Content warning: This article includes the mention of blood and content which some readers might find triggering.
Last week, I had every intention of creating an introductory post to the MindBodySpirit Wellbeing Festival that I was scheduled to attend over the weekend. A 3 day extravaganza that I’d planned to join from start to finish – Yes, there had been extensive research undertaken on every single talk & workshop, with carefully constructed coloured lists & timetables in a fancy notebook.
However, my body had other plans.
I recently had a routine Lletz/Loop Excision procedure following a colposcopy (lady region stuff). Not to go too much into the nitty gritty, as they really are done super quickly & are over before you know it, but occasionally they can be followed by heavy bleeding, so you’re advised to wear suitable protection for 4 weeks and go on your merry way.
Everything seemed normal for me until about 2 weeks afterwards. Now I’m fine with blood, but there was a slight momentary lapse during Wednesday night where I did wonder if I could potentially die from losing this much of the stuff. I say this light-heartedly but I did get serious with myself for a second, as I genuinely didn’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it. There was puddles of the stuff. It looked like Jackson Pollock had used my legs as his latest canvas and the soles of my feet were dressed like Louboutins.
With Mum away and feeling physically fine, I sat on my throne (read toilet), and admired my artwork while deliberating the best plan of action. I phoned NHS 111 for advice (my word they ask a lot of questions!) During all of this, I’d probably gotten myself worked up that although I wasn’t in pain, it was unlikely this was going to stop or slow down anytime soon and I’d surely have to go to A&E to get fixed.
To be honest, I probably delayed calling longer than I should have, as I didn’t want to hear that I’d have to go back there. My last visit had been around this time last year after Dad’s second suicide attempt. I didn’t quite feel ready to face that just yet on top of the current life events that I’m trying to work through at the moment. Being awake during the early hours at this time of year and having to think about dealing with a hospital style situation was also just very unsettling and triggering for me.
It’s ok to ask for help.
I was running through a list in my head of wonderful local friends that I could maybe wake from their beds to take me, as I wasn’t in a fit state to drive myself. My mind proceeded to do that evil thing of convincing me that there was only one person I wanted to take me there, but who couldn’t because we’re no longer together (not forgetting the impracticality that he’s thousands of miles over the other side of the world).
And then my mouth & face went numb, I uttered the words I NEED HELP, NHS man’s drivel disappeared off in to the distance, and I passed out, ungracefully falling from my throne with a thud and giving myself the most beautiful bump on my head as mementos of the occasion.
Passing out was one of the most bizarre and surrealist moments I’ve ever experienced, and one I hope I never have to undergo again. I am just grateful that I didn’t do more physical damage to myself!
If we push our bodies too far they’ll sometimes shut down on us, forcing us to reboot.
I woke up, threw up, sat up in my puddles, hung up on drivel chops & dialled 999. May I take this opportunity to praise the guy on the phone who had to decipher all of my answers amidst constant vomiting, and the ambulance service for their speedy arrival.
Now all jokes aside, I was quite shaken and I was concerned for Dad and how panicked this situation might make him, so my main concern was reassuring him that I would be ok, while also trying to control the panic I felt rising about having an ambulance at the house. The last time one sat outside our front door was when it was there to take Dad to a psychiatric hospital on Boxing Day.
Always searching for a positive in any situation, the following thought did cross my mind during this whole ordeal – ‘If anything does happen to me, at least it would end this emotional & mental pain that I have been experiencing recently’. To have that thought even for a second made me think I perhaps need to reassess what I’m doing to try and improve my current emotional state.
Wounds take time to heal. Be patient with yourself.
Once at the hospital and lined up in the corridor, facing the cubicle Dad had been in last year and being able to hear other patients in pain, I allowed the tears to roll down my face and wash away the experience.
I unwillingly, but successfully, dealt with numerous triggers and faced so many fears head on that night because my body was reminding me about me! And I finally listened to her.
Listen to your body. It’s always trying to help you.
After a straightforward procedure to fix me back up, the doctor said all was A-Okay down there, my blood tests were fine, but he did have one concern – When he asked if I had been eating properly because my urine sample showed alarmingly high levels of ketones (suggesting my body had a severe lack of nutrients and fluid), I had to admit that I hadn’t been. Now those who know me will be aware that I usually eat like a horse (if I don’t have regular snacks to hand then there’s usually trouble), but I explained to him the side effects of a broken heart! (There are actually a lot of reassuring articles on Google about lack of appetite during breakups and the science behind it).
I know it’s hard to eat anything if you’re anxious. It’s similar to the adrenaline that kicks in for most of us before we have to perform to an audience or attend an interview, and so we can’t eat a thing, but then somehow after it’s all over, the tummy rumblings & appetite miraculously reappear! Except in the case of prolonged anxiety or periods of grieving, you don’t get those tummy rumblings back quite so quickly – they can leave you for days, even weeks. In this kind of situation, eat what you can, when you can. Try little and often. It’s a phase that will eventually lift and pass.
The doctor confirmed he was certain I had passed out from panic & anxiety, and not blood loss. This was my wake up call.
Sometimes it will all get too much. The emotional pain and transitions I have experienced over the past 24 months have been immense. Sometimes I brush this off until I am reminded that I have been through more trauma, losses & unresolved grief in 2 years than some people will ever experience in their lifetime.
Do not neglect yourself, no matter what you are experiencing. There is only one of you and you are very precious to us all!
Follow what your body is telling you. S/he knows best. I might not have made all of the Wellbeing Festival over the weekend, but I practised my own version at home. What signals is your body maybe trying to give you at the moment to get you to slow down? What one piece of self-care can you introduce in order to help yourself out day to day and avoid burnout?
♡ Thank you to the friends I spoke to on the phone that night who kept me calm & company while I waited, especially those who woke up in the middle of the night or came out of work to do so ♡
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