Of Alchemy and Illness


This post has nothing to do with dying or color.  I feel the need to talk about my recent adventures so please bear with me.

Here is what I have been through in the past month, and these are just the highlights.  All of this is on top of struggling to control my type 2 diabetes, with blood sugars all over the place and diabetic burnout on top of it all.  There has been fallout from recent attempts to adjust meds and an allergic reaction to a medication my endocrinologist tried because I was having unpleasant side effects from the one I had been on for 5 years.  So far 2017 has not been my year.

  1. Acute diverticulitis flare requiring a trip to the local acute care, lots of belly pain, severe diarrhea and nausea from oral antibiotics, spending about a week flat on my back living on crackers and bananas.
  2. Severe allergic reaction to pravastatin, much muscle pain and weakness.  I had allowed a doctor to guilt me into taking the med against my better judgement.
  3. Unpleasant news resulting in much anxiety, shame, and emotional turmoil.  The result of a poor decision about a year and a half ago.
  4. Severe allergic reaction to topamax; psychosis and the pain of knowing my perceptions and emotions had no basis in reality but still experiencing the weirdness. Taken in an attempt to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder and stabilize the rollercoaster my mood has been on for most of this year, which is a whole other story.
  5.  Middle of the night hospital admission through ER for continued diverticulitis flare resulting in IV morphine and antibiotics, due in a large part to the GI upset resulting from oral antibiotics.
  6. An epic meltdown just prior to discharge from the hospital due to an administrative snafu resulting in my admission not being covered by my insurance company.  They could have discussed it with me after I had been there 24 hours, not after 4 days, and 3 hours before I was due to go home.  I think the mushroom cloud is still hanging over the hospital after that one and I am not through with them over it.

It is difficult not to be bitter and angry and feel sorry for myself, but I own my part in all that has happened.  I am not a helpless victim.  There have been good lessons presented and my heart has been touched in ways that may not have happened otherwise.

I have always been extremely independent, Type A, super competent, over responsible eldest child, self-educated; in no way a shrinking violet. rather a galloping extrovert. My style has been “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes”.  I took care of others and did not trust others to take care of me. I had all the answers or knew where to look them up. Defense mechanisms from trauma, anyone?

I have had to learn to ask for help and to allow others to care for me and to realize that there is no shame in it.  Through all of this, I have learned who my real friends are.  I think my daily habit of keeping a gratitude journal has paid off because there has been so much reason for gratitude in all of this.  And I have been surprised at the people who have come forth.  Everyone has busy, full, lives and too many obligations and I deeply appreciate those who took the time to  show up and demonstrate compassion and care for me.  I cry a little thinking about all that has happened.

There was the friend who can barely keep herself fed and housed, but who brought a gift bag of things to distract me and who works night-shift but showed up on my doorstep one morning when I needed someone to talk to.

And the person who came every day, who brought my favorite chinese food in the middle of the night, who has also been a listening ear and a source for feedback when I have needed to talk, and who dropped everything and took me home from the hospital when I needed to leave earlier than planned.

Another person whom I have not known for very long, who drove 45 minutes to visit me and sat open-mouthed during a discussion I had with someone else about gastrointestinal illness and fecal transplants.  She later texted and said that she would offer her stool if it would help me get better.

Someone I had not seen in 2 years brought me flowers from her garden twice, and remembered that they were the ones my grandmother had nicknamed me for.  She also turned up in the hospital with a goodie bag and has promised me home-made french onion soup for behaving myself in the hospital.

My ever patient sister visited my house twice a day to feed my furbabies in addition to stopping by the hospital, and vacuumed up the ginormous dustbunnies that had accumulated in the corners of my house.  She provided entertainment for both me and the hospital staff by filling in daily goals and activities on the whiteboard in the room.

And there was the unfailing kindness and compassion of the hospital staff who took the time to crack jokes with me, provide extra bottles of shampoo to bring home when I talked about how nice it was to have fluffy hair, and gave me a tube of body cream because they thought I would like the way it smelled. They smuggled in real coffee when all the cafeteria would send was decaf.  They hung out in my room when they had time, told me their stories of kids and nursing school and crafts and gardening, traded medical care war stories, put up with my goofy jokes, and laughed at my snarky comments.  I do not handle confinement and restriction well and they made it much more tolerable.

Recent events have changed me.  I have learned, perhaps a little bit, to allow others to love me in their own ways and, maybe, to love myself a little more in the process. I have learned to ask for help.  Stubborn and hardheaded that I am, it often takes whacks from the Universal Baseball Bat to drive a lesson home.  Trying to be woke is an ongoing process, it comes in waves, and the Great Work is never accomplished in a straight line or through a tidy procedure.  We all wander and lessons are provided when and where they are needed.  To paraphrase a famous Rolling Stone song; we don’t always get what we want, but we get what we need.  We are ever the Fool about to step off the cliff.  What else can we do but laugh at the cosmic joke and keep on keeping on, remembering to be grateful and recognizing love in the little things?


































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