Taking care of an infant is hard. Taking care of an infant when you are in constant pain or discomfort is even harder.
One night, almost three months ago, when my baby was only about a month old, I went to bed with a bit of soreness in my back. A couple of hours later, I couldn’t sleep because the pain in my back had gotten so intense. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, I tried lying on the floor and nothing helped. I took a hot shower to try to alleviate some of the pain, and when I got out of the shower, I promptly vomited. The rest of the night was a mix of back pain and urgent and frequent trips to the bathroom. I had no idea what was happening, and poor J was trying to take care of me and a fussy newborn. I was up all night and the next day I felt sore and exhausted, but mostly ok. So, I brushed it off as a bad night and focused my energy on the small, helpless human that needed my undivided attention all day.
And then two weeks later, it happened again. Back pain and stomach issues all night. J thought it might be a post-pregnancy onset of a severe and sudden lactose intolerance. I eat a lot of cheese and I drink a lot of milk, always have. He figured the back pain might be trapped gas. I took gas pills, I cut out dairy, and then it happened again — this time in the middle of Target, while out with J and the baby. Thank goodness J was there.
Finally, I went to see my doctor and he ran some labs, and ordered some ultrasounds of my abdomen and side/back area. It turns out I have pancreatitis, caused by gallstones. After talking to my primary care physician, J, and a surgeon, we came to the conclusion that the next best step would be to have my gallbladder removed.
Actually getting a diagnosis and making a plan of action helped relieve me of the anxiety I was feeling about not being able to take care of my son and give him the attention and energy he needs. I have lived with chronic pain for a long time due to endometriosis, and while certain medications have helped, adding another unknown onset of symptoms was really starting to freak me out. There’s only so many heating pads I can have on various parts of my body at once.
The only problem now was that the surgeon didn’t have any available slots for me for another month.
Tomorrow is the big day. FINALLY. For the past month, I have been on a very restricted diet — which hasn’t been too much of a struggle since my appetite has diminished quite a bit because of the discomfort of an inflamed pancreas and gallstones. The “episodes” have become more frequent (although a little less intense). J has been an absolute hero, working full time, picking up the slack when I have nothing left to give, and taking care of me when I’m not feeling well (which is a lot). Thankfully, my mom flew in yesterday to help us with the baby while I’m recovering.
I’m nervous about the surgery. Even though I know it’s a fairly common procedure, and J will be there the whole time, it’s still surgery. I’m having an organ removed from my body. Not to mention that I just had a major surgery less than four months ago, when a human was surgically removed from my body. Most of all though, I’m just looking forward to feeling like myself again, after the recovery period. It will be nice to not be afraid to spend a day out and about with my baby, worried that I might have an attack in the middle of a store or the park and not be able to handle it.
Oh, and did I mention that I am scheduled to return to work in less than two weeks? No big deal.