The paperback escape 

While awaiting my surgery to remove endometriosis, a million thoughts spun around my head every day.  Mostly, bad ones – but some good.  I was eager to have surgery and get that giant endometrioma taken care of.  After all, I could feel it with every step I took (very small steps I might add) and reminded myself not to “over-do” it or else the thing might rupture. But for the times I wasn’t able to keep myself busy I worried about all things that can go wrong with surgery: doctor passes out, losing too much blood, the anesthesia not working and I am awake for the entire thing but can’t speak (I know that’s totally over the top, but you know you’ve thought about it too). Or not, whatever.

I would lay in bed at night and once Hayden and I would stop talking and let ourselves fall asleep, the thought of my upcoming surgery kept me awake.  A lot of questions entered my mind, but one in particular made it hard to relax: “What if the surgery doesn’t help me?” For weeks I had been researching Endometriosis and reading about others experiences – almost all saying that traditional surgery only gave them short term relief. As much as I wanted to be positive, I knew the reality of this disease.

And to make matters worse, before my endometriosis was diagnosed I had asked my gynecologist about the possibility of having it, since all my symptoms lined up.  His response? You won’t believe it. Or maybe you will – if you have dealt with the medical world on the matter of endometriosis.  He said, “Well, if that’s the case there is nothing we can do.  So there is no point in finding out by going inside and looking.”  Unfortunately for him, a big ass cyst found in an ultrasound forced him to go in and take a look.  And what did he find? BINGO.  The patient was right – as usual.  A horrible case of endometriosis.

Back to my absurd, anxious thoughts.  I was worried about the dangers of surgery and on top of that, I was pretty confined to my home and a chair because of my pain.  For as long as I can remember, the best way to distract myself from worry was exercise.  I know, that sounds like the classic remedy for everything these days. But for me, it just came naturally and it really worked.  And of course, writing – but if you read the last post you’ll know I had a terrible case of writers block during this time.

In college, when I’d get into an argument with a friend or fail a test I would lace up my blue Asics, put in my headphones and listen to something like Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”, and hit the ground sprinting all around my neighborhood.  I’d be so focused on the lyrics in the music that I’d come up with some fake story in my head, like I was running to save someones life, and just think about that and let the exhilarating feeling overcome me.

But once my endometriosis got really painful, running and most forms of exercise stopped.  I would try to get active, but I really couldn’t bear it anymore.  And being someone who has a pretty cluttered, constant mind – you’re probably thinking ADD, aren’t you? – it was very hard for me to find things that hushed my constant worries and didn’t bore me in 30 minutes.  As for the ADD diagnosis, that never happened.  Basically because I had straight A’s in college, my doctor refused to believe it.  And that is fine – although, most of my friends would probably argue.

Luckily I did find something to save me from all my worries. If there is one thing that benefitted me from going through this disease, it is my new found love for reading.  Yep, all this time and it was that simple. Reading.  Why didn’t I think of that before? Maybe I doubted it from all those years of teachers forcing me to read terribly boring books like Pride and Prejudice.  For what it’s worth that book actually had a good story line, but I find myself re-reading every sentence multiple just to understand what’s going on. Kinda takes the fun out of it.

The first book to truly win me over was recommended by a friend.  It was Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.  I remember reading the first chapter and being totally psyched about how good it was.  I called my friend and said something along the lines of this: “OMG this book! How did you find it? It’s SO GOOD. I can’t even put it down. Isn’t that CRAZY??”

She laughed and half heartedly said, “Yeahhh, it’s really good. I loved it”.  I could tell in her voice she thought I was losing my mind.  Honestly, it was as if I had never read a book before until that point.  This book constantly kept me wondering what would happen next. And when I wasn’t reading it, all I could think about was the next time I could.  Once I finished it I was on the hunt for the next great mystery novel – and I still am.  Give me a recommendation in the comments if you have one!

So it’s that simple.  Reading great books got me through the toughest times.  Instead of having just one escape , endometriosis brought me another. Hopefully I can soon use them both!

My top 5 must-reads:

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher  (If you’re looking to hit your record time for finishing a book, trust me, this is the one to do with it.)

In The Woods by Tana French (the entire series is amazing)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapenã

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