Surgery: an unwanted birthday gift

This morning has seen me back in hospital with a raging infection and a build up of lymphatic fluid that is stubbornly refusing to drain.

A week before Christmas, I had surgery for a femoral hernia – what’s called a femoral hernia ‘repair’, but not everything went to plan. This week saw me returning to hospital because my wound formed a build up of fluid – much like a little spring in my groin – a steady stream of clear fluid that literally sprung whenever I moved.

After seeing the surgeon, I was referred to a wound care nurse who moonlights as a stomal therapy nurse. Stomal therapy nurses look after patients with colostomies and ileostomies – the latter of which I somehow lived with for three months in 2007.

When I had major surgery for a rare gynaecological cancer, I had to have my bowel redirected so I wouldn’t die from infection. Having an ileostomy (or as I refer to it, a poo bag) was by far the most horrific and psychologically challenging three months of my life, so when the nurse presented me with a veritable smorgasbord of ‘pouches’ (poo bags) so the fluid could be caught and contained instead of flowing down my leg and into my shoe (or onto the floor of Kikki K), I had to take a deep breath for the rush of memories that resurfaced.

I ascertained that my situation could be worse. I reasoned that the poo bag was attached to the wound in my groin, and that instead of catching shit it was only there to collect lymphatic fluid – lovely, clear and odourless.

And so this morning, I awoke with a painful lump that had stopped draining. I cut the wound open myself and even removed a stitch to no avail.

It is the eve of my 36th birthday and I’m supine on a hospital bed being fed intravenous anti-biotics through a line in my foot. I will need more surgery, most likely tomorrow. On my birthday.

Instead of seeing in the new year at my friends farm surrounded by hyperactive puppies, happy cattle, spiders, brown snakes and raucous laughter, I’ll be here. And so it goes, as Mr. Vonnegut would say. But it’s ok because things can always be worse.

I have enough books to keep my reading habit satiated for a month; my laptop so I can write, despite being half whacked out of my mind on morphine and fentanyl. I have a beautiful new notebook and Moleskine for the new year, more pencils than what I know to do with, my meditation shawl and my rose quartz heart that will show a few more fissures by the time I fully recover. It takes the blows for me and my broken body.

And so tomorrow won’t be the happiest day, but it won’t be the worst. I have all that I need and I’ll want for nothing except my health (and cake l, because we all know that cake makes everything better.)

14 thoughts on “Surgery: an unwanted birthday gift

  1. Cake always makes everything better. Really. You’ve been so strong in my thoughts over the past 24hrs. Wishing you a postponed but nonetheless raucous catch up with the animals of the farm & the healing energy that will accompany being surrounded by love, laughter and light. Oh yeah, and Happy B-day too 😉 xox

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  2. I hope I have read the directions correctly on how to reply to this, Carly-Jay. Iwas just heading off to bed at a bit past midnight, and when plugging into power I did something that I pretty much never do at this hour…..check e mails. I am so glad I did,if only to know of your struggle and tell you that I am going to hold you close in prayer and positive intention, both for the present struggle and for the healing that lies ahead.

    This sucks so much for you to be enduring this, especially on your birthday, but you are stronger than you know and such a bright light and inspiration to those of us who get to say that we know you and have been able to be both uplifted and challenged by the artistry and honesty and raw talent that you bring to your work and your life. Forge on and share as you can. Sending my heart out to you, tonight, however feeble though it may be all these many miles away……

    Your friend, Meg from the lighthouse in Maine.

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  3. Thinking of you my most beautiful friend. That is a shit birthday prezzy universe. Pouches could at least come in pretty colours or designer labels. Get better love xxxx

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  4. Sending lots of healing vibes
    Thank you for making me laugh with your fantastic writing
    My mum had a illeostomy for years and yep the laughs we got because of it (especially the embarrasing bits at the time)

    Lots of healing prayers being sent to you
    Stay smiling Stay wonderful and for your birthday

    Happy birthday
    May you always have enough

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  5. Lots of love and healing energy coming your way from this corner of the globe! You are an amazingly strong young woman and will get past this. While this may be the day, my kids would always celebrate their birthdays for the entire month and if anyone is entitled to do that, it is you!

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  6. Not fair. I hope the New Year heralds the beginning years and years of unparalleled good health and happiness. Happy birthday and happy New Year too x

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  7. I hope I have read the directions correctly on how to reply to this, Carly-Jay. Iwas just heading off to bed at a bit past midnight, and when plugging into power I did something that I pretty much never do at this hour…..check e mails. I am so glad I did,if only to know of your struggle and tell you that I am going to hold you close in prayer and positive intention, both for the present struggle and for the healing that lies ahead.

    This sucks so much for you to be enduring this, especially on your birthday, but you are stronger than you know and such a bright light and inspiration to those of us who get to say that we know you and have been able to be both uplifted and challenged by the artistry and honesty and raw talent that you bring to your work and your life. Forge on and share as you can. Sending my heart out to you, tonight, however feeble though it may be all these many miles away……

    Your friend, Meg from the lighthouse in Maine.

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  8. Well that sucks. Thinking of you and sending you awesome birthday vibes – with hopefully a doctor who looks like Mr D’Arcy….

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  9. So, clearly my note did send the first time. Forgive the double message in that case, all.
    Happy New year, and may this year bring you healing, peace, and a much needed respite from pain and suffering.
    xoxoxo Meg

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