When the clock went blurry.
It started within hours of my first son, Jack, being born. I remember looking at the clock on the wall in my hospital room and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t read the clockface. The numbers were all blurry. ‘I can’t see properly.’ Mum had been sitting next to me looking concerned, ‘What was that Suzie?’
I had been awake for close to 48 hours. Jack’s love of attention grabbing entrances started early. There had been an induction, labour and an emergency c-section. But none of that mattered. He was finally here, and healthy and so perfect and round and cute. I was intoxicated with relief.
Happiness was momentary
My baby and I cuddled as the doctors and nurses went about putting me back together. A routine question had me glance up and notice a nurse moving my legs. I realised I couldn’t feel my legs. It was surreal, watching the nurse organise my lower limbs as if she were tying a bow, and feeling absolutely nothing. I started to panic. I started to verbalise my panic.
The nurse re-assured me the feeling in my legs would return as the epidural wore off. I became frightened. I’d read stories about women becoming paralysed – shouldn’t sensation have returned by now?
Then my pulse lowered. Jack was swiftly removed from his cosy little position on my chest and taken to the nursery. Heated blankets were brought in. A drip went into action pumping relief through my veins. After about 30 minutes my vitals settled, and some sensitivity returned to my legs. I could finally leave the recovery room and be with my family.
What is an epidural?
My sister, who was pregnant at the time, still recalls walking into my hospital room and being horrified at my drained appearance and worried demeanour. I was the first one in our family to have a baby, and she would be the next. I was the window into her imminent future and the view was most unpleasant.
It was during this visit that I became fixated on the clock and my inability to read the dial.
Days passed, but I kept thinking about my vision going funny. I became hyper aware of my eyesight. Was it sometimes blurry? Was it still sharp? When I was up late at night feeding, I would notice visual disturbances in the dim light. Something wasn’t right.
After a few weeks of worry I visited my GP and an ophthalmologist. My eyes were examined, photographed and tested. Everything appeared normal. Neither doctor believed there to be anything wrong. I, on the other hand, was convinced I had a serious neurological issue. Likely a brain tumour or a deadly degenerative disease.
After a further three or four visits to my GP, she reluctantly agreed to an MRI - to shut me up. She told me as much too.
At the time there was at least a week or so wait before getting an appointment with an MRI machine. I’d worked myself into such a state that I’d shamelessly preyed upon my medical connections to get a special appointment the next day - a Saturday. The results would be available Monday.
What it's like to have a brain MRI
I attended my ‘special’ appointment. The hospital clinic was officially closed so it was all very quiet. I spent most of my time over analysing everything the radiographer said and did. When he said, ‘Have a good weekend.’ – what did he really mean? Did he know something?
I had 48 hours before I would finally know my fate. I kept looking at baby Jack and thinking I would miss out on a life with him. I started to assess my life. What was important? Who was important? You see, I really believed in the possibility that something was seriously wrong.
My first little bundle of joy
In this hyper aware state of mind, do you know the one question I kept asking myself? Why did I ever waste ANY time worrying about my weight or appearance? It all
seemed so trivial and unimportant now. As I considered my own mortality, it was the last thing I cared about.
When you experience anxiety, in particular health anxiety, you take everyone close to you along for the ride. My parents, my husband and my sisters. Even though they didn’t tell me at the time – they were also really worried. It was hard not to fall under my dark pessimistic spell.
It was for this reason my husband secretly took that Monday morning off work…
Read Part 2 now - Why I think Strong is the New Pretty - Part 2
Have you experienced a health scare? How did you handle it? What stands out in your mind?