What Do You Get When You Cross An Elephant And A Fish?

Yesterday I sat in an empty waiting room for five hours, and waited to be called for surgery. I was edgy, and I could taste the nervousness in my throat. I read a book for a while, I surfed cat videos on tumblr, I (ironically) played the solo game in Words with Friends, I looked up cheesy elephant jokes, but I was continually aware of the fear bubbling in my chest. After a few hours, I slipped off my shoes and gave in to the urge to tuck my knees up to my chest.

Where were they going to put the cannula – would they try to put it in my foot like last time? When I woke up, would I be in searing pain again? When they asked whether I was in pain, would I automatically shake my head no, like last time? Would the shorts I’d brought fit over the bandages? What would I do if they didn’t? How long would I have to wait, staring at the wall, until my bag with all my stuff was brought up from admissions and I’d have something to distract myself with? When my friend from work (who can’t drive) came to “pick me up”, would I manage to stand up the whole way down in the elevator, even if it stopped at every floor?

At 4pm, the doctor came out to tell me the operation wasn’t going ahead. They’d had an ICU patient and it had bumped me off the list. Could I come on Friday instead?

I was almost in tears. The logistics of taking another day off work aside, I don’t want to endure more time waiting. I just wanted to get it over and done with. I haven’t decided, yet, whether I’m going to do it at all.

On my way out of the hospital, I texted the consulting rooms to cancel my appointment with Nikki. I was so upset that the thought of having to be in a room with her was unbearable. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get past my instinct to withdraw when I’m struggling, instead of reaching out for comfort.

The cancellation was 100% because I didn’t want to go. But I chose to text the consulting rooms instead of Nikki as a test. I wanted to see whether she would contact me to see how the surgery went. Our session time came and went today, and she didn’t. And she didn’t text me beforehand to say good luck, the way Jen did last time, the way Anna would have. I’m really having trouble getting used to her way of doing therapy – it’s so much less involved than anybody else I’ve seen.

I’m so mad at her for not hearing me that it brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Last week, when she told me to have a lovely weekend, the Angry Child actually had the urge to hit her.

Mentally, it’s almost like everything’s fine, but I can tell it’s not. This morning, the workman who’s tearing up the tiles in my bathroom arrived, and I let him in, then went back to bed and went back to sleep, not even waking when he walked past my bed to leave. My entire apartment is 4 metres by 4 metres, and the idea that I could fall asleep with a stranger literally in my bedroom is kind of horrifying.

All day, I’ve had that frantic feeling. The one where it feels like you’re running really late for an important meeting, but you’re wearing high heels and the floor is glass so you can’t run, and all that urgency just builds up in your body. I need to swim, but with all the bandages I can’t, and after the graft I won’t be able to swim for another 12 months.

I should reach out to Nikki, I know. She’s one of only two people that even know I’m having surgery, so God knows I need her support. But it feels too hard right now, and it seems like we’re never in tune. I’m still seeing her because I don’t want to start all over again with someone new, but is that a good enough reason?

P.S. The answer to the joke? Swimming trunks!

What Do You Get When You Cross An Elephant And A Fish?

17 thoughts on “What Do You Get When You Cross An Elephant And A Fish?

      1. Well that is something. Sometimes the small comforts matter. They make a difference. And I am really sorry for the hurt because Nikki didn’t check in or follow-up, and the “have a lovely weekend,” I would have felt really sad about her comment, too. Part of me wishes you would have gone anyways, just to share about your hurt in person. Over her comment, over how you needed her, what you are needing. There is just so much to attend to, I wish someone was there to attend to it with you.


      2. I should have gone, probably. Nothing ever got fixed by sitting at home quietly ruminating about it. I don’t really know how to reach out at this point but maybe I’ll ask for a call tomorrow.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It is so hard in that moment. But good to notice, sitting at home ruminating doesn’t help either.. great awareness, to notice what happens when you cancel or push away.
        I don’t know why I feel compelled to say this, but as much as my therapist cares, she wouldn’t reach out to text to check in about a surgery or major event, either. It is a one-way street of communication, which has caused a lot of pain inside of me at times, but now, after this long with her, I appreciate that I do the reaching, and she does the responding. It works because she really does respond. But I just wanted to say that even though she didn’t reach out, I bet she was thinking of you.


      4. I’m understanding more and more that my past therapy has been unusual (with Anna and Aisha and Jen often reaching out to check in with me), and I think you’re right – I don’t think she has totally forgotten me because she hasn’t reached out. I think it’s more because she so completely didn’t get it in the session that I needed/wanted her to prove that she does understand it’s a big deal by checking in with me. It will be okay, I’m just feeling averse to talking to her right now.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The want and need for her attention and reassurance is 100% valid and developmentally appropriate. Of course you want her to reach out and check on you, to know she is there and cares. That little part needs that. And I wish she could get that all the times she needs it, and that therapy wasn’t so limited. It hurts. So aversion, makes sense. Move towards or away? We can’t really tell in these kinds of moments.


  1. I like your joke but I am so very sad reading this. I can feel your sad. I don’t know if you need words but I’d like to give you some. You are valuable. You deserve love and care and attention and soothing and nurturing. You do not deserve pain. And you are sparkly.


  2. Sirena says:

    I wish I loved closer. I’d come sit with you if you wanted. And I’d make you hot drinks… or cocktails if you preferred and we could swear at the world together. 🙂 Take care x


  3. Oh Rea. I’m so sad for you. It took a lot of courage to show up the first time. I dont blame you for being mad and sad and just, ugh! I really wish Nikki got it. I’m sorry.

    I hope you make some nice hot tea with honey, wrap up in a soft fuzzy blanky and cuddle with a teddy bear. Know that you are worth a lot, and that you deserve care and love. Xx


    1. That sounds like just what I need. It’s been a crazy week at work, which is sort of good because it’s kept me distracted, but sort of bad because it means I’m just keeping everything I’m feeling under the surface. And things have a way of exploding out like the Loch Ness Monster doing a backflip.


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