Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sometimes the Stars Align

I've been thinking a lot today about how sometimes the universe gives you what you need, even if there is a cost that makes it seem less than sweet at the time. My great gift of the past week or so? Pancreatitis. Yes, I'm serious.

Pancreatitis is just what it sounds like, an inflammation of the pancreas. What cannot be put into words, however, is how painful it is. At its worst, it feels as though someone is drilling through your upper abdomen and all the way through to your back--it is relentless and there is no relief. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to wear a bra, it hurts to move, and I don't just mean "hurts" ... I mean agony. And my pain threshold is pretty high.

I have chronic pancreatitis as the result of a liver issue. Basically, when they tried to repair some damage to my liver, the doctors messed up my pancreas for life (I was in the hospital on a morphine drip for nearly a month following what was supposed to be a minor surgical procedure). It's a long and not terribly interesting story, but the bottom line is that I have occasional flare-ups that are incredibly painful but usually fairly short-lived--I haven't been hospitalized in almost two years.

Like pretty much any other chronic medical condition, stress and lack of adequate rest are contributing factors in the frequency and intensity of the flare-ups.

I am under an enormous amount of stress at work that, as I've mentioned before, I can't get into, much as I'd like to (I vent like crazy on my secret, hidden blog, though ;-)). Suffice it to say that I for the first time am wondering about some people's agendas--if you are not in the education field to educate children, then why in the world don't you go bring your two-faced, backstabbing tendencies into a job where it would be beneficial, like a collection agency or a law firm or Abu Ghraib?

I also have a tendency to burn the proverbial candle at both ends, which is nobody's fault but my own.

On Wednesday morning, a pancreatitis flare-up came out of the clear blue sky like a gunshot (kind of felt like a gunshot, too :-(). It was so bad that I called the doctor to make an appointment (I refuse to go to the ER in general because they'll make me stay in the hospital for a week and I just can't do that) ... and I also cried in a meeting, which is most unlike me.

So I went to the doctor that afternoon, by which time the pain was still pretty bad but not wall-punching, tear-inducing unbearable. She did bloodwork (and was unsurprised with the results), gave me more Percocet, and suggested I go to the ER if it got unspeakable again. I explained that this was not going to happen, so she told me that I had to take the next day (Thursday) off from work and wrote a note to this effect.

Yeah, I HATE to miss work and had been out four days the week before because I was in Vermont doing work on a school reaccreditation team. So I went to work on Thursday and had what might well have been my worst day ever in terms of losing any last shred of respect I could potentially have ever had for a couple of my colleagues. It was dreadful and, as I was exhausted and in a tremendous amount of pain, I decided to take Friday off so that I could hopefully get some rest and start to bounce back a little bit.

Best decision ever.

I have been resting (like, sitting down, only getting up to pee or get some more ginger ale resting) for three days. I've been reading a lot and writing even more--this blog, for example, a place that I swore never to abandon, had been kind of abandoned, and it's been great to be able to post a few pieces. I wrote some pieces for Zelda Lily that I'm really proud of--one on direct instruction in areas like empathy for school children, for example, and one on baby steps (but steps nonetheless) being taken to address sexual abuse in males which is kind of a forbidden topic--and I even revisited my second novel, the one that's 3/4 of the way finished, and got some ideas for directions to go in.

I relaxed with my kids, my mother, and my dog. It's rare for us to all be home together, but it was a nice treat. I would have enjoyed it even more if I'd been able to eat something other than chicken broth, but then again, maybe that's part of what made it so enjoyable, joking around about all the good stuff they were eating (popcorn with extra butter while watching The Perfect Storm ... mmmmmm, I was so jealous!). And Addie, who got her license on Friday, drove by herself to an event at her school, and Belle and I got to read a lot together.

So it's Sunday night now, and I'm feeling pretty good physically. I'm also feeling really good emotionally, and I think it's kind of interesting that somehow the stars aligned so that I could have a few days to do nothing but rest, to recharge my batteries, to worry only about feeling better.

I wish that it hadn't taken a 10 on the pain scale to get me to slow down and take it easy for a couple of days, but I'm kind of dense about the small stuff--taking care of myself physically, for example--sometimes.

Thank you, stars, or God, or fate, or karma, or whatever. I really needed this little rest!