Post-Surgery & Exhaustion

I haven’t posted anything to this blog for a couple of weeks for two reasons. One is that I had my final (knock on wood) eye surgery last week. Aside from the usual week-long anesthesia hangover, it was a success. Instead of really cattywompus double vision, I now have a blurry image closely overlapping the left eye’s normal image. This is good! The change in perception is confusing to my brain though, so I have dizzy spells and a constant low-level nausea from the disorientation. I expect that to last a month or two.

That’s one reason that I haven’t been telling stories here on my blog. The other reason is that I found, in telling my stories from Iraq, that I was vividly re-living them. Sometimes that was great fun, but just as often it brought back – in full force – difficult emotions that I experienced at the time: intense frustration, rage, sorrow, and a bone-deep exhaustion. After a couple of weeks of working on the stories that I’ve posted here to date, it became difficult to climb out of bed in the morning. The simplest tasks seemed to require herculean effort: take out the trash, wash the dishes, sweep the floor… just the thought of moving off the couch was too much. I slept fourteen hours a day, and would have slept more but I put some effort toward avoiding alarming my boyfriend by doing that.

By the time I was blown up in Iraq, that bone deep exhaustion was a constant state that I overcame by sheer force of will. I refused to bow to it. I kept moving, one task at a time, concentrating my energy and will to keep moving: there were things that needed to be done. Only at odd moments would I surrender to it. One day at Alamo Road I stood still and stared out at the desert for a full ten minutes, disappearing into the beautiful space of sand and sky and the vast empty space of my exhaustion, my mind a blessedly profound and total blank. This ten minutes felt like the deepest soul rest, like a coma.

Those moments were too few. When I was flown out through Kuwait for my every-six-months R&R breaks, I spent the first twenty-four hours asleep, waking only to go scrounge a little food, then back to bed. On one passage through Kuwait I was stuck there for three or four days, and I slept through it all. And after those days of sleep, I was still longing for more when I stepped off the plane at Dulles.

That profound exhaustion is what infected me again while I wrote stories to post on this blog. Is this a form of PTSD? I don’t know. I do know that I need to heal what the writing of these stories has uncovered before I go on writing. I’m lucky – I know how to do this. I’ve slid off the road before. Ninety-seven percent of people say “Oh shit!” when they feel the car slide off a snowy road into the ditch. In Wyoming we said, “Hold my beer – watch this.”

Hold my beer – watch this.

I’ll be back in awhile …

— Seren



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