Needing help isn’t the same as being a failure

I know I don’t need to go into depth as to why the past few days have been hard for me, but my list of reasons are pretty much the same for JP.

In the beginning, we joked: Rule 1: don’t die.

It’s a good rule, not just for surgery, but in life in general. Well, this wasn’t my fear. I don’t really know if it was JP’s, but regardless it was the first rule. 

My biggest fear the past few days has actually been that with the wrong motion, I would and still will ruin the work my surgeon did. I think this is a legitimate fear. Most motions that engage any part of my core muscles cause pain or discomfort of some kind, not as much today, but enough to  make me nervous. This doesn’t just mean I’m nervous to lean or turn, but coughing and sneezing or laughing at all hurt as well. Monday night, I coughed after taking a sip of water; I heard and felt something pop. Now here’s the problem with hearing and feeling, it’s hard to pin point it because parts of the operated area are still effectively numb. So around my belly button and above my incision is numb to a degree. I feel some tingles, but the pain is in the muscle below the skin, not the skin itself. Do you see how confusing that is? It’s like my sensory system isn’t communicating. Now try explaining to your boyfriend that you heard a pop and you’re pretty sure you felt it, but you’re not sure what it was or exactly where either. You now ask your boyfriend to undress you, which consists of a compression piece, large sheet cotton, sterile pads and a final layer of guaze. He has to undress you while wearing gloves and he has to go slow. So you’re freaking out in your head and inadvertently you’re boyfriend is freaking out now too. That was my Monday night. 

We never found what it was, but my surgeon said it could’ve been one of two things: I popped a dissolved stitch in my belly button or I popped a stitch in my abdominal muscle. We won’t ever really know, so going forward in trying my best to not find anything funny the next few days or make my water glass angry. 

One thing I know I’m excellent at is not asking for help. Getting a trainer and coach was a huge step for me in the fall – to say I can do a lot, but I can’t do it all on my own meant a lot to me moving forward in my journey. It also seems that it’s the same thing that JP is equally excellent at. We had many talks leading up to surgery, from what protein bars to keep on hand and who he should text when I was I was out of surgery to the medications and recovery directions, but no matter how many talks we had or how many I had with others, nothing could prepare us for this experience. 

I said to you and to him as well this would truly show me if I can trust anther person because I have never relied on someone else like I am currently relying on him during recovery. That’s scary. Trusting that not only will they make a plan with you, but they will follow it and they will do their best to make sure you have what you need in various ways is a lot of new things to have to believe in.  JP has done so much for me in the past few days, but one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that he becomes neglectful of his own needs when he cares for someone else. This is a good and obviously a bad thing. Neglectful by not eating in a timely manner or enough, or drinking enough water, he probably should’ve done laundry a day sooner too because “free balling” truly can’t be comfortable. This isn’t meant for me to say that he needs to be perfect, we are not that by far, but caring for someone else doesn’t mean that you put your needs aside in the process. 

In fact, I do believe my dear Watson that by my concern of my recovery, and his concern for my recovery combined with his neglectfullness of himself, I have come full circle and equally started to become concerned for his wellbeing too. Well damn, that’s a lot on both of our minds at the same damn time. Because you know I love food, so I’m trying to make sure I am eating and of course I ask him if he is, but from my bed I can’t make anyone do anything. 

The other night while trying to figure out the bathroom, which in itself was an experience, he stated that he didn’t “understand why the doctor would let him take care of [me].” Oh, but babe, while this is hard for me to do I can’t imagine trusting anyone else with this task. Now, there are a few things he said that other day that I certainly don’t appreciate and obviously in the moment I just wanted to look at him and say fuck you, there’s a high chance that I said something similar, but I know it’s just that there’s a lot of stress around this recovery process and he’s feeling it even if I’m trying to tell him he’s inflating the stress in his head. 

He’s said that if I don’t heal right that would be his fault – no, it wouldn’t. All we can do is follow the directions the doctor gave us and hope we’re doing them to the beat of our ability. Nothing would be his fault and I believe it’s the perfectionist in him that makes him feel this way. Here’s a task and give it 100%, that’s what he’s doing, but I don’t think he’s giving it his all. My doctor even told him he’s doing a fantastic job taking care of me and that we’re doing everything we can – you would hope that an experts pinion would help, but I don’t think it has. 

There aren’t a lot of people I can call to jump in when he feels this way, not that he wants to accept the help anyway, but I do have a few very excellent friends that when they’re able they do their best as well. So today, to lend a hand with adult-y things and to hang out, my friend Jessica, who’s also really his friend Jessica now too came over to help. On the outside, she didn’t do much, she helped sort laundry and pick up the living room. She also helped with some dishes, she laid down with me and braised my hair. But in reality this was everything. She laid with me and he was able to shower. She watched a movie with me and he was able to leave the house get us lunch. She stayed with me and he was able to go to the grocery store. Her presence was what we needed. 

He wasn’t very thrilled with the idea last night and it led to a number of “I’m a failure” statements, which he is not, but I think the extra help overall took some stress off his shoulders. Escaping the apartment on his own is important because when you’re “trapped” for a week, a 3rd floor walk up feels like a closet. Letting someone else step helped my sanity and I hope it did his. This is a big undertaking and I know it is for both of us, even if he’s in denial on his end some times. 

I had talk with a few people that past few days, you know who you are, about how difficult it has been worry about him, worrying about me. Maybe just the few hours today we had as a break from each other is what we needed. It’s because we don’t love each other, but at some point the rope is pulled very tight. 

Right now he’s out of the apartment enjoying the sunshine and I am fixing my blankets around me with the hope that I can get a second nap in. Slightly swollen like I mentioned this morning, but I have added a bloated belly from my late lunch, which leads to a very uncomfortable Cristina. 

So I’m going to nap. I hope our evening gets brighter since the after was pretty easy. Two more days until my second post op. Maybe with some sprinkles and a little bit of positive engery things will turn around. If anything, this experience has told me that while we yell at each and get angry, I truly love this man. 
❤️ Cristina 

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