My Fall Vacation
05 November 2010
Now, because fall in Southern California is the hottest, grossest, most inhumane and mocking in a “yes it’s October and yes the fall clothes in the catalogs look delicious but you'll never have a chance to wear them because it’ll be in the 90s until December, after which it’ll just rain for three months,” I decided to stay the week in New York. An old friend was getting married and I had full run of another friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. Best of all, my husband Alan wanted to visit friends in New Hampshire for the following weekend so we made plans for me to meet him in Boston on Thursday night, after which we’d drive to New Hampshire. I figured I wear a lot of outfits like this, at left.
Plus, we’d see some leaves. What could be better?
Well, just a few days into my swinging New York me-time vacation I awoke in the night feeling terribly feverish. I ransacked my friend’s house trying to find a thermometer or some aspirin (success on the latter, failure on the former.) The next day, a pharmacist who sold me a thermometer assured me I just had allergies, that when the seasons change (and people start wearing those yummy catalog clothes) everyone gets allergies.
I felt worse and worse, though. I had to cancel all my social engagements. I spent the rest of the time in New York lying in my friend’s bed. When it came time to take the train up to Boston I started feeling slightly better and figured I was on the mend. But that night, as my husband and I slept in the guest room of his friends’ house, the fever returned savagely.
The wife half of this couple is the town doctor. She figured I had a flu. And who wouldn’t? By the time I started throwing up it all seemed so clear. I stayed in bed for another two days, until I could finally rouse myself to look at some leaves.
Finally we flew back to L.A. Do you know how hot and uncomfortable I was on the plane? So hot that I gladly wore my husband’s black Tour of the Battenkill bike racing tee-shirt even though it make me look ridicuous. Kind of this sort of look, which I tried to abandon roughly around junior high.
The next day it so happened that my eyes were turning yellow (not pictured.) I was all set to drive to the doctor until I realized I was too dizzy to drive. I took a taxi to the doctor and got put on IV fluid for dehydration. They told me that if I wasn’t better the next day I should to urgent care. Well, I guess I did, since the next thing I remember was being taking in an ambulance to the hospital. The next thing I remember after that was being asked what year it was and who the president was and totally not knowing the answers. I have a brief memory of being taken down for emergency imagining, a brief memory of being catheterized, and brief and pretty heartbreaking memory of hearing my husband trying to explain to the doctor that I was not someone who wouldn’t know who the president was, that in fact my intellect was my “main thing.” I guess I wasn’t wearing that Tour of the Battenkill tee-shirt anymore.
Then about four days passed that I know nothing about. I had meningitis and my liver was failing and my platelets were practically nonexistent. Apparently there was real concern that I’d die. My father was summoned from New York. Several friends showed up and sat around the hospital and organized a heath update mail chain and brought food for my husband, who was beside himself. Like I said, I don’t know much about this part so I won’t go into the details, but it was bad. As a rarely-sick person (as in I don’t even have a primary care physician) it’s very hard to put this all into words. Suffice it to say, however, I missed the worst of it.
Finally I woke up. Apparently this was a surprise to even some of the doctors, who were thrilled, as were my family and friends. The next day I was moved out of the ICU. Or at least soon thereafter. As I said, I don’t yet grasp the chronology. I did, however, notice today that my wrists were oddly bruised and was told it was because I’d been restrained all weekend for trying to pull out my feeding tube. Arlighty then!
It’s taken all week to figure out what happened but it’s looking like a very severe case of . . . Typhus.
No joke. It probably came from fleas in the yard of the house we’re renting (which seemed like such a nice house!) Of course, the way these infections work the vast majority of the time is that people pick them up but experience no symptoms. Cases like mine are so rare that the doctors are actually writing up a paper about me (it's really nice to hear something appeal to my vanity, because I’ll tell you this hospital does not provide shampoo.) The question for me, of course, is why in the world I had this kind of reaction. I was strong enough to fight it, why did I get it?
I blame those fall leaves. If I hadn’t wanted to see them so badly, I wouldn’t have been home before my eyes started turning yellow (incidentally, a lovely fall color.)
Here's Bailey, the therapy dog who came to see me on my 9th day in the hospital.
Here's the view from my hospital room. These flowers are so beauitful. And there are tons more where those came from. The wave of support and prayer and thoughts I received from my friends and family has been staggering.In any case, no Mr. Brooklyn pharmacist man, I didn’t have allergies. But there's always next year.