TW: Hospital.

Hi all- massive TW for this post. We discuss hospitals and various traumatic things that happened there. Shout out to the nurses, who were wonderful in every way.

Monday the 9th May. We are in the gym, feeling happier than we have done for a long time. I’m on the leg curl machine, and pull myself up higher on the machine- there’s a sharp pain on the right hand side of my lower abdomen, and suddenly a gush of blood. We freeze. What. The. Fuck.

The pain is too bad to do another set. We are upset as we climb off it, and head for the chest fly machine instead. We do a couple of sets before the pain gets even worse, and then realise we aren’t well enough to keep going. We finish up, go home, and try to deal with the pain. We go and teach, too.

Tuesday 10th May. The bleeding and pain is worse. We feel awful, and triggered, and the younger ones have realised that we are not on our period. What the hell is happening, they want to know? I explain to them that it’s the ovarian cysts that caused us so much pain last August, and they are still scared but get it. Nineteen is feeling upset and unable to eat. We still go teaching, in awful pain, but we feel like it might just go away by itself… We hope.

Wednesday and Thursday, 11th and 12th May. The pain is pretty much unbearable. 19 has her flip out and we are all exhausted, in pain, wrung out and needing rest.

Friday 13th May. It gets so bad, we call the NHS non-emergency number. They are concerned by our symptoms and try and get an ambulance out, but we end up going to hospital driven by our Mum. We’re all scared at this point. The Dutchman arrives, and we spend the whole time after mum has to leave in his arms. Sadly, we are discharged with painkillers and sent home to book another ultrasound scan.

Saturday and Sunday, 14th and 15th May. We exist in a haze of pain. Making breakfast on Saturday, we pass out and the Dutchman carries us to the sofa. He continues to care for us in every way over the weekend, taking our minds off the horror that’s going on in our own body.

Monday 16th May. We end up at the GPs, and she’s so concerned that she sends us to the hospital. We have to go through an internal exam. It’s one of the worst things we have ever experienced. The Dutchman kneels beside our head, squeezing our hands and telling us it’s ok, we are safe. It hurts. He tells us he’s still there and he loves us, and he isn’t going to go away. We are admitted and they arrange an ultrasound scan for the next day. The Dutchman has to leave, but he Skypes us when he gets home to make sure we are ok.

Tuesday 17th May. The ultrasound shows a golf-ball-sized cyst on our right ovary, just like we predicted there would be. We knew there was a cyst. We have all been feeling unable to eat, and the pain is on the one side. However, we have a sinking feeling about this. Although there’s no cancer detected, we suspect that it is probably not going to make the doctors do anything. Later on, we try to get out of bed because we think we’re going to throw up, and pass out entirely. When we come to, there’s a concerned team of people present and a doctor there, and a drip and cannula in one hand. The younger ones hate that. It hurt for them to get it in because our hands are so bony. Nobody knows what to do about the cyst, nobody has any information or advice for us. We are point blank told that there’s no way to prevent cysts and that it’s not being drained.
Wednesday 18th May. We realise the only way to get any advice is to ask for it. There’s an amazing nurse who eventually comes to talk to us and give us options to help prevent the cysts from coming back. We are released with a handful of painkillers again, and told not to worry, all women get cysts due to their monthly cycle and sometimes, some women’s hurt a bit. This is past that, though. There’s a golf ball sized cyst sitting inside us and refusing to budge. It’s been there over a week. We are all scared and hurt and upset, nineteen is fuming, we all are at our wits end.
Thursday 19th May. A week since nineteen had her meltdown. The cyst is still there. We are glad to be home, but the full horror of hospital has started to sink in and we’re terrified of what we remember. We all continually flash back to the internal exam. It was horrendous. For any person who hasn’t been through trauma, it would have just been embarrassing and uncomfortable, which is bad enough. For us, it was torture.
Friday 20th May, today. We are sent a letter informing us that due to the fact we had been in Accident and Emergency and were prescribed medicine, we are to be charged for this. ¬£8.40, “as you would be if you had visited your GP.”
The callousness of this hurts us. We were in A and E because we were really ill, not swanning in complaining of a common cold. We don’t mind paying, but there was no expression of sadness for us having to be in A and E, and the letter is callous in its tone. Moreover, we are scheduled another scan and an appointment for something not mentioned in the letter in June. JUNE. That’s a long bloody time to be left in pain. There’s a little unconcerned light-hearted statement about having an internal scan, and the probe would be, “about the size of a tampon. I don’t care. None of us do. We are not having anything like that happen again. They saw the cyst on a normal ultrasound, that internal one is unnecessary and downright abusive.
We can’t handle this. We have been thoroughly retraumatised by the whole experience. The Dutchman has offered to ring them for us and find out why there are two dates on the letters, and to explain that there may be adverse reactions to demanding inappropriate scan techniques. The letter mentions the normal way of scanning first, which we are fine with. Why is there the need to be so flippant about the internal scan?

 

We’re all really struggling and upset still. On Sunday we are supposed to be flying out to see the Dutchman. We hope that it works out ok, if the cyst bursts in mid-air we will be in trouble.

 

The only thing that’s comforting us right now is the thought that in two days, we get to be with him again. There’s our dog curled up with us, and our family have been very supportive. We are just praying that the pain gets no worse.

TW: More pain and panic and hell in my own body.

So, May started really well, we were doing ok…

And then BAM. Cyst pain, plus anxiety from hell that carried the crawling skin with it again. We have a deep-seated phobia of parasites, and all we wanted to do was cry.

The Dutchman has been so good with us, but yesterday really made us realise that he is in this for the long haul.

Monday- I’m at the gym. I’m feeling a little rough from a cold, very tired and weak and sleepy but I go anyway. The hamstring curl machine has a bench to lie on, but it’s angled so there’s a small raised part in the middle. I pull myself up a little higher before starting set three and suddenly, there’s a sharp, searing pain in my right lower abdomen, close to my hipbone.

Immediately everyone is panicking, and the younger two (14 and 15) start freaking out. What if it was something really bad? What if we were going to have to call an ambulance and wait three hours again? Nineteen isn’t happy, worrying about what happened last time there was this pain- five hours of hell before being discharged with a handful of painkillers, not believed, and told to man up. I’m frightened because I know this is cyst pain, but the pill I’m currently on for birth control should have stopped this.

Monday continues to drag on and the pain gets worse. There’s blood as well, and that just makes it all worse. How big was this thing anyway? How long has it been sat there? Fuck.

 

Tuesday- cyst pain is there all night, with crawling skin and sleeplessness. Anxiety claws at us all day. We struggle through choreographing a dance for some students who are going to take an exam soon, but pretty much teach from a chair. Then comes the last class of the day- beginners’ adult ballet, which basically means we have to dance flat out all the time so they can see what to do. Adrenaline helps us ignore the pain, but by the end of the evening we are struggling to put our shoes on. Eating has become difficult, for two reasons- 19 is so upset with our misbehaving body that she doesn’t want to eat, and it’s physically not appealing. We feel too full and aren’t very hungry.

 

Wednesday- Depression sets it. We wake up in the morning with more pain and blood. Gym is out of the question. We pretty much work on massage coursework all day and then head off to teach in the evening, where we can barely do anything because we feel awful. When asked to do class, we say we really can’t because we still feel so horrible, and we are told by our mum that it’s a little weird that we have been unable to do class for three weeks running. She alludes to May being a difficult month with suspicion, as if I’ve accused her of making May hard. It upsets us so much because she has nothing to do with making May hard- it was that fucking horrible boy way back in 2005 who has made May such a gargantuan struggle, but apparently she thinks it’s her somehow and is now annoyed with us because we are bleeding internally and can’t dance. We spend all of the rest of the day feeling awful, guilty and very upset. We’re also asked to cover classes on Thursday AND Friday. We’re left feeling like we are second-class citizens in our own home, because instead of being taken seriously, we’re told that we need to be more flexible and cover more classes. It hurts. Why is nobody listening?

 

Thursday- We wake up AGAIN with pain and bleeding. This has to stop. Please make it stop. The blood is triggering us, the pain is too. We head off to therapy, and I’m so tired from shouldering the pain for all of us that I have no energy to drive, so Nineteen kindly volunteers.

Thing is, our therapist is in a meeting and we had re-arranged for the day after.

Nineteen loses it.

She decides that she’s not eating for the rest of the day, and she then decides that she’s been lying to herself. She gets angry and upset and decides that even after being invited to lunch with Mum and Sis, she’s not going. So she drives us round the hospital and out, then on a network of roads where you really need eyes in the back of your head to be able to drive there. She refuses to open the window, despite the heat- England has been hotter than the Med recently, and yesterday was no exception. She refuses to drink, so we are weak and dizzy and dehydrated. She decides to walk us incessantly round the town centre when we would normally have our coffee break, and makes sure that when we do sit down, it’s somewhere cold and uncomfortable.

I can’t do anything, I’m too tired. I can barely raise my voice to comfort her. 14 and 15 are begging her to eat, they keep saying they’re hungry and frightened- both of them get upset easily when they haven’t eaten. 19 is so convinced that she doesn’t deserve love that she’s even ignoring the one person who can make us all feel less anxiety- the Dutchman is worried as hell, because just before 19 took full control of us, 14 sent a message to him. He’s petrified of us not eating enough and fainting on the motorway, so this is a huge concern to him. Nineteen then deletes all social media and leaves our phone at home. She doesn’t want the slightest chance for any of us to be able to contact him.

I finally persuade her to head for a shop and buy a bottle of Vimto. I tried to get her to buy Lucozade, but she says it’s too sugary and there are too many calories in it. She won’t even buy biscuits. She apologises a lot, and is on the verge of tears. She’s really upset and thinks everything she did today is evil. I have to eat the biscuits we keep at the dance school as a snack, and she says she can’t eat them because she doesn’t deserve food.

 

When we’ve taught our class and headed home, I’m finally able to surface for long enough to drive. I’m in pain and exhausted, my back is sore, the cyst (or burst cyst, because that’s what this is) is aching and we are all very upset. Nineteen is buried so deep somewhere in my head that she is hard to reach. The waves of self-loathing are crippling from her. We manage to get in and message the Dutchman- with a wave of guilt, we see that he tried to call us, not on Skype, but actually through our number. Nineteen feels even worse.

 

Fifteen and Fourteen take the call between them. I’m too exhausted even to talk properly, I’m shattered and upset and desperate for 19 to talk. She won’t come out. She’s decided to stay inside and not talk to anyone until she fades away, then we can have a lovely life with the Dutchman without her fucking it up. 14 and 15 relay all this to the Dutchman, who sounds very sad and concerned.

Eventually,. Fifteen is a badass and forces 19 to come out and talk. She’s less than impressed. 14 backs fifteen up, and they wait and watch and make sure she will actually talk.

They have a long conversation. Nineteen is so utterly convinced she’s evil, she’s even refusing the hypnotic hugs the Dutchman can create for her. She isn’t listening to him say to her he loves her, and instead thinks she has only got one option- to grow up and leave everyone alone, because all she causes is trouble. She doesn’t even believe we would all grieve for her and miss her. It’s horrible.

The one thing that finally gets through to her is the Dutchman telling her that of course she flipped out for a good reason today- people keep piling shit on her head and taking her spoons (Spoon Theory, we’ll explain in a minute) away without her permission.

That starts her off crying. Nineteen hates crying and doesn’t do it, as a rule. This time she’s in floods, crying into the hood of her jacket to muffle her sobs.

 

The Dutchman very kindly explains that she starts the day with a certain number of spoons. We think that, at full fitness and healthiness, we start with about 12 spoons. Imagine without spoons that you can’t eat anything, therefore you don’t have energy if you don’t have any spoons. At the minute, the Dutchman and Nineteen work out that we all have about eight spoons when we wake up, because anxiety and insomnia and pain are taking their toll. Add to that the fact that getting up, showered, dressed and actually getting breakfast takes about three spoons- it would take four but we ate, so we get a spoon back. Normally after that something unexpected happens- the other day our provisional booking form for getting married came back with all our dates changed, so we freaked out and had to ring up the registry office to find out what had happened. As it happened, that involved one call we made and another call we had to take, so take two or three spoons away for that. The Dutchman thought that taking three was probably right, because we are scared of phones, ringing people or answering calls. That means we only have two spoons left.

Next, we have to get started on coursework. That’s labour intensive, so take away four spoons- hold on. We only have two. We’re now in negative territory for spoons- that means we are running on less than empty. Lunch is currently only replacing two or three spoons because we aren’t feeling hungry enough to eat what we normally would, so that doesn’t actually help. Lastly, we have extra things- teaching takes at least eight spoons, so now we are at minus eight or nine spoons, and then tea takes so long to get into us (because we finish teaching so late) that it only replenishes about five spoons (that’s including the fact that normally it would give us six or seven, but at the mo, due to cyst pain, we don’t want to eat too much). So, we end the day at -3 spoons.

 

The Dutchman was kind to us all, reassuring to every one of us, and kept telling Nineteen he loved her until she finally believed it again. She thought that telling us all that we deserved our abuse was evil and cruel and she deserved no love for it, but he kept telling her that she’d been abused so much that she honestly knew no better. He kept letting her know that she had had a number done on her, that it wasn’t her fault, and eventually she began to tell him that she loved him too. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t believe that she’s worthy of love, but we will all help her get there.

 

All in all, May is proving vicious this year, which we’re disappointed by, considering that last year, it was nasty but not this bad. Please, please let the rest of the month not be like this. It’s a good job we’re seeing the Dutchman today, because we need the comfort. We’re all very fragile and wrestling with depression, anxiety, pain and panic attacks and insomnia. We just need a break away from everything.

 

Also, Nineteen? We still believe in you, we still love you. What you had yesterday was the mother of all panic attacks. The Dutchman said to tell you he loves you too.

May.

May has begun, it’s a trauma month and we all hate it.

At the moment, it’s been stressful because our nana fell two weeks ago and all the family has done ever since is rush round to help. The problem is, we think she should be in a home- she has Alzheimer’s and has no idea how to look after herself, and hasn’t for a while. Of course, we have tried to tell our family but they don’t want her to go in a home. Trouble is, we are all buckling under the strain, our mother included.

The good thing about May so far has been the fact that two of us have solved some huge issues.

Hi, it’s Fourteen. Twenty six said I should tell this bit, then Fifteen will have a go.

I realised the other day that I’ve finished my unfinished business. The Dutchman has a theory that the reason we are all still here is that we have unfinished business, like Casper. He says that the trauma that created us left us with unfinished business, with something we needed solving. The reason I’m here is because I just wanted permanence. I wanted someone to care. I broke up with a boyfriend I had fallen in love with because he didn’t know I had, and he just thought we were friends with benefits. Now I have the Dutchman. He has promised to be there forever. I feel safe and loved, and I know he’s telling the truth.

Hi, it’s Fifteen. I feel weird, starting to write like this. I usually start conversations with the Dutchman with those words, and I’m talking to all of you.

Last Saturday, the Dutchman and I were messing around. We just started off cuddling, then it sort of morphed and before I knew it, something happened. I remembered what I wanted that horrible night when I stayed with that ex boyfriend who decided to hurt me, and I realised that when I stayed there, I just wanted… I feel weird writing this. Nineteen’s saying I should just write it and not to be scared or ashamed. Here goes!

I just wanted to be seduced and made a fuss of. I really wanted someone I loved, and who loved me, to lie me down and take my breath away.

That’s what happened!

I finally got my wish.

It’s been a big deal. We’re all really happy about it. Twenty six is thrilled, nineteen has been telling me for ages that I deserve to feel better. The Dutchman cried when I told him what our afternoon meant to me.

We all had a tough, stressful day today, but the Dutchman reminded us that we are still smiling, and it’s May.