Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You're So Vein

I have several blog sites all over the interwebal universe. A post here, one there, and then they all would sit in cyberspace, gathering cosmic dust, waiting for me to come back and attack the keys of my computer in my erratic yet zippy hunt-and-peck method. This is the one...the blog with which I'll continue recounting my life experiences. And, geeminy, have there have been plenty of experiences since last I posted. In February. Where does the time go?

Let's start with a post about the crappy stuff and get it out of the way. You getting the bad news first so the good news is even better. And then I'll be able to post later on the more positive, happy things going on around me after I get this out of my system.

The award for Major Suckiness goes to the pulmonary embolism that landed me in the hospital very recently. Just when you think things are stable and that you own your health, WHAM! And I ignored the silly thing. For three days, I had the most awful stitch-like pain on inhaling even a tiny breath. We've all had them...temporary "catches" of something inside us around our air bags (lungs) that break free quickly. Except this wasn't going away. I would lie in my bed at night and try to get comfortable, try to find a position in which I could lie where I could just breathe. You simply can't appreciate a single, deep, cleansing the ones you use in meditation (you can imagine how that went) until you can't take one. And I'd panic. And cry. I was all alone (by choice), except for my cat who did everything in her power to comfort me, bless her. I'd think about calling someone to chat with, to try and distract my mind from the vice around my lung, but who wants their phone to ring at three o'clock in the morning? Eventually, I'd find I could curl up tightly and kind of rock myself to sleep for an hour or so. And I'd get up and try to live my life normally, accepting that I had this pain and trying to let it go. Trouble is, it wouldn't let go of me.

Ya see, I had this feeling that I was having an allergic reaction to a new medication my doctor prescribed for migraines and when it wasn't helping, he doubled the dose. When I began having the pain, I googled this "wonder drug", and sure contains a small amount of sulfa. I attributed the pain to what isn't a real allergic reaction to sulfa, but a severe and serious side effect that literally burns my muscles and makes them contract involuntarily. It knocked me out of commission once for six months. I figured that, because I stopped taking it, the pain would eventually decrease.

Try riding a bike to the post office or grocery store. I did. I lived my life and did my thing and still went to watch the eagles down the road. I ignored the pain that refused to go away until...well...I just couldn't ignore it anymore. I asked my wonderful blessing of a neighbor if she would be willing to take me to the emergency room. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long to be treated. Once I informed the intake person that I'd had a PE in the past, it wasn't long before I was on a gurney hooked up to an IV. Ahhh...sweet relief of morphine and valium rushing through my veins, finally giving me a break from the panic and pain of not being able to get that deep breath. Then came all those tests: EKG, Doppler ultrasound, X-Rays, MRIs. Then came the diagnosis...yep, it was an embolism. I started to cry. I have tried so hard for so long to stay out of this medical loop. One doctor sending me to another, and then to another, and before I know it, I'm following all these directions and taking all these pills, and just getting lost in all of it. I broke that cycle when I left South Carolina and began my metamorphosis.

No, I don't believe I'm immortal or invincible. I realize that my health is still sorely compromised by lupus and the ravages it's inflicted on my organs and circulatory system. But I learned not to let it turn me into...a patient, a sick woman, a fragile, frail being. That's not who I am! For a very long time, though, it was. And that's why this hit me so hard. It took me completely by surprise at a time in my life when I was enjoying another metamorphosis separate from my own, the arrival of spring after a very long and difficult winter, physically and financially, that just went on and on and on. Now the rhodies are blooming, the cherry blossoms are showering their petals everywhere, and bees are already finding those apple blossoms and doing their map dance to show their fellow bees where a plethora of pollen can be found. The smell of lilacs is in the air, everywhere. The snow is retreating from the not-so-distant hills; the trees, having shrugged off the winter, are twirling in the shadow and light that you can't see when the snow blankets those hills. I was ramping up to ride my bike for miles and miles so I could accomplish my goal of being able to ride 20 miles in a day by the end of the summer. And now, I'm "allowed" to ride short distances as long as I don't exert myself.

Believe it or not, Little Miss Pollyanna Me even sees the blessing here. For years, I've been on and off (mostly off) coumadin, a blood thinner used in rat poison (they die of internal sad is that?). I've been on doses so high that it required me to wear a MedicAlert bracelet to announce to one and all that I'm a clotty little bugger. This was a true wake-up call, with bells and whistles and gongs telling me that, damn it, I KNOW I have things to do. I finally know who I am and I'm learning what life is truly all about, and I'm gonna blow it if I don't continue to take rat poison for the rest of my life. Okay, I get it. I surrender. Ooh...since I'm in the Stream-of-Consciousness zone, I can say that, when I typed those words, "I surrender", I got a giddy little goosebumply feeling. I give in. I accept. And then I go on. I gather myself up and try to play catch up to where I felt I was supposed to be by now. However, I know it's going to take a little while to get there. The Something has spoken, telling me to slow down, that perhaps I was going just a little faster than I should.
And once again, I'll have a collection of medicine bottles of various doses of pretty little colored pills lined up on a shelf. I concede to having blood drawn two or three times a week because the vitamin K in the bean sprouts and broccoli I consume in mass quantities alters the efficacy and daily dosage of the coumadin. Being a vegetarian creates all kinds of additional problems for those with clotting disorders. My doctor asked me while I was in the hospital, "How devoted to your being a vegetarian are you?" My neighbor bought me a spider catcher so I can catch those creepy little monsters that scare the begeebers out of me and let them go outside of my flat, my space. I have no right to take a life deliberately, with intention, whether by smacking a fly on the wall or eating a hamburger. All life is sacred. And in that vein (pun intended), not taking my medication is akin to taking my own life slowly. Or suddenly. The clots are still there, though a bit smaller. If I'd waited one more day to be seen, to start treatment to reduce the size of the clots damaging my lung and leg, and possibly veins in other places, I wouldn't be here to type this stream-of-consciousness tome. I suppose I could have just written, "I haven't posted in a while. I had a blood clot in my lung that scared me into taking medicine so I can continue riding my bike and enjoying the beauty of this world and typing long blog posts."

Nah. That's not my style.