healing powers of expressive writing: James Pennebaker

I’ve been wanting to write about Pennebaker’s “healing powers of expressive writing” ever since Isobel left a tantalizing link in a comment back in April.

Since my energies and brain-power wax and wane, I’ve been waiting to be ready to write an informative post.  Ain’t gonna happen.  The being ready.  Why wait to share?  (As it is, I am struggling here….)

To get started, go read the short article, please, linked in the next paragraph.   For more information, see below at “more info.”

For nearly 20 years, Dr. James W. Pennebaker has been giving people an assignment: write down your deepest feelings about an emotional upheaval in your life for 15 or 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days. Many of those who followed his simple instructions have found their immune systems strengthened. Others have seen their grades improved. Sometimes entire lives have changed.”

As regular readers know, illness has changed my abilities in reading and comprehension.  The good news is that back in May when I was still mired in bad muck, I could understand the intent and instructions in Pennebaker’s assignment.   No special writing ability is necessary.  Note the wisdom about being ready to write about a particular moment.  Smart.

I printed out the two callouts from that first link to use as my instructions.


two callouts I used as my instructions
source:  http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/

✍  ✍  ✍  ✍  ✍

more info

Truly, it is worth wandering through.  (Each link will open in a new tab.)

James Pennebaker’s home page at the University of Texas.  At the bottom, see the links, some of which include online exercises.  A sampling:

Enhanced guidelines for healing writing, still short, but with a little more to think about.

Insight into your own use of language:  http://secretlifeofpronouns.com/exercises.php.

The Online Research Consortium.  University of Texas psych research being conducted online–we’re the guinea pigs.  Questionnaires out the gazoo.  Painless.  Anonymous.  Kinda fun.

The BBC Radio 4 programme introducing Pennebaker’s research.

✍  ✍  ✍  ✍  ✍

I found all those links after I tried the expressive writing.  That’s me anyway–get the gist of something and full steam ahead!

(Here’s a link to the discussion that Isobel and I had.  At the end of the comments.  Thanks, Isobel.)

I’d really like to hear what you think!


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

recycling debt and recirculating serotonin

Ed. note:  the writer appears to have had her last nerve gotten upon by the economic and medical machines.  You have been warned.


Refinancing car and house loans

We have just finished refinancing our car loan and are just about finished refinancing our house loan.   These are both very good things.  We’ve dropped our monthly output by about $500 (about £300, €390), which helps as my savings dwindles.  (Tons of “helping” programs out there now in mortgage-land because of the horrifying mortgage debacle that tanked our economy.  Yours, too.)

Yes, it’s true that I have not worked since January because of the near-dead thing, but too, the economy still thinks I’m too old to be valuable in the workplace.  I’m 55.  Bastards.  Hence the pursuit of Art as $$$.  (Art is still a much better fit for me as a way to earn money, so that’s just displeasure expressed on behalf of the other old folk who can’t get an interview, much less a dang job.)

Recycling debt

Where does this recycling debt come in?  Our banker (loosely called that since they don’t actually touch money and their storefront is a few desks tucked away in the ubiquitous giant grocery store chain)…

Aw hell, let me try again–Our banker reassured us that by refinancing our car loan while we’re smack in the middle of refinancing the house loan, we would not cause any ripples in said house loan re-fi.  She said:  “You both have excellent credit, and besides, you aren’t taking on new debt; you are recycling old debt.”

We’re green:  reuse and recycle.  Can’t think of a way to re-purpose.

(End of economic nerve-twanging.  Surprisingly short, huh?!)

Recirculating serotonin

I’m gonna keep this medical machine outrage short.  (Yeah, sure!!!!!  {pouting} Well, I’d like to!)

Simplistically stated, serotonin is a happy-chemical produced by our own brains to keep the mood stabilized and the sense of humor intact.  Some of us seem to have low levels of serotonin, which results in a not-happy state.  (Oooo, ooo, that’s me {waving arms wildly}!)

So, some years ago, my medical machine helped me back to the happy state by prescribing antidepressants, which were, I was told, going to boost my serotonin levels.  Side effects?  Schmide-effects!  What’s a seizure between friends?

Hold that thought.

Because of the, shall we say, intensity of the near-dead thing and the COMPLETE lack of medical support following same, I have at last come off the fence (pickets are pointy), and am returning to my former hippie-dippie, I’ll do it my own damn way, there are too alternatives (you money-sucking Bastards) Stubborn Self.

In removing myself from the antidepressants, I have been warned that I could experience a return to the not-happy state that existed prior to the ingestion of same.   Seems odd…

In doing some brief research yesterday to understand amino-acid therapy for stabilising mood, I learned why:  these miracle drugs (money-sucking Bastards) don’t actually boost the serotonin levels.  The drugs (wait for it!) recirculate the low levels we already have.

Couldn’t you medical-machine folks have told me this, as part of full disclosure?  Whywhywhy did you have to be all paternalistic ‘n’ sh!t and pat me on the head and leave out this detail?

Nothing for you to worry about, My Precious.  Trust me.  Whywhywhy did you not give me alternatives when I begged for them because I did not want to take these miracle drugs, but did not know where else to turn?    Whywhywhy were you all doom-and-gloom as you told me that this was the only answer?

what now?

Predictably, I am on a bit of a roller coaster ride.  Add this to my recovery, which is blatant about being long-lived, and is now showcasing my memory-forming dis-ability, and I’m sending Big Mister on vacation alone.  We were together sposta get in the old funky truck that hauls the old funky camper and go tootling off for a week.

I need a break from being observed in my throes of FFS, WTF????   Of having my lack of short-term memory reflected back to me…  Of being in multiple kinds of pain and seeing him worrying about me.

I need to do something for him, and I know it will make him happy to tootle around with no negotiation about going here or there….

No ladders while he’s gone.  I swear.  Yeah, sure.  I just wanna live my life and live it well and do pretty much whatthehell I want when I want.    A discussion of adult-onset dependence will occur someday.  Watch This Space.

This reminds me too keenly of a family-story my mother tells:  as a pre-reading toddler, I was out to dinner with my parents and my slightly-older reading-age brother.  The nice waiter thoughtfully handed me a menu along with the others.  My clearly-heartbroken response:  “But I can’t reeeeeeeeead!”

That’s me now.

“… 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!)


Ah, there I am.  I’ve been walking around in a verbal fog for the last month.  My writing voice has been stilled.  My poor old beaten up brain can only do one big thing at a time, apparently.  I will assume that once my verbal re-wiring is complete (enough), my writing will return.

I miss my community here, but there is so very little to do about that.  More waiting.  6-1/2 months post hospital.  I could not imagine that life would be this strange and that it would continue un-know-ably.  That is to say, the re-wiring of so many facets of me continues to take me by surprise, except for expecting the surprises.

The good news:  I’m improving.  I’ve been working with a physical therapist who understands brain trauma and that even in minimal brain trauma, the most mundane and “I learned that when I learned to walk as a toddler” tasks can be affected.  Hence the difficulty and resulting exhaustion of taking a walk on a familiar cobbled beach.

Now I understand why JustI of JustUsSociety posted that video back in April about the brain researcher, Jill Bolte-Taylor, who watched herself suffer a catastrophic stroke.  At the time, I didn’t get the significance.   So many commenters here seemed to understand that I had suffered brain trauma; I depended on your feedback because I didn’t know, being stashed behind that benign fog, but I listened.

I’m having trouble forming memories and when I try to search for a previous moment, the effort is often too great, too tiring.  Sometimes I confuse memory with dreaming.  It does make me realize how inconsequential most memories are as single moments, but how as a whole those memories give breadth to a life.

I have since discovered a US Veterans Administration PTSD website that discusses minimum brain trauma (they call it minimum traumatic brain injury or mTBI) and its logical relationship to PTSD.  I have been fascinated, and relieved, by the neuropsychiatry discussed (this link takes a bit to load because it is a Flash file).  The PTSD symptoms are still very much with me and force me to keep a low profile.  But I’m stubborn so I keep trying, keep pushing my boundaries.

I’m also in the mosaics studio most days for a couple of hours.  Creativity is still blunted, but I am able to better “see” the patterns and line expressions in the works I copy.  Very good news indeed.

I do have moments of rage against the medical machine, sending me home without a hint of what the next year could hold.  How could you leave me twisting in the wind?   You left my family twisting in the wind, too.  Ripple effect.

This writing has been very difficult–I am having trouble recognizing grammatical structure and misspelling so often that the delete key has a divot in it now, plus I’m typing words backwards and even typing words I don’t intend to type. (!!)  (Hope this essay is readable because I can’t edit it for sh*t!)  The effort required is reminiscent of the attempts to make conversation or the effort required to compose a post in those early days.

I will close with pics of my garden so we all can relax now.

globe thistles covered in bees!

Oriental lilies

crocosmia and honeysuckle backed by lily

Poster Child Returns

I have had an infection in my  jaw for ages–perhaps since I had a root canal in the tooth above the infection site in 2009.   The short story is that for the last two months, I’ve been working with the endodontist to take care of the problem.  (Well, also comin’ down, or is that up, from near-dead in hospital, but I digress.  [Thank you Eddie Izzard!])

They are aware of the sepsis and C. diff that tried to kill me and that me taking antibiotics is a tough call.

Today though, I told them that, no, I didn’t want heavy-duty painkillers they offered, that I was ready to try an antibiotic, that it was time to get this infection under control.  That I’m in more danger of another episode of septic shock from the continuing infection than from suffering through another bout of C. diff if I take anitBs.

Through the dental assistant, the doctor asked ME to let HIM know what antibiotic I could take.  What?!

I called the nurse line at the hospital where I stayed–they have my chart and lots o’ information.  She sounded odd when I told her my story about the doc asking me for the research.  She then expressed her frustration:  that dentists do this all the time.  They won’t take responsibility even though they are doctors–f’r’instance they call and ask what meds a pregnant lady can take.  That they know this information but do not want to make the decision.   Sorry she said that she didn’t really have any info, but what she told me matched what I was feeling and it was enough.  I also thanked her fervently for her honesty.

I’m still thinking slowly enough that it took me about 10  minutes to get angry, furious, appalled.  Called the endodontist back and told ’em it was unconscionable that the doctor wanted the patient to do the research.  That I could tell that Dr. Endo was afraid I’d sue him.  Still very angry.

Again through the assistant, the answer was:  could he talk to my GP?  Of course (coward!)!  What is so hard about automatically consulting with a colleague?  Why don’t you talk to each other?   I do not understand.

He does NOT want to be responsible for the C.diff, but he’s OK with the risk of sepsis because he’s already stated that there is no way the infection in my jaw would spread, that it definitely would stay localized.  Wow.

I feel so betrayed.  Again.  How can I trust the medical world?  How many more insults do I have to take while I attempt to get my health under control?

Why can I not be a part of the decision-making?!  I’m so angry I could spit nails.

Why is it OK for the medical types to censor the information they give me?  What the hell?!  This feels strongly paternalistic, which is horrible, but mostly it feels like a pat on the head and go away now.

I have regained lost ground in my emotional state and cognitive powers, but I am far from back to normal.   This morning, one of my Peeps said that I should expect care and concern from the medics, that it was not too much to ask, that it was a very normal expectation.

Bean over at catself wrote a poignant post and so deeply did it resonate that I couldn’t even respond well, could only tell her I was a part of her community.

Now it’s time for me to say:  I need my community.  I need help holding onto this tremendous insult that happened almost 5 months ago to my being and to my little family.   The isolation has reached a peak.  Bean told me about a website that hosts sites for people who are involved in illness, CaringBridge, and that maybe I might think about setting up my own site.  I did.

Like Bean, I notice the deep unfriendliness of the world.   But here, oh dear, this has been an amazing place to spend time.  I started my blog a year ago this month because I simply had to write, but never dreamed I’d become a part of an international community!   Also, like Bean, I feel deep gratitude for all of you who have hung on as I have taken this ride, who have made me laugh, or sent a hug.

If you have the inclination, leave a note, a joke, a picture, a poem, or cocktail recipe there:  CaringBridge.

And, bonus:  there, if you look carefully, you may discover why I call that wonderful guy o’ mine Big Mister!

Dear Hospital Discharge Doc,

I appreciate that your knowledge of, and ability to treat successfully, both sepsis and C. diff helped to keep me on this side of the living.  Truly, I do.  Without your abilities and those of the emergency department medics, I’d be deader than dead.

You asked me if I’d like to go home or stay another day.   Of course I wanted to go home!

The discharge papers included:

  • the diagnoses:  sepsis and C. diff.
  • extensive printed info about C. diff from two different sources:  it’ll kill you blah-di-blah; recurrences; future proclivity.
  • notation to follow up with my own doctor within one week.

Here’s what I didn’t get:

  • Information about what the septic shock did to me, a systemic malfunction that progressed far enough for my kidneys to shut down.
  • Hints about the recovery from sepsis, that there was even a recovery to be endured.

The acupuncturist I saw about 6 weeks following discharge told me that after his own bout with sepsis, it took him a full year to feel strong again.  A full year!?   At the time, I was sure it couldn’t take that long for me.  Um, because I’m special?  I sure didn’t want that to be true for me.  I had other plans.   That appointment was 8 weeks ago.

When I expressed my frustration to the acupuncturist that you hadn’t given me a single hint about More

112.8 — recollections

The thoughts trickle into consciousness in unconnected still images, a slideshow of a trip I did not sign up for.   But paid plenty for.

The hour before we went to emergency, Big Mister took my temp and told me the high number.  A few minutes later, he asked to be reminded what it was.  I said with certainty that it was 112.8.  I didn’t feel well.  Off we went to the hospital.

Waiting in the ER lounge, throwing up into my vomit condom, amidst the other sickos, sorry that they were in the same confined space with my antics.  The headache that blinded me with pain and nausea.  Teetering back to the welcome desk, right eye closed and left eye only a slit, fuzzy hat pulled low, with Big hanging onto my reeling self, and me telling them I was sure it had been more than 45 minutes.  By then, we had waited more than two hours.

Later, seeing IVs hanging out of both arms.  The ones for the right arm were tough to get started because the nurse couldn’t catch a vessel, sunken as they were from the massive dehydration and low blood pressure.

Being encouraged strongly to have the lumbar tap to rule out meningitis.  Getting two doses of Verced, otherwise remembered by me as Xanadu, so I was blessed to miss the actual puncturing of my spinal column.

On the bed-ride to the CAT scan of my head, pulling the sheet over my face because the lights hurt my eyes.  Not really all there for the CAT scan.  The caballos muertos at the hallway intersections were murder on my headache.  Round trip.

In the ER, the nurse behind me who stuck the oxygen cannula in my nose “to give her body support.”  I was sinking into oblivion then.

Seeing Big’s serious, focused, and worried face.  I would have died quietly, not struggling and shouting, but smiling at Big and holding his hand or somehow telling him I loved him, but not realizing it was the last time.  Absent.

Thank you Michael McGinty and Christina for keeping me going.

The bed-ride to the hotel room where I’d be staying for a while.  Sheet pulled up over my face again to shield my eyes from the stabbing lights.  Wondering if the folks in the hallways thought I was a dead body being transported somewhere.

Looking out the picture window at the night sky, winter trees silhouetted, the only time I could stand to look out the window.  Confused about where I was, even when Big told me that my room overlooked Wright Park not too far from home.  Thinking I was in another hospital because that was the only hospital I could think of, the place I had spent countless hours with Mom, and a place where I observed, with drawn-out and exhausting horror, her going through the worst of her own bout with sepsis.

Turns out that I was the one struggling to surface from the killer that sepsis can be in a hospital not far from home.

Hearing the IV pumping in my right ear all the time, so much so that it became a lullaby to sleep, rather than an annoyance.

Oh the headache.  Close the curtains, the light is knifing through my head.

Being so cold that the shivering hurt.  Asking politely for more blankies.  Ringing for the nurse to beg for Tylenol for my searing headache.  Hearing the voice ask me what I needed, but I didn’t know where it was coming from so I took a chance and spoke to my companion, the IV stand.

Still got the remedy even though that’s not where the speaker was lodged.  Looking at the pole and figuring that it was logical that there’d be a speaker cinched against the pole, among the boxes that controlled the rate and mix of the bags of fluids pumping into me.

Dancing with the IV pole every hour and each time getting tangled in the call button cord.  Couldn’t figure my way out of that, so had extra steps thrown in.   Danced.  Every damn hour.

Brushing my teeth.  Finally.

The next to last day in the hospital, Big visiting after work.  Suggested we go for a walk.  Since I had the easy acc-ass hospital gown on, I asked for a rump cover of some sort.   Put on nonskid slippers.  Unplugged the IV stand from the wall.  On the walk kept blonking my toes on the sticky-outie legs with wheels.   In my head, far far away.  So weak that walking required concentration.

Seeing a conference in the corridor outside a patient’s room.  Heard one medico say, “We’re looking for a stiff.”  Big assures me that I did not hear that.  Yes I did!

Discovering that I was lodged in oncology, a very quiet unit where people are very, very sick.  That’s where they found the isolation room for me and my disease.  I didn’t mind; I appreciated that it was quiet all the time in my room. No TV, no visitors, no roommate who wanted to chat.   There was also no phone.  Didn’t matter.

Being so far away, removed from understanding life around me.  Quite calm, just very far away.

Thank you Gwen, Alicia, Alocasia, Kathy, and Oliver.   Thank you Alocasia for talking to me about your trip to the Cinque Terre in Italy, where I had planned to go.

Getting home … falling into the routine, but actually unable to keep up.  Sleeping and sleeping, then napping hard.   Reduced to basics, but showering and dressing each day.

Many, many days after I got home, realizing that the C. diff had been trying to toxify me to death, one strain of my own bacteria running rampant and causing systemic havoc.    That I had outsmarted sepsis even though I didn’t realize I was in a contest.

Still, 6 weeks later, I can’t seem to surface from this odd calm, a quiescence best described as a flat affect.  I have for some time realized that I have no enthusiasm for going to Italy, that in effect, I don’t care.  How did that happen?   The distance from real life is exacerbated by the physical recovery, the regaining of physical strength.

I have become aware that my brain is not working the way I assume.  Concentration enough for reading a series of historical novels set in Ancient Rome that I’ve read before, but otherwise seem to be working through a benign fog.

I look like me and go through the motions, but I am elsewhere.

hollowed out, beaten up, and betrayed

I’m still cheerful, although I’ve had a couple of moments feeling the pressures of having had two serious illnesses (sepsis and C. diff)–while I was mindin’ my own business, getting ready to go on my dream trip to Italy.

fatal attraction

It took me a couple of weeks after coming home from the hospital to understand that either of those illnesses could have been fatal.  I’m not running in circles all upset about that, just cogitating here and there.   The Big Mister is my hero again–I only have a few recollections about the hospital, but the one that gets to me is my guy’s face in the ER, looking at me, exhausted on his feet at 1 in the morning after 12 hours in the ER, unwilling to leave until he knew I was being checked into the Hilton for a while.  (It has been around a month now and he still has baggy, tired eyes and I did that to him.   waaaaaaaaaaah!)

past life

About a hundred years ago, in my early 30s, my health went to hell–I was variously diagnosed wrongly with a brain tumor, Meniere’s Disease, Lupus, and um, I’ve blocked out the rest.  Suffice to say I was quite ill and even had body-wide excruciating pain thrown in for which I was on morphine for 3 years.  In order to get to the morphine, though, I had to endure western medicine at its most excitable.

I was poked, prodded, measured, counseled, scanned, and dosed.   In multiples.  I was exhausted and alone and trudged around looking for relief.  My fury erupted when the docs would suggest I see a psychiatrist, and because it was a type of blackmail, I complied, but boy was I hostile.  At least it gave that MD something concrete upon which to pin her expertise and make confident proclamations.

I’m still aware of that time, 20 years ago and how the altered physical self shattered my knowledge of myself and how many of those docs shattered me.  There was the ear, nose, throat guy, a shiny, pretty plastic surgeon to the Anchorage shiny people, who interviewed me briefly, then began to exit the room.  As he crossed the threshold, he threw over his shoulder, “We’re going to have to check for a brain tumor.”  He kept walking.   Bastard.


This time around with the medicos, I was prescribed antibiotics to get the sinus infection cleared up before I flew.  I’ve had antibiotics occasionally, but I usually just rest until things pass.  I’d always understood that these meds could cause, shall we say, intestinal infortitude.   In not one experience with an MD did I hear that the antibiotics can be the cause of a life-threatening condition.  Never, ever, ever.

This condition is called Clostridium difficile diarrhea, or C. diff for short and not sweet.

This condition caused my kidneys to shut down.  Caused big fevers.  Caused life-threatening dehydration.  Caused dangerous low blood pressure.  Inched me toward death, but not too close.

Ed. Note, Sept 2012:  I wrote this piece one month, to the day, out of hospital, having no clue how effed-up my brain was.  The septic shock caused my kidneys to shut down.   Both the C. diff and the sepsis were responsible for massive dehydration, fever, and very low blood pressure.  I had to effin’ figure this out on my own because NOT ONE of the hospital folk told me anything, nor did my family doctor.  Yep, I’m angry.

I’m also still recovering and continue to struggle with my physical strength and brain power.

And not one MD has ever told me about this possibility because it’s so rare?  Holy crap, people!  How dare you?!  You did not disclose to me this threat to my life, but you will bitch at me if I decline a Pap test?

Big Brother is tracking

This threat is not that rare, folks.  Here in the USA, C. diff is being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control, the same people who collect statistics and who scare us to death with the epidemics of flu– Swine, Avian, or seasonal– take your pick.  The UK is also tracking it.

take care of yourselves

Talk to your medicos about antibiotics and C. diff.  Save yourself from my situation, which is that for the rest of my life I will have the propensity to repeat the toxicity that could kill me dead.  Also, C. diff spores are very difficult to kill in the environment, so I have felt like a pariah–I’ve had to stay away from people, just when I could have used visitors during my lengthy recovery.

overuse of antibiotics

Understand that the overuse of antibiotics is directly responsible for this condition.  People develop the condition in the hospital and care centers from contaminated surfaces.

Educate yourself about antibiotics.  Parsing the word itself gives us clues–as humans, we are filled with biota, which are living organisms that work in concert keeping our complex systems functioning.  Pretty amazing, really.   So, shouldn’t we wonder what happens when we kill off some of those guys?  What happens in an imbalance?  Nature abhors a vacuum, etcetera and so forth.  There will be a reaction of some sort.  Could be good.  Could be dead.

so there!

I’m going back to watching McHale’s Navy so I’ll become my calm self again.  Then I’m going to see a naturopathic doctor and get all this stuff sorted so I can go on my damn trip and get on with my life.

I want health CARE; I don’t want health INSURANCE!

Repeat this over and over.  Understand what that really means.

Insurance is gambling and the house always has the edge.  You know that, yes?

Here’s the definition of insurance (Merriam-Webster.com):  “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss [emphasis added] by a specified contingency or peril.”

Where in that definition does the word except appear?

What do you think of your medical person having to get permission to treat you certain ways so they’ll get paid?

Insurance companies have regular ole folks as employees, pleasant, loving, middle-class.   So, don’t take this personally–I know you’re fine folks there in the middle and bottom ranks.

The policymakers, on the other hand, are the ones in my sights right now.   I’m pretty sure you all are friends with the former Enron leaders and the Lehman Brothers.  And you may not be the 1 Percenters, but you are probably way the hell removed from the life of a 99 Percenter.

I have to admire the chutzpah of the insurance industry–they have so much extra dough-age that they can buy million-dollar naming rights to sports stadiums.   Where did that capital come from?  Even after the ginormous executive bonuses are paid?  After they finish handing out lavish gifts to our elected policymakers (=lobbying)?

It comes from your premiums that you paid with the expectation that you would have help paying medical bills because you entered into a contract with those folks who said they’d indemnify you against loss (but did you read the pages of fine print?).

I try to do the math, but it never comes out right:  I could pay insurer $400 a month as a premium, for the “safety” of being “insured,” but their policy is to have a yearly deductible, the amount I have to kick in before they’ll honor their contract, and in this case that deductible can be $5000.  Per year.  Add it up!  That’s $416 per month you’d have to pay out of pocket, in addition to the $400 per month premium.

Raise your hand if that math is absurd in your household budgeting!

I don’t want insurance.  I’m willing to accept the risks of living, O Foolish and Strange Me.  Since auto insurance is required by law in my state, the state is mandating that I gamble and that I enter into a contract where I don’t have a snowball’s chance of winning.

Thank you to the many medical practitioners who work with me on reduced fees for cash payment.  Remember, it’s easier on them, and much less expensive, to process a cash payment than to play the insurance game.

I like the health care I choose to receive.  It’s a direct relationship–thanks for cleaning my teeth!  There is no peculiar third-party complicating my wish to have my teeth taken care of.

Do we all understand that there are no guarantees with life and especially no guarantees of well-being just because you’re paying a premium?  That makes it a two-way street.  We must demand health care, not health insurance.

Do you hear the messages of fear being broadcast?  Please don’t be afraid; it’s just life and we all have to die of something (well, except my brother, EternalMan, and my husband who is sure he’ll be living forever; but that is just those two!).

I want health care.  I don’t want health insurance.    Stop telling me that I’m doomed if I don’t have health insurance.  What a load of crap fear-mongering!!  (See chutzpah, above.)

Mr. Obama, you gave me such hope there at the ending of the GDumbya Reign of Terror.  But then I heard that the health reform mandated purchase of health insurance.  Hey!  Should the government really be allowed to bypass my democratic process and force me to shell out or fine me if I don’t?!    Why, oh why, did the insurance industry play the central role in the so-called reform of our health care system?  (Hint:  lobbyists.)

The 99 Percenters might think of looking at this issue.   Folks with medical insurance are struggling financially with the costs of having medical care–see above paragraph with math question.   If you are un-insured, be sure to ask your providers for a cash-paying discount.  I even found a lab that will charge only 60% of the costs of tests if I pay that 60% in full in 30 days.

Our medical practitioners are working hard to help us save money and still get health care.  This means, for instance, that my physician’s assistant (PA) does research after her 10-hour days.  The list goes on of the kindness of our practitioners who got into the work NOT to work with insurance companies, but to do good and help people.  Go figure.  And–go thank them right now!

Some of you readers have been with me for a while, so another diatribe won’t surprise you.  What surprises me, is how long it has taken me to address the amorality of the health insurance industry, against which I have been railing  for YEARS.

Off to bake cookies again.  Cheap and tasty therapy!

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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