In Haste

I’m posting this on my way to what I very much hope (but don’t expect) will be my “discharge appointment” post surgery.

Don’t expect because I wouldn’t like to be disappointed, not because I feel particularly ill.

Here’s what I found so far, since the surgery: I was much more ill than I realized.

It started with them finding a large amount of scar tissue and endometrial tissue binding all my internal organs and filling up my abdominal cavity.  That amount had to be causing pain, but other than some bad nights in the last two years, I kept saying I’d never been in pain.

There were other things.  We’ll spare tender male ears and just say that my Caeserean (first son.  Second son was born the natural way) botched things so badly that some organs were cut almost in half and bound together with a growing ridge of scar tissue.  Which by itself should have caused tooth grinding pain.  Constant.  Except I didn’t have any pain.


Except that when I took super motrim TM I slept like I hadn’t slept in twenty three years.  Yes, that precise, because I remembered enjoying sleep before having older son, and after that I remembered bed being the place where I tried to sleep and sometimes managed cat naps.

The painkiller (strong) had such an effect I asked my doctor if it was soporific.  She said no, just a painkiller.

Which means my conscious had blocked the pain, but it still didn’t allow me to sleep soundly.  For close to a quarter century.

All of the symptoms getting worse as they went on, so in the last five years I’ve almost stopped sleeping altogether.  Which has its own host of problems.

Add to this that for twelve years I’ve been living in a house that kicks up my auto-immune.  No one else in the house is affected, except the cat that has auto-immune issues.  It’s not mold (we’ve checked) so I have no clue what it could be, but the house was built almost 120 years ago, and it could be anything, including something in the plaster mix on the walls.  Who knows?  Or something in the open crawl space.

We’re now living away most of the time, while we ready/remodel the house for sale.  All I know is that three days there, and all three of my auto-immune disorders (asthma, arthritis and eczema) go into high gear.  Then I have to be away a week to clear up.  The guys thought I was nuts, until the cat with similar problems also cleared up.  And it can’t be psychosomatic for her.

Now, what does this have to do with writing?

Older son who works in ER while he applies to graduate school/makes final decisions on where he wants to go with his life, says I’m what they call an “unintentional suicide.”  You know the type of people who stagger on saying  “it’s just a flesh wound” till they drop.

Technically, if I’m judging the severity of the problem right, it’s no wonder I’ve gone almost silent for a year, in fiction.  (I could still write shorter pieces.  Less concentration.)  The amazing thing is that I still wrote.

However, yesterday an amazing thing happened.  I casually reached for a book and started reading.  A book I’d never read before.  this wasn’t my “I must read this, because I must read, because–” that I’ve been doing to myself for five years.

No, this was the habit from childhood, of sitting down and reaching for the nearest printed material.  It was only amazing because it’s been so long.  But it’s also a sign of hope.

And the writing is coming back too, though still somewhat forced, which doesn’t matter, since I have contracts. So it must be done.

And I can think from page to page, sentence to sentence, point to point.

So these are good news.

The useful stuff: if you find yourself breaking longtime habits, like my habit of reading which was kind of like breathing; if you experience trouble sleeping for years — get help.  Mind you, they might not know what to do.  I thought the insomnia and the inability to concentrate or think were psychological.  So did my doctors.

But you should at least try.

And cut yourself some slack.  It might very well not be all in your mind.

42 thoughts on “In Haste

  1. Several of my relatives who have had similar surgery have said the same things. They couldn’t believe how much better they felt (even though having to go on hormones) after the surgery compared to before and wished they had done it a decade or two earlier.

    Hopefully this means we’ll be getting more books?

      1. Unnaturally hmm…. Perhaps the puppy haters have a voodoo doll of you somewhere with pins sticking in it. Or at least a white male voodoo doll with your name on it.
        Perhaps you should ask Mr. MHI what could be done about that, now that you’re writing in his sandbox.

  2. Sarah,
    Gawd. That’s beyond awful and straight into hellish. I hope you continue to see improvement and can concentrate, write, and breathe freely again for the rest of your life, and may it be long! Keep us posted, please, on progress and I hope it’s steady and upward. Also, hope the house sells quickly.
    –Phil S.

    1. Thank you. And yup, things are improving — slowly. Too slowly, which was the theme of this consult, so I have a new batch of tablets. Of course, I wasn’t published when this mess started, but that was a matter of not knowing stuff. I’d settle for getting back to where I was physical/mentally 10 to 12 years ago. And that I have a good chance of.

  3. That’s wonderful and amazing. My husband had a similar response after long-overdue dental work (he’s functionally immune to all the dental painkillers, so that kept him away from the dentist for more than a decade. Then we discovered “sedation dentistry.”) We’re hoping that the flooring replacement that we’re doing (laminate replacing 35-year-old carpet) will have a similar boosting effect (since he is asthmatic.)

    Note that they are starting to think that depression may, in some cases, be caused or augmented by intestinal issues, because constant inflammation has symptoms identical to depression as a side effect.

  4. Sarah, I haven’t been around here as long as some of the others but in that short time I have come to be very grateful for your encouragement, help, and overall presence. I am very sorry to hear about all the issues you have dealt with, but quite happy that the end of them might be in sight. Rest well, get better, and start taking care of yourself first.

  5. It was the insomnia and the near-psychosis which ensued that forced me into medical retirement years too early. We called them my ‘zombie-man’ episodes. Don’t sleep? Doom awaits.
    But now for something completely different: I’ve just reviewed Mackey Chandler’s “Family Law.” It’s on my blog and on Amazon. Next review: Cedar’s “Vulcan’s Kittens.”

  6. Sarah, my sister had that procedure done for similar reasons. (fibroid tumors adhering to pretty much everything) It has been about 5 years now and she says it was one of the best decisions she ever made. The only down side is that she can’t take HRT drugs.

    I will second the comments to rest, take your time, and get better.

        1. Oh. Yeah. We discussed it today, but it’s a huge risk because there was endometrial tissue lost in there, and it could start it growing again. they said they can create a specialized formulation if needed. They’re worried about some stuff.
          Oh, and the organ almost cut in half was my ovary. It was only held together by an ever-widening strip of scar tissue, which is what has been giving me horrible pain for five or six years. Oh, also, a fallopian tube was wholly detached and only not fallen into the body cavity thanks to scar tissue attaching it to the body wall. That and the maiming of my uterus is the reason number two son is a fricking miracle, and the more or less continuous miscarriages are explained.

  7. I can certainly sympathise with the constant pain that you didnt realise was there. I had gallstones about 8 years back – took them a year to diagnose as I was so atypical for it then didnt even consider it. Small enough to migrate, large enough to cause many, many problems (so much so that it could have actually killed me). In that time I was in so much pain I mentally blocked it – to the point where I sunk into a deep depression.

    Then I had an operation to remove the gallbaldder – woke up after the op, sore, could barely move – and with a sense that something major was missing but I felt fantastic. Yep – pain I didnt know I was blocking was gone.

    So, you have my sympathies, and I’m glad to hear youre on the mend. Just take it as easy as you can!

    PS – I read “The Big Ship and the Wise Old Owl” the other day – loved it, thanks. Looking forward to reading some more of your stuff after Im done with the Hugos stuff.

  8. It is amazing how the body can adapt to pain, especially if it is a slow and steady increase. I read a medical case of an older man who seemed to have a leg that shrunk. He could walk, but slowly and with a limp. Finally got bad enough to get x-rays…and they discovered the ball of his femur had worn THROUGH the hip joint. He. Was. Walking. On. This. (replaced the hip joint and he was back in action…) Remember, pain is your body trying to TELL you something. 🙂

  9. I, too, live in a very old house (built 1906) and my wife and I have many health issues. I’d move if I could sell the house for what I owe on it. However, many of my health issues pre-date moving in here, so at most the house is aggravating them.

  10. It’s not just the physical things. I knew a woman who had a physically and emotionally demanding assignment, who was failing to perform. She suffered a great deal of abuse for it by people who thought it was all mental and her own fault and lack of character, until a doctor was able to diagnose hypoglycemia.

    I had some experience with a couple of undiagnosed maladies myself, and it was a huge relief to be able to start sorting out the things I could fix and those I didn’t have to try. My chronic, low-grade depression eased considerably when I quit thinking I had to fix things that raw willpower was quite incapable of fixing.

    Even chronic conditions become much easier to manage when you understand what’s going on in your body (and mind), and aren’t muddling along trying to fix what doesn’t need to be fixed because the root of the problem is elsewhere.

  11. I am very glad to hear that you’re doing better and accept this IOU for one big hug to be delivered at Libertycon.

    For me it was breathing. My nose would stop up if you looked at it funny (and, given that it grew before the rest of my face did, I got a lot of funny looks). Turns out that not only did I have a whole passel of allergies (Tested for 35 allergens–allergic to 26 of them at “moderately allergic” or worse) but there were actually physical issues in my nose that restricted the breathing passages.

    Secondary effects included not sleeping well, not sleep apnia but my nighttime blood O2 would go down so I’d end up dragging myself out of bed and be tired/sleepy all day.

    Of course, I didn’t really “get” any of this because I’d never had clear breathing. It was all “normal” to me.

    The nose surgery, aggressive use of antihistamines (and yay for modern non-drowsy ones) and a regime of allergy shots has made a world of difference.

    Three cheers for modern medicine.

    1. Same thing the wife had. Hers were polyps. Which, sigh, do grow back apparently – she’s due for another surgery in maybe a couple of years once the thyroid and various foot problems get controlled.

      The more I hear from Sarah and many other women, the gladder I am that she avoided the one Caesarean they tried to talk her into…

      I know you are, but keep on top of that “lingering infection,” Sarah. There are just too many bugs out there that are getting resistant.

  12. Very, seriously glad to hear you’re on the mend.

    And now, like you, I must go write.

  13. Take care of yourself, and keep writing.

    Listened to you guys on the Honey Badgers yesterday. You sounded good.

  14. Let me add my best wishes and prayers here. I just recently discovered your work; please don’t die on me!

    Sleep was a horrible problem after my publishing company collapsed, and although I cursed the concept of sleeping pills, Ambien saved my health, at very least. I was getting so little sleep that I was hallucinating freaky little demons doing calisthenics all over our bed in the middle of the night. After that Carol hauled me to the doc by my ear. Pills -> sleep -> no more demons doing jumping jacks on the comforter.

    In summary: You’re fomenting a revolution. Persevere. You are respected, appreciated, and needed, perhaps more than you know.

    1. So the fellow whose books taught me assembly language foobity or foobity-fooby years ago also writes SF? I’ll have to add some books to my Amazon wishlist, it seems.

      1. Yes I do…where did you think all those foobies came from? (I’ve been on the final Hugo ballot twice.) But hang in there; I’m going to be releasing most of my fiction as Kindle ebooks this year. The big chokepoint is cover art. As I nail down covers I’ll be releasing my longer items.

  15. Please get well soon. My mornings would be so much more boring without According to Hoyt.

  16. “Or something in the open crawl space…The guys thought I was nuts, until the cat with similar problems also cleared up.”

    So, I guess, instead of a canary in a mineshaft you have a cat in a crawl space. As it were.

  17. Hope you continue to get better. I know what it’s like to be ill for a quarter of a century, only the doctors tell me ‘Everything looks normal’ and that the CFS I was diagnosed with must be the cause of any little problems, but they can’t do a thing about it, and don’t know if they believe it. It gets boring.

    I’m glad you will be in less pain, and hope you will be back up to writing comfortably as soon as possible.

  18. You know the type of people who stagger on saying “it’s just a flesh wound” till they drop.

    That’s bad. Or rather, it’s good that you know what was causing the problems, it’s bad you had to go through them.

    Internal adhesions can be really nasty. My wife had them as leftovers from emergency surgery, and three caesarian sections. Then her gall bladder went bad, and when they went to take it out, they found a mess of adhesions, which meant the operation went overtime (and you can bet I was pretty damned worried).

    Luckily once the adhesions are removed, the patient usually bounces back pretty fast, or at least Heather did, and I gather from the way you are talking, you have as well.

    I’m glad to hear you are feeling better.

  19. I think that you have just given me a ray of hope. Honestly and truly. A decade ago, I read everything in reach. Today? I just recently started to force myself to read again, even though I have wanted to for a long time. Just never got around to it. The difference? Major, MAJOR abdominal surgery 9 years ago, as well as a caesarean for twins five years ago. My sleep has decreased as well, and I, too, am a chronic denier of pain.

    My only problem is where to start with all of this. *sigh*

    I am very glad, though, that you are so much better. It must be such a relief!

    1. tell your doctor you suspect endometrial tissue and scar tissue in the body cavity. They might be able to scan. (They never saw mine till they opened, though.) And yep. Sounds like the same issue.

  20. Mine was just appendicitis that nearly killed me because it didn’t hurt.

    It sounds as if there are a couple of doctors in your past that the Huns need to schedule a road trip to see. I wonder how many they have killed?

    1. The doctor that delivered Robert had already killed more than half a dozen mothers and babies in 4 years. I doubt she’s still practicing, but I’m scared to look.

  21. I am happy to hear that you are getting better. I had a similar situation with my shoulder, from an accident years ago. It wasn’t until the doctor gave me a pain killer, and it wore off, that I suddenly realized just how much pain I was in!
    Because it had come on slowly, and only slowly gotten worse over a six year period, I just never really noticed it that much until it got to the point where I thought ‘maybe I should see a doctor about this’.
    It’s strange what you can get used to, when it creeps up on you.

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