Having dealt with a belly full of uterine fibroids for over ten years, I finally opted to undergo a total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy and salpingectomy. My surgeon is one of the most skilled in the region, and I love his bedside manner. All went extremely smoothly, including my recovery.
I have good energy. I’ve returned to almost all my normal activities.
What I was not expecting was the sudden drop in estrogen and what that would mean for my body, my moods, my brain function. After all, it had been 20 months since my last period. I had thought that “the change” was finished with me.
The most disruptive change I’m noting in myself is that I’ve lost the filter between thought and mouth, the little editor that keeps me out of trouble by stepping in when I’m about to put my foot in my mouth. Mind you, I tend toward American behavioural norms, which sometimes causes me to stick out in a department meeting at a Canadian workplace. But I’ve always been pretty good at biting my tongue when someone’s feelings were at stake.
Now I find myself with zero patience for the people who drive me crazy. I see no change in my feelings or behaviour around the people with whom I’ve always been able to be my authentic self. Fortunately, that’s 98% of all the people I have to deal with on a given day. But there are those two at work with whom I cannot–for fear of hurting their feelings or dooming my career–say what’s really on my mind. These hormone fluctuations and accompanying mood swings are turning me into a loose-lipped Dr. Jekyll/Ms. Hyde. Before I even realize it, I’ve popped off at the mouth!
Going into the long weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving, I stopped in at Donna’s Deli for one of her mouth-watering deli items and ended up with an impulse purchase: a Bialetti espresso maker. In spite of having watched four YouTube videos on how to use it, I managed to put it back together wrong (missing the filter) after the initial washing, test run, and rewashing.
I had decided to cook a multi-course southern meal for Monday. I would cook a little bit each day for three days, giving myself ample time for my lesson planning, professional blogging, and finishing up some tasks that still need to be done for a webinar I’m co-facilitating this winter. By spreading out the cooking, I could also spread out the work that requires cognition and focus. I planned also to have time for nature walks and artwork.
But when Chuck and I awoke Sunday morning and I tried to prepare espresso for us, the maker didn’t seem to want to work. I thought it was my burner not getting hot enough, and so I unwisely turned the heat up from the recommended medium to high. Still no coffee. Finally a volcanic sludge began to ooze out of the spout, at which point I took the can off the heat and set it down on a cold area of the stove, then walked from the room. I was about three paces away when we heard the loud boom. It sounded as if a bookshelf had come crashing to the floor. I peeked back into the kitchen to see every wall and ceiling covered in a fine dark-chocolate coloured spray.
Amazingly, I didn’t curse or cry. I just calmly told my partner he would have to get his coffee at Tim’s, he couldn’t use my bathroom since the floor was also covered with a dark brown later of espresso-fine silt that I didn’t want tracked back over the carpet in other rooms. This clean-up would require about ten minutes of careful planning of steps before it could even begin. And the person who would need to formulate the plan had not yet had her brain-igniting caffeine.
It took four hours, including a lunch break, to complete the job. After climbing up a step-ladder and wiping areas of the ceiling in two rooms, after mopping and rinsing the mop dozens of times, after taking every pantry item and spice bottle off the shelves on two sides of the kitchen to wash and dry them, I was too exhausted to do anything for the next hour or two but collapse on the sofa with my phone.
My partner came back a little after I’d completed the cleaning with bags of groceries and a plan to cook us a nice dinner. He also wanted to watch a movie after.
I had gone from looking forward to making our Thanksgiving meal over a period of three days to feeling resentful of the day that had evaporated, leaving me to crunch my big cooking and baking projects AND my lesson planning AND my Kelly time into two days instead of three. I told my partner how I was feeling.
He admitted that he had received an offer to work ten hours Monday instead of the expected eight, and that he was just as happy to get the overtime.
“So you’re okay with it if I cook the meal for you next weekend instead?” I asked.
He was more than okay with that. I put the collard greens with garden kale I’d made Saturday in the freezer.
And now I am experiencing that delicious gift that only other introverts who fail to block off and fiercely guard enough alone time on their calendars understand: the relief and joy that springs from a last-minute cancellation.
Before me today spread hours of alone time.
Time for a nature walk.
Time to blog.
Time to bake a sweet potato pie if I feel like it.
Time to plan or start a new linocut.
Time to continue colouring that print of an Indigo Bunting that I hope to frame this year.
Time for me.