This summer, I had planned to hike several local trails and make the most of our beautiful region. I had a painting to finish, and wanted to make sure I had several images that would potentially inspire my next artwork. My son and I headed out to Mazukama Falls in early July, and although the falls had dried up for the summer, the trail was challenging and beautiful, which made for great memories and pictures.
Soon after, I started to experience some health issues. *Note: if TMI makes you feel uncomfortable, stop reading now. If not, you’ll get to know me better by the end of this post.
Throughout the month of July, I made several trips to the hospital in Nipigon to ask for help with what I thought was a relentless UTI. I tried to make light of it, poking fun at myself for being ultra-sensitive, when others would probably power-through problems like this. I had most of the symptoms of an infection, but not all, which seemed weird. But it wasn’t clearing up and I began to feel guilty for bothering the doctors when I’m sure they could use their time to treat patients who really needed their help.
When the third round of antibiotics didn’t make a difference, I began to feel frustrated. Why isn’t this getting any better? Within a short time, I developed pain that got much worse, and we ended up in the emergency room where they treated me for renal colic. After a number of speedy trips to the emergency room, the doctors began to run more tests so that we could find answers to the questions that were piling up.
X-rays led to ultrasounds, where a questionable lump was found somewhere near my left ovary, which could be pressing on nearby tissues and causing my symptoms. More blood work, a CT scan, and a lot more pain medication helped us move forward even though we felt clueless and desperate for answers.
If you’re anything like me, you can become your own worst enemy when you’re trying to find out what’s wrong with you. A mere sniffle can suggest that you’re on death’s doorstep if you browse through Google’s list of ailments that match your symptoms. Not the best idea when your anxiety is already taking over the controls in your worried little head.
What did help, besides my constant conversations with my Mom and little sister, was the care I received at the Nipigon hospital. There are challenges when you live in a smaller community, but they pale in comparison to the rewards. Whenever I visited the emergency room, I didn’t have to explain what was going on because the nurses and doctors already knew. It was strange being treated by nurses who, just a few years ago, were students in my classroom. And not very often does a doctor give you his cell number and encourage you to call or text any time you need something.
If I wasn’t going to be able to go for the long, beautiful hikes like I had hoped, I knew I would need something to keep me busy. I was beginning to spend a lot of time on my couch or in bed, and I get bored quickly. A change of plans became an opportunity to learn something I hadn’t had the time or discipline for, and I quickly became lost in my new world of knitting.
I became a fan of YouTube tutorials very quickly; they are absolutely perfect to use while learning a new skill because you don’t have to worry that you’re an inconvenience to someone else. If you’re taking more time to understand a concept, or if your hands aren’t doing what your brain is telling them to do, it’s easy to pause the video or to re-watch a segment countless times until you feel more comfortable with the material.
My first stitches were horrible but I continued anyway, because hey, I had time to kill. Ever so slowly, my little projects didn’t look as weird as the first one, and I began to feel proud because I could see progress.
After I finished my first hat, I was so excited that I could actually make something that could be useful, so I made another one. This time, I learned how to decrease stitches so that the top of my hat wouldn’t be so wrinkled. The next hat was fully decreased and had no wrinkles in the top at all.
By this time, I’d had one surgery (a stent, which made sure my kidney could function properly) and was waiting for a hysterectomy. The doctors found that I had a large fibroid on my uterus, which had been causing renal pain. My husband made an odd comparison, but it made sense to me: it’s like a large rock sitting on top of a garden hose, blocking the water. You can strengthen the hose, but it’s important to remove the rock.
On September 16th, I had my surgery. It felt so odd to be off work in the fall (I think the last time this happened was when I was on maternity leave), but I was so happy that we were making progress with my health. Even though there have been a few complications after my surgery, I’m feeling better and better every day. My strength is back, and I’m loving my independence rather than having to ask for help all the time.
In a few weeks, I’ll be back in the classroom, catching up with my students after a long break. I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to take my time to fully heal and that I will have a rewarding job to return to (thank God for my union). I have a feeling that I’ll miss having the time to knit, and I’ll definitely miss the slower pace of each day. Until then, I’ll make a point of listening to podcasts, learning a new pattern, and hopefully visiting with friends and family that I miss.