Are you a doctor? Yes? No?
Ok, if you are, you’ll understand this first part. If you aren’t, just play along.
You’re the intern on for internal medicine. It’s a rough call. You’ve been running around from morning. IVs falling out all over the place. You had 3 grapes for lunch. Patients are crashing. Relatives are screaming at you. Your resident wants lab results ASAP and you mislabeled the tubes…
It’s a war zone.
But finally, it’s 1 am. The emergency room is quiet. The wards are quiet. Your resident and SHO are sleeping. The lights in the lounge are off. You tip toe to bed, drag the sheet over your head and snuggle into a pillow that likely has someone else’s drool on it. No matter. You are simply too tired to care.
And then… *insert intense horror movie music here*, your phone rings.
“Hello? Dr. C? This is Staff Nurse X on ward Y. Patient Z has not had a bowel movement today.”
WHAT? 2 days?
She repeats herself, slower, “No. Patient…Z…has…not… passed…stool… TODAY.”
How was this an emergency? Why would she call me at 1 am with this sh*t?
Or lack there of?
And what does this all have to do with imperfection?
Trust me, I’m getting there.
Now unless it’s a post op patient, I approach constipation like anything else, history, examination etc, looking for red flags but generally, most medical patients get constipated for lots of reasons: meds, immobility, strange toilet. And while older Caribbean people take their bowel movements very seriously, it wasn’t until I became very constipated myself that I realised why a 1am call for constipation is necessary.
A few years ago, while in my youth, I decided to spend my entire 1-week vacation in bed, eating cheese (Random fact #7). The only exercise I got was walking to the fridge (for cheese) and that was it. I drank very little, moved very little and ate very little fibre.
For. A. Week.
By the end of the week I was packed tighter than a camel's a** in a sandstorm ( I Googled that particular a** pun, you’re welcome). It almost became a trip to the ER. Seriously …
After that I have never taken constipation lightly again. (I feel like I’m missing a great pun opportunity here…)
Back to present day, I had surgery last week (Doing ok) and in typical Petra-Esque fashion I had to get PREPARED.
I got new pajamas (and before you judge me they were on sale for $20). I picked out my pre and post surgery outfits (priorities). I googled everything I could find about my surgery. And guess what kept popping up… CONSTIPATION.
So I got even more prepared: I bought stool softeners, anti gas meds, prunes, fruit.
I fixed up my bathroom, changed the curtains, the shelves, the mats. I figured if I was going to be spending a lot of time in there, it should look good, right?
Everything was perfect. Except my new toilet paper holder.
There was a flaw, a fairly obvious flaw, in the design.
There I was, pre surgery, sitting on the toilet, staring at this IMPERFECTION.
OMG. How was I going to deal with this? Be constipated and stare at this flaw too?
Did I throw away the reciept? Can I return this?
WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?!
Well, after about 2 seconds (yes, that entire conversation in my head lasted 2 seconds), somehow, I felt ok. Sure there was a flaw in my toilet paper holder but it still did its job. It was still nice to look at. It fit into my colour scheme.
And at that moment, while sitting on the toilet, not yet constipated, I found beauty within an imperfection. And comfort.
Me and this toilet paper holder had a lot in common: Flawed. Far from perfect. But beautiful nonetheless.
Perfectionism kept me from this blog for almost 2 years. (It has kept me from a lot of things if I’m being honest with myself.) I wrote but I didn’t post. I needed the perfect pictures. I needed the perfect Gifs. I told myself I’d post at the perfect time.
In the end, an imperfection brought me back. And if that’s not a perfect ending to this story, I don’t know what it is.
“Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It'll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called "perfection," which will open the doors to the most important relationships you'll ever be a part of.”
― Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
(PS-if talking about constipation isn’t a hard moment, then I don’t know what is. GIGGLE.)