There was a point after my surgery--and I know this will seem melodramatic--that I wondered if I would ever feel human again. I rued the day I decided for the hysterectomy instead of against. I thought that it was very likely that all my good days were done and I would never be whole again.
Well, that part was true. If whole means going out with the parts you came in with, fine. I'm not whole. But I'm not ruing the day today. I'm not sure yet that the hysterectomy was worth it, but at least I am not thinking that life will never be the same again.
A couple of days ago, I was talking with my oldest son about being sick, and I told him how when I came home from the hospital, I just wanted to curl up and be left alone. The universe was annoying me--no, the universe was hurting me. I wanted to lie there like a shell on the mattress and be still, willing everything to feel better.
He said, "Yeah, I felt like that when I was sick for six days with the flu."
I said, "I wished you'd called me."
He said, "Mom, you just explained why I didn't."
It was weird to find myself wanting no human contact, as I am a human contact magnet. I want it when I want it, and I often want the human pressed up right beside me, especially in bed. I want to talk to people and listen to them and laugh at their jokes and stories. But not, clearly, when in shell on mattress mode. Then, it's every woman for herself.
I have a friend who has gone through major, life-saving abdominal surgery three times. Three times plus months if not years of treatment after each operation. I have another friend who almost died a few times until the doctors were able to fashion an internal body part for him out of what, I'm not sure. But until then, he was often alone in shell mode, ruing every single damn day, knowing that life would never be the same again.
Today, my first friend is taking improv classes, writing her sabbatical project, and seeing clients. My other friend is dating a lovely woman, teaching, and generally having a pretty great time. No, nothing for either of them is the same, the specter of illness sort of like a second cousin on the sidelines watching the soccer match, though he's got his cap on low not really watching the action and is reading the paper and eating a bag of caramel corn.
But the shell mode? Gone.
Sometimes we don't get out of shell mode, but often, we do. Shell mode is there for us during physical and mental pain, agony of all kinds. We curl up, hunker down and in, and wait. And then, like that, one hour, we look up, and here we are. Not the same, different, but okay anyway.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org