Surrender


Surrender is  tough, particularly if you are a control freak! I had been having trouble with pain in the sole of my foot, but was mindful of money over the Christmas period. My doctor is excellent, but charges over the Medicare Rebate. I needed new scripts, and thought about asking about my foot, though decided against it. It would have meant a short consult would be billed as a long one, and I was on a budget! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I was billed the higher fee anyway on my way out. When it got to the point where I couldn’t walk without agony, and my spine was affected, I sought help from a GP who bulk-billed. X-rays and Ultrasounds led me to a surgeon. I was given a gift, by meeting this remarkable human. He scheduled my surgery,and then the consult was spent with him regaling me with stories from his remarkable life. He had come to Australia to study medicine, and he talked of how he felt stuck between worlds when he went back to his native country. He talked about when he first started his practice, and was invited to a property for dinner with his family. There was a sign out the front, saying ‘Animal Kingdom’. It certainly was! When his kids went into the living room, they were delighted to see a kangaroo sitting on the sofa, watching TV!

I have lost count of all the operations I have had; all I know is that there wasn’t room on the hospital form to list them all! This foot surgery wasn’t the worst of them, that’s for sure. Mind you, I don’t think I ever fully appreciated what an essential job one’s feet play until now. The stuff we take for granted is mind-blowing. We hold on so tight in our lives, to people, places and circumstances, as though through willpower alone, we can control the outcomes. I have always loved the feeling of release, when I am put under. I can feel myself slipping away from consciousness, and yet it is a relief rather than something to fear. I can let go for a little bit, and let the theatre staff (with their eclectic taste in music), take over.

Before the anaesthetist came, my surgeon showed me a collection of photographs he had shot throughout the years on his Iphone. He had taken up photography after his wife had died, and the images made me well up. There were pictures of zebras, waratahs and spiders and it were as if seeing them for the first time, from another level. He remarked that people fail to stop and see what is in front of them; the beauty and terror. He is right. So much of our life is spent trying to avoid big feelings, and ignoring beauty. Maybe I can learn to stop a little more. Maybe I can learn to release and surrender, without having an anaesthetic. Perhaps each second of the day doesn’t have to be accounted for. I want to see waratahs and zebras from a different light too. If a busy surgeon can find time to stop and surrender, surely I can.

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At the end, only love remained.


My friend lost her husband on the weekend. She shared the journey through words and images. Theirs was a penultimate love story. At the end, only love remained. I know that it does. I almost died three and a half years ago. I was in hospital, after endometriosis surgery.

The night before surgery.
The night before surgery.
I had awoken from the operation, and was back on the ward. Hubby and my daughter had just left to allow me rest. In a heartbeat, things changed. That is how everything changes. Suddenly, dramatically. I felt I was going to be sick, and the room spun as I stood. I collapsed onto the floor, and managed a weak call out for help. My nurse took my blood pressure, which was 55/30 and dropping. I had a temperature, and was shaking. She ran from the room, and I could hear her screaming for help. I was immediately started on blood plasma, and bloods were taken. Doctors ran in shortly after, saying I had very little haemoglobin left. My tummy was beet-red, and they could see my blood pooling. I felt I could easily slip away. I wasnt afraid. All the nonsense one worries about was discarded. I felt more “me” than I had felt in a long time. I felt sadness at what I would be leaving behind, my family, my friends, seeing my little girl grow up. All the things left unfinished. I vowed to refine my life, and all that I was called to do, if I survived. Let go of all the detritus. I was watching all the frantic activity, unconcerned. I focused on all I had been blessed with in this scenario. Staff who were on the ball, blood donors, and the Red Cross driver who came quickly, the fact my daughter wasnt here… My blood pressure went up a little with the transfusion, then dropped again. My heart beat was tachy, and my breathing very laboured.
I am so grateful to the blood donors.
I am so grateful to the blood donors.

The surgeon was called and he told me scar tissue and endo was found on the tubes to my kidneys, all along right side of pelvis, and had stuck my ureter to the front of my pelvis. Veins were covered too, and he had to do a lot of vascular work, severing two of the main nerves running into my pelvis from my lower back. It caused a lot of bleeding which they thought they had stemmed. The description of how I was ovulating healthily and the egg they found enthralled me, yet broke my heart. I have been focused on having my own family since I was eighteen. I wanted a sibling for my daughter. They had to stabilize me so I would have a chance at surviving more surgery. My focus had to swing from fertility to surviving. The surgeon’s registrar, an Irish lady, ran in after I took another turn for the worst, and warned me that they may need to do a hysterectomy to save my life. She held my hand as she said it. She said this could very well prove fatal. I prayed some more (husband and daughter had arrived, and it was now Thursday morning).

My daughter was allowed to cuddle me on the trolley on the way to theatre. My little three year old held her mummy tight, with the encouragement of the staff. I breathed in the vanilla of the soap we bathed her in, felt the softness of her hair against my face. She stroked my face and kept kissing my cheek. “I love you mummy, I love you.” I had birthed a numinous creature. If I did nothing else, I had done that. Staff were marvelling as to how I was coping with the pain and the severity of it all. “I have birthed a numinous creature,” I wanted to say in reply. When I woke, I was on a morphine pump in ICU. The surgeon told my husband I had haemorraged along the pelvic wall. I lost all my blood. I hadn’t needed a hysterectomy, which was a sure bet for the staff! After the first wave of pain- when I collapsed to the floor- there was just love. Love for the husband who had undiagnosed bipolar, and gratitude that I had survived what should have been a fatal fall at fifteen. Love for the little girl that stroked her dying mother’s hair, and held me all the way to surgery. It is good to remember this 48 hours. To appreciate life anew. Discard the nonsense once again. Seeing my friend carry herself and her husband to the threshold of death has been humbling. Such dignity and grace. At the end, only love remained. I am going to try and live that way each day. 30441_128528053847715_2013184_n