Anything but fine

Well, it’s now three weeks post-surgery and this is the first thing I’ve written. No, that’s a lie. I’ve actually started to write every single day since getting home but haven’t managed to get anything down that makes any sense whatsoever. In starting this, I fully understand it’ll likely meet the same end; but hey if you’re reading it, I guess I finally organised some thoughts well enough to publish them on the internet.

Hey mate, how are you?

Yeh good, good.

No really how are you doing with everything?

Ah yeh alright, fine, I guess. Ups and downs. Taking each day as it comes.

Oh God what’s wrong with me, what the fuck is going on? I have no idea how I am. At all. Am I good? I mean I’m here, aren’t I? At this event having fun? Fun. I think that’s what I’m having. My belt has been rubbing my stoma for the past three hours because I haven’t found a comfortable way to wear pants yet. I have developed a weird relationship with alcohol in recent months and really can’t drink it right now. I’m over analysing every bit of food that is brought around. Everyone wants to talk about my fucking surgery and it’s suffocating and I want to talk about anything but my surgery.

But I do want to talk about my surgery. Hell, if I didn’t want to talk about my disease, surgery, everything that comes with it why do I have this website and why do I constantly post things about myself on the internet? Why is this easier than talking to loved ones face to face? I want them to know what’s going on, but I don’t even know what’s going on. The past few weeks have left me in complete confusion with my thoughts and feelings – yes, I am glad I had the surgery – yes, it’s a relief not having to worry about my colitis – yes, I’ve recovered really quickly and do feel pretty great – yes, I think I’m managing the stoma great.

No, I don’t want to explain in detail how my new plumbing works.

No, I can’t piss at the trough in front of people anymore.

No, I don’t feel comfortable looking at myself in the mirror.

Every time someone bails me up and asks how I am I turn into a blubbering idiot. It reminds me of when I was at uni and would feel myself getting dumber over the summer break as I spent all my time working on the wharf. That feeling – but jammed into a 5 second period where I feel my brain cells running for cover because they don’t want to be responsible for formulating a response. I don’t know man. I really don’t know. But you don’t have the time or energy to listen to me spew the garbage that’s on my mind for the next thirty minutes. We’re just trying to have fun. You want a quick yes, I’m good everything’s good – can I help you with anything? No mate I don’t need any help I’m good – oh okay but if you do! Yep, no worries but I’m good you’re good everything’s good and see ya for Christmas.

Maybe they do want to really help and be there, but I don’t know how they could help and they’re too afraid to overstep because I’m notoriously a huge stubborn pain in the arse. I don’t know but it’s all way too overwhelming and I don’t know what to do. Common theme that, isn’t it? I don’t know. I usually like to come around to an actual point when I write these posts and have a teaching moment like a smug prick – and this one is that this experience has taught me I don’t know a fucking thing. I don’t even know the things I don’t know; this is all so new to me, and I’m not used to not having any answers. There’s reason and logic behind the decision to have surgery and it’s incredible what modern medicine can do to fix the issues that I had but far out it is hard to make sense of it all inside my head. Unfortunately, I’ve dumped so much of this on Renee, the love of my life, and she’s taken the toll of being a brain-garbage punching bag since I’ve had this surgery. I am so grateful to have someone who loves me enough to listen to this utter shit and be there for me in every aspect. This surgery has terrified me for six long years, but it has honestly been made a hundred times easier with her by my side.

Which is great, but not ideal. I see a psychologist – and dumping all my shit on her would be waaaay more ideal. She’s the one that’s paid handsomely to listen and provide the seams and connections that will make all this mess make sense. Unfortunately, I’m the one paying her handsomely and since I haven’t been able to work for over three months it’s a bit hard to see her as often as I’d like. Or need to if I’m honest with myself. The joys of our health system come into play a bit here too, if you’ve been here a while you’d know all about my qualms with it- but as a country, Australia has recently realised that mental health is a real thing and we shouldn’t shame/shock/shoot anyone that is struggling. Revolutionary stuff really, about what you’d expect for this place but despite acknowledging that there is a bit of a cheeky mental health crisis do they actually put any funding in place? Do they make access to mental health professionals easier? Do they do… anything? No, no, and no.

So yes! I’ve figured it out. The point of this, the teaching moment if you will, is that seeing a psychologist to get through a massive surgery that changes your entire life is necessary. Yes, necessary. The second point is that if you aren’t abundantly lucky in life to have enough money to afford it, a job that allows you time to go to appointments, a doctor that is easy to deal with – the cards are very much stacked against you, and it makes this whole process so much harder. As a society we fail people so regularly. This disease has taught me, more than anything, that shit changes in a heartbeat and the life you have become accustomed to can be ripped out from under you tomorrow. I have the privileges of a union job, an incredible fiancée, two families who have both the financial and emotional capacity to support me, a good psychologist I jagged on the first attempt, a great surgeon and private health cover that made it quick, easy, and comfortable. If I had lost any of these privileges this journey would’ve been insurmountably harder. Is it fair that we let people who are single, without a supportive family, working an average job without any worker protections, using the public health system suffer in this country? We need change now, and the recent federal election has made me feel half comfortable with the trajectory that we are going. More than anything we need to apply pressure and don’t let up – this country has thrived with a well-funded public health system. We could be the envy of the world instead of receiving pity. We could bring up those less fortunate instead of punishing them because of their circumstances. We could love and help people.

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