Well, it all started with a spider, “that lay down beside her” and took a bite of my leg. Preparing for my first trip outside of my bunker in NYC my worry was about contracting COVID and so amid a pandemic, I never imagined a spider could take me down. After a week I noticed the bite had become infected and my only recourse was to go to the Walk-In Medical down the block where I’d gotten tested for the virus and antibodies. This post is also a bit of a commentary on the state of medical care for things that maybe aren’t so big but can become a runaway train. A sad realization, you are on your own. The following narrative is what you get for paying $600+ a month for Medicare and private insurance. Yet, I am still so very privileged compared to others.
A week before COVID came upon us, I had a physical, and my regular doctor informed me she was no longer taking my insurance. I meant to get a new primary care doctor, but with COVID it was not business as usual. That’s how I ended up going to the Walk-In Medical. The first doctor gave me an antibiotic, but the infection worsened, and when I returned there was a different doctor and a different more powerful antibiotic. I was told to take a probiotic with the antibiotic 2x a day. Later when I took control of my destiny, went into medical journals, and did research, I find out that if you take a probiotic with an antibiotic the antibiotic will kill any contribution the probiotic is making and renders its impact void. Instructed to return the next day, yet another doctor sent me to the Emergency Room of a local hospital where yet another doctor gave me a different IV antibiotic that caused a reaction. The IV had to stop, I was given Benadryl and the antibiotic was flushed out. There was no sign on any paperwork that I had this kind of reaction or whether and if that meant I was allergic to this antibiotic. The next morning I got a new and fabulous Primary Care doctor and we had a telehealth consultation agreeing I would come in for another physical in September.
About three days after this visit, I had chills, fever, nausea, and other symptoms that kept me in the bathroom several times an hour. You know my first thought and that of my doctor was the virus, but no respiratory symptoms. Perhaps the stomach flu, we’ll give it two days. When Day 5 comes with no relief more tests, my doctor called and told me I had a very toxic and dangerous infection in my colon, which the antibiotic prescribed for my spider bite put me at high risk of contracting. Nobody told me that this antibiotic would kill all the good bacteria in my microbiome, allowing this toxic bacteria to take over. This infection also has a high rate of re-occurrence after treatment. To make this adventure even more exciting, the most common treatment was yet another antibiotic, the one I reacted to in the Emergency Room. So my doctor prescribed another one of the recommended antibiotics, this one very expensive and needing to be specially ordered. By the time my treatment began, I lost 5 lbs. and before the end another 5lb. Meanwhile, my new doctor was monitoring me for dehydration and an enlarged colon as many people who get this infection end up in the hospital. I continued to scour everything I could about this, how to prevent re-occurrence, and all the things I had to change and do to make sure this did not re-emerge.
There is an end to this story and you know me, it is a happy and positive one. While COVID was the first of life-altering events this summer, this illness was another. I am grateful. I thought I had slowed down, changed my lifestyle to one of less stress and a healthier way of eating and taking care of myself, but this illness showed me even that was not enough. No social media, I did not even want to talk on the phone. Those worried sent me texts. No work, no content creation, no writing for public consumption. Everything I was doing, eating, drinking came to a halt. Everyplace I was going. A deeper and more profound halt than that caused by the pandemic. I took responsibility for finding out how this had happened and what I needed to do in response, and that was the day I began to be well.
Until I knew what was wrong with me, I must admit I was scared. People die from what I had. But this complete stop and getting through it, made me feel so grateful for the life I have had and the one it looks like I will continue to have. What is important to me became even more clear and more important. I moved to take even greater responsibility for my own life and well-being, which oddly made me feel safer than depending on the institutions that are falling apart all around me here in the U.S.
This transition time between illness and health has been one of creativity, nurturing, and care. I have a new routine. One that involves a complete change of diet, early morning yoga, and most pleasing to me, writing every day. I do one thing at a time before I start another. I post and engage on social media less. When I do it’s because I have something I wish to say. I invite my followers to slow down and pause a while to read my caption. I am intentional in every task I take on. No more coffee but lovely rituals around making tea. My energy is like a slow even burn throughout the day no more late afternoon crash. My hair is getting long. I’m cooking. Listening to music and dancing. I dream of gardens, but for now, I am tending to the flora in my microbiome until we find our new home where I can have one with flowers.
In some ways, I am finding it hard to return to the actual world. I’ve made myself a little healing cocoon and I’m not ready to come out. Like a newborn baby, I’m not looking forward to the bright lights and loud noises. So this too I am doing one thing at a time, one step out and then back in.
Some updates: Calvin and I just signed a contract for a new (vintage 1912) home. About an hour north of NYC and ten minutes from my daughter, it’s in a small and diverse city on the Hudson. Can’t wait to share details. It needs some work to make it ours so stay tuned.
I’ve received a good amount of interesting beauty products and other things to try lately and so I thought I might share some of my favorites. I’ve been having fun experimenting with them.
It’s #secondhandseptember so in this photo, I’m wearing a vintage dress I got at A Current Affair a beautifully curated vintage show held in LA and Brooklyn. This year it will be virtual Sept. 24-26. And of course some vintage costume earrings.
Thank you to those who sent me emails and enquired after my well-being, I so appreciate my thoughtful followers.
What revelations have you been having during this time of transition, your personal ones, and the one we are all in right now because of life circumstances?