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Love, Relationships and Catheters…

The blog post in which I hand out unsolicited relationship advice. Because, jeez, who doesn’t want that? But serio, I think this advice of mine rocks and I’ve loved my seventeen years of marriage so far, so maybe I know a little something? I dunno, here’s just what I think…

There’s a whole galaxy of articles and books over-brimming on this one.

And I think that’s neat.

Well done to anyone who wants improvement in their life and seeks advice on how to achieve that improvement. But please make sure you get it from the right source for you.

A lot of the advice I read about includes doing extra things with, or for, your partner outside of your daily life to ‘keep the spark alive.’

For Example:

Go food shopping together

Gaze into each others eyes for several minutes

Vagina weight lifting (to enhance the female sexual experience)

(I’ll be honest with you. My vag and I almost had heart attacks when we read about the weight lifting she and I will never. ever. be doing.)

But truly I have actually no problems at all with what anyone else does to improve their relationship.

Something I am uncomfortable with, however, is the idea that people might think that they HAVE TO do all these extra things in order to keep their relationship on trend.

I think it’s awful that there might be couples out there who think they have to be fitting in a certain number of date nights per month or else they’re destined for divorce.

I hate the idea of couples placing so much pressure on their relationship. Or feeling that they have to reach perfect couple level (like the status of their relationship is some kind of gaming app) or like they need to compete with perfect-looking couples in FaceBook land.

And here’s why I hate that…

1) Because it doesn’t exist. There is no perfect couple.

And…

2) Because I believe that true love lies in the little things.

I believe the little things are where the magic lives.

Love is in the moments when we fuck up but try again. It’s in forgiveness and acceptance of our flaws and acknowledgement of all the good we are trying to bring.

We’re all messing it up. Picking up the pieces. Trying to re-write the chapters of our relationships in which we fell short.

The important part of all that is the keep trying part.

Because — life happens.

At some point life is gonna come along and knock so hard on your door it’s gonna blow it right off its hinges. And it’s gonna bring with it a whole lot of happenings that you and your perfect other half never saw coming.

And that stuff you never saw coming is going to create ups and downs, arguments, hurt feelings, hurdles and an often difficult navigation to finding a middle ground. As well as all the wonderful stuff in between, of course!

That is the long-term relationship. They’re full of wonder and beauty and can be the best ride of your life. But they’re bumpy. Really bloody bumpy.

We all want our relationship to survive the bumps.

And I can’t help but feel the trick to surviving the bumps is yes, again… those little things.

Those little things, that in the beginning seem to hold no meaning at all, end up being the glue that holds the relationship together.

If you ever doubted that the little things matter, just think about that last part of your relationship.

When you’re 95 years old…

The guy who doesn’t mind scooching your catheter bag out of the way so you can sit closer while you both slurp down your liquid steak and vege dinner — THAT is your guy.

When you’re too old to both A) see, and B) give a fuck about, the full blown beard you’re now sporting and your man doesn’t care because he just loves the fact that you woke up again this morning — THAT is your man.

The little things.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps all the bumps in our long-term relationships are just preparation for the end of our time together on earth — the part just this side of ‘until death’, when it’s all about adult nappies and reminding each other to put our teeth in? (In the same way that toddler tantrums prepare parents for the teenhood that is coming.)

But for real, as far as I’m concerned, you just need to know yourself. Be true to that. Know what you want and need. Ask for that. And allow your partner to do the same.

If you do that, then you are naturally creating an environment of trust and honesty. One where each others desires and needs can be known and met, if possible.

For some people (or many), being true to yourself may include doing the extra things to ‘keep your spark alive.’ If that’s you and your partner, then go ahead, jump in and have fun with it.

I’m not saying couples shouldn’t aim for passion. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t try to satisfy their desires and needs in relationships.

I’m saying that you should do exactly that, but do it by knowing yourself.

Don’t live your relationship by someone else’s standard.

When you’re diving into the Grand Canyon of relationship advice, follow the advice that fits you.

That’s my advice on relationship advice. Take what you will.

Love on, friends. Love on.

xxx

P.S, photo courtesy of my husband and myself. 😊

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Day Six – A Very Important Day

Day Six began as I rolled out of my bunk bed in the bus and felt muscles burning that I didn’t know existed. As I walked to the toilet block of the caravan park, I remember wondering whether I really needed to walk at all today. Calf pain – OUCH! Did I really need to use my legs today?

And the answer was, yes. I did need to use my legs. I had to pick my sore self up and dust my sore self off, because today was a very important day. Today I was going to meet some VERY important people.

When I was 20 years old, I found out I was pregnant to the love of my life. I was over-the-moon happy. At that point all I had ever really wanted was to be a mother. And I had my baby growing inside me. I was overwhelmed with joy, and apart from some mild nausea, I was feeling good. I continued to feel good for about three days, at which point my nausea increased to a constant state. Then another few days later I started to vomit. At first I felt like I had entered a kind of right of passage because having morning sickness was a physical sign that I was indeed pregnant. But it didn’t take long before I knew something was very wrong. Because my vomiting didn’t stop.

I didn’t have morning sickness. I didn’t have evening sickness or all day sickness. I had every 30 minutes sickness. Then every 15 minutes sickness. Everything I tried to eat came back up immediately. Everything I tried to drink came back up immediately. If I didn’t eat or drink anything, I vomited stomach acid. After vomiting stomach acid for a while, my stomach and oesophagus were so wounded that I started vomiting blood.

I became so weak that I couldn’t stand up by myself. I cried every day. My whole body ached. I stopped urinating. Severe dehydration and mineral depletion set in.

Within two weeks, I lost 10 kg and weighed in at 38kg. I was a skeleton. And I thought I was going to die. I went from happy to be pregnant, to desperate to survive.

My first hospital admission was at 6 weeks gestation. My last one was at 16 weeks. I had many admissions, during which I would be fed fluid and anti-nausea/vomiting medications through an I.V. Once I was eating and drinking orally and keeping it all down I would be released on oral meds. Then after a couple of days at home the oral meds would stop working and I would be admitted to hospital again. And again. And again.

I had bruises all over my arms from I.V lines. Sometimes I was so dehydrated that my veins were very hard to get a needle into, which meant the nurses would have to dig around trying to get a vein – so that I could feed myself and my baby.

After many hospital admissions, at 16 weeks I had my last. I went home, was still sick, but I managed to keep some fluids and food down, on the oral meds. Slowly the sickness eased. At around 20 weeks I started to feel much better – although still medicated. By the end of my pregnancy I had gained that lost 10kg plus another 11kg on top. I was doing well.

I took anti-vomiting meds up until the day I gave birth. But I was a lucky one. Many women with HG are deathly ill the entire way through their pregnancies. I cannot imagine being violently ill while carrying a 40 week baby belly around.

These women are seriously the strongest women I know. They go through hell to get their babies here.

My pregnancy was a crazy time. A whirlwind of pain, and sickness and anti-pregnancy green glow. I was traumatised. My partner was traumatised. My family was traumatised.

So what made me so sick?

I saw many doctors. Some doctors were sympathetic but most had ridiculous theories as to why I was so sick, like…
“You’re young”
“You don’t really want to be pregnant and are angry at your child, and the vomiting is a physical manifestation of your desire to rid your body of this child”
“It’s your first child”
“You need to not eat anything for 24 hrs, that’ll fix you”
“You just need to eat something”

Looking back it makes me so sad. I see my younger self, so alone and afraid, being told those stupid and unhelpful things.

On my second hospital admission someone told me I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). That it wasn’t “just morning sickness”. And that it wasn’t my fault.

“It’s not your fault.”

It took me a long time to not feel like a failure for having this condition. I didn’t meet even one other person my whole pregnancy who had had HG. Actually, I didn’t meet another HG survivor for many years.

I was told that HG was less likely to happen again. So we tried again a few years later. But that time my HG was worse and it won.

More years passed.

Then last year, I found a special group of women — just like me. I found a group of women on a Facebook group who had all experienced the trauma of HG. They all understood the pain, the loss, the grief, the anger and the loneliness.

The trauma from my experiences with HG, particularly my last pregnancy, left me scarred. I have deep pockets of fear, and vast oceans of pain that rise and fall with the tide of my memories.

I have never felt more alone than I did when I was so sick and in hospital or in bed or on the lounge, wishing something would end the pain – even if it meant taking me with it.

But meeting these amazing HG survivors online helped me feel less alone in the world of HG. I can’t change how I felt while I was pregnant. But I can know that I wasn’t the only one going through it. I wasn’t doing something wrong. It wasn’t just me. This meant the world to me. It changed my perspective on my experiences.

I was privileged to help some of these women, through our online group, during their pregnancies. I tried to support them while they suffered agonising illness. While they went in and out of hospitals and tried different treatments and battled daily. And I was so grateful to be able to give support and understanding to them. To make sure they didn’t feel like they were the only ones suffering.

These women are very special to me and they are spread across Australia, and some internationally. And I couldn’t come to Sydney without meeting some of these amazing HG sisters in real life. Today I was meeting those women.

So today, I couldn’t pay attention to my sore calves. I had to walk on and hug each of these amazing women tight — in remembrance of tough times, loss, survival and victories.

And I did. And it was wonderful…

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Thank you to those beautiful women who have helped me heal my broken heart.

Now, to end this post I am bringing it back to those painful calves and neck: I’ve been using magnesium oil and voltaren gel on them. But I’m open to any other suggestions! I think tomorrow I will be even more stiff than today, so I am expecting them to be worse. I have kept moving and stretched as far as I can, but I mean, I can’t do a rise at all at this point. It’s just too painful. Do I relax and take it easy? Do a little exercise? Or do I push through and do the same things I was doing in the lesson to keep the muscles training? Do I ice them or heat pack them? Any experienced advice is appreciated.

A sore but satisfied…

BB