Monthly Archives: August 2014

Stress head

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Under a Lot of Stress

I went to a workshop with my Year 11 students last week to learn about stress management, and there I was in the back of the lecture room, shushing the students to be quiet so that I could hear what the lecturer was saying….

“Your body doesn’t know the difference between good stress and bad stress”…. OHMIGOD!

Ok, I kinda knew this already (as I was squeezing my squiggy stress ball!), but sometimes you need someone to say it out loud for you to go, oh shiiitttttt… It particularly worries me now because work has been particularly hectic lately, but in a good way – I got a mini promotion at work, and my work load has TREBLED, but it it the challenge I have been looking for. I’ve been working my butt, but I have actually been enjoying it.

But then in the workshop, they went through all the physiological responses your body goes through when it feels stressed, which included digestive issues and a lowered immune system. Great. Fantastic news for someone with an AUTOIMMUNE BOWEL DISEASE!

And I definitely have noticed the difference in my body lately – I feel more tired (at 7.30pm I am ready to go to bed!), feel a bit more mweh and agro in my moods, and swing from constipation one day, to having the runs the next. Am definitely also noticing that I look more bloated as well. I guess things aren’t digesting so well – mentally and physically!

So this workshop was perfectly timed as a reminder to shift everything back into perspective again – I really need to look after myself. Especially after I went super (stupidly) hardcore back at work after my big surgery (refer to my last post).

I think because stress just seems to be so inevitable in life, we all tend to neglect how it really will affect us. But it’s so true – your body reacts to all types of stress in the same way, and that’s not a good thing if you already have a weakened system. So I have to be more mindful of how to reduce the stress levels in my life. Here is a good link to look at stress causes and symptoms: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Here are some of the things I have actively started to do to manage the stress in my life:

1. I’ve written down and printed some inspirational quotes around my office to remind myself of what is important and what is real… #thanksDalaiLama
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2. Taking deep breaths when it feels like things are getting too much, sometimes even counting to 10…
3. Asking myself “Am I profoundly OK with this moment?” and then evaluating if whatever it is really is a big deal to me or not
4. Yoga. Om Shanti Shanti.
5. Watching mindless TV to switch off

I’m sure there are other wonderful things out there to reduce stress… I know that meditation should be high up on that list, but it’s not something that I am currently and consistently doing… even though I know I should. Actually, that should be number 6: Letting go of the “shoulds” in your life. That does help you detach as well. Keeps you from being emotionally invested in situations, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.

So what do you do to reduce stress in your life? Would love to hear other ways of looking after yourself to manage the big S-bomb in our lives! If stress can be managed, then we can all feel a lot happier and healthier.

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Not your average super hero…

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So I am currently lying on my couch feeling a little sorry for myself. After my weekend of complete rest and relaxation after my surgery on Friday, I went back to work this week. Now remember, I chucked a sickie on Friday with the “flu” so on Monday when I went in with my waddle walk, and sat down during all of my classes, I told everyone I pulled my groin over the weekend. I even had an elaborate story that I had slipped down some stairs and fell into the splits! Not too many people asked anyway because when you mention “groin injury” from the weekend…well…it just stops people asking questions without sounding like perverts!

Of course when I went back to work this week it was the most bullshit hectic week at work. I stayed back until 6.00pm everyday fixing up paperwork, planning lessons, teaching students, calling parents, organising excursions, issuing detentions, writing back to emails, having staff meetings, attending a literacy workshop, chasing up homework, marking work, arguing with teenage students, designing assessment tasks, completing mid-term reports for the Seniors AND commentated for the Sports Carnival (ok ok, you get the point, teaching is a bloody endless job!) and by Thursday, I was passed out in bed by 8pm, exhausted from the week that was not yet over! And then today, was like the straw that broke the camels back…I finally left work “early” at 4.30pm to “celebrate” my week out of surgery and wanted to go get a massage, and I got stuck in a massive traffic jam because of a 2 car pile up on the Anzac Bridge that left me in the car for almost an hour and a half before I got home. And then it dawned on me… why the hell did I do this to myself?

I am on the verge of tears but I’m just too tired to cry. I know there is no point regretting the week that has just been because I can’t change any of it now… but I realise that I went back to work AND had a crazy week because I think I wanted to prove something…prove something to myself. That I could do it. That I could be Superwoman. Yes, I could go have massive surgery AND return to work to be the busiest woman alive.

And now what do I have to show for it at the end of the week? A miserable mess on the couch. Tired, sore, swollen and limping. Not Superwoman – Super dumbass more like it! So as I reflect on how I neglected myself this week, I realise that this revelation is better sooner rather than later. I just cannot go THIS hard so soon. I was clearly trying to prove to myself that I can overcome anything and that surgery wasn’t going to hold me back! But yeah, I physically managed to pull myself together this week, but I am definitely not feeling any emotionally stronger for it. I have to remind myself that the things that I do and manage at work aren’t really the most important things to me in my life outside of work. Wearing myself out and stressing about deadlines isn’t going to make me happy, because I already know what makes me the happiest – when I am healthy.

This weekend’s agenda: sleep in, lie around as much as possible, get a massage, get a mani/pedi and look after me. And forgive myself for being a fool.

Water works

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I went through with my surgery yesterday, and I am feeling a lot better than expected. I can actually walk! Well, it’s more like a really slow shuffle waddle. But at least I’m not lying horizontally in agony! Still quite sore, but nothing that the weekend lying in bed and painkillers won’t fix!

After my last post (pre-surgery), I went to a yoga class which really helped calm me down. All that deep breathing and physical exercise helped remind me that my body is strong and my mind can be even stronger. It’s amazing how as you get older you freak out more about health and surgeries… I would’ve never have even thought twice about going in for surgery 5 years ago! The heaps of crying I did in the morning and the yoga class helped put things into perspective for me, and also put me in a bit of a zombie state (really should be a “zen” state) that I felt kind of this numbness and at ease about going into surgery. All that anxiety washed away!

What also helped was that within half an hour of me checking into the hospital, I was already being wheeled into surgery! Usually it’s another 2 hour wait from the time you sign in! Which just leaves you with too much time on your hands thinking about how hungry/thirsty you are, how much pain you are in etc. My surgeon came out to talk about the procedure and I told him I was anxious about it all but he managed to give me peace of mind by talking through what he will do, and reminded me of the positives of the surgery in the long run. And then, I was wheeled into the operating room, had a giggle with the anaesthetist about lying in stirrups for the procedure and then I woke up in recovery. This was the first time EVER that I was so coherent after a surgery. My anaesthetist got my drugging SPOT ON! I didn’t feel groggy, didn’t hallucinate any conversations with doctors, was able to talk to the nurses about how I was feeling (instead of making the usual animal sound effects!) and actually remember having a chat with my doctor about how it all went. Even managed to joke with him about turning me into Frankenstein’s bride with all the stitches down there! Even when I was wheeled up to my room, I was able to call my mum and husband to tell them I was ok and what room to find me in. They were still fluffing around because they weren’t expecting me to be conscious for another hour! When they came into my hospital room, they even said they couldn’t believe I was actually so alert and able to converse! So, when I find out the name of the anaesthetist, I am going to do a major shout out to him for being a total DUDE!

Spent the night in hospital, got my morphine shot at 1.30am when I woke up in heaps of pain – I love it when they give you the option of either Panadeine forte OR morphine, who the hell is NOT going to go for the morphine? I mean, is it REALLY a choice? Morphine is amazing. And it also gave me 5 hours of solid sleeping without feeling the after effects of the surgery. Now that I’m home, it’s just about taking it easy – no heavy lifting or walking for long periods of time. Plenty of rest and having naps after taking Tramadol (anti-inflammatory which makes me drowsy). Lots of washing after using the bathroom and salt baths. All of this is manageable. I am so grateful that the surgery went much better than I had anticipated. I still haven’t had a look down there as I know it’ll be a mess for a couple more days, but at least now I don’t have to freak out so much. I also want to use this opportunity to thank the wonderful people in my life who gave me a lot of support leading up to the surgery and now in recovery – you have no idea what an amazing difference your messages and well wishes made on me.

Anyway, the surgery has left me with a lot of dissolvable stitches from the top of my labia to my perineum. Considering this is similar to what a lot of women go through after giving birth, I did some research about how to heal with postpartum stitches. I found out a little trick when you are sitting on the loo, pour some water over the area while you pee and it helps dilute your urine so that it doesn’t sting over the stitches! AMAZING! If you have stitches in the area, give this trick a go, it totally works!
Also, drink lots of water to further dilute your urine to prevent super stinging. Plus, if you are on painkillers (Panadeine forte doesn’t do it’s magic like it used to though…) which usually clogs your system, drinking water will also help relieve the backlog. Throw in a couple of teaspoons of Benefibre into your water and your GA clogging days are over! WOOT! Water is totally healing in SO MANY WAYS! Crying, cleaning, cleansing, soothing… makes everything feel better. Do you have any other uses for water that helps deal with pain management or healing techniques? Share your tips!

Calm before the storm

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Screw my last post about feeling calm about my operation day…we have lift off and I am freaking out! Actually, it’s more like sadness, an intense sadness… I woke up this morning and cried and mourned for the loss of my left labia today. The surgeon is going to remove the cavity from it which will involve an incision (and eventually a scar) of about 3-4 inches from the top of the labia to right underneath the vaginal opening.
And all of this dawned on me at 6.30am. I’ve known about this surgery for a couple of weeks now, but it’s like the realisation of what he was going to do, and the thought about how painful this surgery is going to be after the fact suddenly fell on me like a tonne of bricks. I feel utterly hopeless.
I’ve already imagined my confrontation with the surgeon today in the hospital, asking him to clarify EXACTLY what he is going to do, and whether he can do it another way! I’ve pictured me screaming at him “I DO NOT GIVE YOU MY CONSENT”, I’ve pictured myself ripping up that hospital document with the details of the surgery and storming off, and I’ve also imagined a version where I freak out at him and they sedate me and before I go into a ga-ga type of state, I beg my husband and my mum to “not let me go into the surgery”.
Ughhhhh. I feel like I shouldn’t have rushed this surgery now. I want to go back to work, (I’m surprisingly having so much fun there!) and the prospect of being off for a while to help the stitches heal and so I can walk properly is daunting. I also now have the massive guilts for not telling work that I had a procedure today. I should’ve really organised this surgery in the school holidays which are next month. It would’ve given me 2 weeks to recover, anxiety free. Surely I can arrange the new operation when I go in today? Can I do that? Can I negotiate a new surgery time on the day of my scheduled surgery? I’ve never done it before… I’m sure it is a hassle.
I’m going to go to a yoga class this morning. If I have the surgery today, it’ll be the last class I do for a while. I am going to make a decision about going into hospital AFTER that class. Maybe after some me time, some zen time, I will get some clarity for all of this. And hopefully, the storm will pass.

Chucking a sickie

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I have surgery booked tomorrow, and I am surprisingly calm about it… mind you, I have been waking up at 5.30am for the past 2 days and having wildly crazy dreams, but surely that’s just a coincidence? Or maybe it’s the fact that I will have tomorrow off from work and potentially Monday and Tuesday off as well… I haven’t told work that I am going in for surgery though, I am just going to fake a flu. Less questions, less dramas to deal with. I’ve just been given a leadership position at school this term upon my return after 3 months away, so I don’t want to start ringing any alarm bells about my situation again. And fortunately for me, a lady who shares my office has been really sick with the flu (but still has been coming into school!) and all week I’ve been dropping comments like “Oh no, I think you’re getting me sick too!” or “You should stay home, I’m on immunosuppressants and if I get sick, it’ll be twice as bad!”…

I know this all sounds incredibly dishonest, and usually I advocate for the “you are the first priority – look after your health!” side regardless of what’s happening in your life, but I just want to get in and out of surgery and pray that I recover super quick so I can get back to normal.
In reality, I will be staying the night at the hospital to deal with the pain, all weekend I will be sleeping and dealing with the pain, and when Monday comes around, I probably still will not be able to walk. Then I’ll have to come up with some excuse around work about why I am hobbling around… it’s actually going to be really fucked now that I properly look at it… I probably should’ve told them I was going in for surgery.

It’s shocking at what lengths people hide their illness, and then on the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are constantly whinging about how sick they are and how horrid their life is dealing with it. I don’t know which one is the right way, because they both sound like TERRIBLE ways of dealing with your health. But all I know is which side of the spectrum I am on. Hahah, I mean, I am “chucking a sickie” from work when I am actually sick! But my “sickie” is too hide what I am really sick from! Bloody bonkers!

So I guess, wish me luck! And wish me a speedy recovery because I need some help hiding all this! xx