Varicose Veins are another of the delightful things I inherited from my Father – together with his nose, long, gaunt face, hair trigger temper and belief that I know best about all things. There isn’t much I can do about my nose or the shape of my face, I have worked very hard on my arrogance, unasked for offering of advice and my anger and temper. My personality has changed, but the physical attributes remained. When I first saw myself in profile aged 15 I was devastated and begged my Mother for a nose job when I turned 18. It never eventuated.
And after years of aching, itchy, legs and never being able to bare my legs in public in the summer, I decided to put myself in the hands of a vascular surgeon. Luckily she was a lady and a nice one at that. She listened to my horror of anaesthetics, scalpels and hospitals, and made me feel safe.
I went on a waiting list that was anticipated to be at least 6 months, and forgot about it. Then came a phone call – could I commit to a slot in 10 days time as Wauchope Hospital had had a cancellation. Ged agreed to be home and I grabbed it. Better to be sick and wearing support stockings mid winter! Then there was a huge debate about my refusal to have an epidural. Some people are scared of flying, some of horses, some of heights – for me it is epidurals. There’s no way anyone is going to stick a huge needle down into my spinal cord. Ugh!
Finally the anaesthetist agreed to a General Anaesthetic for me and I was booked in. Rather like childbirth, it is a good thing I had no idea what I was in for beforehand!
Up really early on the Friday morning and drove myself and JP to Wauchope, for him to drive the car back home. Nil by mouth and all that, but clutching my thermos of tea for after the op. The hospital was extremely efficient and everything happened very quickly. I was first up so straight into the hospital gown, the anaesthetist came to meet me and I made him PROMISE not to do an epidural (!) and then the surgeon came to mark up my legs. Quick as a flash I was in pre-theatre and needled and the next thing I knew I was out, freezing cold, teeth chattering and nurses flitting around me asking about pain and temperature and trying to stabilise me. Then I was out in the day surgery warmth and drinking my tepid tea before staggering into the loo to get dressed. In and out must be their motto because they rang Ged to come and take me away before lunch and he decided to take me straight home.
Of course I was flying from the anaesthetic for days. We had our big mid-winter party on at the weekend so were surrounded by friends, and I mainly sat with my feet up in our newly configured sitting room, knitting. I even went for a walk on Saturday although that was pushing it! I supped champagne and enjoyed being Queen for a few days.
When the drugs started wearing off my legs really ached and I wondered what on earth I had been thinking. Then I really crashed with a temperature, throwing up and diarrhoea. Not sure whether it was flu or opiate withdrawal. Whatever, I was a groaning, shivering, blob under the duvet for 2 days. Thank God Ged was there to keep the wheels turning while I hibernated.
It was great to be able to give in to my body’s demand for rest and recuperation, rather than forcing myself up to look after Ben, pushing myself beyond my limits as I have done so often over the last 5 years.
I knew when I decided to have my varicose veins ‘stripped’ that it was an outward, physical, manifestation of the inner work I have done over the last few years – letting go, forgiving, changing. And in succumbing to the surgeon’s knife I was ripping out the old, outdated, gnarled and twisted that I no longer wanted or needed in my life. Prescribing myself a new beginning.
Under the duvet I let go . . . I meditated on my last foray into a world of opiates and the heroin withdrawal I masterminded and oversaw for my friend. I repeated silently to myself ‘I lovingly forgive and release the past’ as I slipped in and out of deep and dreamless sleep.
And I healed. On all sorts of levels. I rested. I stopped cranking the handle and the world still turned . . . I gave myself permission to retreat, recuperate, be vulnerable and weak. I let those who love me care for me and see the control freak felled to her knees – vulnerable and pathetic. It’s only me who has a problem with that!
And when I arose after my exile of travelling dark recesses of my soul and psyche and passaging in places of pain, I was different. MUCH more relaxed, with my sense of humour returned to me (how I have missed you!), a sense of balance and proportion about work and play and a real readiness and willingness to listen to others, to learn at the feet of masters, and to give myself pleasure and nurture myself with the things and people I love.
And as I recognised that I needed to grow and change more, to journey along more challenging healing paths to the heart centre, I began to look for places and people to help me. I found a book I have had since 2004 and have put off and off and off embarking on. Sequel to the life changing ‘The Artist’s Way’ it is Julia Cameron’s ‘Vein of Gold’ which demands daily walks, morning pages and a voyage of self discovery through the trivialities, tedium and trauma of one’s past.
I pounced on the book like an old friend and readily committed to the journey. Perfect winter work. As we hibernate, heal, connect deeply with our most immediate family and friends and ourselves. Mining ourselves for our riches, dreams and inspirations. Plotting our futures and pathways to our goals as the winter winds howl and the cold scratches at the doors and windows with its icy fingers.
Winter is time for inner work and introspection, just as summer speaks of reaching out to friends and the world, partying and celebrating the warmth and fertility. Just as the land sleeps and rests so must we. It is good for me to finally learn to rest and not to be constantly questing, working, doing. The seeds of deep change are being planted this wintertide, and despite my averse reaction to drugs, hospitals and surgery, I can see that science can complement metaphysics to effect deep change and transformation.
Will I submit for the other leg too . . .. ???!!!