I’m lying on a table, glad there’s a cloth over my eyes so I can hide my tears, although I’m sure my occasional gulping breaths are giving me away. Sarah is hurting me – in a good way – trying to drain my blocked lymphatic system through deep massage. But far out!
She speaks softly, leaves the room. I push myself up, sit on the edge of the table. My face scrunches as more tears come. I let them; I don’t want to walk out to reception in a sobbing mess. I get dressed, grab a handful of tissues and blow my nose, startled by my reflection in the mirror – the blackness under my eyes. Bloody hell, my second week of holidays and I still look like shit.
Blow, blow, blow. Wipe, wipe.
I exit the room, head out to reception. The tears defeat me again as I try to pay my account. I get the pin code wrong, twice. Come on, brain. Cooperate! Thank god we’re alone. Sarah is kind, gently asks if I’m in pain. I shake my head, try to explain I’m okay, between sobs. What comes out among the staccato words about my surgery is: ‘I nearly died.’ I’m shocked. It’s the first time I’ve said these words and it’s to a stranger.
Sarah nods, waits for me to calm. I feel guilty for dumping that on her. It’s too much. Does she look terrified, or am I imagining it? She asks if I’m having any sort of therapy at home, suggests I need regular treatments to release my blockages. ‘You’re very congested, that’s why it’s so painful.’ I think we both know she means physically and emotionally.
I walk back to the apartment, hardly noticing my sprained toe that was throbbing when I first hobbled over to the clinic. I’m still crying but the warm rain is hiding my tears. What a drama queen.
So here I am, writing this, yet wanting to apologise for the downer update after all the upbeat posts I’ve done on Facebook – the train adventure (exhausting – 2.00am wake up for a bus transfer due to trees down on the line), family catch-ups (which I loved every minute of, but, you know, that whole brave face thing), and the thought of traveling back the same way isn’t enticing (pulls up big girl pants. Whoo, we can do this! It’s fun.).
I know, I know, I was warned: ‘Take it easy, look after yourself, slow down, let yourself heal’ – words I’ve said to my own friends going through tough times. But we are who we are, aren’t we? And I need to climb these shameful walls of tears, to push through the thickets of fear, so I know how to heal myself, so I know what I actually need.
It’s the drugs, I tell myself – they make you emotional and clumsy (sprained toe). True, but it’s more than that. I’m still accepting that I’m not feeling as strong as I told myself, and everyone else; that I’m not sleeping; that I need help because my left hand still isn’t cooperating (dropped my phone twice and smashed it); that my body is now bloated after all my efforts at getting fit last year and I’m embarrassed on the beach (love yourself, you’re amazing – that’s a whole other story).
But it’s the doing of stuff, the challenging myself, that breaks my funk. Nike is right.
And while I may have hidden my panic attack before I attempted the Story Bridge climb (afraid it would affect my blood pressure and cause another brain bleed – highly doubtful), then sat and had a good sook before the itty bitty hill climb here in Port Douglas, once I started the activities, I did both with ease – okay maybe the first 10 minutes of both I was puffing and thinking Motherfucker! Whose brilliant idea was this?
I then felt encouraged to sign up for two weeks of intensive yoga (followed by banana toast and smoothies … mmmm).
I know this is just residual anxiety, which I’ll overcome. I mean, FFS! I’ve jumped out of a plane, bungeed, parasailed, skyjumped off a building, sat on the edge of an active volcano, and now I’ve survived brain surgery – twice. Surely I can do anything?
This feeling, this emotion, this exhaustion, will pass. And I’m so, so lucky. I know. Here I am sitting in my favourite place in FNQ, even if I sometimes want to hide.
And now I’m laughing because as I’m writing this and chatting to Chris, I’ve just said I think 2018 is going to be full on. A year of getting on and doing shit I’ve been wanting to for ages. It’s started already with editing queries bombarding my in-box, forcing me to instigate some changes I’ve meaning to act on for the past six months.
‘But my book!’ I moan. ‘When the hell am I going to get a chance to publish it?’
‘Just do it,’ Chris says.
He’s read my mind. Good old Nike.
We’ve decided to walk up to the shops for an ice cream before dinner. Isn’t being an adult great? As we cross the road, I pause.
‘What’s that stench?’
‘Blood and bone fertiliser.’
‘My sense of smell is coming back!’
‘So, can you smell your own farts now?’ he asks.
‘No.’ I laugh. ‘Maybe they really don’t smell, after all.’
(You had to be there. One for you, Cheryl).
A swim and rest on the beach has worked wonders.
Drama queen out and over.
PS. Scalp is healing well, some nobbly scars, hair regrowing but … perhaps a bald swish will remain. Wish they made this hat in adult size.