The Good, The Bad and The Scarred - My Story Part 2 | Life Love and Hiccups: The Good, The Bad and The Scarred - My Story Part 2
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Sunday 13 July 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Scarred - My Story Part 2

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The last two operations I had as a child were two of the most painful, in more ways than one. 

At age 15 in an attempt to straighten and lengthen my leg the Doctors surgically broke my femur in a few different places and then screwed and plated it into a new shape. Bone architecture they call it. A very fancy name for 'Crap that's really gonna hurt'.

15 is an awful time to be stuck in hospital, and learning to walk all over again. All your friends are busy getting on with their lives and you feel like you are being left behind and forgotten about. 

For this particular operation I was a case study for a whole load of up and coming orthopedic surgeons. This prestigious honour saw me being wheeled in my bed to a big open room and my gown removed so that I was lying there in nothing but my undies. No less than 12 aspiring surgeons prodded and poked at my legs and hips like I was a cadiva. Except I wasn't a cadiva, I was an incredibly self conscious teenage girl who was humiliated at lying there half naked.

At 17 I went back into hospital to have all the plates and screws removed and whilst I was in hospital my first serious boyfriend I had been with for just under a year cheated on me. I was heartbroken and in typical overly dramatic teen style - I thought my world was coming to an end. He was the first guy I had ever trusted to tell the full story of my legs to and I despaired at the prospect that no one would ever love me and my wonky legs again.

But then I met Carl and any other boy I had ever known was at least a hundred shades paler in comparison. Right from the beginning I showed Carl my scars, convinced that it was better to show him and have him leave me before I became too attached. Except he didn't leave. 

The night I showed him my scars I waited with my breath held, waiting for him to say something. When he finally spoke, all he said was “and?”

There was always something so pure about Carl and he has the most beautiful caring and nurturing nature. He taught me how it feels to love someone and be truly loved in return. That corny old saying of "you complete me" is exactly how Carl and I feel about each other and he was responsible for bringing back to life my true self.

Carl knew how self conscious I was of my scars and he supported me when I decided to see a plastic surgeon about having some work done on them. He also sat with me into the early hours one morning when I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to go through with it, in fact I didn't want any more operations at all. 

I was done, happy with where I was and what we had and we were both ready to put that part of my life behind us.

Carl and I moved in together when I was 19 and we married when I was 21. We were young, but we just knew we had found the one. We had found each other.

For the first few years of our marriage, I focused on building my career. We knew we wanted to have children, in fact we talked about having 5, but it was 5 years before we finally bit the bullet and fell pregnant. 

Sadly we lost that baby to a miscarriage but a year and a half later we welcomed our beautiful baby boy Kai.

Ohhhh that child. I fell in love with him from the moment I knew he existed within my belly. 

I will never forget the tears in Carl’s eyes when he held our baby in his arms for the very first time and I truly thought life could not be more perfect than what it was right at that very moment.

We spent the first 12 month’s of Kai’s life in our own little bubble. In a little apartment down at the beach it was just Carl and I and our precious baby boy.

Kai was an easy baby, happy and full of health until about 11 months old when he came down with a nasty ear infection. After a week in hospital and some strong antibiotics under his belt, we thought he was back to normal. And then disaster struck. 

A week after his first birthday Kai was struck down with bacteria septicaemia / meningitis and was one very very sick child. Burned into my memory is the grave expression on the Doctor's face when I asked him... correction - I begged him to tell me that my baby would be OK. 

“I can’t tell you that I'm sorry" he said quietly, "he is a very sick little boy”

I can only describe the pain that tore through me as the most agonising thing I have ever experienced in all my life. It was worse than any surgery, any humiliation or any heartache I had ever known. 

How could this be happening to this beautiful child? How could this be happening to us?

I owe everything and I mean everything to the Doctors who saved our precious boy. It was a long tough road that saw Kai in and out of hospital for 18 months with various complications as a result of the infection. I thought I was coping OK with it all, kind of... but looking back I know I wasn't. 

I became obsessed with Kai’s health. I spent hours on the Internet night after night, month after month, trying to get answers and understand what was happening to him and what his little body was going through. 

Why was he was so sick? Why our child? I was angry at God or whoever was in charge of this whole show. Why were we being punished this way?

One night when Kai was 2, we were in Westmead Children's Hospital after his throat had closed up during a routine ENT check. It was late at night and I was curled up on the fold out bed watching the monitors whilst Kai was sleeping. I was startled to hear the most primal of screams coming from down the corridor. A nurse rushed by closing all the doors to the rooms, but I could still hear the screaming. 

I soon learnt that a mother lost her child that night and the sound of her screaming will haunt me forever. 

I refused to give up hope. That would not be my child and I would not be that poor mother. Kai would get better... and gradually he did.

After everything we went through with Kai, it took us a while before we tried for another child. I had lost my confidence and couldn't bear the thought of going through anything like that again with another baby.

Time does heal though and after yet another heartbreaking miscarriage we were blessed with a healthy pregnancy and another beautiful baby boy - Sam, a little brother for Kai who was now three and a half.

I checked myself out of hospital early with Sam. I was desperate to get home to Carl and Kai and start our life with our newest family member. My obstetrician came to see me the morning I asked to be discharged. He wanted to check that I was okay as he was worried given it had been a tough delivery with me hemorrhaging shortly after Sam was born. 

I thought I was OK, at least I told him I was. I just didn't want to be in a hospital. I wanted to go home.

A few days later, a friend popped by to meet Sam and see our new house we had moved into only weeks earlier. I was showing her around when suddenly she pointed to Sam who had turned an awful shade of purple.

Not again. Please no not again - was all I could think as panic enveloped me. 

At first the Doctors thought it was apnoea and I wondered how we will ever sleep again. Surely we would need to stay awake all night every night just watching him to make sure he is breathing?

It turned out that Sam had a condition where his blood was very thick. If his limbs were below heart level or he was propped up, he would turn purple. It wasn't overly serious, and it went away after a few months, but it was enough to destroy any remaining confidence I had in being a mum. 

At Sam's 8 week checkup,  the nurse at the baby clinic asked me if I had any questions for her. She didn't even look up from filling out her paperwork when she asked me and I guessed she was probably thinking “Oh second time mum, she knows what she is doing”. 

I don't think that poor woman was ready for the list that I pulled out of my nappy bag, a list full of questions about SIDS and Pneumococcal disease and every other possible childhood condition or disease.

“How are you doing?” she gently asked and the onslaught of tears confirmed to her that I wasn’t really doing OK.

We discussed my obsessive fears about SIDS and how I was terrified something bad was going to happen to Sam. I told her I was convinced that I was going to fall downstairs whilst holding my baby or that he would get sick and I would fail him in some awful way.

I didn't realise it at the time and no one actually said it out loud to me,  but I was suffering from PND. 

My worrying was out of control, as was the fact that I felt the need to have my whole day planned out from the moment my husband left in the morning until the moment he arrived home. I labelled every half hour he was gone during the day as one unit. That meant that there were roughly 16 units in a day that I was solely responsible for keeping my children alive. 

I filled every unit with an activity, usually something that involved me being out and about and around other people. I know how strange that sounds, but every single minute of my day with my kids needed to be accounted for.

It was when I started crying at the first sign of my husband preparing to leave for work, that I knew something was seriously wrong. This wasn't how I imagined staying at home with my babies would be. 

I felt like a failure and that I sucked at being a mum, like really really sucked.

After much discussion it was decided that I would go back to work and Carl would be the stay at home parent. I was so much happier just knowing this decision had been made and in the last few weeks before I went back to work I started to relax and I truly enjoyed the remaining weeks I had at home with my babies.

I was always very career focused and I worked very hard to build my career in the corporate world. I traveled all over Australia and juggled my responsibilities as a mum and wife with the responsibilities and long hours that came with my job. 

I enjoyed being at work. I loved the confidence that came with being in control. No one knew the history with my legs and no one knew how much I sucked at being a stay at home mum. They never asked and I never talked about it. I didn't like talking about it because I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me. The one thing I have always despised is pity or people feeling sorry for me. 

It was the 1st of September and I had been back at work for 2 month. It was a gorgeous sunny day and so I decided to pop out to grab a coffee from the cafe next door. I was excited that is was Spring, things were going great with me working and Carl at home, and both the boys who were now 4 and 6 months were happy and healthy. 

Life was good. Really good.

I walked back to the office with my coffee in hand and I called Carl and the kids to say hello. It's what I did every morning. As I arrived at the entrance of the lobby I was waved away by a couple of construction workings who were doing renos and so I made my way to the rear entrance at the back of the building. I casually noticed a couple of tradesmen that were fiddling with a big thick industrial hose. I didn't take much notice until suddenly the hose was snaking around the ground and the metal end whipped itself towards my ankles. 

Trying to step over the hose, I somehow ended up stepping onto it and rolled my leg into an awkward position. The hose then snaked up spraying me as I fell back into a wall of glass before falling onto the ground with my leg twisted the wrong way.

Lying on the ground in a pool of water, I was shocked and it took a moment for the pain to hit me. But when it hit, man it really hit. I lifted my head to look for the source of the pain and I realised my leg was bent the wrong way at the knee.

My bad leg.

The poor old leg everyone had worked so hard on for all those years.

Shit was about to get real. Very very real. But little did I know that this was only just the beginning.

To be continued next Sunday…