The Last Day Of 2020

So I thought about writing my annual year in review post. But I’m struggling to do so. Can Anyone really write a good summary post about 2020? Probably not. Mostly because it seems like the perils of 2020 are not yet over.

I usually say there’s always something to be grateful for every year. I guess that’s true. I mean, this year I thought was going to be awful for a bunch of other reasons. But as it turned out, that stuff was less awful and kind of turned out okay as collateral damage to the whole covid business.

Some things were broken beyond repair this year. But other things were built. Nobody has ever had an experience quite like this around the world. It was unique. It brought people together in a way while also ripping them apart. Lockdown was hard. Working through it in hospital for me was hard. But I imagine it would have been way harder for people at home.

For me personally, stuff happened this year that kind of broke who I thought I was. And the relationships I have with others. But there were also times that solidified who I am and certain relationships.

But I hadn’t achieved any personal goals this year. I had a few of them. I had visions to improve certain aspects of my life. But all is not lost. As always, when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, they inevitably turn out the way they’re meant to. And at the end of the day, that will be what was best for you and everyone. Even if it doesn’t seem that way at the time.

I believe that.

So. Going forward, I can’t really picture 2021 being loads better. Because as we all know, this covid thing hasn’t yet gone away. Of course there is the vaccine which gives lots of people hope. Myself included. But in the time that it takes for most of the world’s population to be vaccinated or immune, things will be rather different. Travel will take a long time to go back to how it was.

But we can surely hope it will be better in that everyone is prepared for these changes. And everyone, will go with the flow. As will I.

So on the last day of 2020, I decided to do my favourite thing – watch the sunset. May the setting sun on the last day of 2020 bode well for the sunrise of 2021

Abdo Pain ?Cause ?Abdominal Migraine

Following on my theme of having a hard time and reflecting on it, I did a thing.

A few weeks ago I got myself admitted to hospital. The hospital I work at. During work hours.

I was just sitting in Medical ED. Just admitting a patient. It was nearly lunchtime.

I had a sudden onset pain in my tummy. It was kinda painful. Kinda gnawing. I figured I was hungry. As all good doctors do, I ignored in and carried on working.

A few minutes passed and the pain got worse. It made me stop what I was doing and move to the tea room to get a glass of water. I felt nauseated. Again, probably just hungry. I’ll just get a glass of water and go get something to eat.

I felt hot. The pain in my tummy worsening. The cafe was a few hundred metres away. I abruptly sat on the couch in the tea room.

A nurse saw me. And as all good nurses do, he began fussing. He said I looked unwell and I should go lie down in the clinic room.

Pain still bad and now finding it difficult to walk, I obliged. Went to the clinic room. Sat down, lay down, pain worsening. Felt restless. The phrase “writhing in pain” came to mind.

But I’m a girl of action. I called my RMO unit and said I can’t complete the rest of my shift because I’m unwell. They wished me all the best. I told myself I would go home.

Big whoops. Couldn’t walk. Pain very bad now. More nurses fussing. Friend who heard my distress on the phone came to see me and began fussing. To my horror they called in MY consultant to assess me. At this point I began vomiting.

He watched me writhe in pain. Suggested I go to ED.

ED saw me and pumped me with 12mg of IV morphine, the approximate recommended dose to flatten an elephant.

I was floating in and out of consciousness. Answered questions. Every time I woke, I was in pain. Pumped with morphine and knocked out. Tests done in my half conscious state.

About 4h later, I was completely pain-free. Asked for some food. I was discharged happily.

My discharge summary arrived in the mail today. Diagnosis: abdo pain ?cause ?abdominal Migraine

Loosely translated that means the pain in my tummy was in my head.

I told one of my friends this story some days after it all happened. He said “that sounds like some good old fashioned stress”

I laughed. Yeah some real “stress” that was.

Until I replayed everything that happened before that day.

I was stressed as heck. I walked into work that morning feeling the worst I ever had. The weekend that had just gone by was traumatic for me. I saw and experienced things that were so confronting to my image of myself that I didn’t know how to deal with it.

A friend and I were waiting for some important, life altering news that day this all happened. I was anxious and scared and sad and I didn’t want to be at work except I had to be at work.

We got good news. The pain had just come on when my friend said he received the good news. But that didn’t make the pain go away.

Maybe it was too late and all that pent up tension was already being released. I’m not sure.

But as quickly as the pain came on, 4h later and a bunch of plum normal investigations, it was gone. And I was left feeling embarrassed for causing all that fuss.

But it was all in my head. I don’t not appreciate the physical manifestations of psychological distress, and I’ve been nauseated and sick before because of depression. But I’ve never experienced anything quite like this.

I realised I have a lot of pent up emotion that’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Things are the most wrong they’ve ever been in my life. But they’re also the most not wrong they’ve ever been. And I don’t know what to do.

Focus on the good things? Yeah. Hope for a change? I guess so.

But ultimately I don’t know. And I don’t know how much more my mind and body can really take.

But I guess I’m in the business of finding out.

But this is a public service announcement. Abdominal migraines are a real thing. Even if it is all in your head.

Part Of Me

I’ve had a rough year. And it’s only July.

Understatement of the century of course. Everyone is having a really tough year.

I’m sure nobody’s plans are working out and a lot of people have worries and concerns and stresses that they can’t really see an end to.

And yeah me too. I won’t bore you with my COVID era sorrows though. I’m sure you have your own.

But in the face of adversity, especially one that seems long and relentless, I feel it’s important at some point to stop for a second and reflect.

I reflected on myself in the face of adversity. I realised that I’ve spent so much time being low and stressed that I’ve forgotten the parts of myself that are important to me.

I think it’s always important to think about the things that make up who you are. And hold onto that.

For instance, I’m usually an avid reader. I LOVE reading. My happy place is literally me and my kindle lost in some corner of the world facing much greater adversities than my current ones and ultimately coming out stronger.

But in the last few months my reading has been woefully low. And forget about studying. I just sit and stare blankly at something for hours on end waiting for something to happen.

I don’t want to lose this part of me. There’s nothing quite like the experience of starting a new book and devouring it and learning something new. In every single book. Each book is a fantastic experience.

Another part of me I had forgotten recently is my imagination. I’ve always felt blessed when I think about my imagination. Growing up I loved thinking up stories and scenarios and events that were weird and wonderful. Castles and dragons, going to Jupiter, seeing the things around me and imagining it to be so much more than it is always brought me great joy. As I grew up I imagined other things, where I would live, what I wanted to see, even how it would be at my best friend’s wedding.

I found during these tough times my thoughts are rarely abstract. They’re stunted and box-like. More robotic like here is another problem today. May as well dwell over how to solve it with what I have. Rather than imagining bigger and better things than this particular inconvenience.

My imagination is the source of my creativity. I can’t lose that. It’s a big part of what makes me, me. I tried to imagine good things. Bright and colourful. They’re quieter than before. As though there was a screen between me and my imagination.

And then there’s music. These days I just listen to music on the way to and from work. And that’s more to keep me awake rather than for my enjoyment. But with the arrival of the new Taylor Swift album, I realised how much I had missed listening to music and actually enjoying what I was listening to and singing along. That’s super important to me.

Passion for work. Since COVID, my work has become so mechanical. The daily frustrations have become twice as annoying and work is extra exhausting. A useless call from a nurse causes a physical reaction in me and brings me down. I barely notice the things I used to. Like how important it is when a patient thanks you for what you’ve done for them or learning something new from a patient’s condition. The other day I fought all day long for a patient to get a scan she needed. And when she finally did, my diagnosis was correct and she received the treatment she needed, and I learnt something new about her condition and the scan she had. I felt satisfied that day. It reminded me why I love what I do so much. I need to hold on to my passion.

Photography. Since being in lockdown, I’ve struggled to take my camera out and capture the world around me. But when I did, I realised how important photography is to me. Especially macro photography, and seeing the little things and making them look amazing.

But perhaps the most important part of me that I don’t wish to lose is being able to appreciate small things and find joy in them. Like a sunset, like watching a TV show from my childhood. Like helping a stranger with something or a stranger helping me with something. Like being able to tell my friends and family how much I love them, doing something to make them smile. Like a perfectly made cup of tea. Like a good conversation. A good joke.

Like a good hug at the right place at the right time when it was really needed.

Life is full of these little moments that can be so significant. They are the ones that you have to hang on to in times of adversity. That’s who I am as a person. Someone who focuses on the little things that make something or someone so amazing to me. 

These things are a part of me. And these are the things I need to remember. That will help me get through it all.

lavender with bee

Here’s a macro shot of a bee doing what it does best when I finally got my camera out. Little things with significance.