Today, the sun is shining. It’s rained for a solid week - nothing but downpours, gray skies, and cancelled baseball games.
But today, the sky is partly cloudy and partly crazy blue. The trees in the field behind our house are a riot of leaves and green. Our neighbor’s bird feeders are busy 24/7. If I’m really lucky, I’ll see one of the bunnies that feeds on the hillside.
Today, for the first time in weeks, I went with Daniel and Nate to a restaurant and ate normal food. It was a pizza with pesto and chicken and cheese. After a steady diet of broth and Jello, to say that my lunch was a revelation wouldn’t be an overstatement.
While we were out, the three of us did normal Saturday morning things: we shopped at Home Depot, gawked at the spring colors at the local nursery, and teased Nate about renting him out as a maid. It was all normal, gloriously normal. And that’s something that’s been sorely missing.
You know sometimes how you look back and you realize it’s been months since something was ok? 2016 has been one of those years. Oh, nothing seriously awful has happened. But it’s been a steady stream of suck. Now it’s the first week of May (seriously?!?) and I’m just able to experience the sunshine on my face.
It started this winter, when I realized that I wasn’t simply a stressed or worried person. I mean, those things were true, but there was more: I was anxious. My levels of anxiety didn’t change when life was smooth or awful. Something was wrong, all the time, no matter what.
The diagnosis wasn’t surprising. For years, doctors had been telling me to get screened for depression and anxiety, but there was always something else I thought was to blame. “It’s just this MRI cycle,” I’d say. “I’m fine.” I wasn’t. My doctor agreed and put me on medication. It would take four weeks for your body to adjust, he said. It may not be fun. He was right.
I spent whole days half drugged, napping, zombied out. When I wasn’t at work and yawning my face off, I was on the couch, watching my life play out in front of me. At a followup appointment, he asked if I felt any different. I begged for something else, anything that would allow me to get off the couch. He gave me another prescription and I thought it would be more of the same.
The first day I took that tiny robin egg blue pill, something shifted. I was awake and I had things to do. The first week, I had painted two bathrooms - something I didn’t have the motivation to do since we moved in eight months ago.
It was like someone had switched on a light - I went from somebody who was barely functioning (working, keeping Nate alive) to someone who was eager to conquer, to do.
“Is this how normal people live?” I asked Daniel. I honestly couldn’t believe the difference - I started making plans to write, to create, to remodel the house. It was all stuff I love to do, but hadn’t done in months. I hadn’t even noticed that I wasn’t doing them. I just knew something was wrong.
It took over two months for me to get the right medication, to figure out what I could do to be...me again. And I’m still getting used to it. I had a disastrous first therapy session and have had to start over with that. But the medicine is working.
That took us to March. Then I began having stomach pains. After a dinner of homemade lasagna, I spent hours on the floor, sobbing as pains shot through my body. I’ve experience gastrointestinal issues for years, but this was more intense. I was convinced it was my gallbladder, but an ultrasound came back negative for any gallstones. The pain didn’t go away, however, and my doctor advised me to eat a mostly liquid, no fat diet.
I’m here to tell you that that there is no diet like a liquid, no fat diet. Ugh.
I would be ok during the day, so I could go to work and pick up Nate from school. But then the pain would come back with a vengeance and I was back on the couch, once again watching life from the sidelines. After 10 days, Daniel took me to the ER. More tests came back negative, but thank God, they gave me pain medication so I could make it to the final test, a scan that measured the gallbladder’s ability to function .
Finally, that test came back positive: my gallbladder wasn’t working. I wasn’t crazy! I saw a surgeon and made plans to have it removed. Four weeks after the first bad attack, I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. And now it’s May and I’m recovering. I’m slowly weaning myself off of the pain meds. I can drive to work again. Eating normal food is still a miracle. I’m still uncomfortable most of the day, but I take it slowly, knowing that soon I won’t need the couch for hours at a time.
I don’t know what the lesson is than sometimes, life is hard. Things move so slowly and there’s nothing you can do except endure it. I’ve spent days crying and ranting - why can’t I just be well? Can’t God see I just want to be a responsible adult?
And I don’t know why it’s hard or why it takes so long. I don’t know why acute physical pain isn’t an emergency or why living a normal life of work, school, and home can be so difficult. I just know that it happened and (I pray) that it’s over soon. I know that I saw Daniel step up and be more, that I saw Nate display gentleness alongside rambunctiousness. I saw the heavy rains bring out the deep green on the hillside behind my house and the neighbors’ yards festoon my couch view with delicate cherry blossoms and vivid azaleas.
And now, here I am, finally outside, sitting in the sun.