – this shot of me there with the excess skin is current. That is after my radical tummy tuck – obviously I require revision surgery because my surgeon thought that a radical tummy tuck would be enough but it wasn’t. When you have as much excess skin as me it is unpredictable how it will respond.
- New glasses coz the old ones fall off my face 😳
As for the plastics, I don’t disclose how much my surgery cost, but the following is a rough guide per area of the body and what you might expect to pay (after private health insurance and Medicare covers the hospital costs and a small payment to the surgeon and the gas doctor) THESE ARE AUSTRALIAN PRICES
$1k-$7k is considered low cost.
$7k-$11k is mid range.
$12k and over is high range.
That is the gap payment as plastic surgeons will charge you a gap fee even if skin removal is deemed medically necessary. The gaps vary from surgeon to surgeon. My recommendation is ONLY USE a PLASTIC SURGEON. If you have private health insurance are in NSW or don’t mind traveling, google ‘The Access Program’ if you want a lower cost option.
Would I do it again? Heck yes! Over and over!! I have a life now and I am so grateful for it.
ET and I are mates 😉
Sitting on the main oval of her conservative Christian high school, she could feel the prickle of the browning turf under her thighs, It’s spikey texture poked uncomfortably into her arse, as the sun tried it’s best to beat down on her from above. Streaks of blistering light were fighting a continual battle with the foliage lining the perimeter of the oval. The goal of said blistering light was for the right to blaze down upon and burn anyone, or anything that wasn’t shaded. Through the dappled light of her vantage point she could keep an eye on everyone, and was unfortunate enough to see all the goings on in the zoo. It was always the same, the popular girls and the popular boys, jostling for position and deciding who liked who this week.
She was under no illusions of any kind about who she was, and also, who she was not and where she fitted in! She wasn’t like the “cool” girls, trying to tan their legs in the hot Queensland sun. She secretly rolled her eyes at them and tore her gaze away before they saw her looking, but not before she saw what they were doing. All sitting in a row looking down at the way that their knees touched and then their legs just seemed to gently curve out and up and they didn’t touch at all anywhere in the middle. Glancing down at her own, she felt the familiar stab of comparison and envy as she surveyed her own pasty white, pork sausage legs. There was no sugar coating it, she knew full well that there was no graceful arc between them. Her BMI was over the normal range and she knew it was! She also knew that her legs touched all the way up, with no gaps in between. What was worse was that they rubbed badly at the top and she often felt sweat trickle down the back of her thighs on hot summer days, especially when they were hot summer, sports days. It didn’t have a “name” except “the gap” and the fact that she didn’t have one put her at odds with the beautiful people.
God, how she hated sport days! She hated them nearly as much as she loathed the the sport lord (AKA the PE teacher – there may have even been a song penned in his honour) It felt like sport day was yet another opportunity for those athletically inclined, and, by virtue of that inclination, superior individuals, to assert their dominance, as if they needed a special day for that! Obviously it also served a duel purpose as it was also an opportunity for the beautiful to wear smaller clothes. In short, it was depressing.
The aforementioned sport lord was her least favourite person and to be perfectly frank, he seemed to loathe her also, not that she could blame him. She did have an attitude when it came to this particular subject, and she used the term “subject” loosely! The sport lord made his grand entrance, jogging down the dirt track towards her prime location. Jogging, why was he jogging? Was this an attempt to inspire? Was this because he liked running so much or was it just to prove that he could? All she knew was that he ran in such an upright fashion that she smirked to herself and wondered how he could be that stiff. She hated the fact that even his hair seemed to just understand how to go straight up and down, flying up and around his face. His shorts were just that little bit too short and his whistle, she was sure, belonged up his arse, instead of in his mouth. “Just run a few laps to warm up” she groaned and thought to herself “what is his problem, can he not tell that it is currently a stifling 33 degrees out here – we ARE warm” and hated him all the more.
She set off around the oval, her boobs bounced painfully and her thighs slapped together with each step she took as she tried to comply with his request. Within minutes the burning began and it wasn’t long after that she could feel the chaffing start. Her thighs felt like they were on fire and she knew that by the end of the day, her thighs would be red raw and bleeding again. This was a weekly ritual – they would heal from the week before, only to be torn to pieces again – but she fought her way through the warm up and pretended that she was fine. It wasn’t until she got home from school in the afternoon and she was able to survey the damage to her torn skin that she decided that she wasn’t going to put herself through his exercises in pain and humiliation anymore. From then on she always skipped PE and she didn’t care what anyone thought about it.
Last night my usual nocturnal meanderings through various news and social sites brought me to a rather tragic place! I wasted 10 minutes of my life reading and then re-reading a really disturbing article that prompted much reminiscing, and consequently, my little trip down memory lane. The article was penned by a self proclaimed dating expert 🤦🏼♀️. Said “expert” touts the wonders of the feminine Thigh Gap and the Pussy Gap. These two things are, according to Pig Man, the pinnacle of feminine beauty and attractiveness. Please forgive me while I pause to vomit and also while I try to reassure myself, once again, that the voice of reason and balance will be louder in the ears of my sons than trash like Pig Man wrote.
As I read that article I was taken back to being my teen self, staring at my pork sausages on the oval that day and I felt a sense of rage at the the information that I was processing. I am so thankful that I married a respectful man. I am so thankful that my sons are respectful young men. However, I am so angered that anyone thinks it is okay write an essay defining feminine beauty and include absolutely not ONE word about her heart, her soul, her passions, her interests and the innate things about her that are so intrinsically “her” that you would know them anywhere. That Pig Man felt compelled to justify his dangerous obsession with a thigh gap and tried to normalise that type of thinking …… well, it just makes me furious.
Women, you gorgeous, amazing humans, do not buy into any kind of bullshit that would try to tell you that you must be a certain way to be beautiful. I raise my middle finger to arsewipes everywhere that would seek to put beauty into a tiny box and say that is the only type of beautiful! Thick thighs, thin thighs, and everything in between, perhaps especially the in-between (see what I did there 🤣) we are all beautiful!
I am 43 years old and in my 43rd year I attained a thigh gap. It’s actually a full leg gap and I seriously don’t care about it!! It really wasn’t worth getting excited over and I hate that it has such an influence over generations of women. What I am more excited over is the broken road that I have walked along and what I have learned on this shadowy path. We never really know strong we are until we have to be and I have had to be. The most valuable lesson that I wish I could magically bestow upon every person that I meet is that you do not have to be a certain anything, size, shape, weight, be able to list certain qualifications, or achievements to be seen as valuable. You are valuable just as you are! If no one else is cheering for you, please know that I am and honestly, learn to clap for yourself!
2020 has been a pivotal point for me. It has, in ways I didn’t know were possible, affected change in the way that I envisioned my life panning out. I’m so many ways, that have been totally wonderful, I am a better person for the pain and for the struggles. I am thankful in all that has happened. I am thankful because it has revealed to me so much about myself! Sometimes when we are unmasked it is a wonderful thing and sometimes it is a terrible thing and sometimes it’s both. I have been able to see the things that needed to change.
Recently I took a drive and sat, staring at ocean. I grew up on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, ocean is in my blood and has always been my place of solace. When we moved from paradise to the other end of the country, there were two things that struck me. The first was how different the seasons are in this beautiful little part of the world. The second thing was, the way that ocean looks here. Sitting at the start of The Great Ocean Road it is impossible to keep ones eyes from staring off into the horizon. It is majestic how gnarled rocks jut proudly out of the swirling, rhythmic depths of aqua blue beneath them. The windswept coral vistas still so untouched in so many ways, make me long for a slower pace of life. I am always mesmerised by the way that the vast Australian sky and her ever rolling sea can blur and meld into a mauve haze where it looks as though they meet. It makes me wish that I could walk to the horizon and wrap myself in its mysterious beauty but it doesn’t work that way.
What I have learned from the many times I have admired that particular vista is this, it always changes. I have come to love that about it. I have come to accept that change is the thing upon which I must depend when visit my favourite spot. And this has become the metaphor that most strongly represents 2020 to me. Some things are constant but change is as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow and we must be resilient.
In 2020 my health was impacted, my husband had surgery, happily, our boys have been home for months and we have all loved that. But for months I have been really open about the fact that I have struggled. I have been super honest about the level of brokenness I felt and also about the feelings of not coping that have threatened to pull me under, over and over again. The thing is – I may have been down but I refuse to stay there. Nothing has changed except me, I have changed and I refuse to bask in a place of sorrow. Stormy days and angry seas do not last.
The wah wah wah of my broken heart is a tiresome sound, even to my own ears! So it is onward from here. The isolation of 2020 has given me something most precious – and that something is time. That time has enabled me to once again take hold of the wispy threads of dreams that I have had, gather them together and begin to weave a tapestry that looks different but is still beautiful and so much more is coming 💞
If you have never played this little gem of a game, you are missing out. We now have a change to the Covid-19 restrictions that we are living with and we are allowed to have 5 people visit our homes. Last night we played this with two close friends – the game is essentially this “guess whose camera roll a picture comes from” and you have a limited time to make your choice. Would you do it? Expose your camera roll to the rest of the room? My camera roll is full of my kids, my family, myself in various stages of transformation, my dog and work related photos. As we were sitting there playing, a photo popped up that I didn’t recognise at all but it was a picture of a large person and photos like that are regularly sent to me by folks asking for advice, so I assumed it was my picture, as did everyone else playing. When that round finished, everyone had that picture wrong – it was from Steve’s phone and it was me! I was totally shaken. How is it possible to not recognise myself??
I sat looking at that picture and it really got to me. If I had known all of the things would happen over the next three years I would have so wanted to find a way to pause or stop time. I would have chosen different outcomes for my family but I wouldn’t have chosen a different outcome for myself. Can you see it in my eyes? The absolute anxiety at being in front of people, feeling horrible about myself and wishing that I didn’t take up so much space in the world? I can see it, it is written all over my face.
This was me – Three years ago to the day. It was two years ago that I had weight loss surgery. That night WAS my defining moment. Not so much because of the double diplomas, but because of the decision I made. I hated how I felt that night. It should have been a celebration but instead I wanted to run and hide. It was the very next day that we increased our health insurance to cover weight loss surgery. I made a life altering decision that night, as I looked out on the hundreds of people assembled, that I never wanted to feel like that again.
I had worked sooooooo hard to stand there, full time mother, working full time, studying as best as I could and fighting through some really crippling anxiety to complete my double diploma. However on the night that I should have felt like I could celebrate my achievements, all I felt was self conscious. My graduation gown wasn’t big enough. It was the largest size that they had. I remember my total embarrassment as tears burned in my eyes. While the gown wouldn’t fit, my humiliation was all encompassing and it wrapped itself around me, cloaking me in feelings of shame and inferiority. I was so conflicted that night. So proud of myself on the one hand and so embarrassed and ashamed in the other. I decided while I was standing in that fitting room, surrounded by strangers, that I NEVER wanted to feel like that again.
Those feelings were the tipping point, the shove that I needed to make the decision to have weight loss surgery.
If one is going to sign up for therapy, I truly believe that it should be the embodiment of the word! Therapy should heal or treat a disorder. So to heal my tragically chubby wardrobe and to treat my now thinner body to some clothes that actually fit it, I have gone on a little bit of a spender bender over the past few weeks. I needed some warm clothes and some nice boots.
My retail therapy began by trolling the inter webs, looking for what is appropriate for a 40’something, mum of 5 with a passion for plants, Harry Potter fan fiction and baking, with a slight potty mouth, great legs and scary arm flaps to wear. Shock of shocks, I found nothing 🤣 !! I make Pterodactyls jealous with my arm flaps! How do you hide that shit. At first you do hide it but now I am at the point where I don’t even care, except it’s nearly winter, I live in the arse end of Australia and it gets COLD here. So I have to find things to fit the arm flaps into and hopefully also find things that will look good on the rest of me. That is hard when you have been large for a long time.
I know how to dress a slimmer body. I really do know how to do it, but I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to look. The bigger version of me pops up in my head from time to time and she is like “WHAT ARE YOU WEARING!” and then I remember, actually I can wear that now. People have suggested that I should hire a wardrobe consultant and that is probably a wonderful idea for other people, but it is not a good idea for me. I like weird and quirky a little bit too much to have someone telling me what to wear. Perhaps it is the rebel in me 🤷🏼♀️ but I really feel like it is part of my own job to find my new style. Talk about a first world problem – I mean come on! How hard can it be to chuck some clothes on your now size 6 self . . . well it has proven to be harder than I was expecting it to be. I will update as things arrive and I have a chance to talk pictures of them.
My boots arrived today. I am in shoelove. Yes that is a thing! I was so excited to lift them from their gorgeous box, to fold back the tissue paper and to see that they were EXACTLY the right colour. It was hard for me to purchase boots. I no longer have calves that are too wide to be able to fit into boots. Actually, I now need a slim fit. Not only that, I am particular about the shape of the toe and I am even more particular about the height and shape of the heel. I am not interested in teetering around, looking like I could fall and break myself at any moment, so high heels were out. I am pretty much hobbit height so I really need something to give me a little boost but the heel needs to be comfortable without looking clunky. I found those magical, unicorn like boots and they made their way from the USA to me in just under three weeks. Now to wait for the other lovely things I have ordered to arrive and then to wait for an occasion so that I can leave this damn house and wear them!! Oh this is also a fair warning those well meaning souls who think it’s okay to tell me to “eat a few burgers” now …. grow up and stop with the skinny shaming – I too have things I can suggest that you should eat and it is NOT a burger!!
I know what it is like to be judged based on my size. I also know exactly how it feels to be shamed because of it. I have, at times, been contemplating certain items in the supermarket when people have pushed me aside and said “look at you, you won’t eat this anyway!” and pushed their way past me, elbowing me out of the way to reach for the ice cream and one other instance, the chocolate that I was standing in front of. Both times I was confused by the interaction, one time I was a smart arse back because I don’t particularly take kindly to being elbowed aside by a stranger. I am not sure what it is about me that makes people think that it is okay to push me around? Perhaps it is because I am small. My sons call me “little one” but they also say that I am “tiny but mighty”. The one time that I was a smart arse back to the rude ice cream thief, one of my sons said “You can’t do that, you are tiny! She could have throttled you!” to which one of my other sons replied “She wasn’t catching mum if mum took off running!” 🏃♀️ It’s a strange thought to me, the thought of me beating a hasty retreat over ice cream and the fact that someone would even be that worked up over it that they would think it’s okay to elbow the skinny chick out of the away.
What is even stranger is that I AM THE SKINNY CHICK! I have to remind myself of those things because I am just me – same Tasha that I have always been except, if I am honest I suppose I am different in how I think these days. I am regularly told that I am now “too thin” I have been told to “eat a burger” I have been told that I look like I have a terminal illness, my kids have been asked “Is Mum sick?” and I have also been told that I should try to be a good example and not model unrealistic body ideals to young women. Yeah because everyone wants to look like they are a melted human without their clothes on but clothed up – I am small so I suppose I get it – sort of. The strange thing about the position that I am in is that I know what it feels like to be on the other end of these comments – as in the larger end.
I know what it is like to be called a “fat c*&^” that actually DID happened at work one day. I was shocked and absolutely mortified that someone would think it is okay to call anyone that. I sucked it up and didn’t just walk out. The justification was “I didn’t realise you were still here!” “Yup, so it’s okay to call me that behind my back?” Obviously it’s not okay to do that but in that persons mind it was. Back then I didn’t call people out on it because I was fat and I felt like that disqualified me. I don’t think I have ever felt so embarrassed or ashamed but I refused to cry in front of him. There is an element of passionate, righteous rage that simmers inside me over that kind of injustice! Sooooooo much has changed in the last two and a bit years since those words were spoken to me. I recently saw the person that called me that and he didn’t even recognise me 🤣 I did, however, make sure that he remembered the incident.
Honestly making comments about others because of how they look is a dog act. Sharing meme’s that involve shaming someone else’s appearance isn’t funny. It says so much about who people are if they are doing that stuff. I hate it and I do call people out on it. There are worse things than being fat or thin – if you are mean on the inside then that is an ugly that everyone will eventually notice.
We are approaching the 2 year mark! On the 18th of June, it will be 2 years since I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. It has been a strange time. The changing, the growing, the turning into a different version of me. Dealing with the demons in my past and letting go of things and people that I didn’t want to let go of. In short – life is very different. But different, I am learning, can be a gift – it all depends how you look at it. The wonderful thing about choice is that we get the chance to move ourselves from where we are and position ourselves to have every possible chance to make life long changes.
2 years ago, wow, there is absolutely no way that I imagined that I would be where I am at right now. Getting to be an Australian size 4-6 was NEVER ever part of my plan. I had thought that it would be wonderful to be perhaps a size 12-14 if possible. I have enjoyed so many wonderful and unexpected blessings along the way to being a healthier me. Over the last 7 months I have noticed marked changes. Those who know me best can attest to this also. I have tried to put my finger on what triggered it. I have tried to work and reason it out, mostly without success – until I was chatting with one of a hand full of people that I consider to be part of my inner circle. That circle has 6 people in it. They are the people that I trust unquestioningly and that I know, like I know that I know that I know, love me, without judgement and that I talk to nearly on a daily basis. Here is what has come from our talk.
I realised that I have not allowed myself to process AT ALL, the fact that I was on deaths door when I had my plastic surgery last year. I had a radical tummy tuck with mons lift and muscle repair and a breast lift, reduction and fat grafting. Now I know that we can’t dwell on things because that isn’t healthy, but I am damaged by what happened to me and not dealing with that trauma isn’t healthy either. I need to talk about it so here goes.
I guess I knew it, like……… I knew that I was very very sick. But in truth I didn’t want to admit how close I came to not being here anymore. I didn’t want to have to think about any of it!!! I tried to avoid it, however I can now see that it has changed me in the most profound ways. When I was lying in the ICU, surrounded by doctors trying to get lines in to me and keep my oxygen levels from dipping any lower than they already were, they were asking me “Who should we call for you, do you understand what is happening, you are very very calm, are you sure you understand what is happening”. I am scary calm under pressure. When I was young this was NOT the case. But years change people and I don’t get loud or dramatic now. I go stone cold ….. but this wasn’t that – I was awake to what was happening!
In that moment did I understand what was going on? Yes of course I did. I was fully informed of my risks prior to my surgery. I knew that the massive blood vessels that used to feed my fat had not shrunk and that I had an increased risk of bleeding because of it. I knew that I had internal bleeding. I knew that they had to stabilise me before they moved me to the icu and I knew that the nurse looking after me stayed well past the end of her shift to hold my hand until they moved me. She had caught my head the second time I fainted and when I woke, lying in a crumpled mess of blood and my own urine she was still holding me. (Fun fact, when you pass out, if you need to pee …. well you just do.)She also carefully cut my blood and pee soaked night gown off me – it was too far gone to be kept. She reassured me that she would stay with me until ICU had me and she did. So I knew from those things that it wasn’t good. I have had a lot of surgery, been in hospitals a lot and I knew this was not a “usual” thing. Nurses are incredible people, they see that type of stuff on a daily basis and remain caring and thorough in their care. But she was going far beyond normal.
After the ICU stint and additional surgery was over, I eventually came back to the ward days later and found that my story had preceded me. One of the nurses that had been responsible for my care on the day it all happened, came, found me, hugged me and told me she was so glad that I was alright. I remembered her on sight and called her by name. She said “oh you remember!” I said “Yes, the doctor told me to focus on your faces and not let myself float off!” So that is what I did. There was a long period of time where they couldn’t get my blood pressure to read or find a pulse. That was not great. This was during the time when they were trying to stabilise me. I kept wanting to shut my eyes and sleep but they told me it wouldn’t be sleep if I did that so I had to stay awake.
I knew what that meant. I fought to not let myself float off and tried so very hard to stay with them. Loud shoutings of my name brought me round time and time again. Multiple failures to locate veins because my body didn’t want to cooperate didn’t even bother me, I was being jabbed with needles and I didn’t care. I was fading away and I knew I was. In that moment I made some decisions. I did decide that if I woke up after the emergency surgery I needed to stop the internal bleeding, I was not going to live my life afraid of what people would think of me anymore. I wasn’t going to wear any type of face to please others and that I was going to be kind and assume the best of people no matter what.
So did I understand what was happening? Yes, I absolutely knew and I told the very lovely doctor that yes I understood, and as she held my hand she made no promises – which I appreciated! I loved the fact that she didn’t say to me “oh don’t even worry, you will be fine!” Because I was bleeding out on the inside and I wasn’t fine! I like real and value it when people don’t bullshit me.
No one of my contacts that the intensivist called were answering – it was 1 am so naturally people were asleep, but they were anxious to let someone know that I was not okay. In that moment my mind was drawn to the person that I knew would not answer me and as tears rolled down my face and my heart broke a little bit more than it had before, I knew who would answer me, I called my Dad. When I was a kid and was hit by a car he knew something was the matter and was frantically trying to get info before anyone knew what had happened. The phone rang once and he answered with “hello baby are you okay!” The intensivist was holding the phone to my ear as I said “no Dad I’m not, please keep calling Steve, try to wake someone up. They are taking me back to theatre, I love you Dad I have to go” and with that I ended the call. The doctor finally managed to get my Aramis to answer and he spoke to the doctor and went and got his dad. Steve ran into the ICU as I was being wheeled through the doors to go to theatre. Do they call families in to the hospital at 1:00 am very often? Well I already know the answer to that. They don’t. They had told me that I may be kept sedated – it would depend how things went. I don’t really remember waking up but I know it was hours later and I know that Steve was there all night waiting for me. Then he had to go, after sitting up all night waiting for news of me, to get the boys and drive them to Melbourne to the airport to catch their flights.
When I saw Steve’s face at around 11am that day the look of exhaustion and concern was so evident to me. He had arrived back from the airport to sit beside my bed in the ICU. I just wanted to cry for him. I know what it is like to sit in one of those rooms watching machines and listening for alarms that were going off very frequently. No family nearby to help him and carrying the weight of everything on his shoulders. Thankfully my Dad made provisions to take time off work and flew from the Gold Coast to Geelong to be with Steve and I. Our boys were being loved on by family in QLD and I got to rest, heal and think about all of the ways I would rewrite my story. I was going to really live! No more bench sitting! And most of all, how I would stop pulling my punches. So in that spirit let me tell you that the skin removal and tummy tuck surgery has changed my life and it was worth it BUT it was really fricken hard and many tears were shed over the process of my recovery! I didn’t know I could cry so much or that I would emerge from this so changed.
I am excited for the next chapter of my story. I am looking forward to how the rest of 2020 will unfold. Let’s face it – the first part has been less than ideal but I am getting ready for a comeback story! I am dreaming of days with family and friends, living with intention and purpose, being kinder and more open, taking less and giving more. Xx