Monday, June 20, 2011

How The Fuck Did I Get Here, Then?

I know there was a time when I was happy.

Somewhere in between meeting Monkey Boy at the age of 33 and the shit going down with his mother over our wedding plans, I was happy.  Deliriously happy, as one is at the start of every relationship I suppose, but even more so because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was The One.

Unfortunately, I was at the end of a 9-month drug binge at the time we met. A binge that was helping me forget the incredibly abusive relationship with a brilliant and talented man who unfortunately had Bipolar Disorder with psychosis and self-medicated himself with 5 litres of cask wine every night. A relationship that had ended only with a Restraining Order after 4.5 years of trying. A binge that was helping me forget that my youngest brother had committed suicide one month before I ended that relationship, and that he was the second of my brothers to make that choice.  A binge that helped me forget that people I considered my friends sexually assaulted me in a hotel room the week after I ended that relationship and that the police would do nothing about it.

So I think its fair to say that I was well fucked up around that time. *Actually a gross understatement of the matter.

Being at university, drugs were freely available, always on offer and (it seemed to me) the perfect answer. *They are not and never will be the perfect answer to anything.  And they certainly did help me "forget" my troubles. When you are high on speed and ecstasy almost every weekend, and the good old green every day, you are having a damn good time in your own head.  But the bills aren't getting paid, and there is no money for food and everything else is falling to shit around you because all you do is party.

So when you meet someone who is nice, and decent, and the brother of your best "party friend" and he LIKES YOU, and he meets every criteria on the list you wrote down in your diary (while on drugs) re qualities the perfect man must have, well its rather easy to make some decisions that in hindsight might have been better made...well..sober.

Never mind, the decision was made and we were married. And because there was a passive-aggressive showdown about our wedding plans courtesy of Monkey Boy's mother, (who has several posts in her all to herself) his family did not come to the wedding.

Strike One.

Two days later, on our honeymoon I had Prolapsed Disc #1 followed by six months of unbearable pain that my doctor seemed unconcerned with alleviating in any way. Monkey Boy was halfway through his Honours Degree, which he had to give up so he could look after me.

Strike Two.

I had surgery, finally. Hurrah! It fixed the pain, by taking away part of my spine in a procedure called a Hemi-Laminectomy. Ok, whatever, at least it didn't hurt anymore.

So then I thought: lets have a baby! Fabulous idea, especially for someone who never ever wanted to have children (me) with a loudly ticking Biological Clock.  Then comes the miscarriage..

Strike Three.

My brain is OUTTA HERE!  Major Depression comes and overstays its welcome.

Our lives become a hell of TTC and HCG and TWW and OPK and Semen Analysis and timing sex and heartbreak after heartbreak after heartbreak.

Until, almost two years later, on the day we are at the IVF clinic being told we will be starting our first cycle in a couple of months and we are freaking out about the whole idea, we were completely unaware about this.

Hooray! We have a baby, and he's awfully cute and healthy and we loved him heaps. He was the impetus for a reconciliation with Monkey Boy's family. But we have no idea what we are doing with the strange little creature though, and he doesn't sleep, and he doesn't feed properly and he doesn't put on weight and I cant produce enough milk no matter what I do so now of course I am a failure, and there is more stress and no sleep.

But somehow,  after 18 months, there was enough sleep to produce some rather unexpected changes.

The thing was, we were not planning on another child. At all. Felix was the miracle baby. Another child was statistically impossible. Goes to show what you can take from statistics.  The other thing was that the very first day of the pregnancy I managed to prolapse a disc again. Same disc as before at L4/L5 but on the other side. The surgery that fixed the initial injury in 2004 had created a weak point, and my stupidfuckingspine decided "wheyhey! Lets smoosh out that way".

So imagine, if you can, a ruptured disc that presses on the sciatic nerve and causes indescribable pain happening at the very beginning of a pregnancy. All those long months ahead of you with increasing pressure on the back, on the pelvic joints, the loosening of all the joints thanks to stupid hormones. The doctors saying "well you're pregnant, you cant take anything."  Imagine pain that starts in the lower back, courses through your buttock and down the side of your thigh, hot, burning hot liquid pain, that then heads to your big toe, where it feels like your toe is being pulled so hard your leg is being ripped off.  Imaging this 24 hours a day. Imagine pain that makes you rock back and forth on your knees for hours on end in tears, unable to walk, or sit, or lie down, heavily pregnant and screaming with pain at times and desperate, desperate, desperate for anything. Even for the pregnancy to be ended there and then so they would give you decent pain relief.

Imagine also that you are dealing with all of this with an 18 month old son, a husband who cannot cope with what is happening, and no support. Imagine your husband grabbing your son, pointing to you while you are in obvious distress and yelling at him: "Look! Look at what you've done to mummy!"

My heart broke right there and then, and I realised that there was a choice to be made and that I would always always make it in favour of my child. Looking back, that was the moment, the very moment that our marriage died.

Nevertheless, I am pregnant and still completely disabled and dependent.  It wasn't until I was 33 weeks pregnant that I was finally given an MRI and some halfway decent pain relief.  To get this I had to scream hysterically at my Obstetrician who wasn't quite understanding that if he didn't prescribe me some decent drugs RIGHTNOWFUCKYOU I would kill myself.  I was given Endone for pain relief, and the MRI showed what I knew it would all along, a disc protrusion on the right at L4/5 impinging on the sciatic nerve root.  Right there that produces a whole new set of complications for the pregnancy and delivery. 

The boffins all said it would be right as rain once I had delivered. That once the pressure of the baby had been relieved then the disc would heal itself. Well we all know that boffins are full of shit, eh?

So delivery, with my back in this state? Horror show. Again, that's a story for another day, if I can bring myself to write it.  Suffice to say at the end, I had more pain in my back from the epidural, pain from the emergency c-section, a baby in ICU being checked for narcotic withdrawal (it turned out she was completely fine) and hospital staff that clearly never bothered to read my file and treated me like a "normal" postnatal woman, when very clearly I was a fucking wreck with very high needs.

I left hospital with severe PTSD from the delivery as well as severe PND which nobody seemed to pick up on even though I knew I had both but was so fucked up I literally couldn't say anything to anyone.  I was completely unable to care for my new daughter and what's more, I didn't want to. This is another story. It was BAD. It was so bad that it let to a complete disassociation from Monkey Boy's family. Again, another story for another day.

I think Ella was at least 12 months old before I got to see a proper Pain Specialist. In the meantime I took a combination of every painkiller on the market, including continuing with the Endone, and I took all of them at doses far greater than was recommended.  It was extremely hard for me to breastfeed because of the pain, and we had been comp feeding since the hospital anyway, so by the time she was 4 months old, she and I preferred to use formula.  I was over my high and mighty stance on breastfeeding. I had to do whatever it took to survive.

And once I was no longer breastfeeding, I decided to try "potentiating" my medications with a glass or two of wine each night. And it worked. It really did. I wasn't drunk, I wasn't even tipsy, I just felt less pain. I had greater ease of movement. I could get some sleep. And so it went on. And on. and on, for almost three years.

I changed medications frequently in an attempt to find the right drug and right dose and right combinations, under the supervision of my Pain Specialist, until we eventually hit on a combination of 4 different medications that, for most of the time, kept the pain at a bearable level. But the alcohol, unbeknown to him, remained part of my secret strategy.

I knew it helped the pain, so I drank from late afternoon (the time of day when I would have used all my energy reserves just coping with being alive and a mother) and I drank until I went to bed.

Three MRI's later and nothing had changed for the better. Quite the opposite, in fact. The L4/5 disc has "dessicated and sequestrated" and there was now also some spinal stenosis and retrolisthesis. There were "white matter lesions" on my brain which still may or may not be MS.  Much talk of Degenerative Disc Disease and permanent and spine is failing and wont operate too risky and I am just tuning out once we get to the word "Permanent".

So my life is a routine of pain medications that would knock most people out, doctors visits, neurologists, pain specialists, psychologists, and social workers whom I BEG for help and yet none is forthcoming beccause I dont fit into any of the right funding pigeonholes. Too young. Wrong type of spinal injury. Not disabled enough. Have someone at home with me therefore no need for extra help.

Except the person who is at home doesnt do all  the things he is needed to do. He takes his stress out on the children and on the person he is supposed to be caring for.  If this were a professional relationship of Carer/Client, he would be fired. Except it isn't, and one cant fire one's husband.  One cant even divorce one's husband when he is your Carer and there is no one else to do the job.

Stuck, with pain, with permanent pain, with a life on narcotics, with a life of dependance and limitations, and with the inability to care properly for my own children, with the inability to work. Stuck in a marriage I desperately want out of and with no clear way out.

How the fuck did I get here? Even looking at all that history, I can see how I end up in a situation where I become an alcoholic, but I cant see how WE - Monkey Boy and I - end up in the position of contempt for each other, and he behaving in damaging ways towards our children, when we started from a position of such love and respect for each other.  I have changed, of course I have, but I don't take my grief and anger and loss of hope out on my kids. 

Or did I miss the signs that were there the beginning that, had I not been drug-fucked, I would had realised meant trouble down the road?

Is this a hell partially of my own making?

1 comment:

  1. Sweetie, you did what you had to do to keep your sanity when the cards were already stacked against you. No one in the world can blame you for that. As for the drinking, it was something of a logical option when the standard remedies (legal medicines, the medical community) failed you. In stopping, you are further trying to save yourself because the cumulative effect has already gotten out of hand. With a clear head and slightly healthier body, you will be able to better make your decisions regarding the rest of your life, one day at a time. And I am so proud of you and wish I could take your pain and put it into a ball and chuck it into the ocean along with all the plastic bottles and grocery bags and stuff that will break down in a thousand years, out of sight, out of mind...



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