Shaking Things Up
My life would be incomplete if I start to fit into the “normal” or “usual” range. Let’s say, I have a built-in shaker that randomly shakes my life up, sometimes in a underrated big stir. I had a plan to thoroughly soak up my birthday that is marinating in the autumny atmosphere of yellow, orange and some red. Shortly after I arrived in Denmark, the shaker shook a few things up and my plan took a drastic change from a relaxed soft backdrop to some sort of adventure in a road trip to the neverland (only because I had no idea where the place would be). Just before the plan was set on stones, the shaker shook things up, rather violently this time, and the original backdrop resumed.
As though all the “shaking up” was not exhausting enough, another shake-up happened, this time with a tornado twist (I have no idea what that means, just.. think creatively!)!
Now, the “twist” is really a medical intervention that took longer than it should. To be completely honest, it is totally preventable. Please refer to the diagrams for better illustration.
So, after I received my CPR number (national registration number given to all residents in Denmark), I also received my yellow healthcard that allows me to receive medical care for free. The healthcard came with a letter that recommended an examination specially tailored for women’s wellness – pap smear and pelvic examination. I called up my appointed doctor’s office to make an appointment for the examination, and I was urged to also provide my medical history.
On Friday, I arrived at the office primarily for the examination, but instead, we used up the consultation slot to explore into my “special” medication that has been prescribed to me by the dermatologist in Singapore for my chronic urticaria (skin condition). In all fairness, it is not a medication usually dispensed for skin condition, but experienced and “updated” dermatologist would when they have run out of options.
With little time left from the consultation slot, the doctor asked that I reschedule the examination to another day. I was a little disappointed and expressed that I went there specifically for the examination, but she insisted that there was not much time left. So, we rescheduled for the following Wednesday.
Now, here comes the dramatic twist, note that I am not assigning blame here, both the doctor and I are not fortune tellers, she is just a GP and I a psychology major. We may play a lot of prediction games in the course of our area of studies, we cannot predict bizarreness.
Between my visit to the clinic and the rescheduled appointment for pelvic examination, came Sunday whereby a cervical polyp slipped through the “opening”, so I freaked out a little bit. That fateful Sunday (some melancholic music on the background please!), my dependable friend was spending the weekend in London. That Sunday, my bestie in Singapore was celebrating her birthday on the following day. That Sunday, another friend whom I have confided in said “please no” to what I was going to share. That Sunday, I was totally helpless (more sad music please, louder this time!).
Ok, enough with the theatrics. Simply put, I had no one to turn to, so I went for the most unlikely option. By the way, I would normally NEVER alert my folks, I really couldn’t have dealt with worrying emotions and all. When I contracted acute colitis and my ex checked me into the emergency room as I was bleeding in numerous points in my intestines, my folks whom I lived with, did not know that I was admitted to the hospital until the next day.
The Nerdy Way
I had no idea what polyp was then, and I had absolutely no idea what was slipping out, which eventually ruptured because I was trying to figure out how to remove it. In the midst of all the bloody scene and gross gooey substances that came out from the “sac”, of course I googled! What should I have done! Well, the top results were profoundly confusing and alarming at the same time!
“uterine prolapse” “cervical prolapse” “hymenal tag”
So, I spent some more time reading through what those meant, and like a good nerdy researcher, I went deeper into understanding each symptom. In the middle of all the confusion that I was trying to diffuse with massive of information – knowledge is power, but it sometimes overkills! – I was infused with another wave of emotional crisis (it’s very personal, so let’s just leave it as that).
Emotional Crisis Takes Precedence
I am good with crisis intervention. I worked in a luxury brand boutique and our display glass fell and shattered, due to the prime location in a popular mall, there was quite a bit of commotion as there were many people around. I was completely collected right from the second that it happened, and got everything under control in minutes while everyone was still frantically screaming and panicking. By the time they were calmed down, I had given instructions to barricade the area and had the cleaners cleaned up the area. I even rearranged the display and business resumed as usual.
That being said, this special skill fails to work when I have to deal with my emotional crisis. I am highly rational, but this is probably a defense mechanism to deal with my emotional state, because although I don’t show much emotions in the public, I am highly emotional – many sick leaves and urgent leaves were due to swollen eyes, that is all I will say!
Most importantly, when the emotional crisis is competing with the physical crisis, the earlier always wins. It is especially crippling when I have to also consider navigation from one point to another. Frankly, if my ex did not check me into the emergency room when I had acute colitis, chances are, I might just wait out and probably die (it was alarmingly urgent by the time I reached the hospital as the bacteria was rapidly invading my intestines that caused the multiplication of bleeding spots in very short time). That was a great deal of pain, but this time around, there was not much pain, just lots of blood. Without the pain, my natural option will always be staying put.
I decided to wait till my rescheduled appointment on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, I told the doctor that instead of a pap smear, she might need to do something else for me and I recounted the Sunday event. She found a somewhat flattened sac that she described as “very big” and I started to bleed profusely when she attempted to pull it out. She stopped and decided that she would refer me to the OB-gyn.
Now, here is another lemon twist for you. All the OB-gyn (I think she called a few, but she could be calling the same one a few times) took days off that week for Autumn break. School autumn break began on the following Monday, but I guess they were trying to beat the crowd by starting a week earlier? So, I had to wait till Monday (which would be my birthday) to call the specialist to make an appointment.
Meanwhile, I was passing out more blood than before I saw the GP, probably because she “disturbed” the ruptured sac. I also ran a slight fever for a day, but it didn’t persist, so I didn’t think it was worrying. I got an appointment for Tuesday due to a cancelation (lucky me?), so I got to spend my somewhat weird birthday without medical intervention. Although, my mood was blown with grayscales.
Filling up the Void
It’s been dramatic and eventful, to say the least. With my intense emotions competing with my “limbo” medical state, I just wanted to fill in the void because there was no room for clarity since all the emotions were all over the places figuring out where they belong.
I decided to take a walk, and go to the shop to buy a new eye shadow to make myself happy. Looking pretty makes me happy – I know, it’s kind of shallow vanity, but it is what it is, in days like this, we just need to find something that makes us happy. So, I took the familiar route to the shop.
IKEA – My Comfort Place
Since the shop “Bilka” is just beside IKEA, I decided to go to IKEA to get a big and pretty candle.
IKEA is starting to sell ornaments and Christmas theme items. Mixed feelings really, I do adore pretty things, I especially love Christmassy stuffs, they emits jolliness and “hygge”. This day, the lights were not lightening my heavy mood; instead, I felt a heavy stump in my heart. This Christmas is going to be a tough one.
Nonetheless, I pressed on and continued with my “itinerary”. I went to Bilka and bought a eyeshadow of a shade that I don’t usually wear – deep indigo blue, really on the dull blue side. I forgot the eyeshadow at self-checkout counter after having paid for it though. So, that was a bummer, but I was not exactly half affected by it. My overall moodiness was way too significantly slumpy at the base, so small little dark cloud had little or no effect when piled on it.
I bought a ready-made “Shooting Star” (stjerneskud) as my birthday dinner. I really had very faded appetite with everything that was hanging over my head.
Appreciating the Small Things
Over these three years, I had gone through many difficult phases alone. The one method I know how to continue with this challenging life is to find the slightest pleasure in the small things around us. As I walked back to the apartment, I consciously chose to pay attention to the surroundings, my long awaited Autumn. I saw this beautiful foliage and felt happier for a brief moment.
To survive this hard life, I aim to make myself smaller than smaller. I am not choosing to ignore me, but I am choosing to take away some focus from my problem. I am choosing to take a step back so that I see other things and other people. Perhaps, it’s a way to escape from my situation, but if my situation is beyond my control, there is no point harping on it.
We Must Smile and Let Time Passes
One effective way to regulate my emotions has always been crocheting, or doodling; I am better at the earlier than latter. So, I set up the room with my pretty candles and made myself comfortable and cozy, and I started to crochet while watching telly on my macbook. This has been the best combination thus far. Oh yes, and wine.
It was a gloomy and foggy day. To get to the centre of Odense, I will have to take a total of 18 minutes walk to bus stops and 18 minutes bus journey. I am never nervous of surgeries, I am more anxious about getting to the clinic than surviving a surgery, to be bluntly honest. Dyscalculia seizes more control of my anxiety than any real reason for fear. It is especially so because dyscalculia has more meaningful effects on my spatial awareness than in numeral deficit; or rather, at this point, I need my spatial ability more than I need my numeral capability. In the past, I was driven around by car so I didn’t have to rely so heavily on my non-existent spatial awareness, so it didn’t affect me so much. Now that I have to find my way around places, my anxiety level rises with the growing demand to locate new places (old places are new places, as I don’t recognise places!).
I am very resilient, by force. There is an unrealistic contrast between my level of disinterestedness and portrayed aka forced interestedness. With what I had gone through, and I don’t think it’s just recently, but over a period of 3 years, the only way to survive is by “force feeding”. It is like a case of severe form of malnutrition and the sufferer has lost all desire for food; the only way to stay alive is through force feeding.
Similarly, if I am beginning to lose interest in things, and if I let it roll, it will roll into the dark passage of what we know as “depression”. Not because I am trained in psychology and counseling, but because my self-awareness for depression is impressively high. These are the early signs, and we should pay attention to them.
I saw the elevator at the doctor’s clinic (my GP and the OB-gyn are located in the same building) and felt a little spark of interest but my low mood was sabotaging the interest. So the little spark died off in a second. The OB-gyn is located at 4th floor, by the time I reach 3rd floor, I decided to force myself to reignite the little spark that was killed off prematurely. I took the photo and start tweaking on the image manipulation – this will usually anchor the interest.
I would have missed the excitement of the elevator. This kind of elevator is not found in Singapore or Australia, so I would be normally be super excited like a hyperactive kid; but I wasn’t, so the least I could do is to mimic the emotion that I would have if not for the low mood. Pre-Depression vs Me – Me win this round!
I was expecting a similar setup of reception as the GP clinic, but it wasn’t. There was a waiting room with my referred OB-gyn’s name on the outside, so I sat and waited. Turned out, I should report to the “Secretary” office first. Oh well, until I have learnt some Danish language, I would pardon my blunders. The secretary came out to look for me instead and gave me a light lecture about not reporting to the office.
It was quite a quick job. I sat in the really nice consultation room (really really nice!) with the experienced looking gentleman known as my OB-gyn and quickly went through the Sunday event, then it’s serious business, with me on the gynaecology examination chair with an overhead screen for ultrasound image.
The polyp that I had was huge, really huge. Usually, polyps are benign but they are also usually just 1-2cm in size. Mine was 7cm x 2cm, so it was way larger than it should to fit anywhere near “normal”. Now, let me just run quickly with you that I really don’t do “normal”, and it’s not by choice! I often fall under the “unique” or “rare” cases. So, I pay attention to those because I belong there! When the medical student who sat in during my summer vaccine snobbily suggested that only very negligible percentage of people would develop adverse effect to the injection, I “decided” to give her an experiential learning opportunity. I had warned her about my annoying allergies and bizarre skin reactions, she showed me contempt like I did not know better. People must be prepare to be “lucky” enough to meet those “rare” cases! Rare, not non-existent!
Anyway, the good doctor was confident that I had a polyp, but he had not seen such a large one before, so he was quite skeptical to deliver a confident prognosis. He said he couldn’t say until the results are back, as it was indeed unusually large.
Not the Most Obedient Patient
The good doctor ordered that I stay in bed for the next couple of days and limit activities. Immediately after the procedure, I walked quite a bit to the grocer to stock up food supplies for the next few days that I was supposed to stay in bed. Then, I walked some another 18 minutes because bus stops are just really far from my apartment or places that I wanted to go! I could feel the strain in my abdomen and the sensation of bleeding.
There is not much pain, but annoying aches around the lower abdomen that feels like I had done 300 situps in one seating but I am going to be disappointed that there will be no abs or any muscles. Then, there is massive blood loss and remember that I have been bleeding fresh blood for more than a week now before the extraction. I feel that I am bleeding more than I could make up for. So, I feel dizzy quite easily when standing or walking. I can only hope that my “biological cycle” doesn’t coincide with the recovery or I’ll be bleeding too much, and I really don’t know how to to compensate for it!
All Could Be Avoided
So, if you look at the timeline again.. If I had the pelvic examination on my first appointment with the GP as planned, there would be no drama of Sunday’s polyp slipping out and ruptured, no emotional crisis because of that, no revisiting to GP to try to yank it out causing more bleeding, no waiting due to autumn holidays. I would be swiftly referred to the OB-gyn upstairs or elsewhere pronto and probably have gotten an appointment before the good doctor went for autumn break and had it removed.
Yet, the string of dramas seemed inevitable. Like I said, I am not trying to blame anyone, it’s just a funny movie-like replay trick that producer does to illuminate the unnecessaries of the life events that could be completely evaded.
The Hidden Lesson
It begs the question why all these must happen when there is a simpler way around it? Perhaps I need to wake up and see how far gone the situation has been. Or when we are questioning about what is it set for us, we should ask, what role are we playing for someone’s lesson? We may never know, life is a b*tch, to begin with.
My life is naturally complicated. I am constantly placed in situations that I need to prove more than I could. It’s like the annoying situation that people accuse you of thinking something negatively about them when you were just sitting there thinking what crochet design to start. Why do I even have to prove myself of otherwise when I have been encapsulated for the whole 3 years? Why didn’t people have to prove their remorse for putting me in the freezer for sheer convenience sake? These are things that got to me, that got me to tone down on humanistic enthusiasm. Unfortunately for me, anger does not last for me. It’s a learned coping strategy when your unwavering trust has been breached by the people who had sworn to protect you. I’ve never known how to protect myself; I’ve learnt to forgive and understand my perpetrators.
Understand this, if I cannot understand them and somehow find peace in places that I am hurt and violated, I would have died so many times over. I don’t see meaning in life, but I don’t see meaningful purpose in seeking death before its time.
Death is Not to be Feared
Another crazy thing about me is insane compartmentalisation! Only a handful of people know exactly what is happening. One friend has been very concerned if I have been adjusting well in Denmark, so I shared this “medical episode” with her, and she said that she will pray that it is not cancer.
I replied, as usual, the unconventional way.. “Pray for no pain. Death is not what I fear, it is what I desire. Just let it be no pain and that I am still pretty.” Understandably, it left her with confusion of tears or laughter. She matched up with my quirkiness, and replied that it’s so vampire-like. Oh well, I might as well be one. I have that comment all my life. I didn’t go out in the day (hot, I am not great with heat since I was a child!), I like cold food (I really love salad a lot and I really don’t eat hot food well), and because I was hardly out in the sun, I could be quite fair, and because I was also anaemic, I could be really really flushed out fair.
Pessimistically Optimistic, or Optimistically Pessimistic
I am not constantly seeking out to die, but when the time comes, please let me have it. Life is hard for everyone, I get it. There is no comparison of one life to another, there really isn’t. People keep doing this, but it’s the most unfair comparison. We never get to live another’s life, so let’s give some due respect. It depends on what matters to us most. If money matters to a person most, and the person keeps losing money over and over again, it’s equivalent to losing the most precious thing in life over again – the repeated disappointment and despondency. Perhaps, I am pessimistically optimistic by hanging to a life that has disappointed me more than it has given me hope; or maybe I am optimistically pessimistic to continue to hope for the end to near while I strive every effort to live more meaningfully.
Here’s an awesome vlog from Mayim about being too emotional. I am accused of either being too emotional or too cold. If you are lucky enough to see me being emotional, it means I really really trust you.