April 20, 2012

Being a woman and being sick

A'salaamu alaikum ya'll. Wanting to get something off my chest, metaphorically speaking. Actually, it could be literal as well, because I would loooove to get these tubes OUTTA my chest. :-) But I digress. As usual.

It's hard being a woman and dealing with the side-effects of illness in so many ways. As a  mama, as a homemaker, it's hard to have to admit we can't do things that need to be done. I'm not ashamed to tell you my shower hasn't been cleaned since I've been ill. I simply can't do it and I have no plans to lick it anytime soon. :-) So no matter how distressed it really makes me deep inside, I know cosmically speaking, it's a thing I just have to let go. I don't have the energy and with the swelling and the placement of the tubes, bending over is difficult at best, and painful at all times. So shower-cleaning has fallen by the wayside.

It's difficult to be unable to be the active, supportive sister I've always tried to be. My best friend, Um Bilal, just had hernia repair surgery yesterday. I want to cook for her and help her in so many ways but alhamdulillah I'm really limited right now. So I've set up for other sisters to cook and masha'Allah she has a wondeful husband who is able to stay home with her and the baby. But still... feel like I'm just not doing what I should for her. Thanks to her and Abu Bilal, anything I've needed since I've fallen ill has been taken care of. Garbage taken out, clothes hung up, driven to the hospital... anything and everything masha'Allah. Abu B is Cap'n's best friend of over 15 years and Um B is mine for the past 6. We are blessed with them.

It's also difficult for me from a purely feminine standpoint. Steroids are difficult meds. They do a great service (keeping my kidney from rejecting... or at least anymore!) but the side effects are harsh. I've broken out in bumps which I've never had before (except post-transplant when I was also on high doses) and it makes you gain weight/retain fluid and fat in odd places. Namely face/neck/trunk. Also the back of the neck like a buffalo hump? Yeah, Attractive. So I'm not only dealing with feeling pretty bad on some days but also dealing with these other side effects. I'm engaged, Cap'n and I have never met in person and now it's looking like when we do meet I'm going to have these unattractive side effects.

I know he respects me as a Muslimah, as a woman, as a friend and fiancee. I know he loves me for my character and he also is attracted to me. But now? Of course he will not change how he feels for me but I've changed. I feel self-conscious. I feel ugly. :-( I want to feel confident and happy when we meet not worried he will be unhappy with me. Of course he hasn't seen me sans hijab and believe me, hijab is a fat girl's friend. Now I don't mean normally but with this extra swelling... it reminds me of a bullfrog's neck. It's gross and it's ugly and

OK so that's my whine for the day. Oh wait, one more thing. Also the steroids make you ravenous. So my appetite has increased dramatically. I've gained about 12 to 15 pounds, a lot of which is fluid retention but some is pure fat. Prednisone causes you to store carbohydrates quicker than you normally would; it can also cause (insha'Allah temporary) diabetes which I now have since my massive doses in the hospital. I am insulin-dependent but it is getting better and if I'm careful how I eat, I don't have very bad problems with it.

So I've had a lot of changes in a short time. I've been put back to only 2 days a week dialysis because my kidney does have some residual function. I'm so happy for that; it's like getting a free day a week. :-) I'm also grateful I am able to dialyze; in Cap'n's country, for example, no one over 40 or diabetic is subsidized by the government. Ouch. Subhanallah. It's a poor country so that means a great number of the population with kidney disease simply has to... die. So there are still so many things to be grateful for, to be happy about.

One of those is the fact that Alex, my "baby", called last night. I haven't heard much from my sons recently. I text and call them but masha'Allah they are busy young men. I try to be patient for them. So he calls to tell me he has a band concert. He's first chair masha'Allah, he plays the bass which is a large brass horn. He was so handsome and sat so straight. He shook the other players hands (since he had beat them out! lol). It was just wonderful to see him so competent and confident. Aaminah was ecstatic too!

Then Zack called and he needed a ride back to his dorm room. He doesn't normally keep his car on campus. So we got to have a ride and visit with him as well. Since I just recently got a washer and dryer (yay!) I'm hoping Zack will come here to do his laundry. The campus is about 5 minutes from my apartment so hoping we'll hear from him soon. Sisters, as your children grow up, they grow away. It's natural in many ways but difficult in all. Of course the fact that Alex doesn't live with me makes it harder. He is always welcome here but he is so busy with school, running, band, drama club (please not girls!!!!) that he just doesn't have a lot of time. I take what they have left over and I'm happy for it. :-)

I wasn't able to get a picture of him last night cause we were so far away up in the balcony where Little Miss wanted to sit. I'll try to get some new pics of them soon; my boys are so handsome masha'Allah! Actually here are some pics from their mission trip to Guatemala last year. I appreciate the work their church does. They do not go and tell starving people "Jesus saves!" they go out and get their hands dirty. My boys helped build walls and plant gardens. They did it in the spirit of their beliefs but without the heavy-handed conversion tactics I find so distasteful. Plus, the majority of Guatemalans are Christian anyway. So it was truly a labor of love. :-) Enjoy!

Zack (l) and Alex (r) bending re-bar. :-)

Zack then Alex on the far end. :-)

Breaking rocks into smaller rocks. This is so the craftsmen can build walls. :-) Alex is in the front.

Zack translating. He is very gifted in Spanish; it's actually his minor in college. His mad skillz were a god-send. :-)
Ma salaama ya'll!


Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum.
I feel your pain about being a homemaker + being sick. I just recovered from a violent stomach virus and I actually felt bad about not being able to do the dishes or sew my client's dress.
However we are only human beings and sickness is a given. In a way, it's a good time (and after recovery) to remember the Creator.
May Allah SWT Grant you a speedy, easy recovery, sister. Ameen.

Umm Aaminah said...

Thank you sis for the beautiful reminder. :-)