2014 is winding down on the west coast – I’ve got 3 hours and 52 minutes to write this post – and I’m ready to do some reflectin’! Or whatever passes as reflectin’ in my very, very muddled brain. It’s difficult to reflect on your year when your year has been so fractured by so many different things. I’m not sure where I start, or where I end, so I guess I’ll start with the most obvious reflection: I got sick.
(Stupid Property Brothers, distracting me with their renovations and bad hair. I’m a Jonathan girl, personally. When we build our tiny house, we’ll invite Jonathan over to admire all of our hard work. Drew can come but only if he keeps his opinions about small dogs to himself. Jonathan’s dogs are more than welcome, obvs*.)
So right. I started 2014 sick. I made a rapid decline after the holidays, partly due to stress and partly due to my tendency to drink a lot of coffee and alcohol during the winter months. And also partly due to the fact that achalasia just progressing itself right along without a care for how YOU feel about it. I’ve been working on a true reflection of my illness since I came home from surgery, but I have to chip the words from the granite walls of my brain and that shit is tough, y’all. Thinking about it too much or seeing pictures of myself while I was sick or running across pre-op instructions can trigger a panic attack. The physical recovery from surgery wasn’t too difficult. Recovering my strength has taken time but I’m starting to feel the power return to my muscles and joints when I run. It’s good. It makes me happy.
The rest of my recovery has been painful and hard and exhausting. Achalasia caused me to lose a significant amount of weight because I couldn’t eat. Because I spent so much time in the bathroom retching up undigested food and water, I worried that people thought I was bulimic. I worried that I was bulimic with a mental block that made me think I couldn’t swallow anything. I fell asleep at night with my fingers curved around the points that began to protrude. They became my battle wounds that I couldn’t stop touching and picking and poking. I was torn between wanting to get better and never wanting to get better. I was fading away into nothing and as my physical energy waned, my mental energy began to wane, and I really stopped caring if it ever got better.
On top of that, I spent a week in the hospital and hey, you might not know this about me but I don’t deal well with confinement. After my IMPRISONMENT ended, I had surgery the following month. OR SO I THOUGHT. I went through pre-op. I got some really amazing -zepams on my way to the OR so I wasn’t freaking my shit when they wheeled me in. They asked me to verify my procedure, they did their rundown, and I vaguely remember them telling me to breathe deeply.
I woke up later with the instant, terrifying knowledge that I was dying. I could not move. I could not breathe. I don’t remember if I actually opened my eyes or imagined I opened my eyes. (Typing this is making my chest seize up.) I remember thinking that they had to know I was awake and that I couldn’t breathe, because they ALWAYS know on Grey’s Anatomy. Usually.
And then I woke up in recovery with a tube shoved down my throat and my arms tethered to the bed. My arms. Tethered to the bed. Leather cuffs with fuzzy insides, just like you see on TV. I panicked, naturally, because I also had to pee like WHOA and it didn’t feel like anything had happened to me. I was bleary and confused and I couldn’t see more than 3 inches in front of my face because I didn’t have my contacts in and I’m 3-inches-in-front-of-my-face near-sighted. A very sweet nurse explained that I had a breathing tube in due to complications during surgery and my arms were tied to prevent me from pulling out the tube. The nurse immediately freed my arms and I pointed to my bladder and she reassured me I’d be fine – I had a catheter in!
The short story: there were complications during intubation, I aspirated fluid, and they didn’t want to proceed since I was still recovering from my abscess a month earlier. Surgery was rescheduled for a month out, and I went home with the knowledge that I had woken up at some point during that process and would have to go through it again soon. I did and it went well and I can eat food and drink liquids (like Jameson, which I love so much and drank copious amounts of at my company holiday party). But my brain is broken. It is very, very broken. I do not know how to fix it. Well, that’s not true. I know how to fix it. But that does not change the fact that it is very, very broken.
That has been 99% of 2014 for me. The fallout is everywhere and I’m stepping between piles of debris trying to pick out things worth saving. The problem is that my blinders keep me from seeing much worthwhile. Everyday I wake up and I see the smoldering ruins that was my life Before and I take a deep breath. Some days I get through unscathed. Other days I limp home, where I hide under a rock of Animal Planet shows and mindless scrolling through a thousand pins of DIY crap on Pinterest that I will never, ever make but will still pin to my Crafty board like I will.
Other Things happened this year while I was busy being sick. A lot of bad Other Things. More unarmed black men were killed by cops, more women were stripped of bodily autonomy, more children were the victims of domestic disputes, more animals were dumped and forgotten and cruelly killed. I mean, it’s been an incredibly mad year. Ukraine, Crimea, Russia. Major air traffic accidents (that we may or may not have caused). Torture revealed. Relaxed sanctions on Cuba. Protest and civil disobedience. There are so many things I’ve forgotten but if you’ve got a moment in the next day or so, sit back and flip through your mental logbook. Look at all the STUFF! (Also the Giants won the World Series. BOOM!)
One of my biggest struggles in 2014, aside from being sick (or in addition to being sick, as all my downtime waiting for surgery gave me ample opportunity to realize just how little of Me is left inside of me), was getting myself back on track. I’m not entirely certain what I mean by this. My brain seems to have a vague idea of how “back on track” looks, but it doesn’t want to share that vague idea with me. Considering how lousy and lost and frustrated I feel at the moment, I’ll wager a guess that I’m nowhere close to what my brain has in mind.
Writing is filed under Back On Track. Right now, I’m standing across the room from Writing with a very long stick and I’m poking it feebly every so often and wincing any time it takes a breath. It’s exhausting work. Margaret Atwood keeps doing AMAs at Reddit and she encourages writers to go just go for it. Like ice swimming in Canada because that makes all kinds of sense to those of us in warmer climes. She says to write one thing a day, even if it’s a shopping list or a journal entry…or a BLOG POST? Yes. I believe Ms. Atwood would consider this a written thing.
I don’t want to promise you that I am going to post a written thing here everyday because when I make promises and set expectations, my brain goes WAIT WHAT NO ONE INFORMED ME OF THIS and then runs into the bedroom and hides under the bed. But I would like to hope that if you stop by this blog periodically in the near future, you’ll find new things to set your eyes upon.
Even though this entire year was consumed by illness, there were a few bright points. Most of those bright points were Sigot or because of Sigot. I have a handful of posts planned and one of them is about Sigot. You will enjoy it, I promise. I PROMISE. Sigot is a most delightful human being. Without her constant support and love and LIFE BLOOD, I would not have gotten through this year in one piece. Or even a thousand pieces. I probably would’ve just combusted on the spot, just lots of starving dehydrated fluff blowing around in the wind.
So that is a reflection on 2014 that is less of a reflection and more of an amalgamation of all the crap that’s been stewing in my head for the past 3 or 4 months. I sincerely hope that 2015 is better than 2014. I hope that for myself and for so many people I know and love. 2014 wasn’t nice to a lot of us and we’d like to have a good odd year now, thank you very much. Much like my beloved Giants have had their Even Year Shit, I would like to start some Odd Year Shit in our house. In 2013, we ran a 5K and traveled and loved our puppies and generally had a pretty grand time, despite some setbacks. I would like some more of that in 2015, please!
Were you a lucky one in 2014 or are you hoping for a more just, kind, and sexy 2015?