I have been going through some tough times during recovery of my hysterectomy. Something about being in the hospital changed me, really effected me at a cellular level. There was something so vulnerable about it, so mortal about it. There were some very unfortunate people on my unit, and combined with my own feeling of utter dependence on busy nurses that are trying their best but everyone having such high needs…I don’t know. It made me think about illness, old age, living with severe limitations and death in ways I had not before (and I think about death in just about every way that can possibly be thought of.) It made me afraid for my family in ways I have not let myself consider, it made me pitiful for all who are facing such things but on a very visceral level. Even more than when I had my neck tumor out and spent the night in the hospital with some very sick and fragile people dealing with severe disfigurements from cancer and their own final days and weeks in the process of cancer. Maybe this time felt more scary because I am older, maybe it was simply because of the nature of the care I needed while in the hospital. I don’t know. But it carved some marks in my psyche.
Last week was brutal for many reasons. I could feel the fingers of severe depression beginning to tighten their grip on me, and the physical component of healing and having such wild ups and downs was something I did not anticipate. I thought I was doing pretty well physically, but then I started feeling very nauseous and feverish, though I kept checking my temperature and had no fever. My GI symptoms seem to change with the direction of the wind. Headaches have crept into the picture now. I was awake a lot during the nights with fits of pain and mental stress, anxiety and fear. I had vivid, strange dreams that seemed so unlike my normal dreams because of the meds they have me on. I can feel my organs shifting around inside and it is a most unnerving feeling and difficult to get comfortable. Thankfully, my wonderful Hubby and my mom have been there through the thick of it. My mom came over almost every day to keep me company, working on a puzzle and watching movies to keep me from getting too far consumed by depressive thoughts and patterns. And I do not use the term “depression” lightly. I have been diagnosed with this condition by a professional, and my experience with it is often fraught with suicidal thoughts. It is very difficult to overcome when the train gets rolling, and I often think back to my worst days in dealing with it and wonder how in the hell I am still standing here today. But, like always, I weathered it, and by Friday things seemed to lift and I feel refreshed mentally now that some of the physical symptoms have eased. I am now able to think about things that I enjoy, I am speaking normally again (I felt like I just had nothing to say and was very quiet since the surgery), thinking about the future and what I want to do this season once I am healed enough to explore again.
The significance of this whole process of transformation on a physical level is definitely not lost on me. I have been thinking quite a bit about how this physical re-shaping is part of how a human being is re-molded and is part of the spiritual process of growth, renewal, metamorphosis. It is part of unfoldment of a new being, like a caterpillar who unfurls its wings as it bursts forth the cocoon into a butterfly. It is the same soul, but never the same as it was, still alive and vibrant, but having undergone a powerful (and undoubtedly painful) process of transformation. This is the essence of being alive. Constant change, constant discomfort, constant evolution.