Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The story

Last July, I started having some pain.

Like any rational, normal mother of three, I ignored it.

Six weeks came and went, and it became obvious that ignoring it was not going to be prudent. I could now palpate a large mass, probably four-by-three inches. It was extremely painful and worrisome.

Unsure of what it was or even what type of doctor to see for it, I took a wild guess and ended up at the office of a gastroenterologist (Dr. Google and my best guess said it was a hernia). The GI doctor took one look at it and immediately sent me downstairs to see a surgeon. He said it was an abscessed cyst and needed to be taken care of right away.

The surgeon lanced it in his office while a nurse held me down, and I laid on his table and just sobbed. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life. Natural childbirth? Broken bones? NOTHING compared to this. Nothing. It was surreal. I was immediately put on two different types of antibiotics, and given strict instructions for cleaning and packing the wound with gauze.

Weeks passed. I was in and out of that surgeon's office, sometimes daily. I was on round after round of antibiotics. The beastly thing was just not healing. Physically, I was a mess.

And mentally? I was falling apart. Tasks that had once been routine and mindless were daunting and impossible. It was a challenge just to get out of bed every day. I found myself frequently collapsing in tears. I was unable to function, and completely miserable. I lay there, night after night, sobbing into my pillow and wondering if I was strong enough to survive this.

And fearing deep down inside that I wasn't.

The Husband was a trooper. He held my shaking, sobbing body again and again, and told me it was going to be all right. He took over laundry and cleaning when he could. He prayed quietly with our children that I would heal quickly and get better soon. They hugged me anxiously, worried looks on their faces, and asked me every day if I was better yet. Hannah's tears frequently mirrored my own, and I watched helplessly at the toll this was taking on my family.

Through it all, we went through this hell completely alone. I did not tell a soul for several months. I just kept thinking it would get better and it never did. I retreated inside myself and thought I was doing a great job of hiding it from everyone. I patted myself on the back for my bravery and stoicism out in the world, all while weeping over my misery at home.

When a good friend came up to me and quietly asked if she had done something to offend me, the tears just spilled over and the story came out. I was failing at putting on a good face, and hurting others in the process. My mother and mother-in-law were called, and a few close friends told. Simply unburdening myself with the news was such a relief. It helped to have someone to call and vent to when the news was not good. It was nice (for the Husband, definitely) that I had other shoulders to cry on. Meals, hot rolls, diet cokes, and books were brought to my door. I cried at my stupidity in not telling my people sooner.

None of that changed the fact that the abscess refused to heal. It was early November, and after yet another useless visit to the surgeon, I wept in the elevator, unable to hold in the tears before reaching the car. I choked on the sobs, as I told the Husband over the phone what the doctor had said. I was defeated. I was so afraid that my life would never return to normal. I did not know how I could face it any more. I was spent.

In a whisp of inspiration, the Husband remembered a surgeon in Florida he had spoken with at a conference the week before. Laughing that he hadn't thought of it sooner, he said he was going to call and get his opinion. Bless his heart, that surgeon said I should have been operated on MONTHS ago and should immediately seek a second opinion.

The second opinion was sought, and I was in the operating room the next week. It was really bad. He said he had never seen a cavity so badly infected before. He placed a drain and said it would likely require a second surgery once some healing had taken place.

Six weeks passed, and the pain was no better. I was beginning to feel numb to my life and resigned to unhappiness. I went through the motions of Christmas preparations. I could barely summon the strength to do much of anything. The usual joy of present shopping was undertaken online and in a hurry. I felt like I was standing still, while everything else was spinning wildly around me. I felt run down and exhausted. I hated this unhappy person I had become. I wondered what it felt like to smile and laugh.

The second surgery took place a week ago today. The doctor said the wound was starting to collapse in on itself and he was able to cauterize it.

He said it was starting to heal.

And for the first time in six months, I am virtually pain-free. For the first time in a long time, I have hope that I just might be myself again. That I'll laugh with my kids and be active. That I'll take care of my family instead of them taking care of me. That I'll be happy.

For the first time in what feels like forever, I have hope again.

I have HOPE.

60 comments:

Annie said...

Oh, friend. So glad things are looking up and that the second surgery has gifted you with some hope. Yay for modern medicine. And loving husbands and kids and friends. Here's to a better year ahead (and cashing in our raincheck for a fabulous trip....) xo

Jeanelle said...

Oh, you sweet girl...thank you for telling us and for telling your real life friends who are right there and can deliver the medicinal DC that I wish I could bring you. You are giving us a gift by letting us in and letting us all help. I hope today you feel our love and prayers and that awful thing begins healing even faster.

ellen said...

That's awful. I'm glad you are feeling better. I have something to send you (email me your address - patton_ellen@hotmail.com).

Here's to hope!

Amy said...

Stie,
I didn't know how deeply you were suffering! I heard through the family chain that you had surgery, but I didn't realize it hurt so much for so long!!!! I'm so sorry.

4ever said...

Wow! I am so sorry that you have been going through this the last few months. I'm glad that things are finally starting to look up for you! You will be in my thoughts and prayers!

Jennie

Terra said...

oh my. Deep breath. Chills subsiding. I want to say all the cliche things like "you poor thing" "this too shall pass" etc. but those words don't feel right. I know what it is like to sit in my sh$t so to speak and be strong and put on a happy face only to find out that I wasn't really fooling anyone but myself. I am glad you spoke out, sought the support of everyone that loves you so and are finally starting to heal physically and emotionally! You have always been an online inspiration and continue to be!

Sarah said...

God bless you.

I don't know what else to say, but I will include you in my prayers, asking for strength and healing. I'm sorry you've had to go through this!

Hope reigns! You will win!

Tristan said...

Oh I am so sorry Christie! You should never have to suffer alone. Next time (here's hoping that there NEVER is a next time) you tell your people! I'm so happy to hear that you are recovering and that you have no more pain. Lots of love to you!!

But damnit! Next time tell me!! ;-)

Kimberly said...

Stie, this brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad you are feeling better. Hang in there, friend.

kara jayne said...

i can't believe you went through all this alone!!! i am so glad that things seem to be looking up. i used to work in a wound clinic and have literally seen it all. i cannot imagine living 6 months with an open wound like that. xoxooxoxo to you and you will DEFINITELY be in my prayers.

Thelma said...

I'm so sorry for your ordeal! I'm glad you're doing better.

XOXO

Anna said...

And you told me it wasn't something to worry about. I have thought about you, a lot. So happy to learn you are on the mend. Love you.

Amanda D said...

I'm so glad to read that you are finally feeling better. What an ordeal. Wish I was closer and could bring you a diet Coke. Love coming your way.

Christy said...

What a horrible, horrible experience to go through. And why is it that we feel we are doing the world a favor by going through it alone? (I think many of us are guilty of that.) Thanks for letting your readers know about it too so we can hope and pray and rejoice with you as you heal.

melissa said...

i'm so glad you're feeling better! how scary!
if i lived nearby, i would be delivering dinner for your family and a large mcdonalds diet coke for you :-)
xo praying for you, friend!

shilo said...

My goosebumps have goosebumps. I am grateful things are on the up and up for you. You are such a bright spot in my life. Much love is being sent your way. Here's to 2011, the year of hope. Cheers!

Annemarie said...

Yay for second opinions. I am so glad this is on it's way out. I am so, so sorry and so glad you are on the mend.

Emily said...

I know you didn't tell this story for a pity party--but I'm so sorry. And so sorry I haven't called you. I've been thinking about you a lot over the past months, missing our friendship, and half wanting to throw the kids in the car and drive on down--sorry I didn't. (Although, if I know you and your OCD, unexpected visitors probably wouldn't be on your wish list :). Glad your feeling better. Sending love and prayers your way. And a last request--can I get in on the trip with you and Annie :)

mae said...

What a nightmare.

Hooray for your good news! I'm glad to hear that a happy ending is on the horizon.

Happy New Year!!

jen@odbt said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am happy that there is hope and your pain is subsiding. Thanks also for the lesson you learned. I would have probably done the same thing. I hope you feel all the love around you - including from your virtual friends. Hugs.

D-dawg said...

It sounds so horrific and six months is a really, really long time. I am so happy for you that you are through the worst and feeling hope again. I hope it just continues to get better.

Lisa said...

Girlfriend! I am so glad you are feeling better! I am also glad that you finally let othersmhelp you. We could have all been praying!

Rochelleht said...

HURRAY! I'm so so glad that it is going to be ok. And I'm glad you were able to get the help you have needed. That's so wonderful.

Julie From Inmates said...

How scary... Glad you're on the mend. I hope your people take good care of you! =)

katie said...

I was just thinking of this the other day and wondering how you were doing. Hooray for no more pain! Glad you finally have some light at the end of the tunnel.

Amy said...

You have an amazing way with words and insight, your blog is wonderful! Thank you for sharing this story. Sometimes by hiding the wound and not "opening" it up we make it worse, hopefully we all learn that as much as we don't want to be a burden, letting the light sine on our troubles, makes them easier to bear, and quicker to heal!
You're awesome!
xoxo,
Amy

Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

I am so sad for you right now. Not pity sad, but sad because I have been reading your posts and giggling at your stories (especially the shirtless video-taping boy) and had no idea you were hurting. I am sorry, and I am so happy that you're starting to feel better. You are so brave, and so strong.

Heidi said...

Major bummer, Stie. I'm so glad a terrible year is behind you. Here's the 2011. I always thought I was out of the clear for a little while after having babies. Living freely until all that menopause stuff starts happening. I need to remember it's not always that way. Yikes.

Marisha said...

It is always hard to admit that you need help. I've never felt so helpless in my life than this past year. But these are the times that Heavenly Father gives us to make us realize that we not only need Him but we need His Children for support. I wish I was there to be able to help but will be sending all our thoughts and prayers to you as you continue to heal. I'm so happy you are letting things out. I've been worried about you for awhile and even told my mom that I was worried that something wasn't right. You don't have to be the strong one all the time :) Let me know if I can do anything to help.

Julianna said...

So glad you are feeling better. And hello? what a story...

I have found that sometimes the burden of not burdening others is worse than just letting it all out.

You have alot of people who love you (I can tell, 'cuz I'm smart like that) so let them.

Michelle said...

Ah, darling, I'm so glad you are feeling better.

3leftturns said...

What is it with us kids and crazy surgeries? You can call me any time. I have the everything plan and I'm a fairly decent shoulder to cry on.

Jessica at Kids Napping? I'm Scrapping! said...

Christie,
I'm sorry you are going through this, and I hope that abscess goes away FOREVER and never torments you again.
You will be in my prayers.
xo.

Stefani said...

Hope is a great word and a great way to start off a new year!

Cares and Mimi said...

I am so sorry for your very difficult journey. I am so glad you shared - That's what family and friends are for. They want and need to be there for you. And I am so happy you are feeling well. I am happy you have hope. - Carrie

Rebecca said...

That sounds like a nightmare. I'm so sorry! I'm glad you have hope now. And I'm especially glad you're letting people help...perhaps that's why it went on so long, so you'd learn what the Lord wanted you to learn. At least, that's been my experience. :) Hope you are 100% better soon!

Ilene said...

Insert "Graves' Disease" for "abcessed cyst" for this post and you have my story for 2010.

I understand spending nights crying in the pillow.

Mortality can really suck. Happy Healing, my friend.

I don't know about you but my propensity to curse has increased tenfold with my health issues. I need a censor to follow me around bleeping out my all too frequent explitives.

Lindsey said...

Oh stie. I sat in Gabi's kitchen a week ago with Oma and Gabi and heard a little about this crazy story. I am so sorry. So, so, so, sorry. That is horrific, but I am SO happy it is starting to heal. YAY. DOUBLE yay. I would love to bestow some cookie dough on you my friend!

melissa ( : said...

I hope it continues to heal quickly!
All the best!

Jenibelle said...

So jealous of Lindsey!

Christie...sadly at our house we know exactly how you are feeling. Only a different part of the body and times 11ish.. BUT! Smart hubby, bless his heart, you owe him BIG...and I somehow think he'll collect!! So sorry your life has sucked. You shoulda shared though, you have quite a fan club! If nothing else, we would have made you laugh.

PS. So I learned how to make St. Louis Gooey Butter cake, why have you not shared that goodness with us? Red Velvet Gooey Cake = Nirvana.

Karey said...

I, for one, have missed you, and I don't really know you. But I'm so happy you're seeing a light at the end of this long tunnel.

You're in my prayers. Take care of yourself.

Becky said...

Wow. Wow! Is all i have to say. What the?!!?!?! What a story. I hope I could have been someone you would have trusted with that one. I just hope, ...cuz...it's just hard to hold stuff in. But, I have NEVER seen anyone hold it in as long as you. Stop that, K? Heal body, heal...heal up completely and no more of THAT ever!

jessica said...

This is so insane! I am so so horrified for you....this is so so scary. I am so glad you finally got the help you needed. I will be praying for you...happy healing!

Travelin'Oma said...

I'm so glad your wound is finally healing! Here's a toast to a pain free New Year.

Emily {WhipperBerry} said...

Way to get me crying first thing in the morning! I understand that Mom is the glue that holds a family together and the pressure that puts on us sometimes to always be our best. Pain can be a soul changer. I am so glad there is hope in your life now, and I pray that you and your family can heal.
Kisses,
Emily

Lisa-Marie said...

Christie, I am so sorry. It is so hard when physical anguish causes such emotional anguish as well. That is such a horrible combination. I'm so happy that you are feeling better. PLEASE keep us posted.

My word verification is DRAMA. No joke, huh?!?!?

Lauren in GA said...

Oh, Stie...I am so, so, so, so, sorry for your suffering. How unbearable! I like how you called your close friends and family members your, "people". I know they love you and wanted to help.

That terrible cyst has totally wrecked your quality of life. I am so glad things are FINALLY turning around. Thank goodness for second opinions.

At first I thought you were using your awesome Stie humor when you said that the nurse held you down. I quickly realized how painful it must have been. You are very brave.

Joy & Casey said...

Ahhh....amazing Christie....literally breaks my heart that I am not there to help you. I love you tons and you are in my prayers.

Christina B. said...

I'm so glad that you are healing and starting to feel better! Whenever I deal with pain for a short time I wonder how people manage to cope with chronic pain over a long time. I'm sorry that you had to go through that! I hope also that 2011 is a healthy and happy year for you!

Linsey said...

Oh, dear, darling Christie. How utterly wretched, painful and, let's face it, gross. I'm so terribly sad for you and equally happy that you finally stopped suffering in silence. How wonderful to finally get some good news. I hope it is the beginning of a complete recovery.

Ben and Rainee In Alaska said...

Christie, I am so sorry to hear of your ouchiness! I wish I were closer to help you out. You do so much for so many people (including me). I miss you and wish you a speedy recovery, sending prayers your way.

Jessica said...

I am so shocked. I even had to tell Ryan, because I could not believe how little you let on. I had a chronic illnes for about 6 weeks a few years ago and it gave me a whole new understanding for people who deal with it for longer than that. I was grouchy, sapped of energy, depressed, etc. I'm sorry you were dealing with that for so long and I actually got chills when you said it was better. I wish we'd known so we could have said prayers, but I'll just say one anyway. Love you to pieces!

Queen B said...

So glad you are on the other side of such a horrible and LONG experience. Praying that you will be 100% in no time!

Thank you for sharing your story.

diane said...

Oh Cysta, I mean Sista, you have been through the fire. I am so happy that you are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sending cyber hugs.

Mrs T said...

So glad to hear you are finally starting to feel better. Health is something we all take for granted until we are sick. It's so nice to just feel well everyday. We are all so lucky. x

Heidiram said...

I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. You hold it all together SO WELL. Thank goodness you are feeling better.

Elizabeth said...

How horrible and scary for you. I am so glad that you are on the mend and that you shared your pain and got some blog love :-)
It is very true that if you do not have your health you have nothing. Heres to 2011 being FANTASTIC.
Ex

Paige said...

I am late to the pity party.
But I am sorry for your hell and truly hope you are on the mend. Do most people just want to cancel 2010? I think we could get a consensus.

Also, of course your card is the absolute BEST every single year. And I get some good cards. but yours was the best so congrats.

I have fallen off the blog wagon but my hot boyfriend gave me the night off so catching up is so fun! If only I could find something to blog about on my own. Alas.

♥Maren said...

I am glad you got this down for your history... but it makes me so sad to read. I am sorry.

Florence Parker said...

I'm so sorry you went through this, my friend! I am a big believer of talk therapy and sharing truly what is going on in your life. I'm so glad you opened up about your experience to those close to you. Not only to get some support, but to help you heal emotionally, as well. I've had two miscarriages--one I didn't share with people at the time and another I did. The one I shared with others helped so much with the healing. So glad you are feeling hope again!