My biggest secrets: Why I don’t sleep.

Imagine you have something that you’re told can kill you if left untreated. It’s not anything complicated like cancer or diabetes or cystic fibrosis. It’s a small injury in your stomach, which is the all too common hernia.

Imagine being told you have a very simple injury that is easily fixable. Imagine being told that failure to treat said hernia can kill you in your early twenties.

Imagine going to the hospital and being told until the constant puking and diarrhea are accompanied by blood… there’s nothing they could do for you. It’s not currently life threatening, but can be. But- you don’t have insurance.

It was not yet life threatening. It could be. They sent me home.

Imagine being in your mid twenties with loss of muscle because you’re nearly immobile because you have to avoid using stomach muscles. Imagine having to avoid using stomach muscles.

Imagine the pain gets worse. Imagine you get weaker. Imagine wondering what symptoms are important factors in knowing when you injury has become life threatening. Imagine the permanent damage that happens when something simple gets left untreated if it doesn’t kill you.

Imagine wondering if your stomach muscles will ever be strong enough again to be able to carry a child for 9 months. Imagine being told the only way to fix your problem is to risk the damage that could come from being pregnant.

Imagine wanting to desperately be a mother some day. Imagine having all your reproductive organs intact, but not knowing if another part of your body can handle it. Imagine dreaming of a husband and a child in a family you’ve built. Imagine being told to give up the dream and settle for a boyfriend or… other…guy friend? by professionals because it might be worth re-thinking.

Imagine crying because you go to the bathroom so often. Imagine having to keep a log of bowel movements… just in case. Imagine wondering how often is too often enough for doctors to maybe end this suffering and fix the problem.

Imagine carrying a “barf-bucket” in your purse. Just in case. Imagine worrying you’ll loose control of your bowels in public… again.

Imagine wanting to die because of pain caused by a shoulder re-injury. Imagine it was re-injured by turning off a leaky water supply knob. Imagine not being able to lift your arm above your head for months at a time.

Imagine wondering if you’ll ever hold your guitar again because it hurts too badly to play.

Imagine not being able to hold your beautiful baby niece because you’re afraid you’re going to drop her.

Imagine seeing all your friends get married and have babies- all the happiest moments of life. Imagine the happiest moment in your life is lifting your arm above your head for the first time in months.

Imagine being devastated again when the pain becomes too severe to keep lifting your arm above your head.

Imagine prioritizing washing or brushing your hair with the pain and immobility of your shoulder. Imagine avoiding the shower because of the pain of removing your bra and washing your hair and then replacing your bra.

Imagine finally going to college- a struggle of half a decade to win. Imagine thinking you’re going to go into a field with health benefits. Imagine thinking you’ll be able to get surgery and recover and then go carry children out of households from hell.

Imagine finding out the government is making more cutbacks and getting rid of the health benefits at your potential future job.

Imagine standing and your legs collapsing out from under you. Imagine being bed-ridden for days because you picked up a wet paper towel.

Imagine dropping out of school because you can’t move your arm without wanting to die. Imagine the anxiety and depression caused by the pain. Imagine the pain getting worse as stress rips you apart.

Imagine wondering if you’re going to die if you develop an oral infection because of a cavity.

Imagine spending everyday wondering if you’re going to die because easily fixed injuries have been left untreated because you don’t have health care. Imagine questioning if you can forgive yourself for dropping your morals as a desperate attempt to get help.

Imagine staying true to your beliefs that a baby is not something to bring into this world for a magic card to get medical attention… is now something you sometimes regret.

I used to be full of life. I used to be able to jump for joy- which I did frequently because even small moments deserve to be celebrated. I was strong. I could run. I was passionate and over-dramatic as I expressed feelings.

I now feel too frail to feel or show much emotion at all. I feel weak and fragile when people hug me, and I sometimes worry they’ll break me. I used to give running-start power hugs.

I’m terrified of going for a walk alone in fear of collapsing again.

I can’t remember the last time I jumped. I’ve wanted to several times. I like jump rope. I can’t do it. I like running. I can’t do it. I like skipping rocks. I can’t do it.

I can do small, toned-down versions of some of them… but where is the life in that?

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do things like that again. I can’t even think about it right now-

I just don’t want to die.

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