… to accept the things I cannot change.

I’ve had an interesting couple of days – and the interest is partly fueled by regular consumption of oxycodone so please excuse random spelling and grammar, and unrelated tangents.

I’m not quite myself at the moment – not really sure who I am when I’m not myself?

Monday afternoon I presented at the hospital for an overnight admission to have my gastric lap band removed. I wasn’t thrilled but was coming to terms with it, and valiantly thinking of it as a turning point in recovery. Which may well be the case. Who knows?

I lazed around bored witless for hours awaiting my turn and was finally wheeled to the little waiting area outside theater. I was wearing a delightful blue and white hospital gown with its delicate ties at the back and press studs at the shoulders for easy access to every inch of my body.

Left to my own devices – no glasses to see properly and nothing to look at – instead of feeling impending doom and panic at the removal of my lap band, I was overcome with serenity and peace. (No – there were no pre-meds on board.)

I’m not sure if I’ve discussed my forays into spirituality and God of late, but I’ve done a lot of soul searching and found some spiritual peace. More significantly, I’ve discovered a belief in God. No big bang, aha moment. No hit in the head with thunder and lightning. Just a knowing that I’ve done a lot of recovery work in four years, but spiritually I was stuck, and finally I just let myself believe.

I’m an absolute convert to Russell Brand who places enormous importance on the development of our spiritual selves to heal and recover. Accepting God is just faith – ie choosing to believe without concrete evidence. It sounds simple – it wasn’t.

After our travels in Jordan and Turkey I became interested in Christianity – there’s something about walking through the lands of the bible that’s very touching. I’m trying to learn all I can as my beliefs on religion and spirituality have been shaped by the people around me and I’d rather come to my own conclusions. As I read my Kindle bible I write lots of notes and questions, but I also find a stronger affiliation with faith I can’t explain – except to say it feels right. It’s not about church or dogma or rules, it’s far more personal – I’ve written into prayer groups asking for guidance in recovery and my spiritual path. I wrote into Christine Caine expressing a desire to know more, feel more, and be more, spiritual. She wrote back (“she” being her communications team) welcoming me as a new Christian and congratulating me on giving my life to Jesus Christ. I’m not entirely sure that’s what I meant when I filled out the form, but I confess, it gave me a lot of comfort when she (the comms team) wrote back and congratulated me. So I accept it.

I realise this divides people who know me well – some will be thrilled and some not. But it’s incredibly personal and I’d prefer friends and family focus on what I’m gaining, rather than bringing their own beliefs and assumptions to my journey. I’m exactly the same person with a stronger sense of inner peace – something I’ve sought for many years.

This brings me back to my point.

I was sitting in a hospital bed wearing sexy inflatable leg things and a dainty blue and white gown, so I talked to God. I was overcome with this image of my eating disorder being surgically extracted and disposed of during the surgery. I had this overwhelming sense of a new beginning – a fresh start psychologically and physically. All the angst about the removal of the band was gone and I just felt peaceful. And ever so tired. And bored.

Wrapped in this little spiritual glow I was wheeled into theater where the anaethetist turns out to be the father of one of my former flute students (the joy of living in a small city). Moments later I was being roused in recovery, where instead of my usual rapid recovery I struggled with pain and breathing. I was pumped full of this and that, given a nebuliser, and waited over an hour for oxygen sats to get high enough.

They weren’t terrible – just not good enough. Story of my life…

Back on the ward, two of my four dressings started expanding and ballooning out with blood. Wasn’t much longer before they couldn’t take the pressure and blood went everywhere, making a god-awful mess of my dainty gown, pristine white sheets, and black undies. For two hours I had four nurses chatting with me and putting pressure on the wounds while awaiting the return of my surgeon – who was at dinner with his phone turned off enjoying a couple of wines. He waltzed in about 9:15pm in his dinner suit and then it was all action stations – get me this needle, that local anaesthetic, these swabs, and those gloves. He cut through my skin, swabbed all the mess I’d made, fished around in the big cavity looking for the culprit, did something to it, and stitched me up with a darning needle. Then he repeated the procedure on my left side. Six sutures on the left, four on the right. For reasons I don’t understand, the local anaesthetic worked on the left but not the right. So that was unfun – being cut and stitched without anaesthetic. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think – but I’d choose numb if there was a next time. The young nurse watched my blood pressure the whole time and it barely flickered (although I was made to lie down earlier when it was dropping). Apparently I lost about half a liter of blood. I certainly made a big mess on the bed.

Once the bedside stitching was done, my surgeon went home while I had a shower to scrub away the mess. It looked like a murder scene. When I came back out, my bed was pristine and I had a lovely clean hospital gown.

The next day I was meant to go home, but by the time he did rounds late morning, I was having a panic attack and in floods of tears – yesterday’s peace flown out the window. I suspect a combination of post-anaesthetic blues, blood loss, and an awful lot of pain killers came together with my reality check. The surgeon held my hand, asking what I wanted while I sobbed I didn’t know, so he said probably best I stay another night – he wanted me to be ready to go home. So I stayed another night.

I woke up this morning feeling way better – my little pity party all over. I know recovery is not an easy road (psychologically) so I’ve drawn up goals and commitments, and downloaded an app or two. It would be so easy to eat myself senseless now – which is what I fear – but this is the moment to learn intuitive eating. Not binging, gorging, starving, compensating, purging, restricting, calorie-counting, judging, etc. Just eating properly. There are three people I’m particularly close to who want to do everything they can to support me – whether that’s a listening ear or tough love. I’m forever in their debt.

Physically I’ll recover quickly – I always do. Although having external sutures does slow the healing down – no gym this week. But the bottom line is, I’m making plans – getting recovery right, moving on with my life, and maintaining good physical and psychological health. Fingers crossed this is the big turning point I’ve been working towards all this time.

And as for God? I no longer feel alone and that means the world to me.