IT MUST BE said, I have been utterly shit at posting in the past month. I mean, I did one measly post at the beginning of April about eating turkey and getting hives (which was the beginning of the end, if you ask me). It's pathetic. I've got excuses for miles, but my mother always said 'excuses are like assholes, everyone has one.' Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it, perhaps more eloquently: 'He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else'. Who knew ol' Benji hated excuses so much? I certainly did not. So it's easy for me to sit here from my hospital bed and list the reasons why I haven't posted or felt moved to continue to tell my story in - SHOCK HORROR - almost a month. But I'll spare you. The long and short of it is that I've been feeling pretty crap all of April, and now it's suddenly May and my blog has taken a serious backseat. I started and didn't finish at least 4 other posts during that time, which I'm sure I'll get back to at some point. But today, let's focus on the why and the how and the oh gods of why there has been little to no action on here in the early days of Spring. The dreaded illness crept up on me in fits and spurts, first in the form of fatigue and nausea, feeling dizzy at work. Then a visit to the ER and a resulting mysterious UTI on the 7th of April and, in the space of 4 days, turned into full blown liver rejection. I'm not sure how you jump from UTI to acute liver rejection, but 'something is cooking' was one reason I was given. That turn of phrase is not cute nor how I would like to refer to something happening in my body, ever. I somehow staved off an actual hospitalization (despite barely being able to stand, or eat, or do anything but sleep and complain and repeat) until the 14th, but since then I've basically been holed up by my river view, wondering what is to become of me. Whilst the liver team tries to figure out what is going on and keep it all under control so I don't lose this vital organ pumping away in my body. They're pretty good at that. And all my loved ones looking on in disbelief that this is happening, somehow, again and sending me their well wishes and reminding me of my good fortune, despite my seemingly not so good fortune.
I started the month wondering, why was I so tired? Was I taking on too much? Was I grinding it too hard? Was I trying to do it all and impeding the healing process in-so-doing? I wanted to live again, I wanted to be social, I wanted to work on side projects, I wanted to go to work everyday, I wanted to look cute and wear heels and book travel and 'Get back to life!' as one of my doctors suggested I do. I was embracing that sentiment wholeheartedly. Because I like to live. I ignored the fatigue and tried to get my 8 hours of sleep in a night, I had friends at work who made sure I went home when I was supposed to (not trustworthy enough myself to always make sure I'd leave when I should), I was eating well, I was going to physical therapy, I was going to therapy, I was keeping in touch with loved ones far away, I was trying to get into some work on organ donation, I was writing and I was (I thought) wielding my way towards happiness and self-fulfillment. Ok, not quite, but I was at least wielding my way towards piecing my body and my life back together after an extremely tumultuous 8 months.
I had been told, over and over and over again, by friends and family to social workers and other medical professionals to be gentle with myself in the months following my liver transplant. To give myself a break through subsequent setbacks, infections, procedures, being readmitted to hospital and coming to terms with everything not only physically but also the emotional toll something like a liver transplant or any other serious medical trauma can take. It wasn't so easy to always be gentle, because I want to strive to be someone who creates, who exists in society, who is a good friend and family member to others, an informed human being and kind when maybe I don't feel like it. I was hurrying up to live (because that's what I'm here for, right?!) and I maybe should have been slowing down to heal. That doesn't mean I wouldn't hurry up to live again, and it doesn't mean that I won't but it explains why I haven't been active on this blog in the past month, just as the story was getting good. But the story isn't over and that's the sweet, rough irony of life. Just when I thought I was home free and able to tell my story with hindsight (being 20/20 after all), I was stopped in my tracks and again caught in the web that illness weaves for you. It can feel like wading around in molasses, you're stuck in a step and repeat of blood tests, diagnoses, uncertainties, hunches, stopped time, and trial and error. You are really and truly at the mercy of what your doctors tell you to do and what not to do: most of your free will is taken away from you. The first little while in here was rough and I pounded my head against the wall and I was angry and upset and crying and shut down. I still have those feelings. But then I decided I'm going to choose to look at it from a different angle. I sure as shit don't want to be here, I don't want to be sat in this hospital bed at the beginning of May, (I MISSED BASICALLY ALL OF LAST SUMMER GUYS). I don't want to have these uncertain feelings and be on a bull of a medication that wipes away whatever I had left of an immune system. I don't. But I do think I needed to be reminded of what a wondrous and complicated journey it can be to lose your health. And how complete surrender is what you need to cultivate in order to be ok with it. Even then it's a struggle. But there are techniques and tricks that can help. Meditation and switching off being part of it. Reaching out and leaning on others being another. There is not a right way to do it. You just have to do it, get through it and hope for the best.
And there are so many aspects of the hospital that I had forgotten about from my own experience and memories that came flooding back as soon as I stepped foot in the ER. But also of the unsung heroes who work here day-in day-out: from the nurses to the nurses' aides, from the lowly residents to the top dog hot shot doctors, from the volunteers who hand out food, to the kitchen workers and the cleaners. They're all here, their hearts all beat to the pulse of this gargantuan institution that kept me alive and keep so many others alive and well day after day. And sometimes you lose some, like the guy who died on the transplant floor last week, not four doors down from my room. And sometimes you gain some, like the friend's niece who was born here five floors above me the very next day. The humanity and the heaviness and the lightness of it all punch you in the gut and make you face it in its entirety when you're here. There is no looking on high from an ivory tower when you're a patient, and I'd imagine even less so when you're a nurse or a doctor. It's a true honour and pleasure to be in their company again, and I'm lucky to have become so intimately acquainted with their kind in the past year. They are extraordinary. I have a lot to say on the matter and on this interlude in my story, and since it's the 1st of May and here we are together, I'm resolving to get back to it, gently. Because for now that's what I'm capable of. Thank you for reading thus far, and thank you for sticking with me when I fell, quite literally, off my game. I'm back, feeling a little queasy and looking like I took a bit of a beating (I do bruise easily but needles are no joke). It's useful to lay claim to your story while you're in it so when you look back you know you were telling the truth.