Hope & Eilish

Hope arrived last night.

After 10 months.

I suspect it could take a year to explain, but I also suspect it could take three. History could repeat itself you know: a year of memories could take… umm…. 5… and counting. 😉

I didn’t get the target-specific drug because… insurance. It took 10 months of tests, two weeks after the last results, one more week and a few meltdowns, but I got the 2nd best-recommended antibiotic, instead. And I was damn happy about it because I was desperate.

For months I’ve been in pain and exhausted. No mere fatigue – physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted. I’ve been overwhelmed, confused, forgetful, unable to recall or say the correct word. I would pick up a pen and by the time I blinked, I had no idea what I was after.

Last week, I realized I’d forgotten to complete a crucial work task, had a mini melt-down, scrambled pre-holiday to make it right, only to discover I had not forgotten. I’d done it the previous week. Completely, correctly and with absolutely no recollection of doing so. But the proof was there with my name on it, and after 10 months I was suddenly scared.

Maybe I’d had a stroke? Daily for months, I’ve been teary. Some days, tears would trickle out. Some days, I cried. My balance was off, I stumbled into walls and desks and doors.  My ears constantly rang. I dropped things no matter how hard I tried not to, sometimes repeatedly.

I had a lot of tests, a lot of scans. The most ridiculous was the supposition of a fractured hip. I doubted I had a fractured hip, but I had enough non-answers and medically-induced doubt of my own knowledge of my body that I subjected myself. My self-diagnosis had been kidney stones. I was correct about that part.

I refused a good number of tests, as well. I declined two of the last three offerings, one of which was eating a radio-active egg so it could be tracked through my digestive system in real-time. I declined the other because we didn’t have a diagnosis, so what sense would seeing a specialist in that field make?

I accepted the seemingly innocuous Hydrogen Breath Test, and it completely wrecked me. I wasn’t expecting side-affects from spending three hours breathing into bags. My symptoms got worse; way worse. Meltdown I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-on, spontaneously-bursting-into-tears worse.

The day after Christmas meltdown was due to a recorded message from my pharmacy informing me that they could not fill my prescription because… insurance. I went home, napped, cuddled Blu and cried.

Friday morning, I went to Meijer, where I did happily run into someone I adore who shared some much appreciated yet sad information. I had my third meltdown of the week after dropping a jar of tomato sauce, splattering shards of glass and globs of red goop all over the woman in front of me. She tried to wipe her white cable-knit boots off and ended up with slivers in her fingers. Phrases like ‘pay for this,’ ‘liability insurance,’ and ‘I’m sorry,’ flew back and forth between us. Things changed when I burst into tears. She and her friend hugged me. She told me not to worry, that it could have just as easily been her because she drops things all the time.

I cried all the way to the car, went home, napped, cuddled Blu and cried some more.

Friday afternoon, I received a robo-call that my antibiotic was ready for pick-up. At that point, I knew I wasn’t getting the other one, hadn’t expected to get anything until after the holidays, so I ecstatically accepted what I could get.

I decided chicken wings would help – no sauce, of course. Only salt & vinegar, carrots, celery and blue cheese. I took my to-go order home, and following in the theme of the day, sadly discovered I had no blue cheese. I did have someone else’s smooshed chocolate cake, lumped into a bowl. It was gross, so I threw it away and moved on.

Dose 1 of the Augmentin horse-pill made me more nauseous than I already was.

Dose 2 induced 24 non-stop hours of volcanic belching and prolonged gassing, alternately terrifying and offending HBlu.

At dose 3, it sounded like I’d swallowed the MGM lion and he really wanted out of my internal mess.

By day 3 (dose 4 & 5), the expected antibiotic effects kicked in, the lion was still protesting and it occurred to me that not as much liquid was coming out as I was forcing in. I gave myself a pass. Recliner and mindless phone games all day.

Day 4. I could… think. I thought about my ambitious list created pre-holiday time off. I thought, figures. Major projects thwarted, again. My biggest achievement was taking out the garbage and sleeping in 4-hour segments.

Yesterday, I did some minimal straightening up. Which after months of not doing any straightening up was monumental for me.

I put away my Christmas-themed socks to make room for 6 pairs of Christmas-gifted socks. I took a shower.

I read the provided one-sheet on SIBO diagnosis. It had been explained to me and was easy to understand. Bacteria is a normal part of large colon health. It is not normal in the small intestine. The small intestine bacteria eat your food, then excrete hydrogen and methane. You’re being robbed of nutrients and energy and infused with gasses.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth symptoms: abdominal bloating/distension, GI issues, nausea, vomiting, body aches, malabsorption, malnourishment, brain fog, mental confusion, poor short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, severe fatigue, slurred speech, gait disturbances.

That’s when Hope showed up.

It might as well have been a physical flick of a lighter in a cave. I got it. I suddenly got it all, connected the dots. Low food absorption – low absorption – of everything. Low absorption of the extra vitamin D and iron and ibuprofen I’d been taking to help combat symptoms. Low absorption of allergy medications, fibromyalgia medications.

10 days from now, treatment for this bacterial monster will be complete. Realistically, it may take another dosing, it may take months until my body’s re-absorbed optimal levels of nutrients. That’s not ok.

I’m already impatient with Hope, so I will go one step further.

Lord, I ask you for healing with faith that it will come.

So, here’s to reasonable medical explanations, modified diets, and a healthier 2020 than 2019.

Oh, Billie Eilish, right?  Day 5, partial re-possession of brain, getting lost in hours of video, interviews, raw music, concert footage, fanzines, endless articles. Oh, and Bellyache, yeah.

Quote for the week: 2019 12 31 popular theory clusterfuck jakorte

ps. rock painting by paula pruitt

 

 

My Favorite, Noel.

I decorate for Christmas.  

Some years, not a single soul sees it. Some years, maybe one or two or three tops.

But, that’s because I travel, and it really doesn’t matter. I do it for me.

I refrained for many years. I could only see painful reminders. I suppose if there was such a thing, I’d say my grief has matured.

One year, I decided I’d at least try. I went through the box and struggled through each memory. Then, I went to World Market and Target and Meijer and struggled through buying new non-traditional décor in fuschia pink and winter blue and brilliant 80’s lime-ish green.

I couldn’t bring myself to put up the unique partial tree that Jeff and I had marveled over. Imagine a fake three-foot fir in a wicker basket – neatly sliced in verticle half to allow for wall hanging.

We used it in the townhouse, much to Miss Fred’s annoyance. She’d sit near the wall and balefully mewl. I suspect she was either trying to convince the tree to come down and play or she believed her caterwauling would spur us into action and bring all the shiny things down to her level.

It seems every year, I’ve managed to find the baby-steps, bits and pieces strength to add another sentimental piece. At least that’s what my lighted, miniature, fake burlap sack ensconced pine tree is telling me.

These are a few of my favorite things:

The purple and gold swirl paint bulb Jeff made.

The beaded snowman pin that Jeff also made

A tiny box with a big message from my mother-in-law, Sally

The tree topper is a handmade ornament from Nannee Vincze

The paper folded pinecone is a purchase I made at a craft show from a couple who reminded me so much of us.

The glass chili pepper is part of a set of six I bought for Jeff the Christmas after our store opened.

The Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh were a beautifully authentic biblical present to myself, and to others one year.

The Hershey kiss angel, by my best guesstimate, is somewhere between 20-25 years old – the result of a crafting episode with my sister-in-law.

The illuminated pine bottle was a gift this year from a friend who likes to call me ‘sis’.

The miniature Hannukah lamp was a gift from my mother that year we took her to Bronner’s. That is a story unto itself.

The nativity was my first, acquired the same year I purchased my condo.

The tatted cross is a gift that is a story unto itself, as well. A heritage heirloom I was astonished and honored to receive from a family that wasn’t mine to start with, but now completely is.

The Christmas Loon comes from the same family. No one has ever able to explain why, and the only thing I’ve found on the internet is a reference to the Loon being the state bird of Minnesota.

And I have no idea where the super shiny sparkly pine cone came from or how it landed in my Christmas storage tote, but… I like it.

All of this sits on the top of my living room hutch. There’s a lot of love crammed onto the four-foot-long top, which is conveniently completely Blu proof. He’s got jumping issues.

Happy Christmas from me. Repeating an adored adopted phrase, I’m the one who wants you to know – God loves you, and so do I. Noel.

Picture for the Week: 2019 12 24 Merry Christmas Noel jakorte

The Ripple Began Then

 

Over the years, in my tragicomedy approach to healing, I sometimes emphasized the on-the-verge-of-inappropriate, near-comedic aspect of that moment.

Other times, I’ve grumbled outwardly about the monkey-wrench that almost reset the officer’s overdose suspicion back to square one.

I think back on it now in wonder.

To pass by two ambulances, two police cars, a parade of neighbors outside and in and still have the hopeful faith that what I said wasn’t what I meant, is perhaps a gift from God. One that got her from one point to another safely, and positioned her to tell the story in a way that I could not.

I don’t know how long I sat there on the couch, on the section closest to the front door.

But, that’s where I was at the moment it became real.

The moment when the heartbreak became a ripple and the ripple was absorbed.

I don’t know how they got there. It seemed they just appeared, each hovering one step inside the door. A three-man row of grief and disbelief. I recognized the vacancy.

These were the first three people to share my grief; the first intimate ones I had faced.

The ones I knew were at least where I was, and were perhaps even deeper.

The ones who’d had him way longer than I; the catalysts of tears.

I had no words. Even if I had, speaking and crying is a complicated gift I have always lacked. Unconquerable, it’s either one or the other. Right then, it was the flow and terror.

In many ways the police and the emergency personnel were impartial. They were interested in facts.

Facts were an eerily calm surface; I dreaded the questions barely beneath. At some point, they would rise, buoyed by ripples, pushed upward as expelling gulps of grief. How could I explain why I wasn’t where I was supposed to be; where I usually was; where, for just this one time I wasn’t.

Quote for the Week: 2019 12 17 there isn’t anyway to avoid grief guilt jakorte

synonomy

He put his notebook away – closed it, really – tucked it under his arm.

 

The next thing. It’s not linear, but I’ll try to make it make sense.

The phone call to my brother-in-law answered by my sister-in-law followed an unusual path. I set in motion a game of church-telephone, similar to the childhood one, beginning with my unconscious inability to say that word. The D-word.

Without hesitation, my sil jumped into action. She tracked down her husband in church by getting hold of someone there. Third hand, my understanding is that the message morphed from my intent of ‘gone’ to ‘gone missing.’

When told his brother was missing, my bil’s response was, “Which one?” The lovely thing about this is that, in this extended family, the pre-cursor ‘step’ was never more important than the word ‘brother.’ And, there were eight possibilities, so the question was wholly legit.

Back to the beginning of this post and the end of the last post…

A milli-second after the officer’s pad pages met in closure, my sil burst through the door and near-breathlessly huffed out, “Did he leave a note?” Other rapid-fire questions followed.

I’m not sure of the accuracy of my recall. I was too busy short-circuiting, in panic mode – trying to absorb that my emphatic word had not been absorbed.

I heard Wal*Mart and scooter and a suggestion that maybe he’d gone for an early morning ride to the store down the dirt access road at the end of our street. Trying to follow along, I pictured Jeff 4-wheeling in an electric scooter on the recently rain-soaked non-road.

I glanced at the officer, who was looking questioningly at me. I shook my head from side to side trying to convey that she wasn’t asking about a suicide note. She was asking about a where did he go? note. In an almost impossible way, I managed to squeak and scream at the same time. “No! No, he didn’t leave a note!”

Honestly, I have no idea who else might have been in the room with the three of us. Bits and pieces of garbled voices and suppositions were hovering just outside of my tunneling-vision.

Time stopped long enough for me to realize this was exchange was going wrong, way too fast.

Using the same words I’d been using all morning,  I tried a little harder instinctively adding the universal double-handed hand signal signaling ‘no’.

“No. No.” I insisted, more firmly. “He’s… gone. He’s … (pointed silence)… Gone.”

The shock dropped her to her knees with a keening wail, and it occurred to me, I hadn’t done that. Surreall,y I internally questioned myself, “Why haven’t I done that?”

I don’t recall her rising from the floor, but she must have because I’ve heard the story of the revisory call.

That’s where this segment ends for me. I don’t know what my next move was, where I went or what I did. I skip through scenes.

None are cohesive, none are in real-time. It’s all a shattered photo bleeding from one puzzle piece to another. I cannot make them fit correctly.

Quote for the Week: 2019 12 10 It’s important to use the correct words jakorte