I’m not good at being sick. (Is there anyone who is? How do they do?). I close myself. Wear an invisible blanket around me and bite the bullet until I’m capable enough to take the world in again. Being in bed at a hospital and in the hands of healthcare staff do something to me. I feel small and diminished. It all reminds me too much of the past. When I had cancer and they took my uterus. I was the only 25-year-old among a bunch of elderly ladies who sat in the tv room and read gossip newspapers, seemingly untouched. I thought my life was over. Never before have I felt so lonely and devastated.
This time it’s different. The operation is voluntary and not traumatic in that way. Literally, it may give me another life. Yet, it’s hard. I don´t recognize myself. My eyes are blurry and my brain is sluggish and syrupy. I strain myself to formulate words to people around me. The body is stressed. Speeded. The pulse rises to the double as soon as I move. I have never tried drugs but I imagine it’s like this when you are high. I feel chased. Would like to strap on a pair of running shoes and run as fast as I can. Although I’m one of the world’s laziest people. The troublesome shaking does not want to stop, the worst is in the legs. In order to get some rest, I force myself to the bed and firmly press down the legs flat against the sheets. Restless legs have got a whole new meaning.
The doctors are looking for explanations for my and S’s condition. Some symptoms are typical side effects of the drugs and will ease. Others, such as shaking, are puzzling. They consult and give the drug manufacturers a call. The explanation they finally agree on is that we have received a bad batch of the medicine given in high doses at the time of surgery to knock out the immune system. Mats Brännström, chief of the project, is worried. A whole world has become aware of his life work and the pressure is enormous. And we are worn-out and depressed at the hospital. He has nightmares involving a black lump of organ coming out of us and he tells me ”You have to pull yourself together”. Han calls my partner and asks him to bring magazines and other things that will distract me. And then he sends up the team’s psychologist.
We have talked about this though. What happens to the mind and body when moving from a healthy state to a sick. The other patients at the ward have usually been sick from kidney or liver disease for a long time and usually recover a few days after the transplantation. Often, the donor is worse than the patient. Now it’s the opposite. My mother is a patient at the women’s clinic, but walks relatively unconcerned across the hospital area to visit me a couple of days after the surgery. A day after that she is released from hospital. I continue to vomit and shake.
Against the pain from the surgical wound, I get headache pills. Against the shakes they give me morphine syringes. First intravenously. Then straight into the legs. When that does not work, I do the thing that gives me a fairly relief. I walk. I walk manically in circles, at first in my room and later on in the corridor. Lap after lap, I walk in my Foppa slippers, day and night. Sleeping pills have no effect. Eventually we are allowed to go outside the ward and down to the main entrance. In the hospital area there is a construction site. Building dust and sensitivity of infections are a bad combination for us and we need to wear a mask and a chunky coat over our clothes. S comes back from a trip to 7 eleven, crying. She feels like an alien that everyone is staring at. I don´t have the energy to care. Steeled, on the verge of resigned, I keep my fake smile on and try to do what is expected of me. No nurse likes a grumpy patient. It feels a bit embarrassing to be down and gloomy after an operation like this one. I swallow my medicines, drink a lot from the can and write down how much I pee and eat. Trying to get as much food as possible in me, though only the smell of food makes me nauseous. I avoid the day room for that reason. Also, I do not want to risk having to talk to any of the other patients. It feels extradited and tricky to get me into a discussion that I have a transplanted womb. I let them believe I’m kidney or liver transplanted.
With the uterus it is all good
With the uterus itself however, it’s all good. That’s nice. Every day, Dr. Liza comes in and measures the flow of the uterine arteries. They are the ones who provide the uterus with strength and those which the entire operation is depending on. On the ultrasound scans you can see how my vagina is once again connected with something bigger. A room for a child. Inside the uterus is the endometrium, the layer whose thickness will be decisive for an embryo to get caught. On the ward where we are located, a special examination room has been set up for us. On shaky legs we crawl up in the gynecological chair to do the first biopsies on the uterus. Those who show how the uterus really feels. It looks good. Mats Brännström is relieved. I long for home. I need to get out of my shell and lick my wounds in private. Feel like myself again. Then I can also be happy about the operation.
On the twelfth day, I´m finally released. I go home. I breathe out. Five days later I’m back in the hospital. I have a fever and a diffuse pain in the abdomen. The body shows all signs of a rejection.