Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Air Kerma

I knew it was coming. The perfect storm had been brewing for weeks, and while there had been the occasional histrionic outburst, it had only ever been an opener to the main event. Today, after a tutorial that confirmed that I still have far too much to cram into my head in 5 short days than is humanly possible, I came home in the bubbling, gravid evening with the skies bruised and angry to make dinner.

We have been eating a lot of 15 minute meals lately, simple, boring food that the kids will eat and require minimal effort or brain power. I had a little more time this afternoon so I made boeuf bourguignon. Or casserole. Meat in gravy with a few vegetables.  I did it properly too, flouring the meat, preparing the vegetables, deglazing the pan with yet another half drunk bottle of wine bought to try and understand the mysteries of a glass with dinner.

It smelled fantastic. It simmered down to the perfect gravy consistency. The house smelled of red wine and garlic and beef. Perfect for a stormy afternoon. Warm and filling.

Of course, the kids refused to eat it. The Monkey making gagging noises - she hates "sauce". The Possum tasting the potato with gravy exactly once. The Elfling only ate hers under sufferance and a willingness to show up the others. I teetered on the edge. Reason completely lost and temper frayed. Ego already shattered on one front, pushing precipitously on another.

The Possum had a tantrum about something. He has them often now, his understanding of speech and language and his deficiencies in both culminating in outrage at not being understood. He stood in front of me, then climbed on top of me to put his screaming face in front of mine. He could not speak to tell me what was wrong as his tantrum had reached the state where he was only capable of emitting noise and crying. It escalated as I was incapable of understanding him. I burst into tears, and then became desperate and terrified of exploding. I put him on his bed and shut his door fearful of the way I had lost all sense of reason. I didn't yell or scream or hit, and that scared me more than if I'd done any or all of those things. I was beyond anger.

I started to shake while sobbing. My brain unable to process anything. Leaning forward, my arms holding up my torso as I rocked and sobbed. Barely aware of Bingley beside me. I retched and only just made it to the bathroom to divest the only appreciated meal of the evening into the toilet bowl. I knelt on the cold floor with the tiles digging into my knees and convulsed. My head resting against the lid as I sobbed and vomited and shook. I have never in eight years wished so very much that I could be alone. My mascara stung my eyes and my teeth hurt. Horrible suppressed memories of hyperemesis flashed across my skull making me shake more. The terrifying feeling of my body being separate from myself and losing all control. My body only a vessel for my angst until it was all gone and the familiar aching sensation filled the void.

Emptied, I turned on the shower and put my shuddering self under the spray, as hot as I could before my skin flamed and stung. Scrubbed clean and pink and hollow until the shaking had steadied and only my insides that were quivering. I brushed my teeth in the soft pyjamas I wore when I birthed the Monkey then took a deep breath, walked back into my real life and the bedtime routine. Dressed the Possum, read him his stories. Feigned interest as he counted the tigers in his book before kissing him goodnight and walking out of his room.

Then, pretense expunged, the anger returned. The desperate snotty, tearful anger. Anger at Bingley for every time he smiles condescendingly and tells me "you'll be fine". Anger at those that don't understand. Anger at the fact that I did this to myself by accepting this job and pursuing this path. Anger at the hopelessness. Anger at my brain for not being as youthful and spry as it once was. Anger at ridiculous curricula that don't cover understanding of concepts but expect memorising of tables and formulae that I will never ever use in a clinical setting.

And then, eventually, I stopped crying. It took a while. I used a lot of tissues and I haven't picked them up yet. They're in a damp, snotty pile beside me on the desk. But once I'd stopped snivelling and the fog of despair had lifted a little I was left with the "now what" part of any complete, messy meltdown.

A very large, very tired, very sensible part of me wanted to go curl up in bed. Sleep for a month and wake up in another time and place. But the bigger part, the simultaneously damaging and preserving part of me picked up my bag of study notes and text books and pulled them out. Arranged them on the desk and picked up a highlighter. Made me practice exam questions and leaf through a hefty text book and ask Bingley to give me a pop quiz.

When I say I am going to fail this exam, it is not for dramatic effect - the proportion of persons who fail is actually quite high, and my best case scenario involves failing at least some sections. Acceptance of this fact is very difficult for me to come by, as it feels, rightly or wrongly, that I have so much more to prove; when all I know for certain is that I can prove that this is a very bad idea. There's also the stubborn fact that I've never failed an exam before, and I don't particularly want to. Aside from the ego thing, if/when I fail this, I have to do it again, and more than the study and the cost, it's feeling this way for another 6 months that terrifies me. At least with hyperemesis there was a baby to cuddle at the end.

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