Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sticks and stones

I realized something in the shower tonight (besides how itchy my steristrips are getting).  Words hurt me more than physical pain.  It's leftover from growing up, but if I had to number the things that have hurt in the week since my surgery they would be 1) bladder spasms from the catheter when my pain med wore off too soon 2)the screwed up sleep patterns after the awake night in the hospital and then from vicodin indicued mania and 3) that jerk calling my a hypochondriac.

The first 2 make sense.  The third, I'd like to explore.  When I was 9 my father still pretended to be a good father.  Clear up until I was 11 there were moments when things went well with my family and we had fun times. After I was 11 there aren't many good memories.  But there was a time that my father would set aside time for us and play with us.  My great-grandfather was a professional baseball player.  He had taught my father a lot about baseball and so passing that along with a family tradition thing.  At that age I was just as terrible at softball as I remain now,  although my never learning how to play better all hinges on this one event.  When my father played with us from infancy on per my mother he tended to overplay, demand a lot and then get mad when we cried.  Well, my learning to catch a softball was one of those things where he had no patience.  I finally got so I could catch a very gently thrown ball.  Rather than gradually increasing this so I would succeed step by step my father decided if I could catch a gentle ball I could catch a ball thrown using my great-grandfather's fastball.  Well, I couldn't.  I saw it coming fast and put up both hands to protect my face.  Snap went my finger.  I cried of course, and my mother tried to get my father to take to have it checked since it was clearly broken.  He refused.  The next day the school nurse splinted it and told my mother what was needed to support it better (if it gives you any idea of how much anxiety I had at age 9 I chewed through the first, plastic splint and had to have a metal one.)  When I would still say it hurt or was sore after a week or two my father started getting in my face and telling me that if I didn't stop complaining he would take me to the doctor and they would take me to the operating  room and use a hammer to re-break my finger and is that what I really wanted just because I was a hypochondriac.  Now, 3 months ago I tripped on vacation and broke 2 toes.  One of those toes felt like it was broken twice (from wiggling it with my hand).  I did not react in any way until someone asked if I was ok, and then I calmly said "I heard my toe break".I then put my plate down, hopped to the table, let someone get me ice and had my mother get me some vicodin, ate supper and then let someone tape the toes.Within 24 hours I was doing nearly everything I had been except not walking long distances.  And that little toe, the one I broke more severely, still hurts if I bang it or bend it too much.  So I am 100% sure that my finger, which needed to be set as it healed a little funny, was validly painful.  But all I learned was not to complain.  We've all heard about my broken ankle leading to my torn up knee combining to lead to my very torn up ankle, all with my pretending to not hurt.  Another time we were canoeing, something my father did with us into my teens although this is the last time I remember going with him; don't know an age.  He thought it was funny to find ways to dump us in the water. Once I had managed to avoid all dumpings.  So when we stopped to rest he picked me up and threw me hard down into shallow water.  I landed with my shoulder blade on a rock which made a deep, jagged cut.  It needed stitches but he couldn't take me and explain how it happened.  So I got a Telfa pad and peroxide.  I have no idea what the scar looks like other than there is no chance there isn't one.  I never told anyone about that until about 2 years ago maybe.   I kept right on running and when sweat hurt it I just taped the dressing down.  There were so many other times......missing school was a huge deal and subjected you to tons of hypochondriac comments.  So I tried to never miss.  In 2nd grade I tried so hard that I threw up grapenuts all over my phonics workbook.  In 6th grade I totally topped that horribly embarrasing moment.  First I was trying so hard to deny that my bowels were ready to explode and that I was terribly ill that I accidentally farted extremely loudly in class.  Then to top it off I threw up in the lunch room, then fainted.   I was so, so sick but not about to admit it so instead I did 3 of the typical 12 year old's most dreaded feats, all in a few hours time.  I'm trying to think of other examples.......When my wisdom teeth came out my father took me.  Some time in the last year or two he'd taken  his girlfriend and she had no problems, just took the valium, had them pulled and was fine. Therefore I would be fine too.  I specifically remember the oral surgeon telling him this was different, because of wearing braces and having an incredibly small mouth, my wisdom teeth were impacted and removal involved incisions, crushing the teeth, and extracting each fragment.  I had several stitches and would need pain meds.  Well, my father decided that there was no way I would need pain meds since girlfriend hadn't and he wasn't rewarding my being a hypochondriac.  He drove me home and left me alone with no meds for hours then yelled when I was crying in pain when he got home and was furious he had to go back to town for the pain meds.  He also got mad at me for eating the soft foods/baby foods that the doctor had suggested.  I  went back to school so fast that I got an A on my public speaking final despite nobody being able to understand the garbled mess that came out of my chipmunk cheeks because the teacher put it off as long as he could but the plan had been for me to make-up the final the next semester and that wasn't possible since I was in class.   Both of my knee surgeries  he would push the surgeon to clear me for sports in 2 weeks.  The surgeon kept patiently explaining that I was a growing girl and not a professional athlete and needed time to heal.  Even then the 2nd surgery which involved a several inch incision the dr. wanted me home in bed for a week with my foot elevated.  I was in school 36 hours post op because  my father thought if I was home I could care for myself and school was easier on me because I could elevate my leg and hobble around and nobody yelled at me for making a big deal out of nothing.

I am pretty sure that the worst thing someone can do is call me a hypochondriac.  For one thing I struggle to not believe it.  Dr Body, after we had a specific discussion about how abuse makes me lie sometimes and how to detect lying, has pointed out several times that I have a real illness that causes me to be more susceptible to other real illnesses, that just because a diagnosis ultimately isn't something highly painful doesn't mean I don't have pain sometimes, and that I have to make decisions to treat things even if I'm having trouble believing them.   He made this clear, gently, when I needed a break from aggressively treating my asthma when I was semi-responding to meds.  He told me that his criteria was simple:  No attacks bad enough to need emergency treatment and no car accidents from fainting due to severe coughing.  So simple and yet it honestly took my having an accident to get me to agree to treat the asthma, about 3 months after it started.  The pain I am hoping to never feel again, all of that could have been so much easier if I'd seen a doctor sooner or agreed to treatment sooner that I did.  My d&C wound up removing a huge amount of tissue from my uterus that was the major source of  bleeding so severe it caused anemia.  I let that happen for a year before I sought help.  So often I have to let things become really big problems before I am able to believe myself and not hear 'hypochondriac, hypochondriac" in my head.  That does a lot more harm than good. Yet even after all these years, even after being taught explicitly that because bipolar and the treatments I've been on have made my body more fragile because I've had many treatments that are very hard on the body, I never can just believe myself.  I'm even embarrassed that I have had these abnormal cells and need to follow-up with ANOTHER doctor and more testing.  I'm deeply grateful, but embarrassed.

It goes on and on and I am getting sleepy and it's ONLY 1 AM!!!  So I'm going to change into sleep prep mode and we'll talk tomorrow.

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