Perhaps I will forget the former easy facility of my brain power.  Perhaps there will come one moment when I don’t compare now with then, that I don’t notice that I have to concentrate to be sure to get the day-after-day same ole ingredients into my cereal bowl, that I cannot think of something else at the same time.

Perhaps I will no longer notice that I have dropped into a dimmer-witted state, that I no longer am lightning-quick.  Perhaps I won’t care that I’m not as smartly-able as I was in the before-time.

Perhaps I’ll stop thinking I’m someone else, that person I’ve witnessed countless times in classes who struggles with concepts, concepts for me that in the before-time often just floated into my mind as whole bits and meshed with other remembered knowledge.  Perhaps I’ll accept the new way to be a student, a student who struggles to succeed and then to excel.

Perhaps the devastating disappointment observing my difficulties reading will fade to nothing so that as I struggle to get my eyes to follow the words into my brain, I won’t notice how sad I am to have lost that quick reading uptake.

Perhaps I will forget that I could spell any word in the before-time, that I always chose the homonym I intended.   That I knew that homonyms were fascinating choices instead of blobs of sameness.

Perhaps I will feel deep relief that in the before-time I studied English, Mandarin, French, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Akkadian so that at least I was able in my lifetime to experience that intellectual joy and cultural connection.

Perhaps it won’t matter that I cannot remember.

Perhaps the River Lethe will welcome me to her banks.   And then, perhaps, I will once more want to talk and write instead of avoiding the dread of once more witnessing the dimmer-witted me.  Perhaps I’ll forget the old me and get to know the new me.

Alaska’s River Lethe, along whose banks I did trudge in the early 1980s.  Valley of 10,000 Smokes, Katmai National Park.  (credit:


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!

legions that haunt

Finally.  I have dreamt of the legions in my head that have been haunting me since the hospitalization.  Even now, more than 12 hours after waking, I can see the pictures of that which dwells within still.  I have seen their faces.

The germ, the crux, the bit to pay attention to is all me:  wanting to make cookies.   But every time I found an empty kitchen surface upon which to work, a fast-moving someone in the boisterous crowd would come along and stack all kinds of unrecognizable stuff on it, making the work surface at first uneven and then precariously unstable.

In my dream I decided to stop trying.  Folded up my toys and let the legions howl around me, in their ways, knowing that seeking a spot wasn’t working and that I would have to wait for cleared space.

the root of it all

In an hour, I will have a root canal, a repeat from 2009 of kill-that tooth-dead-and-rip-out-its-life-giving-roots.  I will also be drugged to the gills, thank you very much.  Have to take the meds in 1/2 hour, so I’ve got to write fast before I become lu-lu again.

A couple of months ago I went to have my teeth cleaned in anticipation of leaving any minute now for Italy.  I wanted to be shiny!  That tooth had been bothering me a little since 2009, but I figured I was clenching my jaw at night.  X-rays that day showed differently, that there was something going on under the tooth, in the jaw, and it showed in mottled black, which was unlovely.

My dentist told me that if there were an infection, which would only happen if bacteria remained after the root canal, the professional thinking was mixed, that the infection could stay localized.  That it probably didn’t cause the sinus infections and ear problems I’d been experiencing for a couple of years.  Just co-ink-ee-dink that the problematic ear was on the same side as that lower-jaw molar.

When I returned to the endodontist six weeks ago, at the office of which I’d had the original root canal, he said No way that the infection in my jaw would cause other problems, that it would stay localized.  Even in my half-witted state, it sounded ridiculous that an infection would stay localized.

Back in January I developed a sinus infection that wouldn’t go away.  In early February I went to my physician’s assistant to get antibiotics for same so I’d be healthy for my long-awaited extended solo trip to Italy.   At the time, the PA gave me a sinus-infection lecture I’ve never heard from a medic, the crux of which is that untreated, a simple sinus infection really isn’t that simple.  The sinuses are very close to the brain and medics are concerned with infections that close to the brain.  Gimmee the drugs, man.

A week later, I was in the hospital with systemic infection that was threatening my life.

Afterwards, nobody seemed willing to put these things together.  Were they afraid of blame and doorsteps?  Or is it the juxtaposition of the noisy shininess of modern medicine with the huge unknowns of our body’s processes?  Ever feel like a pincushion or guinea pig?  It’s because the docs don’t know what the hell is going on, but have enough training to try to find out.

Dang, ran out of time and have had to take the meds.  Hope I don’t sound like the half-wit I fear I have become.  The good news is that I’ve improved since the hospitalization and am no longer a complete idiot!  >:-D

Ooo-ooo!  The sedative I’m taking is called Halcion.  Hmmm… sounds just like “halcyon,” which means Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful!  Gotta love big pharma!  The drug causes problems with short-term memory, so the theory goes that I won’t remember what went on.

I love that theory and the reassurance it offers, but I’m pretty sure that memory is created on cellular levels, too, so I’ll prolly hafta go through some weird-ass PTSD episode to get this out of my system, too.  But I choose to be drugged enough to not care.  I just hope I don’t try to speak French after the two-hour  procedure like I did to the original endodontist, who was French.  !!  I sure as hell remember that!


neuronal challenge: too much information

Bean/Nadbugs at catself asked me to post snippets of the brain challenges I’ve had since my bout with septic shock (definition here) in February.  She’s right that just trying to think of something to relate is a challenge.  So, snippets it shall be.

On a recent Saturday I got to play with Big Mister.  We drove the 15-in-town-miles to the VA Community Living Center (Mom is a World War II veteran!) where Mom now lives so we could visit a bit.   Did some erranding first.  Lots of Saturday shopping traffic and backed-up traffic lights.  Not easy for me even in the before-time.

We visited with Mom for a short time, Big inside with her and me outside her window–my immune system is not up for a concentration of germs.  This was only the second time I had seen Mom since early February.  Since I still have an active infection and am leery of antibiotics, I am at risk for another bout of deadly sepsis.  If I take the antibiotics, I will likely be attacked by C. diff again.  Either one could kill me; how to choose, how to choose?!

This is one strange ride, I’m telling you!

Then heading home through that same Saturday traffic.  Within about 5 minutes, the anxiety began, but I kept it from Big.  Anxiety has been part of package since I got home.  Finally, I asked him to stop the car so I could move to the back seat (much less head-on activity from that vantage!).

Too late.  Too much information had hit me.  It seemed as if my eyes were darting in my head, trying to see each stimulus, each car, the sounds of engines and car radios, the colors of the traffic lights, and do something with it.

But no, my eyes weren’t doing that.  There was that pinging in my brain–like 20 railroad engines driving on their own tracks, but each as loud as the other so my brain had no choice but to attend to all.

I wonder if that’s like taking a ride on one of those round-and-round vomit comets that earth-bound astronauts-in-training use to test their mettle, only it’s inside my head.  Nobody else can see what is happening to me.

The anxiety overtook me:  I wanted to cry or scream bloody murder, but couldn’t.   A controlled descent, fortunately, to overwhelmed.  Breathing.  Holding on to me, desperate to be in the quiet of home, breathing.  Finally, home and mellowed out.

I still look like me, but these things are very much a part of my daily life, and show up at any time.

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

recuperation: bubble theory

Today I am here. Today I am limited. Today, I am not the same as I was on February 12, 2012, the day before my brain and body exploded with heat and pain, and my body’s processes dropped toward zero.

For the last month-plus, I have observed myself coming out of the fog of death-defying illness. The first two months are only a fuzzy blur where I went through the motions of taking care of myself, taking meds on a regimented schedule, staying at home, using every bit of energy to just be, so there were no observations and very little awareness beyond my skin.

When I first came home from the hospital, with its tubes and hard-hitting, life-saving drugs, I did attempt to fall into my daily routine, subconsciously allowing muscle memory to guide me.

In the before-time, part of my morning habit was turning on the CD player and sitting in the living room, drinking coffee, checking email and reading the funnies online, plus checking the (awful) news, both domestic and foreign sources.

In the time after, it became thus:

There was no planning, just doing: arise after dreamless sleep, go to the CD player to have music for my morning as was habit for years, but quickly turn it off. Then, shower, and dress, boil water for herbal tea, fix the same bland breakfast, and read in the bedroom for hours.

The music of my mornings before my descent toward zero was usually Baroque chorale music, or one of my favorite happy guys, Henry Purcell.  In those new mornings, as soon as I turned the music on, I had to turn it off because it immediately used up all my brain cells.  The music evoked a constant sonar pinging against every More

set faze on stun **

The scene

8:30 pm on a Tuesday at home.  The house is quiet; Big is sleeping since he gets up at 4.

The Players

87 y.o Ma recovering from pneumonia

55 y.o. Kid recovering from sepsis

The phone rings.

55:  [Reeling into the other room to get the phone, but the vertigo is making me hit the walls.  Croaky voice] Hello?

87:  Laurie, I’m desperate.

55:  [oh no, there’s nothing I can do to help in my state!]  What’s up, Ma?

87:  Please put minutes on my phone.  The lady loaned me some so I could call you.

55:  [???!!  I don’t even ask.]  OK.  I’ll do that and call you back.  It should take only a few minutes.

55 spends 1/2 hour battling with the “easy” top-up on the computer, interjecting the same muffled, teeth-clenched Anglo-Saxonism as needed.

Big calls in to ask if it’s working and 55 whines that it’s not, panicking internally because I can’t understand all the words on the screen, and hoping he’ll do it for me even tho’ he really needs to be asleep.  Ah!  I hear him get up and come to the room–I apologize for the noise, and he closes the door!

9:00 p.m.  The phone rings.

55:  [tense voice, but trying to hide it]  Hello?!

87:  I thought I’d better check…

55:  [how is she calling me since she has no minutes on her phone, which I can plainly see on-screen?!!!]  Yes, I’m having trouble, so give me a few more minutes.

55 is starting to get a headache.  Called customer good-luck-finding-service and got it straightened away.

55 phones 87 and hellos are exchanged.

55:  Ma, you’re all set.  The phone people said you have to turn off your phone, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on.  Like rebooting your computer.  [Having vision of kicking any phone across the room.]

87:  Red phone.

55:  I’m sorry?

87:  Red phone.

55:  Red phone?  [The Armageddon Red Phone on the President’s desk?!  What?!]

87:  Yes, red phone.

55:  I don’t understand, Mom.  [Brain is pulsing with need to understand and desire to run away.]   Um, Ma what phone are you using right now?  [oh crap, of course she’s using the cell phone because I just called it.  This is hurting my head.]

87:  Little one.

55:  Oh, the cell phone!

87:  Yes!

55:  [Begin to repeat instructions from phone people and am interrupted.]

87:  I close the phone….

55:  No, you have to turn it off…  Oh!  The red phone on the phone!  To turn it off!

87:  Yes!!!

55:  [Trying hard to stay focused on instructions.]  Oh!  Hahaahahahhahhahaahha.  The red phone!  I couldn’t figure out why you were talking about the red phone on the President’s desk!   Hahhahahaaha!  [Completely unable to concentrate.]  Hahahahhaahahaha!

87:  Yes!  Hahahahahahahahah!

55:  Hahahahahahahahahahah!

87:  Hahahhahaaahaha!  Let me catch my breath!  [Pneumonia, remember?]

55:  Hahahhahahahhaa.  OK, all set now?  Haahhahahahhaha.  [Just can’t help it.  I have lost the ability to concentrate on a task.]

87:  Yes, all set.   Hahahhahaha!  Sleep well.

55:  Thank hahahhaaha you.  Haahhaha you hahahahahh too!

Moving the handset toward the cradle, still laughing and can hear Mom laughing still.  Oh how grand to laugh like that with her.  It has been months!

Definitely had a headache, but got through it.   Turns out I was right to conclude that I can barely manage my own life.  Took me 45 minutes to settle down after that.  Agggggghhh!


**  PS.  In case you’re from outta town, the title is a play on an oft-repeated line from the 1960s TV series, Star Trek.

the garden becomes

Right after I got laid off in February 2010, I headed for the front yard to do something about that expanse of sun-baked, south-facing lawn (see the pic in the gallery below).

I rented a sod cutter, a bruiser of a machine, and sliced away the grass, about 900 square yards.

Then I hauled yards and yards of potting soil and plonked ’em down in the beds I designed in my head.  My plants were in pots, lots and lots of pots.  I began the process of finally designing with those collections.  That spring, it was cold–in the 40s–and rainy.  How lucky that was for the newly planted garden–lots of cool weather to allow the transplant shock to wear off gently.  That cool weather was much easier on the gardener, too!

Three months after I began, I had transformed that front yard into a place that gives me solace, delight in the scents, colors, and textures, and provides a living buffer between the world and me.

Now, it is two years later, and as I wander through an unexpectedly long recuperation from serious illness, I potter around in the garden, an hour at a time.  I forget that I feel horrible because I immerse myself in the lively spot I created, sometimes transplanting or just weeding.  But always watching and examining.  My lilac that I thought surely hated me for transplanting it shows its flower buds this spring.   Today, I thinned out some ornamental grasses and put the bits among the more structured shrubs and perennials to add movement, color, and sound in more places.

I am at my most serene when I am playing in the garden–the scent of newly turned soil, seeing earthworms by the kajillion, setting up the bird bath mister, or just sitting on a wicker chair on the porch and seeing my garden.  I hauled all the dirt and planted every last thing there.  I remember sitting in a cold mist teasing apart roots with fingers so cold I could hardly feel what I was doing, but going through pot after pot, and setting those roots into the ground.

Sometimes I take my drawing board outside and work on those geometric figures, sitting in the warm sun and thinking of nothing except creating lines on the page.  Then, looking up and reveling in the sight of my garden.

Now, I only go outside when the sun is shining its springtime warmth; I have become sensitive to the cold, me, the person who comes alive in the winter.  I will hope that this is a temporary state and will depart once the whole of me becomes whole again.

These pics are not current, but soon my garden will look like this again, only a little different because after all, I potter in the garden and move things here and there, which subtly changes the shapes and textures.

errata: could use cheering up: got jokes?

It took me two days after posting the jokes to understand why I had such trouble with one of them as I was typing.  Couldn’t quite figure it out, but tried and thought I had succeeded.

Q:  What do you call a thrown stick that won’t come back?

A:  A boomerang.

It was sposta be:

Q: What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back?

A:  A stick.

This is a rough go, coming on the finish of the second month of being out of action, never mind going to Italy.   I’m a tough cookie and can take a lot before I start screaming.  The myriad physical parts to recovery I can take.  But really, this confusion that springs up on me unexpectedly gets me down.  If I were confused all the time, the way I was for the first several weeks out of hospital, it would not be notable.

Nowhere in the discharge instructions were there comments about how “you may experience confusion, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and we sure as hell don’t know how long that will go on, but good luck and don’t let the door hit you in the bum on the way out.”

I sound bitter.  It really isn’t anyone’s fault, but I guess it would be easier if I had some sort of knowledgeable medico to help me along.  Since I’m so leery of medicos, that doesn’t help me either.  But my judgement is way off because of the dampened thinking abilities, so I don’t trust myself.

Waaah waaaah waaaah!

I’m still reading good books, and oddly enough, I’ve been able to work with re-creating Roman geometric mosaic patterns.  These things are complex, but the author,  Robert Field, has given great direction.  A pleasant result has been that I wrote to Mr. Field and we have had a couple of exchanges.  He lives in the UK and is an artist and practicing mosaicist and a lovely person, to boot!

Robert Field, Geometric Patterns from Roman Mosaics

I really don’t get how I can understand the complexities of geometric figures right now when I forget what Big and I have been talking about mid-conversation.  Sigh…

Make us all laugh!  Whatcha got?!  >:-D

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.

pole dancing: for those special occasions

It’s not that kind of thing, the kind of dancing you’re imagining right now.  But afore I splain what I really came here for, I have to digress to muse about the thing we’re both thinking about even though that’s not it.

Here in the grand ole US of A, a new physical fitness phenomenon seems to have taken hold in our ranks:  pole dancing!  Women apparently get together for professional coaching and even sometimes have private pole dancing parties, a new kind of night out for the girls.

Pole dancing has been considered exotic dancing.   Now, don’t go writing to me–I’m not denigrating exotic dancing.  Dancing in any form is incredibly athletic.

I’ve seen the movies.   Never in those movies did I see in evidence a women’s giggly party.  I saw drooly-chinned, glassy-eyed, staring men holding wads of cash to share with said dancers.   Smokin’ and drinkin’ hard likker plus sometimes women standing on tables.  The atmosphere was decidedly not the neighborhood yoga place.

(I got in trouble for that very thing in first grade–standing on a desk, well actually, it was desks, plural, and I walked on them–off I was sent to the principal’s office.  They thought they could stamp out Lil Miss Ooo, I Wanna Try That by scaring me with the Big Guy when I was 7.  I was scareder of the classroom coat closet where all the wet wintry clothes steamed in the clanking radiator heat.  Yoo-hoo, Fairmount Elementary School in West Orange, NJ!   It didn’t work!)

(We now return from the Eddie Izzard aside.)

Just wondering which highly-paid consultant was sittin’ in his cube thinkin’, and suddenly snapped his fingers and shouted, “That’s it!  I’ll make millions!”

How did pole dancing go from the smoke-filled perceived dens of iniquity where 99 percent of the women in evidence were on a stage, writhing around a firehouse pole, wearing their scanties?

I’m trying to imagine me calling up, say, my sister-in-law and telling her I was having a pole dancing party and that she was invited.  What’s that she said?  Oh, no special clothes required.

Every time I’m amongst some quiet little neighborhood  shops and I see a sign advertising pole dancing, I start, do a double-take, and then the damn wondering pops up again.  It really feels like the Emperor’s New Clothes to me–has anyone actually asked a question about the interesting background of this new pasttime?  My local YMCA doesn’t seem to offer pole dancing classes (thank you!), but they probably wouldn’t, would they?

Whew.  I’ve been needing to get that out of my brain for a long time!

The reason we’re here tonight boys and girls is thus:  my own very recent pole dancing experience was with the IV pole attached to me by clear, flexible tubing for four days and three nights (don’t buy that vacation from the travel agent!).

I landed in hospital two weeks ago, with IVs hanging out of both arms.   I promise to spare the icky-poo details, but the diagnoses (yes, plural) were sepsis and C-Diff.  Each is life-threatening and requires death-defying intervention, which I did, defy death.  Big ole raspberry!  Thhhbbbbbtttt!  The C-Diff was brought on by those handy-dandy antibiotics I’d begged for just a week before so I could be infection-free for my trip to Italy.

I was sposta fly to Italy on the 22nd, but I was busy lying around being all weak ‘n’ stuff.

Will be rescheduling Italy as soon as my brain returns strongly to the building.  I keep wondering about that, too:  why does my brain-power drop when my blood pressure drops?  Oh.  The blood-juices can’t get up that high.

To be continued…

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© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2012. 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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