What Happened.

posted in: Day In The Life, Sicky 33
Onionweed. An invasive species. Pretty, though.
Onionweed. An invasive species. Pretty, though.

Here’s what happened. No pity party, just the facts.

I’m crazy anemic. On top of that, I’m leaking blood somewhere, and this wimpy system got hit with a virus that was less like “the flu,” more like “the Invasion of Normandy.” The triple-threat was disastrous.

I sort of knew I was kind of anemic; I remember a doctor saying something about this years ago. But I didn’t know it was a big deal and I figured it was related to surgeries. Mild anemia is not a big deal, but severe anemia is and it’s not just related to surgeries. Anemia, by the way, is “a condition marked by a deficiency of red blood cells or of hemoglobin in the blood, resulting in pallor and weariness.” I’ve always been pasty and pale; now I know there’s a reason I look like a character cut from Twilight. When taping the TV show last year, I caught myself on the monitor standing next to a tanned, Texas-dwelling Liz Porter and scared the badoobies out of myself; I was practically translucent by comparison.

The headache came on Thursday night, an H.R. Geiger creature trying and failing to claw its way out of my head (the failing part made it try harder, see.) I do remember things — spinal taps don’t fade from memory quickly — but it’s all in patches, including a visit from my Chicago GI doctor one of the days I was at Northwestern. Dr. Yun asked me, “Mary, what the heck is going on with you??”  I remember croaking out, “I have to get on a plane to D.C. tomorrow morning” and she basically laughed me out of the building. My mother came in from Iowa; if you said you’d give me five million dollars to tell you when she arrived, I would not be able to take that money home. My sister and her fiance visited; I remember stories they told me of their visit to India, but when did they come? How long did they stay? I remember texting three people, one time each, but I can’t remember one of the people I texted and I have no idea what I said. A friend came to visit and all I remember is him opening his mail. I blogged twice and I am so afraid to read those entries for fear they were absolutely unintelligible.

They did an upper GI. They did another pouchoscopy. They did a CT of my brain. No bleeding so far. They tried an MRI but I pressed the panic button; the congestion in my chest was so bad, I couldn’t breathe outside of a head-locking, skull-screw, mask device; inside one, I was a basket case. I’ll reschedule that and the pelvic ultrasound.

So there you have it. Tomorrow, lighter fare. Now I must rest. I am in D.C. again, horizontal, unable to move anything but my fingers. They’re fine! I feel like I got punched in the ribs and someone has been beating my organs with a fish.

In Hospital, or, “You Can’t Write This Stuff.”

posted in: Day In The Life 2
The USS Stewert in Shanghai, China, 1927. Photo : William Verge.
The USS Stewert in Shanghai, China, 1927. Photo : William Verge.


This will have to be short because a) I can’t see straight to type and b) my brain is on a 90-second time delay.

On Thursday afternoon, I came into Chicago. I had a doctor’s followup appointment, a meeting, and I had various Chicago-based errands to run. A short trip: in on Thursday, out Saturday morning.

Thursday night, around 9:30 pm, I was gripped with a terrible headache. I thought, “Wow, this is a terrible headache,” and I lay down. At 2 am, I woke up with a sob. I took a bath. I put a cold washcloth on my head and pressed my forehead to the tile on the shower stall. It was cool, the tile. I noticed that my entire body was weak — like, couldn’t-lift-my-limbs weak. Back to bed, pleading with the gods, I told myself, “Okay, okay, chill. Chill, chill, please chill.

Two hours later, I was awake again.

This time, it was worse in the head. I gasped; it felt like there was an animal in my skull (a rat) trying to escape. I took a heroic dose of Tylenol and tried to rest. I hit all the acupressure points I had ever heard about. At 6 am, I woke again and could hardly move. I tried to get the phone to call downstairs for a taxi; that didn’t work. Nor did it work to get my jeans on. I managed both things eventually, which would have been to my astonishment had I the will to be astonished. I got myself over to the ER at Northwestern, thankfully just four blocks away. I took a taxi because taxi = $5; ambulance = $750. Even in my stupor, I knew to take the cab.

I was admitted fast. I have had three bags of blood transfused since then. A normal person’s hemoglobin count is 15; mine is hovering at four.

To make sure I’m not bleeding in my brain, I had a lumbar puncture before coming into this room. I have had a CT scan, a failed MRI (I got claustrophobic because I also have a viral respiratory issue??) and I have an upper endoscopy and a lady-parts ultrasound scheduled for a few hours from now. It’s quite possible that the hemoglobin problem, the anemia problem is directly related to GI stuff, but we don’t know, yet.

I felt totally fine on Thursday. A little tired. But who isn’t.