Tuesday, December 15

on vertigo and not socialising

I’ve never been blasé about the merits of being able to touch type. Ten years ago on MSN, it facilitated high velocity MSN conversations, and today it allows me to write this blog with my eyes closed on account of the vertigo.

Today in my appointment, which my mum had driven me to, I found myself feeling increasingly unwell. My thoughts began to flit from the conversation, at first missing only a word here or there, and then missing whole chunks. Where am I going to throw up? My mind obsessively probed the room. Aurelia was out of her car seat, and I was bobbing her up and down on my knee to keep her from crying, the motion intensifying my nausea. For some sick reason, my mind saw the bowl-like shape of the car seat and seriously considered it as an option, before spying a bin under the desk. While trying to produce the right amount of ‘Mmm, yes, yep’ sounds, which I can only assume were not being dispensed at appropriate moments in the conversation, I was fixating on that bin. I could grab it easily, it was perfectly nearly empty, the beauty of a morning appointment. It would be faster than trying to get a plastic bag out of the nappy bag, although the plastic bag belonged to me, and the bin did not. I was beginning to perspire, thighs stuck to the chair; it is so hard not to hurl when you need to. At last I managed to interrupt, “I’m sorry, this is a bit off topic, but I’m not feeling very well and was just wondering where I should go if I need to throw up?” And as I had hoped, she immediately offered the bin and placed it closer to me.

It has been eight weeks since I shuffled into Emergency holding onto Ben. The nurse who called me from the waiting room looked at the notes, and then the pint sized baby. She said, “So, she’s 24.....” and she was about to say ‘days’, but knew couldn’t be right based on the size of the baby. Then it clicked that I was the one with the problem, the new mum, and no, it wasn’t a haemorrhage as she suspected. I performed like a drunk when asked to walk and tiptoe, and as my world swooped around, I was grateful for the testing and the validation that yes, I had vertigo. Why, I asked? Is this a common post partum experience? The doctors said that sleep deprivation can have unusual manifestations in those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and they thought it was one of them. Common? No.

But of course!

Some days I feel well, almost vibrant. But if I have a bad night, this combined with the last seventy nights {that is a lot of nights}, brings on the swaying, as does leaving the house. I stagger to the toilet holding onto door ways. I am nauseous, with lack of sensation in my hands. There is no cleaning, driving, crafting, or walking. But there is a trail of guilt. Guilt that family members haven’t seen much of Aurelia, because of me. Guilt that I am always an apology at events, always delaying catch ups, always needing a lift, always spending money to get help, always perceiving an obligation to share my beautiful baby and needing to keep her in my arms at home.

‘Stuff people,’ says my husband, who is the antipathy of a people pleaser and unchanged in fatherhood. It’s the nicest thing to say to a new mum with vertigo.

A new chapter has began. 

The one where I have to re-learn how to live not only as a woman, but as a mother, in a society designed for the busy. Like that mother and baby group I’ve been put in, which meets at 1.30 in the afternoon.  Are you actually telling me that mothers are awake at that time? And the maternal and child health nurse genuinely thinks that my three month old needs the socialisation? Because I kind of think we could all do with toning it down, and sitting in peace in the sunshine, and not doing from time to time. Maybe in some painful way it is good that I still can’t run on the western conveyer belt, so that I can show my daughter what it is to just be, and to be at peace with being not performing*. If she hops on, she might struggle to ever hop off. And who said the conveyer belt is even headed in the right direction? 

* If I can ever grasp the concept for more than a week.