work

I started in April to move toward work again.  In thought.  Shaped my request to the Universe:  when I’m ready, about 10 hours a week at a certain pay rate, knowing that 10 hours would be punishing, but possible.

A few weeks ago I got a call for a short-term temp gig this week.  I’ve worked with the client on the same project beginning about two months before the hospital mess.  The caller wondered–would I be interested in more temp gigs?  Yes, with the understanding that I’m recovering from long-term illness and unable to work 8-hour days.   About 3 to 4 hours a day?  Yes.

On Tuesday when I got home after 3-1/2 hours at work, I sobbed the brain-fatigue out of me.  Then, spent 6 hours lying down reading (=resting).  Was able to make lunch.

Yesterday when I got home after 3 hours at work, was doing better–no sobbing until Big Mister rightly asked me to do something.  Then, my response was like being poked at with a sharp stick, the end anointed with poison.  My head throbs with fatigue, my eyes blink too slowly.  I want to lie down and just stop.

Just over a year ago, four months out of hospital, I wrote about my bubble theory of recuperation, back when thinking was a full-time exercise, often in futility.  It’s still there, my bubble that indicates when I’ve surpassed my tolerance of stimulation, of being alive to the world.

The fatigue smothers and terrifies.  Smother now, terrify later:  an advert I recommend you don’t respond to.  The terrify part is wondering what will happen to me in a few days, knowing how tired I am now, how foggy and far away.  The crashes are painful to the point of considering giving up, ceding responsibility for my life and my part in anyone else’s life.  To feel calm, to dab at paint, pet the cats.

Ceding won’t make things better.  Life would become harder, which is not that difficult to imagine.  I know in my guts what “hard” means.  Often I wonder why I’m not daily vomiting up the anguish.

I need to summon courage as I go back for another 3-hour block this morning.  I need to tell the client that I’m done for the week, that I get tired very easily and it’s time for a break until next week.  Behind those statements is fear:  fear that I’ll miss this chance to return to the working world where I earn money in order to keep our house.

One more request for the Universe:  please help me present myself coherently, cogently, and confidently.  Don’t let ’em see me sweat.

But strangely enough, when I can become still, I also find the voice of my faith that everything will come in the right order, that I’ll be presented with and take the correct steps to continue moving forward to the less-foggy.  I may teeter on the edge of a crash, but maybe it won’t happen.  I won’t know if I don’t try.

expressive plywood pillowcase

Huh?!

 

One of my next steps is to seek memory exercises.

I did find memory exercises in one of my recent online discoveries–pretty sure they’d be good exercise for anyone’s brain.  Watch this space for more.  (Maybe!)

Oh?  The blog post title?  I have to remember to tell Big Mister about two of those things and the other will be post fodder.    I’ve always loved mnemonics (phonics, too!).    Apparently.

what kind of blogger do I want to be?

These late May days are better in character than days were just a couple of months ago:  much less weird-a&& anxiety, more calm response to life, rather than the blinding brain-meltdowns of the recent past.  Recognition, learning, adapting.  Continuing stubborn.  Continuing to push the limits and just try.

I have spent about 5 hours reading around a blog I found through a WP Reader search for “brain fog.”   Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind, is one person’s catalog and commentary about his own several (!) brain injuries.  (The author writes anonymously, so I am choosing the gender.)

He chronicles his own brain-specific moments through blogging, but he has also organized a library of sorts.  Hence, the 5 hours of reading.  Followed by exhausted resting in the afternoons.

My last injured 15 months have been chronicled here, not intentionally as blog fodder, but out of need to make some sense of me through the art of writing.    For which I am deeply grateful now that I’ve discovered the battering my short-term memory took.

I began this blog because I simply had to write.  I still want this blog to be about giving an account of myself in discovering the world.  I am more than the walking wounded, but I do not do as much as I did back at the start of the blog in July 2011, so have fewer topics to wander around in.  I don’t want this blog to devolve into solely a traipse through a brain injury; although it will include those meanders, how much I don’t know right now.

It is apparently my time to discover and implement resources for healing, and especially, adapting.  One discovery in this online reading has been the documented phenomenon of cognitive fatigue.

Another is an entire book dedicated to “self-therapy” for brain injury, a thorough discussion of brain injury with the goal of creating one’s own healing process because we are the only ones who can know how things are working internally.

(Though, I am somewhat amused to be wanting to edit the book’s structure to make it more brain-friendly.  Hint:  paragraph breaks give us a chance to breathe and absorb!  Or:  my, that’s a lot of solid blocks of text there when your audience may have difficulty following!)

Those two finds alone validate my many months of solo journeying back from the brink and discovering a scrambled brain, where before illness was a very powerful, cognitively adept brain, able to learn just about anything (except calculus).

I’m tired out now from reading so much about brain injury.  Can I have a rueful laugh from the audience, please?

The answer to my blog post title is that my blogging and my life must be full of variety, so that is my goal.  I don’t yet have the how, but I will have faith that I will keep making the right choices in order to discover the steps back to a fuller life.

a bad day or two

I have devolved into being a raw nerve, of being a short fuse with frustration at skin level.   Streaming tears of exhausted deep sadness, loss, and despair.  The brain fog sitting and smothering.

I want my life back.  I want this terrible vulnerability to lessen.  I want to live without being flattened by unexpected crash landings.

I want to be able.

Other people hold my hope for a happy ending.  I breathe through moments:  I don’t have enough power to hold firmly to the hope, just enough to get beyond a long moment of despair for the future I have remaining.

lawyers, guns, and music

Friday afternoon, Big Mister arrives home from work, tired both because he worked hard all week and because he is fighting this season’s Weird I Want to Lie Down Right Now Cold.

Right about then, I got a surge of inspiration to go back to the art table, which would make it twice in one day–unheard of!   Of course, had to change clothes because I always get paint on myself.  Stopped by the laundry nook and–no. no. no!–there was water on the floor around the washer and near the hot water heater.

Well, hell, right now I’m not the most flexible tool in the crayon box, so did an unfocused Eddie Izzard dance–go to the art table there or clear up the mess and further investigate here.  Boing-boing.   Rats-buttocks, will have to stay with the watery-doom mess.

{Aggggghhh, I have a tiny window to give myself the gift of art and I have to do this?!  (Yes, self-centered, thankyouverymuch!)}

Kind of moaning to Big about the water–he had only been home 10 minutes and was sitting finally–how unfair!  He sat for a few more minutes, no doubt grumbling inside his head as would be correct, then came over to the wetness, sighed, and said he was going to need music for this.

From the CD player came Warren Zevon, a singer/songwriter (plus conductor!) with a macabre bent I became familiar with in the late 1970s, with songs like Werewolves of London and titles stranger still.  He would have understood Edward Gorey well, maybe collected his art.

Just that morning, I had paused with my coffee, wondering if I should go turn on a CD and see what would happen, if I’d have room for Baroque chorale along with the computer and coffee-sipping.  Nope.  Move along, nothing to see here.  14 months removed from my music….

After I’d done basic cleanup, Big did the heavy lifting to get the machine torqued out of its tiny corner to sit on the back porch.  We figured to let the water show itself from either the washer or water heater, so I returned to my starting place and fiddled with Art.   Big once more got to sit down.

Suddenly, I looked up at Big where, eyes round with surprise, he was grinning at me:  in time to the music, I had, unknowingly, been dancing in my chair, arms waving, maybe singing along!  Long astonished gaze.  Promptly burst into tears of relief so great that only a release like a champagne cork improperly removed would do.

Warren Zevon, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” from his 1978 album, “Excitable Boy.”  The refrain is:

I’m an innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between a rock and a hard place
And I’m down on my luck
Oh yea, I’m down on my luck
Oh yea, I’m down on my luck
Oh baby, I’m down on my luck
I’m so far down, I don’t think I’ll ever get up
If it weren’t for bad luck
Oh if it weren’t for bad luck
I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Maybe I’ve graduated to the fancy crayon box with the built-in sharpener?!

Awakenings

Do you remember the Robert de Niro/Robin Williams movie, Awakenings?  I saw it when it came out around 1990, but I’ve never forgotten the miracle-followed-by-heartbreak bit.  Short story:   neurologist messes with brains using pharmaceuticals to reverse catatonia.   Miracle return-to-life followed by lack of miracle.

In my last post I wrote about those 5 days I had recently, 5 days where I had partially emerged from the brain fog of the last 13 months and experienced life calmly and quietly. 

I told about the beauty of calm clarity being torpedoed and the return to the mush of brain-addled anxiety.  Oddly enough, it was in slow-motion:  it took me two days to fully collapse inward after the hate-bomb landed.

One line in that post, a few words only to describe the anguish of the return to the addled state.    The anguish came from observing the descent, of clawing the walls of my dry well on the way down, begging to not go back to the bottom.

I don’t get a choice about emerging into the sunshine or plummeting to the rocky bottom.  I am able only to choose tools to ease the descent and the following days/daze of being.

The last 5 months have been brutal.  That’s the only word I can think of.  Brutal.

I’m doing OK.  Tired, quiet, but returning to calm.   Hoping for more days like those 5 days.  I liked ’em!

note to self: beware emotional landmines

For part of the last week, I experienced something new:  calm and clarity.  I could feel it start on the Friday, pushing through the fog that actually parted instead of closing over me.  By that Monday I had emerged in time to enjoy the warm spring sunshine streaming shadows in the budding yard.

By Wednesday, I knew that I had been floating along gently, same rhythm as the last many months–two to three hours of “doing” followed the rest of the day and evening by “being.”  But calm.  No brain-addled anxiety.  For 5 days.  Days of — what?  How do I describe?  Days of the opposite of the last 5 months.  Serenity.

Bang.  Hatefulness right between the eyes by a once-close family member.  I had set her aside a year-and-a-half ago following a vicious attack-by-proxy.   The way I had to set our father aside a generation before he died because he was a walking landmine.

With bomblets in his pockets, he wandered through many lives, dropping them when a new shiny caught his attention.  He was a brilliant man, but his social intelligence was petrifying to observe and to be swept up in.

He taught the next generation well, but it was his social skills he taught.  How horribly sad.    He should not have been a parent.  He made a great husband, I guess, because he married six times.

What she doesn’t see:  she has improved on his version of creating destruction–he wandered away, but she flings the bombs to protect herself against any perceived slights.    And, worse yet, she doesn’t yet know that she has taught the next generation, father’s grandson, to live in fear.  She doesn’t see her ripple effects or just doesn’t care.

She also doesn’t know that sending hurt my way won’t ease the horrible hurts he inflicted on her.  Getting whole by proxy doesn’t work.

Enough about them.   Hatefulness has been commented upon.

By Friday, I was feeling tired and knew that my 5 days of calm clarity were drawing to a close.   I hung on, a deeply hidden part of me screeching with despair:  here comes the fog and upset, but it can’t be, because I felt so good and how could it just end like that for no reason when I followed all the damn rules to be quiescent?  And why do I keep saying I’ve had 5 days of calm when it has been 7 since the start of the calm?  Oh, because on the 5th day came the hate.

I don’t have much emotional capacity still.   Emotional experiences use up my limited brain battery, leaving less ability for nicer pursuits.  An overt demonstration of familial hatefulness would have been difficult in the before-time.  Now, I pay an astonishingly steep price.

Isn’t that the way of hatefulness, though?  An immediate price is exacted from the recipient, an emotional slug to the chops.  The purveyor of hate will have a price to pay.  Later.  In living color.

Now it is up to me to make room in my life for what I want:  calm.  After living through the anguish of laser-guided hate, I will put thoughts away; I must not allow them to roam around, poking at the wound, keeping it festering.  I have done this before with family.  Now that I’m well-practiced, it will go more easily, I’m sure.

my reality: brain injury

I have been circling around this writing for at least a couple of months, which means that all day long, I try to find something else to think about.  But, at some moments, the pain and horror of my situation threaten to overcome me.   I must find a way to express the daily realities, to let them wash over and around me instead of smashing me gasping under a wave, getting my face scraped off along the sand.

toasted

toasted

In the summertime, I think, heretherebespiders wondered where my upset was about all that had happened.  I didn’t have an answer.

I see now that the answer lay in the brain fog I lived in for better than 9 months.  The fog has been lifting steadily I see, and especially since about October.

This has been and continues to be a terribly lonely journey.  I have no map whatsoever.

Who can tell me what parts of the aftermath to attribute to the near-death by C. diff or to the systemic chaos and near-shutdown caused by septic shock?  (If you’re curious about the shape of the aftermath over the last year, at the top of the page on the left is the category Illness.  Choose the subhead “somewhere near the middle.”)

The truth shall set me free.  I hope.

The truths:

I have about two to three hours of brain strength per day.  If I exceed that, I become overtired.

Take a long moment right now and imagine having three hours per day to be “productive.”  That includes making breakfast and lunch, laundry, dishes, feeding the cats, and visiting with family at home.   Now add in something enjoyable like art.  How does it all fit?  It fits into a daily dance, a constant choosing.

The hints of fatigue are not broad, so I sometimes miss them.

Or, I ignore them because I just want to be the me of the before-time, with interests and curiosities and friendships and the energy to pursue same.

Brain strength is different than physical strength; brain strength operates the physical strength.  When I start to get tired, the feeling is thus:  every last one of my three gajillion body cells starts to shrink into flatness as the energies are squeezed out from those mini power plants, and I begin to crumble in on myself.

moods in collage

moods in collage

My brain goes vacant, with spaces of nothing between thoughts or conversation, my eyes blink slowly.  I have no idea that my judgement is impaired because, well….

Driving remains difficult and only attempted when I’ve checked internally for energy and tested for slow blinks.   The thought of injuring someone is too grievous to fully contemplate.

Music is still lost to me.  How can that be?

My daily life is a state of being tired.   If I become overtired, I become mush.  I melt.  Tears and sobbing amid confused heartbreak.  Apparently, this is quite normal with a traumatic brain injury.

I live in perpetual remove from the world–if you were with me, you’d see a flat affect, but might think I was being introspective.  But if you know me, you might wonder where the sparkly amusement was, the eyes crinkling as I understand a joke about to happen.

Now you’d see me waiting for you to finish talking, then I’ll probably laugh.  As long as I’ve understood the joke.

With the overtired, the hazy remove from the world intensifies and deepens, so that I’m very far away and it is too much effort to try to understand conversation, and words on a page tumble and blend into blobs of glop (‘though words tumble even when I’m not overtired).

lost

lost

Recently, quite by accident, I heard the best description for all these moments:  the becoming over-overtired is when the battery of my brain runs down.    The tears aren’t depression in the clinical sense.  Recovery time is whatever it is.

I spent a day with a friend several weeks ago, a day I have been pining for–she is wonderful people and has always fed my soul and spirit.

Two days later, I crashed hard, face-down, scraping against the sand, gouged to the bone, as the wave dragged me around.

The crashes are horrible–I want to disappear so Big Mister doesn’t witness the melty goo.  He used to hate it when I would cry; those before-time cryings were nothing compared to how it goes now.  I see the heartbreak in his face.  I want to run and recover by myself, let him not see the crying and agonies.

When I’m over-overtired, mundane household stuff can be beyond my ability.  On a recent night I couldn’t figure my way through putting dishes into the dishwasher.  Tears.  Explanation and departure.

nightmares

nightmares

My fears:

If I slow down as far as I need to in order to remain brain-unruffled, I’m terrified that I’ll just stop.

I will be left by myself in this mess.

The mess will be permanent.

The good news:

The brain fog has been lifting.

I have continued doing art since I began again in late spring, several months out of hospital.

pages and pages

pages and pages of painting

I walk better, needing less concentration.

My verbal language has returned to about 90 percent of the before-time.  I have always said quirky stuff, so it’s less upsetting now.  Mostly, it’s less upsetting because the balance shifted out of brain-addled to more ability.

My written language has returned to about 90 percent as well.  Typing and writing are both still challenging–still I write words backwards or even words I hadn’t intended to write or type.  Forming the letters by hand sometimes comes in unfamiliar patterns.

The massive, nauseous headaches of the last several months are becoming infrequent.

I get the impression that the me emerging from this mess is the sunny, happy child I was:   sweet and loving, with less of the hard person I had become.

But if I’m tired, and struggling to understand, I may explode with the fatigue of concentrating on the moment and shout in frustration.  Probably only with Big Mister, unfortunately for him and us.

I want to live and I want to live well.  That much I have learned in these just-shy-12-months since coming home from a short hospital stay to discover my brains had been scrambled.

Blurt and Run: making stamp pad inks

This is a Blurt and Run because I’m too tired, etc., to start at the beginning.  And, I only get about 2 hours a day to play.

Here I start somewhere in the middle of the new art form I’ve been dabbling in, mixed media.

making stamp pad inks

If you’ve ever used a fancy carved stamp, you know they’re nice but expensive.

And the stamp pads?!  We used to get ’em at the office supply place for the workplace stamps like DRAFT, CONFIDENTIAL, TOP SECRET, etc.   Whoo, now they’re a huge business, and have been for eons.

We’re minus-broke and while it would be nice to do whatever I want in order to recover, I really want to keep our house.  I’m improvising a lot.  Which is excellent for my poor battered brain.

Today, kids, I made my own damn stamp pads AND the ink!

Used baby wipes and felt as “stamp pads.”  Here’s where I got the ink recipe, which uses RIT dry dyes.

Makes about 1/3 cup.  Store leftovers in baby food jar.

supplies: making stamp pad ink

final product

The cloth seemed to hold too much ink so the stamps were too wet.  I put a piece of felt over the cloth.  Better.  (Next time, no baby wipes, I think.)

The dinosaur stamp came in a grab-bag package at the thrift store with that fancy roller stamp, and the print looks horrible; he doesn’t know it yet, but I’m gonna use him as a backing for a stamp I made.  Buh-bye, ugly dino!

I already had a boatload of flavors of RIT because I used to dye my own basket reed.   I KNEW there was a reason to keep all this shite!  <:-D

the brain game {la la la!}

___________________

Ed. note:   I wrote this piece several weeks ago, but I must leave this essay where it ended then.   I have no ending.  Only a continuing. 

__________________________

8 months (this time for sure)

It’s a rough go right now.  I’ve hit the 8-month mark since the catastrophic hospitalization.  This recovery feels odd to me:  I look just fine on the outside, with the exception of rocky walking, but my insides are the parts that are churning, perhaps in healing throes.  We can hope.

I have very little capacity for being in The World; going to the grocery store twangs the one nerve I have left.  Even as I drive into the parking lot, my eyes search, it feels wildly, for obstacles and dangers.  I search because I have trained myself to do so.  In the new way, in the after-time way.

So much we do automatically and autonomically, for which I am thankful.  And relieved.  Stimulus is everywhere, stimulus that in the before-time entered my power station, and was duly cataloged as Usual, Unusual, or Danger.

Ponder this:  what happens if I don’t know that my brain is not cataloging?  What happens if  there are blanks where there should have been autonomic awareness?

Sad answer:  I fall off a ladder because my inner know-er has lost track of me on the ladder, on those steps, where I am moving deliberately, slowly, like the mountaineer I used to be who knows to always have three points of contact.

sense of space

I have a blunted sense of space, of my relationship to the space I inhabit.  It is as if, momentarily, I cannot see, a long, slow brain-blink, and the danger is upon me:  falling off a ladder, smashing my hands, walking into the edges of walls.

The reason I knew had to train myself to search for obstacles and dangers is that on a day leading up to the ladder-flight, I became aware of brain-blanks, spaces where there should have been none. I was driving and my brain blinked.

I had planned to turn left, had the signal on, was looking both ways (yadda yadda), and when it was clear, I drove straight ahead, tires slightly squealing.  I got lost for a nano-nanosecond and made an error while driving.  Cars are enormous weapons and I made an error.

In sorting out these brain blinks with the help of Big Mister, we discovered that in that week of thrashing myself to the mat getting my studio mucked out, I really did push myself way too far.  I couldn’t hear the brain-voice that told me I was done.   I soldiered on, as is my wont anyway, right to brain exhaustion.  The exhaustion created spaces in mah haid [“haid” with a drawn-out Scottish brogue]….

shapes of my world

Words have given me power, power unrecognized to me until now.  Words have shapes, made up of the letters that belong.  Too often now, I do not recognize the shape of a word, so cannot spell it, cannot even work out how to spell it.  Tides of heavy grief wash through me and I sob with sorrow so deep I cannot find bottom.

The essence of Me has shifted and I have not caught up.  I don’t even know if I should bother to try to catch up.  Maybe this is all temporary, a horrible life lesson, and my facility with language will return.

If words are shifting shape, then I cannot form memories with them.  As an editor, one of joys was the puzzle-icious nature of inviting a whole document into my head while I looked at its parts.

That is to say:  Reading on page 296 and the author has used a synonym for a term or concept introduced much earlier.  I must puzzle out whether this will be startling to the intended audience, so I pause and search in my head for the first mention of that term.  Ah, yes, it was on page 34, first paragraph, 3rd line.

My assumptions about immediate comprehension and synthesizing appear.  The in-the-background brain-work that happens, the cataloging, the remembering.

I started playing Bookworm sometime in the last few months.  For about a month now I have been unable to play because I cannot see the words, and if I try, it is entirely too much effort inside mah haid.  Now, I play a Mahjong game, a matching game, and that feels like a rehab exercise.

fun?

Big Mister will leave within an hour or so for the campering vacation I requested but am unable to go on.  He asked what kind of fun would I have on my stay-cation.  I didn’t mean to be a downer or to be negative, but the truth was that it would be business as usual for me:  staying close to home (driving = bad), being very quiet, obeying the cats, reading….  I guess it isn’t time for easy Fun yet.

Though today there was supposed to be Fun for me–My Peeps were coming to pick me up for a lunchtime hang-around.  We have not been together in way over a year, maybe 1-1/2 years?! But, ooops, sickness in our midst and we’ll have to reschedule.

Mrs. Ploppy of The Peeps, endured chemo for the last half of last year, only finishing this past January.  (She is now 14 months cancer-free!  May we have a hallelujah from the audience?!)  She has been an incredibly stable part of my recovery; she has been my friend.

Our Third is regular ole, regular ole, healthy and happy.  Her husband mused one day if perhaps Mrs Ploppy and I were keeping Third around for spare body parts.

power of the word

Apparently, my heart has transported itself to my right side, protected under the clavicle bone.  How do I know that?  Because when the masseuse told me to allow a word to surface from my inner self and then to store it under my heart, I felt the word being stored in my heart on the right side of me.

It wasn’t that weird dyslexic confusion that has been magnified lately.  With calm certainty, I knew that’s where my heart was.

Recovery-time is huge right now, the changes to my brain right smack in my face, like a crack across the cheekbone outta nowhere.  Repeatedly.  Daily.  Hanging on…

To lose my facility with words has been an ego-bashing.  Is this what the Buddhists mean by, to rephrase, flattening the ego?  I dunno.  Don’t care right now.

My words have been a source of power to me, a power that has fueled the Me for half a century, back to the moment as a toddler where I wailed that I couldn’t read.   Even then I knew that words were a power source, that words open worlds.  “Bushels and acres and stars and worlds….”

If I describe this time only as “disconcerting,” I leave out the internal, lonely horrors.   But “disconcerting” suggests a cacophony, a lack of organization, a lack of a unified whole.

Indeed, this moment is disconcerting.

quantum physics and holistic medicine

I don’t have any stinkin’ answers about any stinkin’ thing.  I will, however, share what I find and you can do some pondering.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that following my catastrophic personal perfect storm, my brain has taken a hit and I’ve had heretofore never-ever-ever-or-ever-experienced difficulties with reading, writing, and comprehension.

Deirdre, our resident Buddhist, no-worry lady and all-around well-adjusted person, has recommended several books to me.   I have listened and noted the titles, but until now have been unable to comprehend.  One of the books she recommended is The Biology of Belief, by Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist with seemingly radical leanings (oh no, not a radical!).

I’ve made it through about a third of the book and was stopped in my tracks this a.m. by the illustration on page 73.  Herewith:  think about it.  That is all.

page 73

The Biology of Belief

arrrggggh I did it to him again…

Yesterday, I took a tumble off a ladder to the concrete floor in the garage.   I fell into about the only blank place on the garage floor except for smacking one arm into the giant steel scooter carrier.

steel scooter carrier (L); steel motorcycle engine (center); cast iron sink (R)
I only hit the scooter carrier. How is that possible?

I was extremely lucky:  the only reason I didn’t break my arm when it hit the thing is that the arm smacked parallel to the long lines of the thing.  The bruises are coming along nicely.

pretty colors!
Using forensic evidence, I deduce that I flattened my twisted arm against the scooter carrier. Can’t believe I didn’t break it. Or my head!

I didn’t even hit my head; I’m a little disappointed:  maybe it would have shaken up some of the fog and forced it out my ears.

I also didn’t break the heavy-duty electric stapler, which I’d left at the top of the ladder.  Thank-the-whole-Universe that it wasn’t in my hand!  Can you imagine the plunk-plunk-plunk-plunkety-plunk of an out of control electric stapler?!

I learned something:  I do scream spontaneously at the top of my lungs when I’m falling uncontrolled to a hard concrete floor and wondering what garage stuff I’m about to slam into.

Big Mister learned something, too:   From all the way in the house, he can hear me scream!

Sorry ’bout that, Big.  I’m so sorry you had to find me in a heap on the garage floor, preceded by hearing the screaming.  Egad.  (Happy 14 years!  Look, I didn’t screw it up:  I’m alive!  Again!  Bonus points!)

Well, back I go to the garage in a few minutes, where I will stay, feet on the ground and look at pretty pictures or somethin’ safe!

For more pretty colors, go see Kathy McCullough’s post about her tumbling down the narrow, steep stairs in her 100-year-old house.  She made those stairs into art.  I could mosaic the floor in some way…  hmmmm….  Maybe just sidewalk chalk drawings!  I know!  A chalk-person outline!  har har har!

 

 

“… and another thing!!”

Ed. note:  Fair warning:  health care ravings to follow.

For some reason, I re-read this morning the post I made in March of this year, one month, to the day, out of hospital.  I saw vehement clarity, but complete ignorance of my true state.  This state has lasted in several forms for 8 months post-hospital.

why not talk openly about septic shock?

I also realized, through what I did not say, that the hospital and follow-up family-doctor folks were quite willing, in that horrified over-the-top, it’s-gonna-get-you way, to talk about C. diff, but avoided talking about the septic shock as if they had something to hide or as if the sepsis was an unmentionable.   Odd that.

I’m pretty sure they had nothing for which to be reproached.   It wasn’t the fault of the hospital that I was so ill and they did save my life.

Their silence projected an unnecessary, and quite hurtful, whitewash over the near-death experience.

From casual research, just searching in the WordPress Reader for “sepsis,” I see that medical folks are baffled and appalled by the high incidence and violent onset of septic shock in hospitals.

Ah.  That’s why you didn’t talk to me about it.  CYA.  Thanks, heaps.  Pretty damn cowardly.

Sometimes I just want to package up my posts about my recovery and send them somewhere, to someone in the medical world who might give a damn.

Which is a source of piss-offedness:  why did I have to piece together what had happened to me, what had tossed me, writhing, at death’s doorstep?  What in the effing hell?  Hellooooo, health care, where were you??!!  @*&†¿☹!!  Oh never mind.

We now return from the rant.

my personal perfect storm

Yes, I was out of it when I wrote that post, but too, in the intervening months, I have been able to piece together the puzzle of the perfect storm of events that led to the catastrophic state in hospital.

In case anyone is curious, here are the parts of my own personal perfect storm that I have pieced together so far.  Still some blanks, like those jigsaw puzzle edge pieces that the cat knocks to the floor and the dog eats.

This will be the first time that I’m aware of (?) putting my perfect storm into words.  (Memory has taken a beating from the septic shock, both past memory and making new memories. …)

Part 1 — systemic infection

Unbeknownst to me, I had a jawbone being eaten away by infection, probably for several years, because of a not quite sterilized root canal.   I’m not blaming anyone.  I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to track down all those bacteria before closing up the dead tooth.

During those years, I’d become ill in an odd way:  sinus infections along with extremely low energy, fainting, and general malaise.

A good feel for that time is, in hindsight, captured in my blog posts in the month or so leading up to my departure for Italy (McHales’ Navy, for instance).  I thought I was aware how awful I felt.   I had no idea what was really going on.

Here is what was going on:  indeed did have sinus infections, quite likely from the infected jawbone.  The low energy and fainting are directly attributable to the low blood pressure, which is a sure sign of systemic infection.

Systemic infection = bad —> deadly.

Part 2 — C. diff

In January and early February, (13 February = hospital for me) I went to see a patient first in a hospital, then in a care center.  Recall that C. diff spores live on surfaces in those places and the spores are very difficult to kill.

I probably carried spores home with me.

Part 3 — antibiotics

I got antibiotics on 6 Feb, 16 days before leaving for Italy.  The antibiotics prescribed were a broad-spectrum variety, meaning they kill everything that isn’t nailed down, as opposed to an antibiotic with a more narrow focus.

The antibiotics took just under a week to destroy the biota that were fending off the C. diff spores.

(I bet you’re way ahead of me here.)

the perfect storm hits

Systemic infection + C. diff = septic shock (read:  near-dead on 13 Feb).

The End.

(PS.  You can’t get rid of me that easily!)

never mind; I’m used to the other way

Big Mister, swell Big Mister, has been giving me a boatload of his time.  He works hard at his job 5 days a week, makes the drive to visit my mother one evening a week, does 98% of the cooking, fixes my shoulder when it goes bad, and just generally is a delightful companion.

Today, he was helping me to extend the shelving in the studio.  My idea about construction is:  I just want two shelves right there, only about 4 feet long, so it should be fast.  No. No. No.  Poor patient guy.  He does manage to show me the error of my ways like so:

“Here, hold this.”

“Do you want to hold this up or go fetch?”  (I chose “fetch,” but he made me be the holder-upper.)

“Help me tighten the clamps, then you won’t have to hold the wood while I use the saw because it makes you cry.”

I’m willing, so start to twist the screw thingie to get the clamp to meet the boards.   I don’t even bother to think:  lefty-lucy, righty-tighty because it’s never what I expect.  I’m pretty sure the guys what put the threaded things together were actually standing upside down, and that’s why sometimes it’s left-tighty, righty-lucy, like the camper windows.  Why why why?!  So I’m helpin’ by tightening the screw thingie and he says:

“Wait!  Stop!  Oh, never mind.  It’s OK; I’m just used to the other way.”  (The other way meaning:  he almost always has to correct the direction I’ve chosen.)

I barked with laughter.  How could I not?  How could I argue or feel offended?!

Shelving is coming along.  !!  Yaaaaaaaay!

 

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