My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Hospitalized (Personal Update) Health and Writing

A month ago (on a sun-kissed Monday), I went to the emergency room. I wouldn't come out of the hospital for five days. Then I would convalesce at home, get an upper respiratory infection, and it's probably only JUST NOW that I'm starting to feel a little better. 

This is that story. I will tell you that there will be medical procedures, emesis, trauma, and an objective discussion of weight gain and loss (not as a goal but simply as a matter of fact).  If any of those things sound like they would be upsetting to you or ignite some of your own traumas, then you may just want to read to the bold section heading, and call it a day.

I'm okay now. My full recovery took about three weeks even though I was discharged after five days. And right when I was feeling better, I picked up an upper respiratory infection that knocked me out for another several days. Doing school on top of everything else was hard enough. Being BEHIND on school has been its own super nightmare. There are a lot of things I'm behind on in my life. I sort of thought that being bedridden was going to give me the time to get to all those things I'm usually too busy running around to do, but as it kind of turns out, that's unicorn rainbow spew. It isn't real. What actually happens is that whatever reason you're bedridden in the first place is going to make it pretty hard to do anything but convalesce. 

So right now I'm behind on…well, everything. Everything. From phone calls to peeps to school to, of course, writing. I had to prioritize the academic classes I'm taking and spend two weeks doing five weeks of work (in five different classes), and it's only been in the last couple of days (since finishing my second midterm on Wednesday…which I did not do that well on) that I've not felt desperately behind. And now I'm moving into the last two weeks, so I'm feeling the pressure from other directions. 

[If you're looking for the writerly wisdom for all this, I try to bring it home below.]

Okay, but what happened? (Trigger warnings above)

I typically have low platelets and have to be careful—very careful—if I'm bleeding more than just a little. For me a bad cut can turn life threatening. I'm not supposed to go skydiving, and my career of juggling chainsaws was cut tragically short.

The greatest dream I ever had was torn to shreds like the torso of my 
friend Aspen (who can't even juggle balls) trying to pull this off one Tuesday afternoon
in early March.
So tragic.
Do not even attempt to contain your tears.

It's all part of having a jackhole liver. My liver is cirrhotic, and we don't really know why. (I found out that this is true for almost a third of people with cirrhosis.) There are a couple of possibilities, but no solid answers. But one thing is for sure. It spends a lot of time taking drags off of cigarettes and saying in an outrageous French accent, "Ah yez. I remember ze early aughties. Back when ze platelets flowed like wine in a Sex and ze City episode. Oh Miranda! Zoze were ze dayz."

Well, it turns out that ANOTHER thing that can happen from having a messed-up liver is that veins can start pushing into your stomach—eventually far enough that their lining is eroded, and they start filling the digestive tract with blood. When your stomach is full of blood, the results can be….dramatic.  

Like exorcist dramatic. 

Hello. I'm here because there's literally no "throwing up blood"
GIF that isn't absolutely awful.
Let's just focus on my cuteness.

Anyway, I did that in the waiting room of the Emergency Room after being too dizzy to walk, and needless to say, I didn't end up waiting as long as the guy who skinned his thumb "really really bad."

Five transfused units of blood later, they had me stable enough to do an endoscopy, discover the problem, plan this really cool procedure to like fill my veins with Krazy Glue or some shit, so they'd wither and stop fucking bleeding into my stomach. There were a couple of days of observation before they sent me home with a fistful of diuretics to keep down the fluid in my peritoneal cavity, and home I went to try to recover. I was 20 pounds of fluid over my admission weight when I was discharged. (Which was bananas because I had had about three meals in five days and one of them was a "liquid" meal—which means you get some sugar-free jello and a cup of broth.) Once the diuretics started, over the next four days, I peed out like 30 pounds of liquid. (Like, no seriously—thirty pounds of fluid can make you bloated like you wouldn't believe. It's like four GALLONS and change.) I went from looking like a stuffed sausage to my skin kind of hanging off my bones a little.

So that was fun. 

And yeah, right when I was almost better, there was an upper respiratory infection. Not a cold—this was the real fucking deal. Fevers of 102 at night and coughing up a lung. I think my white blood cell count was tanked from the hospital, because everyone in two households got this infection but I was the one it absolutely leveled like a papier-mâché reproduction of Tokyo in the final reel of a Godzilla movie. 

Okay, no more gory details. Back to the touchy feely.

Where do I go from here?

I get back up. 

I dust myself off. 

I keep writing. 

I've lost a lot of income in the last couple of years as I recover from cancer, then "ha ha, no, REALLY" recover from the trauma of cancer, pivot on my career goals, get buried under school work, and lose weeks of productivity to everything from helping my nesting partner grieve the brutal killing of their boss and friend to being hospitalized.

I get it. I haven't been writing the way I used to and the economy has shifted even further away from most working class being able to make ends meet. People I know (including me), who used to have a few hundred dollars of discretionary income every month, are now barely getting by, and several of us trying not to bleed out our entire savings before we learn a new skill set. Even folks who were infinitely patient with my lack of updates through my cancer have noticed that I've fallen way off from then. I would never expect people to hang on ever, but it's been especially understandable lately. 

I'll rebuild that crowdfunding when I'm able to re-establish a regular practice of writing. I'm still determined to keep all my work (other than some newsletters) free and pass the hat instead of going traditional publishing or paywalls or anything like that. There may be some compilations made into ebooks, but the source material will always be available. 

So more than ever, I'm writing because that's what I do. Because I love it. I'm writing because not writing is the real difficulty, and I feel depressed and anxious if I neglect it. Maybe it's not much more than a Facebook post on any given day. Maybe it's for school. Maybe it's one more half-done article. But I sit and I write. It's not for money—that's dwindling. It's not for fame—whatever snippet of online infamy I once has disappeared these last couple of years when I stopped putting out two or three articles a week.

Now it's just me and the writing.

Which is all it ever is for most people.

And even though THIS isn't the most prolific time in my life and no one is asking me right now how I write like I'm running out of time, the wheel will turn. Life will shift and there will be time and energy (together…in the same room) again. And I will still have the habit and the routine and the discipline. But that will combine with the opportunity. And that's when things get exciting.

A lot of people can write (or sing or do their art) as long as everything's pretty smooth sailing. What a dedicated writer (or singer or artist) has to confront is how to handle things when the waters are choppy. Life is going to happen, and at some point, it's going to happen HARD. Someone's going to die. You're going to get very sick. You'll have a kid or two. Your world will turn upside down. That's when it's easy to quit…or maybe take a break that ends up lasting the rest of your life. 

And I'm not here to tell you what to do in those moments or what makes you "real" or how much you really care about your writing (or art) if you can't find the time or energy. I'm not here to tell you to get back on the horse in X amount of time. I'm not that inspiration-porn problematic for one, and moreso, I'd obviously I'd be a hypocrite if I tried.

What I AM going to tell you is that when that absolutely mind-numbing moment of shut down or overwhelm or frenetic chaos or debilitating depression/anxiety/whatever clears, and you have your first lucid thoughts after the upheaval….if those thoughts are of writing (or music, or art), hold onto that. 

There's more there about what makes you tick there than you know.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the best things ever written about writing: "A lot of people can write (or sing or do their art) as long as everything's pretty smooth sailing. What a dedicated writer (or singer or artist) has to confront is how to handle things when the waters are choppy." That resonated with me. I'm tattooing that in my journal. :)