This is for all the friends and family wondering why there’ve been no email updates, why we’ve been begging off invitations to come over, why we’ve been refusing to have company here, and, well, anyone else wondering about the disruption and irregular contact.
There’s nothing to worry about, nothing is wrong… but we are several steps beyond busy. Even before her surgery, Jackie was on disability for unrelated issues – back problems with mobility limitations and very high chronic pain, mainly, which are not particularly helping. Her recovery is going really well, especially with the dratted catheter out. However, every individual is different, and there’s the odd thing, like keeping the whole site dry, that turns out to take a bit of extra effort. We also have a sick cat here that we’re both extremely worried about: Cory-Bear is in some discomfort still despite meds, diagnosis will involve increased pain and the treatment for the most likely cause will involve even more pain, which is forcing us into a corner that no one who loves their furkids ever wants to be in. And we have two healthy cats who need love and playtime if they’re going to stay healthy. Add to that a landlord who is doing the fourth “sorry for the inconvenience” major weeks-long building work in five years, yet again involving dust and noise that stress the cats and exacerbate Cory’s allergies, starting today, and their annual on-site “maintenance” inspection on the 18th in which they invariably find something to complain about, which means I need to make sure things look decent for that. (Although it’s going to be amusing if they show up outside the windows in the daily schedule…!)
All that said… she’s healing very well. The swelling is less extreme, there’s much less blood, especially while dilating, and the pain has decreased quite a lot. She’s still re-learning how to pee, though, and there’s a (not-so-)occasional accident. 🙂
Here’s what my day looks like right now:
8:00, alarm goes off. Assuming I can roll out of bed without hitting the snooze button a couple of times, stumble out of bed and head for the kitchen, waking Jackie on the way. Three cats need their breakfast; one of them needs meds, which is a bit of a mix that takes me a minute to prepare. Then breakfast for Jackie, who has gone back to being too sore to get out of bed when she first wakes up. Then breakfast for me. There’s a short window here for me to check on Cheezland (the fairly active site I’m admin of) to make sure all’s well, take a look at a couple of web comics I follow, find some clothes which is mostly old scrub pants and t-shirts, and try to achieve some level of consciousness.
9:30, first dilation. I’ll spare you all the details, but between preparing for it, doing it, cleaning up materials and Jackie’s person after it, a sitz bath, and air-drying time, this takes until somewhere between 10:45 and 11:00. Through most of this, I read to her – I have tons of my own writing that doesn’t fit into a nice neat novel format but she enjoys hearing it, which keeps her relaxed. Also, the cats especially like to be around when we’re together and I’m reading, maybe it’s my voice, maybe something about the energy, so it makes them happy too, and helps Cory relax. So we end up with all five of us in the same room, the kids asleep (or Trick closely supervising what Jackie’s doing, which is hilarious, and Jackie says disturbing).
11:00. Throw in a load of laundry. Do dishes from breakfast. If there’s any shopping to do, and there usually is, for groceries or medical supplies or cat food or something, go do it now.
12:00, lunch. Although way too often, it’s past noon when I start this, depending on how long I was out. Regardless, we need to be done eating on time, because being late with one dilation shoves the whole schedule off, and then we end up finishing so late we’re worn out the next day.
1:00, second dilation. A lot like the first one, although generally with a shower instead of a sitz bath. This, when there’s a shower involved and even more so if she’s sore and needs a hand, takes at least until 2:30.
2:30 (or 3:00, or something like that). Anything outside the apartment I didn’t get done earlier, washing lunch dishes and trying to do a few extra to catch up on the backlog, if my time and energy allow then start another load of laundry to work at the backlog, figure out what to do for supper…
4:00, third dilation. A lot like the others, but she doesn’t need a bath or shower this time. Help her clean up, and done by about 5:00. Somewhere in here, I need to run off briefly and get Cory’s meds and give them to him along with more wet food.
5:00, start supper. I am not a great cook, only a so-so one. Most of our diet has consisted of anything meeting three criteria: 1) is it absolutely free of eggs (Jackie’s allergy) and any form of dairy (my allergy); 2) is it something I can realistically prepare, given my usual low energy levels thanks to chronic depression/anxiety, rather than something I’ll intend to make but will sit on the shelf forever; 3) is it reasonably inexpensive. Trying to readjust our diet to make sure Jackie gets the healthiest (and most high-fibre) diet I possibly can is turning out to be both tricky and expensive. Luckily, Jackie is forgiving. Along with making supper, finish up anything from the 2:30 spot, and try to find time to do a bit of work on Cheezland. My friends there are understanding but I don’t want them to have any more disruption than absolutely unavoidable. Whenever I get supper done, we eat. I’m aiming for about 6:30, but usually miss.
7:30, fourth dilation. See first dilation, this is its twin. Done around 8:45 or 9:00. Cats get treats (and Cory gets meds) around now, then we tend to just sort of linger – play with Freya, I finish up whatever bit of story we’re on, cats get some cuddling, and after a bit, Jackie takes her meds. Before we can sleep, I’ve got litter boxes and kitty fountains and kibble to check, making sure Jackie’s bed isn’t a mess (and I don’t mean disordered, I mean yucky), doing supper dishes, generally checking that all’s well, and getting any Cheezland posts done that I didn’t manage to do earlier. Oh, and Cory has one more pill to take just before bed.
midnight-ish, collapse into bed, try to read for a few minutes to unwind, and usually fall asleep before I get a page into it.
Overnight, listen for Jackie yelling for help (has happened several nights, various incidents) or getting up to pee and forgetting to put her V-PAP mask back on, and for Cory, which combined means multiple interruptions through the night.
8:00, alarm goes off again…
Jackie dozes off frequently during windows between dilations, which is a normal response for her to pain. There’s less now than there was, but that’s actually allowing her to feel the pain in her back more again. (It was bad enough she started throwing up on Sunday, in fact. That’s not surgery pain, that’s back pain shooting all along her spine. It happens. And despite that, I had to push her to do at least three dilations during the day, because stopping is a very bad thing.) I’m bullying her into getting up and walking around the building at least once a day, and at least she’s now at a point where she can go to the kitchen herself to get a drink or a between-meal snack, but she’s physically and emotionally exhausted. Despite that, she’s trying to help – folding laundry for me, and she’s going to be having a word with our cell phone company in the next day or two about why our bills don’t match our plan, things that don’t involve moving too much.
And this is going to continue for the next couple of weeks, after which it’ll drop down to THREE dilations a day… each of which is longer, so I think the net gain in time through the day is probably going to be minimal. That continues for a further month. Sometime in mid-December, it’ll be down to twice a day, without each becoming longer, and with any luck, we’ll be able to have a life again. But between now and then, this is what days look like, and if anyone can see anywhere in there that allows for a social life for either of us, or even time for me to get any writing done, which is my favourite pastime, my way of dealing with pressure, and something I’m trying to turn into something more by indie publishing, please let me know…
Oh, and any relationship that can survive this can probably survive just about bloody ANYTHING.
So, if we’re not answering your email, or we’re turning down invitations, or we miss events or meetings… don’t take it personally. Life is currently less gooey and messy than it was a week ago, but it is still insanely full. We normally try to keep our lives relatively low-key, since both of us having chronic health issues means that, well, crap happens, usually with little or no warning. When something comes up that we do choose to do, it tends to be something we very much look forward to, and having to cancel is always disappointing. We’ve pretty much missed Hallowe’en, a favourite holiday for both of us, and Jackie is feeling frustrated about being unable to resume working at Shoppers or facilitating chronic pain classes, both of which she really enjoys. We miss our friends and family. But we’re still here. Bear with us, be patient, and we’ll get back to you as soon as life allows.