Sunday, 23 November 2008

Part #29

I wasn't going to post for a while, as I am feeling a bit raw at the moment, but there are some things burning inside me which need to be put down on 'paper'.

I have been in hospital for three days. I discharged myself, against medical advice, but to be perfectly frank, I am making better progress away from that filthy hell-hole stuck in a six-bay ward with four men (all wards are mixed, but despite there being space in a more female-dominated ward, they kept me with the men) where you get no sleep;  the bathrooms are shared with the men (and the toilet doors didn't lock properly); the nurses are foul-mouthed, lazy, and 'forget' your drips: I was left for 15 minutes, gasping for breath before they could be bothered bringing me oxygen when I had an enormous reaction to the stuff they were pumping into me. What a place.

The nurses hammered me so hard with canulas that I have suffered bruising across each wrist, so bad, it is wholly purple and yellow. The pharmacist agreed that it may be the start of phlebitis, the veins have been so battered, but it is subsiding now, as is the pain. There were four attempts to insert a canula as veins were not forthcoming due to my low blood pressure. The liquids they filled me with have caused veins to stand out across each arm so I could now easily give Madonna a run for her money...or, slightly less glamorously, some Wicked Stepmother from a fairy tale.

I hate hospital with a vengeance - at least, I hate that hospital which is Beelzebub's Holiday Cottage. Considering I was on a cardiac ward, it was incredible that the patients were fed greasy fish and chips, peas boiled into submission and a thick, clarty rhubarb crumble covered by custard with which you could have rendered the outside of your house. 

No, I didn't eat any of it...

I discharged myself on Saturday and came home to two very subdued young ladies who had attempted to go up to Yorkshire with their father and The Other Woman (who shall hereon in be abbreviated to TOW as I can't be fagged writing it all out all the time). Beth lasted two minutes in the house before bursting into tears, watching TOW walk around the kitchen, helping herself to 'snackettes' and ordering her son to dry his hair, using Beth's drier, in Beth's bedroom where he had slept the night before. TOW couldn't have made Beth feel more like a stranger in her own home. She ran out to Ian who had promised to wait for a few minutes, 'just in case', and Rosemary followed closely on her heel.

I was so proud of the three of them. Beth tried to do something which had filled her with so much insecurity, uncertainty, fear and confusion. But she tried it. Rosemary, despite desperately wanting to go to the pantomime, and spending an eternity on getting herself ready, stood by her sister without any conditions or guilt-trips, and Ian gave them the support, encouragement, listening ear and comfort that they so desperately needed at that time. I hated myself for not being there for them.

On Saturday evening, I noticed a strange answer machine message from a mobile number which I didn't recognise - nor did anyone else in the house. The message, according to our service provider, couldn't be delivered. This, in itself, was odd. So, I called the number and the phone had been turned off. There is only one person I know who uses Tesco mobile services and that is my mother. Sure enough, when I checked through my blocked numbers, hers came up and it was the same as the number on my phone.

She, or my father, called on Thursday night. The night I was taken to hospital, and also the night my father called the ex, crying, purportedly, that he missed his grandchildren. There are only two reasons why they would call here. First, they want to know why I am in hospital OR, the ex has told them to sort out Christmas (which my father is trying to organise) with me. Either way, I am not interested in communicating with them. Beth feels that her grandmother now despises her. My mother refuses to talk to either girl - it is only my father who is making the effort. Beth has told my mother to stop this nonsense and my mother, as I have written before, has taken umbrage at being told off by an 11-year old. That is how petty she is. A child gets 'sent to Coventry' for speaking her mind.

Since then, there have been no further calls.

And also since then, I have done a lot of thinking about my life and my family. Ian and I have talked long and hard about events which led me to the hospital's A & E. There is a shift in my thought patterns. There is resolve about certain aspects of my life - I have no doubt that the resolve will falter from time to time as I am human, but for the moment, it is very strong. To this end, I have ditched the alcohol, am throwing myself into writing and work, laughing more, and accepting that where my parents and my ex are concerned, I simply cannot do anything about them and there is no point worrying myself sick about their actions. The only things I can do, from now on, are to ignore them, talk things through thoroughly with Ian, accept that they cannot and will not change, but also accept that they do not have to spoil my day. With this realisation has come a happier, marginally calmer, more trusting Annie.

I have gained a bit of weight - a few pounds. It doesn't sit well with me, at all and I am not, deep down, happy about it, but I am also not doing anything about it. I haven't restricted myself stupidly, I haven't stepped up the laxative intake, and I haven't gone exercising as though I was training for a marathon. I am just ticking over, trying not to upset the equilibrium. 

The atmosphere in this house has changed perceptibly. Although there have been 'challenges' from the daughters, and external worries which, last week, would have tipped me over the edge, this week, I am attempting to remain calm and take things in my stride. I don't know if it is my imagination, but it seems to have infected Ian, too, who is handling parenting issues with the wisdom of an old hand, which helps me inordinately in many different ways.

I am tired of punishing myself and, by default, punishing my family. Everyone has a right to be happy in this life, so why shouldn't we take our cut of it? There's still a nugget of self-doubt in me...which is akin to self-hatred. From time to time, during the day, a thought will flit across my mind that I am doing everything wrong; I'm rubbish at this life and I yearn to be a different person. 

Each day, since 'escaping' the hospital, I have felt glad I am home and alive. I almost wasn't, from what I can gather.

It's now time for a change and one for the better. The gremlin still talks to me on an hourly basis, but mentally, I am walking away from him, raising my hand to him and saying, Enough - you bore me. Sometimes I am unable to get away from him, particularly late at night when I am tired and at my most fretful/agitated, but I am coping much better during the day than I have for about six months.

I feel fear about the future from the ED point of view, paradoxically. I really, really dread gaining weight. I dread losing what I deem my own control, but I also see that I am controlling other aspects of my life more efficiently than ever before, so perhaps one will substitute for the other? I want to see my ribs still, yet I want my breasts to return. I want to keep my thin thighs, but I don't want the sagging empty skin on my buttocks. I want to keep boney legs but I don't want the concomitant bruises. I don't want to take my bigger clothes down from storage, but I don't want to undermine my daughter's self-esteem by being in a size smaller than her.

I just want it all, don't I?


Ian T - Parsnip no longer... said...

There really has been a perceptible change in the house at the moment. It's all down to you Annie and all the hard work you're putting into this.

I love you for it, and for the effort you're making.

We'll get through this. I know we will. I have faith in you, and I'll always be beside you.


Karen ^..^ said...

I am so happy to read this... Not the part of the hospital, which sounds completely horrifying, but your new found confidence and resolve.

Yes, we want it all. Unfortunately, there is no way to have it without suffering the side effects. Most people are not meant to be bone thin without the horrible side effects. I'm one of them.

I think it is admirable that you have gained weight and kept it on despite your worries about it. Surely this is the first step to recovery. Feel better physically, feel better all around? It definitely goes hand in hand. All your levels are coming up, and although you may still suffer some depression, at least it wont be due to malnutrition.

You are a very strong lady, and I'm proud of you.

Keli said...

I notice a marked shift in this post too - you are taking control like you've not before, and growing stronger. I understand perfectly your discharging yourself. I've done the same when stuck in the wretched hospital. Not exactly the best place for mental or physical recovery.
You are making progress; there is nothing wrong with wanting it all. You will discover that that too will shift as you sort through and determine what is most important to you.
Keep it up! You can do it!

Mars said...

i'm glad you are acknowledging what you want and getting the courage and determination that you desrve and need.

it's great ian was there for the kids and rest assured you don't have to feel threatened at all by the tow. the kids know it too. she's nowhere close to you as a being a good mother.

keep it up girl :) love you loads.

PS: my word verification is 'asesse'. ironic eh?

Linda and her Twaddle said...

I really understand that reluctance to put on weight. When my weight dropped 30kgs, the control factor and the thin factor was very hard to give up. I realised that I was in food control mode only and not "outside world" control. When I made the step to gain some world control and reduce food control it was very stressful when the weight crept back on. Even though I looked 100% better, I felt disgusting. Now, I am accepting that to be fit, healthy and at peace is what is important. I still do a lot of food control, but more in the calorie and health aspect. Besides, my mood stabilised once nutrition was good and that was a good thing for me.

I do feel you have turned a little corner here. Perhaps you feel that your body has had enough control of your mind and you want it back. Plus, your obligations to your daughters is a good driver. Go with it. Setting a good example is the best you can do.

Annie T AKA Agnes Mildew said...

Ian: You're my best friend whom I love implicitly. And I am so happy to say that. Things feel so much better since my 'escape' and it's quite amazing just how happy I can allow myself to be - it really is a change I could get used to!
*Gosh that sounds cheesey*

Karen: Perhaps this is the first step to recovery. Surely if you feel better in yourself, you will allow yourself to relax? I hope so. I'm trying to stay strong. When those thoughts rush through my head, I rationalise them, give myself a jolly good talking to, and actually try a bit of meditation. So far, it seems to be working. The house is a mess because I am constantly sitting in a corner chanting, 'Ooommmm', but what the hell?!

Keli: I'm glad I'm not the only one who runs away from hospitals - I nearly always discharge myself from Leighton as it is such a festering pit of filth.

I hope this change cements. I don't want it to be something wishy-washy. I am going away today for a much needed two day break, just with Ian. I think it will affirm all I have been thinking this week, and compound the shifts I am working on. Wish me luck!

Mars: Thanks for those lovely words - so kind of you! The ex completely screwed up any meeting between the girls and TOW with his bludgeoning engineering of the situation. I think he is going to have to work extremely hard, and for a very long time, before there will be any meeting. Stupid thing was, she was so prepared to do it, but the environment in which he had set it all up was totally wrong. Beth is now more dead against a meeting than ever.

Linda: Looking better and feeling happy with it are two very different things, aren't they? I know that I also look way better with weight - so many people have said to me, without realising, you've lost a bit too much, haven't you? You need to put some weight on, etc, etc. It grates my gears, actually. I do feel immense embarrassment about certain parts of my body. One of the worst was when my GP remarked that my breasts were 'withered'...lovely...right in front of Ian...*ahem*.

Yes, trying to set a good example for the girls is important. I know that all too well. I have also been very honest about my 'condition' with them, as if they understand better, they are perhaps more likely to see that this isn't a glamorous thing to have, such as the glossies can sometimes suggest.

Karen ^..^ said...

So true. But years of conditioning and brainwashing from the "glossies" is not easy to overcome either. I am proud of you that you are able to fight two battles at once. The one internal, and the one external (what society expects of us)

Sadly, all the girls in those magazines are photoshopped so they look glamourous even though they surely suffer every single one of the side effects of malnutrition. Look what society has done! Celebrating the starvation of young women! So sad. So tell me, when are they going to celebrate women being schitzophrenic, or bi polar??? Jesus, the way the world thinks is disgusting. Playing on our deepest insecurities. Good lord.

I'm doubly proud of you, Annie.

Karen ^..^ said...

Haven't heard from you in a while. I hope that means things are still on a positive upswing.

Love ya, girlie! Hope all is well.

Chunks of Reality said...

This post was lovely to read (other than the hospital part) because you are doing better. It is difficult to get better at times and it takes a lot of courage. I applaud your efforts and admire you a lot!