Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tools Down!

Shalom, chaverim! Once again, my intention to post more frequently, and at a regular pace, has been an "epic fail." That is not to say I put this blog out of my mind, but rather, I kept making mental notes about what to write in the next post. The problem with mental notes, though, is that they are mental (duh), rather than physical. And as I operate on the assumption that most of you are not professional mind-readers, it puts the onus on me to get off my anus and actually write something. So here it is, warts and all, sans the fabulous "mental posts" I had dancing in my head.

Organ Recital

November and much of December have turned out to be a real hassle for me, with a couple of scary health incidents. On November 24th, I decided that since it had been about two years since I'd seen a dentist, it was time to get a move on and make an appointment. I did so, with a Scottish dentist in town who had been highly recommended by my Nahariyan friends. Since his tiny office is in a shopping mall in the center of town, I came to my appointment heavy laden with shopping bags, backpack, and purse. Well, to make a long story medium-length, once I got into his examining room, I realized the only place to put my stuff was at the foot of the dental chair, which was across the room. And instead of trying to get past the dentist, I went to the other side of the head of the chair and charged forward, hyper-focused on the one eensy-meensy place I could put my bags.

BANG! I absolutely cold-cocked myself on the top of my head, having walked right into the overhanging arm of the metal x-ray machine. I staggered back, seeing stars and nearly fainting from the pain and the shock. I had no idea what had happened--it felt like a hammer from G-d had just given me a big old b*tch-slap. Fortunately, there was a counter and a stool just behind me, so I was able to grab onto it and keep myself from falling. I howled.

The dentist and his assistant got me into the chair immediately, which helped. When I was able to stop crying, we laughed about it and we went on with the examination and the cleaning. At the time, since I was in the chair for nearly an hour and didn't have to talk too much, I thought I was all right, and even rode my bike home.

However, that evening, things started getting strange. My vision got a little blurry, and I was finding it difficult to speak coherently. It was hard to read, and I was very, very sleepy. After Googling "concussion," I knew I wouldn't be fit for work the next day, so I called in sick. I made an evening appointment with the doctor to get a sick note, but by the time it rolled around, Elul had to work and I didn't feel safe to ride my bike or drive--I was that gorked out.

Hospital Visit #1

Anyway, the next morning, Elul took me to the doctor to get my note. By this time, I was so drowsy and out of it that my doctor took one look at me and sent me to the emergency room at the hospital. Although they first thought I might be in that state from drug use (!), they soon sent me for a CT scan. Fortunately, there was no internal bleeding, so they sent me home with a note for two weeks off, and strict instructions to do "no cognitive work," including reading and writing. That kind of makes it difficult to teach English, write and narrate news stories, and do graduate work in education. But seriously, I was in no shape to do any of it. It was strangely restful, though, to be so damaged that I could easily sit in a chair for 30 minutes at a time without thinking about anything at all. No worries, no cares, no concerns, no self-criticism. Just a lovely kind of emptiness, watching the birds and the sun on the sea, watching the dust motes dance.

Pini and I take in the view of my own personal "Gorky Park."

Hospital Visit #2

So, ten days go by and I think I'm on the mend. I've managed to secure assignment extensions from my professors, and have filed the sick note paperwork for my teaching job. Then, once again, with all the charm of Emeril Lagasse, BAM! It's the middle of the day, and, like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky, I find myself first bent over from lower abdominal cramps, then, within minutes, literally down on the floor on my hands and knees, vomiting from pain. I got Elul to call our (WONDERFUL) Maccabi health insurance company to talk to their nurse. He explained what was going on and she gave immediate approval for me to go to the emergency room.

Elul got me there right away, but I walked myself in because he had to park the car. The problem was, I was staggering and crying and couldn't stand up straight. Some aides helped me into a wheelchair and got me into the emergency room, but I was crying so much from pain that I couldn't speak clearly. So a nurse decided that I was "hysterical," and to "snap me out of it," gave me an extremely painful Vulcan death pinch on my left shoulder! That just made me bellow and cry even more, and shout "please stop hurting me!"

Oy! They gave me a scan right away and admitted me to the hospital. What was eventually pieced together, from multiple scans and multiple doctors, was basically this: "Well, you have ovarian cysts, endometrial tissue all over the place, and a "mass" that we can't really identify, exactly. It also looks like something has twisted, since there's no blood flow to your right ovary. So we'll have to operate tomorrow. No food and drink for you until after the op!"

Pre-op. I wasn't that chipper post-op, believe me!

They did the operation, I went into post-op and recovery, stayed another night, and was out the next afternoon. They removed all the crap they could find, along with my right fallopian tube. I am now the proud owner of three new "keyholes" in my belly, stitched up with dissolvable sutures that haven't dissolved yet. I have to say, though, that one of these "keyholes" must have been designed for a mighty large key! Still, once again, just like my brief stint last year for the same problem, I had absolutely excellent care from every single member of the hospital staff. I was extremely well looked after, the ward was clean and quiet, and everything was very well organized. Everyone was supportive and kind, and answered all the questions I had carefully and fully. Rock on, the Western Galilee Hospital Nahariya!

Elul was great during all this, I want to point out to the world. He was patient, kind, supportive, and dealt with all the odds and ends of work communication that goes with any health crisis, not to mention multiple visits and hassles with parking in bad weather. Thank you, sweetheart!

At my follow-up appointment with my doctor, she told me to take a month off work. At first, I thought that seemed excessive. But now, it's just great. I can't believe how much time I've spent sleeping and just doing the bare minimum of my household chores. I haven't ridden my bicycle since the head injury, and I can only walk for about ten minutes without getting winded. Elul and I used to walk an hour a day, seven days a week! I've had to back out of a wonderful singing engagement for our local ESRA (English Speaking Residents Association) chapter, and have had to take a medical leave of absence from my M.Ed. program. I have just enough energy to work a little and do a little housework, and that's about it. In other words, my life has kind of gone off the rails. Where I go from here, I don't know.

Mystery UnDiagnosis

So, the final wrinkle in all of this is that I'm also being tested for Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that I may have contracted many years ago when I lived in Ireland. Even though I have ALL the symptoms, I have to say I'm not holding out much hope for a positive diagnosis. This is only because I've been struggling for so long, for so many years, to get to the bottom of this mystery condition, this "great pretender," that is routinely misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's, sleep apnea, epilepsy, vascular dementia, MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, irritable bowel syndrome, hypothyroidism, hormonal disorders, skin cancer, and perimenopause, to name but a few. I have been tested for, and have had ruled out, nearly all of these conditions. The fact that I now recall (thanks to Elul's detective work and careful questioning) that I once found an engorged tick under the bedclothes when I lived in Ireland, is what makes us think it may be Lyme disease. But like I say, I'm not holding out much hope. I feel discouraged and somewhat hopeless. My memory is getting so bad, and my fatigue is getting so out of control (11-13 hours a sleep required a day, anyone?) that I don't know where to go or what to do anymore.

The results of the "AB borrelia burgdorfer" panel blood tests should come back next week. I'll keep you posted.

Big Ol' Storm

In other news, Israel is just coming out of the worst storm it's had in the last 150 years. It's been freezing cold in our apartment, and we've been sleeping in our clothes for the past two weeks. I managed to ferret out a wonderful woolen blanket at the local charity shop, along with some woolen berets and a man's oversize turtleneck sweater, which I'v been wearing day and night during this last cold snap. We took one of my mother's quilts and hung it on a large dowel rod, which we then suspended over our leaky, single-pane home office window to keep the drafts out. The hanging quilt setup was completed by adorable duct-tape sealing, which immediately ripped the paint off the plaster when the cats pulled the quilt down by trying to climb it. To borrow from Willie Nelson's song, "Mothers, don't let your sons grow up to in old Israeli apartment buildings." I have just ordered a few pairs of silk sock liners, so as to be better prepared for next winter.

The Bright Side: Jon Hamm Doesn't Like Wearing Underoos

On the other hand, not all is terrible. I've been able to watch "Breaking Bad" from start to nearly finish. The apartment is reasonably clean. I've discovered the multitudinous benefits of chia seeds and have developed a crazy--but strangely tasty--"Chocolate Chia Seed Gruel" that I really enjoy, despite its turd-like appearance.

Don't hate me because my Chocolate Chia Seed Gruel is beautiful

Sometimes I walk a little on the beach and pick up sea glass for my friend Jody, who makes gorgeous jewelry out of it.

My friend Jody Garbe makes amazing Israeli jewelry and I'm happy to plug her business. Check her out on Facebook at "Twisted Sister Jewelry" and you can buy some yourself!

And occasionally, I get a really funny script to read for the voiceover work I do. Here's a recent one I did about Jon Hamm, the divine specimen of  hunky actor manliness who stars in "Mad Men":

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "Mad Men." (Thanks, for the image!)

"Jon Hamm was spotted out and about in El Lay, with his lady love Jennifer Westfeldt, while getting some holiday shopping done at Barneys. Who knows what gift items they left with, but Jon was clearly not wearing any underwear. Maybe Jon should try buying some!"

Ooh, indeed!

Shabbat shalom, chaverim!

1 comment:

  1. Take care Sheila! Rest up and get well. If it is Lyme disease, there are a lot of great blogs out there that can help. But Im praying that it is not the case!


Thank you for reading my blog. I am interested in your comments, but I will delete anything that is either spam or just plain nasty. Please do not use the comments forum as a political or religious soapbox--there are SO many other online forums for those kinds of tedious arguments!