I hate whingeing.
Okay, no I don't, I love having a good old whinge-fest. I just usually save it for long text message conversations with my long suffering sister or rants at my husband while he watches endless re-runs of Top Gear (but that's a whole other post).
But here's a necessary whinge to give some context to the word "recovery".
2016 has been pretty shit so far. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We started the diagnostic process for Tom where everyone is still hedging around the word "autism," David had his second knee replacement scheduled for May, and his father's leukaemia started to worsen. We're still catching up from a few years' worth of trauma that I won't bore you with, and then there's just the challenge of parenting six kids while working full time.
My main coping mechanism has been immersing myself in sport and music. I'm a jazz singer for a local big band and I have discovered the addictive joys of triathlon, which means a lot of hours in the pool, on the bike and pounding around the lake. I think I chose triathlon because I can run away from everyone and they can't catch me.
Well, the shit things happened on schedule. Thomas' behaviour has been a challenge but we've got some support services in the pipeline. David had his knee surgery and the the tragic happened - while he was in hospital recovering, his dad was admitted in the end stages of his cancer. What a desperately sad and intimate thing to be a part of. David, his mother and brother (and me, as David's carer), lived in the palliative care room for the final days while he passed. He did, and the funeral happened, and we all loved each other as best we would through that awful time.
David's recovery was painful although straightforward but complicated of course by necessary trips to support his mother, and everyone's grief was an overlay on it all. We all process things in such different ways.
As David began to recover, I of course got sick. I should have tapered off my running and swimming but they were such a stress release - pounding away the worries about how to do this, how to do that, how to get this and that done, how to manage, manage, manage...
First I got tonsillitis which knocked me off my feet for a week and then I started to get better. Yay, great. I was well for two days and then blow me, I felt like I had another cold starting. Then the headache. Oh my goodness the headache. It wasn’t like a migraine, much more intense and in the wrong spot and completely unremitting. ON the Sunday I was unwell. On the Monday, I had to leave work an hour early because no amount of codeine would knock it on the head. I went to sleep when I got home but it got worse and worse. In the morning I was vomiting, and David took me to the hospital.
They took me by ambulance to Wangaratta and after some terrible bedside manner and various fuck ups that I won’t go into here, they diagnosed me with viral meningitis.
I have never experienced head pain like it. At one point when they (wrongly) read the lumbar puncture as normal, I cried and cried and told myself that if this was just what my head was going to do forever now, I was going to kill myself. The vomiting and weakness and overall confusion was pretty awful too.
Then they read the report correctly. I was discharged the next day with painkillers and a prescription for rest. It wasn’t until the follow up on the Friday with my GP that I was told just how serious this is. Six months for a full recovery. I’ve had three weeks off work. I am as weak as a kitten (I managed a half km walk today, although I did swim 500m in the pool the other day.)
The after effects are weird. I’m very emotionally labile and all my usual filters have disappeared. I'm saying things to people I probably shouldn't say. My balance is off (I keep listing to the left), and I find it hard to speak fluently. I have flashing lights around the periphery of my vision and my sense of smell is still a bit off. I’ve been on valium to settle the brain agitation down, but I think I will start coming off that now.
My main dilemma is training. I have a sprint triathlon I want to do in September, with a couple more leading up to an Olympic distance in February 2017. Then a half iron man in September 2017. So my road to recovery starts today. A walk around the Showgrounds and past the gallery. Walking and swimming this week, then some gentle walk-runs the week after. I must take it easy and be prepared to adjust my goals. There will always be other races. I don't have another brain.
The most important part of my recovery however will be refusing to let those filters go back up. I need to keep on saying the things I need to say, without fear, and insisting that the adults and near adults in my life support me and support themselves better.
I am going to get well. I am not going to let this drag me down.