Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living Out-Loud, or TMI?

I was lying in bed last night trying to keep the cat off my face and thinking about the instillation treatment I had yesterday, when I started to wonder if I am coming too close to the TMI line. (For those of you not familiar with web speak, TMI means too much information.) To be honest, that line has always been a bit blurry for me. I mean, I didn't really get into the details (oh man, the details!), and I make every effort to be respectful to the people in my life when they make appearances in my writing, but I also write about some pretty personal stuff.

At one point while prepping for the procedure yesterday, the CLSC nurse, Rachel, commented that she would be using a size 12 catheter rather than the size 16 that the doctor had prescribed. This prompted a conversation about how oblivious doctors can be to pain. Logically, for a patient w/IC pain, the smaller the catheter the better. Many patients even ask for pediatric catheters to be used. Doctors don't seem to take this kind of thing into consideration. This is when Rachel told me about her studies in pain. I commented that doctors don't equip patients for the effect that chronic pain will have on them, emotionally, mentally and physically. Rachel agreed, "That's because they don't know."

Her comment sums up a good part of why I write so openly about this stuff. I am not the kind of person that believes that knowledge is the solution to all problems. Selfishness, arrogance and hate can whip knowledge's behind if we let them. Yes, people do better when they know better, but only if they want to do better. I do believe that knowledge is a beginning, an opportunity, and I also believe that once we share knowledge with others, ignorance is no longer an excuse.

I have people tell me that they had bladder infections, and it wasn't a big deal. So what was I making such a big fuss about? Once I share that IC pain is more like the pain of bladder cancer than a bladder infection, if they still chose to see themselves as tougher than I am because they were able to handle a five day bout of an UTI better than I handle over ten years of IC, then they no longer have ignorance as an excuse. There is something darker, more insidious there. Something that tells me to back away.

That doesn't happen very often, though. I made a commitment a long time ago to live out-loud, to be open and honest about my life. I am too capable of wearing masks. If you ask me how I am in the grocery store, I will instinctively smile and say "Fine!" even if I can barely stand up straight in pain. Sometimes this is appropriate. Not everyone needs to hear everything.

Still, not only is there true strength that comes from the support of others when I am brave enough to be honest about what I am going through, but there is an understanding that not only am I not alone, but neither are my readers. You go through things, too. Big things. Scary things. Painful things. You need not be alone.

Another reason that I share about my life so openly is because I have given my life to God, and I believe that He wants to bring meaning and purpose to my pain. I don't believe that this life is all there is. I don't believe that this body is all there is to me. And I don't believe that my struggles are for nothing. Over and over and over God lifts me up and strengthens me in ways that are wildly wonderful and supernatural. I am not capable of working up even a semblance of the joy that He gives me. I spent most of my life before Christ in debilitating depressions. Now, when I really have something to be depressed about, I experience joy and wonderful moments of happiness on a daily basis. Yes, I feel sad. Yes, I mourn my losses and have moments of deep sorrow. But joy comes in the morning. When I joke about things, I am legitimately having fun with the silliness of life. I see the humor in many things. I mean really, aren't chickens the funniest creatures ever? I used to use humor to hide from pain. Now, I just find so many aspects of life ridiculously funny. That's a God thing.

So, TMI? I don't know...I'll keep an eye on the line, and try not to cross it. Especially where my loved ones are concerned. As for my own story, I have a feeling that when I finally write my book, it'll be an open book. Just like me.

Oh, btw, as an instillation update, one of the side effects of the treatment is a garlic smell coming from the patient. It's a result of the medicine seeping into the bloodstream and creating a chemical reaction. According to Grace, that kicked in last night and is still going strong. She greeted me this morning with, "So, how'd you sleep, garlic clove?" Apparently, it's not the cool, garlic butter kind of garlic smell, either. I don't smell it at all.

At least I'll be safe from vampires....

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