dangerous compassions

I call you / from the comet's cradle

Friday, February 15, 2019

pep

I wanted to go to a spaghetti dinner and dance tonight at Transcending the Gender Box.  But I can't eat spaghetti sauce right now and don't have much pep. 

Need to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning and serve at the soupline, my first time serving the hungry since the hospitalization.  Ming's going to carry a chair out to the field.

Then I will also attend Saturday meeting.  It's been a while.  I could have gone last week, but I didn't want to bring my germs to the table.

I had this laptop I wasn't using.  I bought it to have a windows machine when I wanted to be an oral historian.  Then I found out transcribing interviews takes too many hours and doesn't agree with my pinched nerve, and Dragon voice transcription software doesn't work for me.

So the equipment was gathering dust.  Found out my good friend did some interviews, and next thing I knew, Ming was packaging up the technology to send to her.  But we forgot the charging cord.  But Ming sent it today.

My aunt sent me a get well present: pretty journal, nice pens, paper, envelopes, get well card.  How perfect.  I sent her a thank you note already.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

darling


My journal was having a problem.  The loops of the binding were getting bent outta shape and would no longer allow pages to turn.  I was frustrated.

So Ming said he could fix it and removed the offending loops, fixing it.  Cute, kind, smart, loyal, and handy on top of all of that.  What did I do to deserve this darling Valentine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

sunrise yesterday, dress superstition, year of the pig


"I'm afraid to wear the dress I was wearing when I got sick," I told Ming.

"Why?" he asked.

"Superstition," I said.  "Afraid I'll get sick again."

"Maybe the dress saved your life," he said.

The dress fits differently now.  Yesterday at the doctor, the scale told me I lost 23 pounds. 

I had feelings about it.  Doctors are like, you lost weight, very good.  No matter you almost died.  No matter you lost weight because you were in the hospital unable to eat for five days.

Last time I lost weight, years ago with a med change, I wore a belt to keep my pants up.  They were falling off me, and I had applied for social security, had no money for new clothes.

Then I gained all that weight back, and then some.  I don't want to be happy I lost weight in this horrible way, and if I look at my past, I know it will be back soon.

Ming's relative is really interested in my fatness in a way that drives me nuts, and I was on facebook this morning--I belong to a group called Fat Girls Traveling.  The women give each other tips for flying while fat and good places to visit. 

A lady was talking about how in China people would come up to her and ask her why she was so fat and ask her what she ate, nudge their friend and point and laugh, make rude gestures.  There were 80 comments on the thread, mostly by others who had experienced the same. 

Then you could see it go into racism and generalizations vs cultural observations.  Comments had been turned off. 

Someone gave a list of things to say back in Chinese like, Why are you talking to me?  Someone else said to reply, Why are you ugly?  Why are you poor?

Also there's a saying, Fat is fortune. 

It's to the point where I don't want to see Ming's relative anymore, stressed to begin with, but extra stressed knowing she's scrutinizing my body and complaining about it to Ming later. 

"Do you think it has to do with her being Chinese-American?" I asked Ming.  "Or is it just her?"

He starting talking sociologically.  The why doesn't really matter.  I'm a bad in-law.  I'm supposed to be getting closer to them but am going the other way.

I love myself unconditionally, now more than ever.  Those nights in the hospital by myself, that night after the procedure when the bad drugs were still leaving my body, and I was lying there shaky, hearing my mouth say things I didn't ask it to, having weird too-vivid dreams bits and waking up, back and forth--couldn't sleep but couldn't wake.

That shit's for real.  Hours of that, lying on my left side in the half-dark as machines beeped.  The roving phlebotomist came to take my blood at midnight, but I wasn't asleep.  I cuddled myself to myself.

My body--it's ok.  We went through that together.  We can be fat.  My body's gotta do what it's gotta do.  I'll be there for her.  No doctor can convince me that I'm bad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tortilla the gay duck

For some reason, in the hospital we were talking about Tortilla.  He was a duck we got from our neighbor, a white duck, white as a tortilla.  I think he liked eating snails?

Unfortunately, he pooped a lot.  My dad was mad he pooped all over the ping pong table, ruining it.

I was heartbroken when one day, Tortilla was gone.  I cried and cried.

I thought Tortilla went to a park.  But in the hospital, Mom told the rest of the story.

Someone wanted to breed ducks, so my parents gave them Tortilla, but he was gay.  He would not help make baby ducks.

So then he was taken to a park and released as if worthless.  Waller Park, I think.

We also had a brown hen named Judy.  She gave us eggs.  We fed her chicken feed.  She was a sweet chicken.  And one day she was gone too.

I remember that backyard, planting a peach pit and wishing it would grow into a tree.  The blackbirds in the bamboo forest that grew up against the fence.  When a piece of bamboo would fall into our yard and we would play with it.  Slip-n-slide, party pinatas, all that.

Monday, February 11, 2019

sick

We ate the perfect avocado.  I love it when that happens.  The joy of life. 

I sat in the sun for a few minutes.  It was divine.  I took a selfie.  I look sick, I think.  But I'll get better.



Sometimes I'm coughing like crazy.  I dread the night.  I told Ming, I hate the night, the ordeal of sleep.  I wish there was only day.

I told my friend I feel like a little shut-in.  I said she should skype with me, and we laughed because she lives only a mile and a half away.  I was having a coughing fit, and she was looking at me from across the room, sorry.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger here again. Our hero is resting up from her recent hospitalization. You know how you enter a hospital real sick and exit it feeling better but not well. She is working on feeling well.

She has been writing a lot of letters.

I am now cooking the majority of the meals and doing the usual cleanup. In kind turn, she created text for me for the deesclation training.
I am super excited that the De-escalation training that has been in the works and planning is finally coming to fruition and is happening March 2nd at 10am to 1pm .
She and a couple of friends have solidified this project of mine, gratefully.
The Las Vegas location is set and ready.

Last night's LVRMHC meeting that was also a Get Off Your Chest open mic was a success. People also had feedback that the Craig Lewis talk of the LVRMHC was informative and successful.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

comfort

human touch
words
pet touch
food
drink--hot tea
tactile pleasure like a special blanket
something to look forward to
prayer
warmth
sleep / rest
feeling of accomplishment
feeling of progress
cleanness
beauty

Friday, February 08, 2019

my problem

Yesterday we went to a meeting clear on the other side of town, and I couldn't stay awake as Ming drove us on the freeway.  But then I was awake telling him this:

What I went through with my health felt like the stuff people get tattoos about.  Needing to mark what happened.  Needing to acknowledge, this was a big deal.  I'm changed, I'm a new person.

I txted my niece that when I was discharged, I thought they would cut off my hospital bracelet with a golden scissors and confetti would fall from the sky.

In reality, they just had me sign a form and gave me a bunch of paperwork about GI bleeds etc. 

At home, I was in bed and asked Ming to cut off the bracelet for me.  Wanted to smash it, kill it, burn it.  But it was plastic, and I think he just threw it away.

I would like to do some kind of ritual.  Oh, but I was telling Ming, some people go the other way (anti-tattoo) and just try to forget it, drink a lot of alcohol or do whatever drugs to numb it and pretend that it never happened.

I'm eating a banana and Ming is out at an appointment.  In the hospital they told me I was potassium deficient.  They had me swallow four big white potassium pills in a row.

The nurse warned me, they taste really bad. 

I was like, who cares.  If swallowing disgusting-tasting pills is my problem, I'll take it.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

chonies

Yesterday I was sitting here on the bed.  I had accomplished taking a shower and was proud of myself.  I've always hated that shower because it's small.  But I learned that the smallness was actually useful when I needed a rest and leaned against its walls for a while.

Also I was telling myself nice things, like that I was doing good and almost done.  There's a lot to balance.  Energy level, weakness, dizziness, what's going on with my hemoglobin and how oxygen moves, what's going on with my lungs and what happens with oxygen there.  My swollen feet.  How tangled my hair is after not washing it for a week.  Not having any heat in our house, just space heaters.  Slipperiness of floors.

Anyway, did the shower.  Smelled like shampoo and hair still damp, half-naked.  Then I got a txt.  My friend was a little early. 

So I put on my dress, a new yellow dress, and it was windy.  I wanted to wear these leggings underneath, but it would have taken a while to get them on, so I didn't.  But then I was feeling like the world could see my chonies when a gust of wind came, that moment we passed through the courtyard to Freedom House.  My legs felt really bare and soft, and the wind seemed to be finding my vulnerable places.

The little boy had made me a card.  It was red construction paper and said GET WELL on the front in weird huge print of a four year old.  Inside there were stickers clustered together.  And an H for his name.

I thanked him and almost cried and said it was beautiful.  I had never been the sick one who a kid brings a card to.  His pride at having done a good deed, my awkwardness, the ways we try to love each other. 

Wondering what the mom said, remembering when I was little and a grandparent was in the hospital and how scary that felt to me, the vagueness and is he going to die this time and needing to be gentle when he comes home.  Sensing the grandparent was different now but not really knowing what to do.

So we watched them eat their lunchables, fruits, and cheetos. We were offered crackers and refused.  I ate half an avocado that was on the table and some banana.  The space heater was on but didn't seem to be doing anything.

They had brought groceries based on a list I wrote but didn't let us pay them back, a gift, and I was moved by that too.

Later yesterday afternoon for a treat Ming and I went out to buy some tater tots at sonic, but I was really dizzy and got scared and was crying.  I was trying to figure out what was wrong to make me so dizzy.  I was trying to tell myself the only real problem would be if the ulcer was bleeding again, and it probably wasn't that, so I probably was fine.  But the weird dizzy sleepy feeling was scaring me like I was going to pass out. 

So the outing wasn't fun.  Ming was struggling with the ap to order the food, and I was panicking, squirmy, trying to comfort myself by looking at clouds, hearing the energetic sonic top 40 music.

Ming wanted to take my pulse to see if it was really high again.  I was like, if it's really high again, what will we do?  Are we going to the hospital?  No way am I doing that, so what's the point of taking my pulse.

The dizziness lasted 45 minutes or so and then I was fine.  Well, progress.

When we came home from the hospital, I would be sleeping in my bed at night and wake up not knowing where I was--where am I, where's the bathroom.  But last night was the first night I would wake up knowing I was home.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

what being in the hospital for five days taught me

Every day, things change.  Yesterday morning Mom and I were crying on the phone together with my discouragement.  Then by evening I was sitting at my desk, messing around on my computer like before, like the medical ordeal didn't happen.

That felt weird, because the whole thing was so informative and amazing, mostly bad but a little good.  I don't want to make like it didn't happen--I want to carry my lessons and be who I am now.

I used to say, "I quit smoking--I can do anything," but now I feel like spending five days in a hospital, getting blood transfusions, seeing God in drug visions, feeling support from all sides, seeing how deep I could love myself and be there for me and trust myself, doing things I never thought I could do?  I understand a lot now that I had no clue about before.

Also I see who loves me.  Today a new friend came over to clean my kitchen and bathroom and hang a new curtain.  I told her no and she insisted.  Mom visited from California to sit by my side for days, and her sister and brother-in-law drove her all the way here.  Countless prayers, visit gifts, patience.  Ming's endlessness.  So many good nurses who held my life in their hands and who I will never see again or properly thank.  I don't even know their names.

Mostly I learned about pain, that there are all kinds of it.  Terror-pain, growth-pain like trying to do the difficult hurting thing so you can get strong again, torture-pain so repetitive and stupid, like when they could no longer find a vein so poked a finger and milked my blood into a test tube--not again.  Not that it hurt that bad but the medivalness.  The pain of empathy when your roommate is at a 9 begging for pain meds or losing her mind and asking for haldol.  Boredom-pain when they park you in the loneliness bay and ignore you shamelessly for an hour as you await a procedure, alone with your fear.  Pain of fighting for your life in a drug jungle, pain of struggling for consciousness, pain of the wrong voices.  Injustice-pain when the roommate is still covered in vomit.

I also learned how "it's temporary" can help with most of it and other sweet self-talk so that what happens is welcomed, met plainly rather than constantly struggled against and judged in a way that turns everything into twice the work.

I learned how hospital is like school where the whole thing exists to help students learn and improve, but in reality it's the students who are abused and at the very bottom, fighting for their lives as well-paid administrators strut the halls and rule.  All the money.

I learned about seeming vs actuality, the results of certain performances.  How everyone is playing a role and things are so defined and rigid.

I learned that it's just as dystopian and creepy as I imagined.

I learned to write histrionic blogposts in the middle of the night to comfort myself.

I learned they would give me sedatives rather than solve a problem.

I already knew but re-learned how a doctor sees you through the lens of his specialty, and if you say something about seeing weird visuals to a GI doc, he will just think you're crazy, or it's irrelevant that you may be having this not-understood experience, even though it might kill you.  They desperately need to see you through the lens of their specialty rather than see you as a whole person made of connected systems that work all together.  He will get frantic to pretend just that certain part of you can be treated in isolation and that'll work!  Ha!

I learned they will release you totally unprepared, the instructions he promised are not in the discharge packet, and the one prescription that was supposed to be printed isn't in there.

I learned that sharing a bathroom with someone who's in ICU for a bacterial infection is chilling, how dirty the baseboards could be, blue mop just swirling the germs in a circle.

I learned to wait for the fatness jab, that the conversation would be going well, and then he'd have to insert that insult that this is all my fault.

I learned things about gender and ethnicity that are hard to explain.

I learned how problems make problems.

They'll give you wipies in ICU but not on the fourth floor. 

I already knew but repeatedly experienced how a lot of medicine is hurting someone in the short term in hopes of helping them in the long term.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

home

They released me very anemic and I can't do much but lie in bed listening to the windchimes.

Monday, February 04, 2019

midnight phlebotomist witchbird, hospital lies, medical monster fail, old horses

I was at a late party on a patio table lying on my back.  A witch or bird was holding down my left arm, pecking deep at my arm.

I was trying to understand why I was letting her do it, sharp beak pecking me, and I didn't know where I was or who I was.  It was night, and there was a loud whooshing sound so I couldn't hear and pillows stuffed around my head, blocking my ears.

I thought I would let her do this to me because maybe it was the last time.  Midnight she'd hurt me like this but then I would get to go free in the morning.

Then I realized she was sticking metal in me to get blood.  She said the word and the metal pierced me.  I was giving her advice in my mind based on the previous 25 times others had done this to me.

She moved the metal again and again in me.  I wondered how to tell her I needed to pee, tilted my head to move pillow from ear. 

I was still in the hospital: Laura-Marie.  She undid the rubber strap from tight around my arm.

"Did you get it?" I asked.

"No, baby girl. You're a hard stick."  She could see all the purples and was at a new spot wrapping it with rubber and poking her sharp finger into another's bruise. 

The last one I remembered had whispered, "I'm sorry," like a prayer as she went for a deep one, but it was okay because I trusted her and she got it.

This one poked the back of my left hand.  Many others had had luck there and I felt a hope. 

When the metal slipped in, I tried not to move my shoulders or make a sound each time she moved it.  I wondered if it was working because if it was working, it was fine.

But that was another fail.  She unsnapped the rubber and turned my arm over to poke at the inside of my left wrist. I knew a good vien there and tried to tell her the spot but didn't know how to explain.

She found it and some blood pumped out into the tube.  She got what she needed and pushed a cotton ball to the spot then taped it against me with a blessing and quick turning away.

"Let me lower your bed," she told me so I could struggle off it and shuffle to the bathroom.

They wanted me to poop so they could see if my poop was still blood.  "How are you supposed to poop if you can't eat?" Mom asked.  The tiny particles of carrot I swallowed from the bottom of each broth bowl were not enough to make poop form. 

Nurses made me swallow two laxatives.  Then another hard red pill.  My release was contingent on a measure of hemoglobin, not pooping, and the three GI doctors had told me they would come back, but it was superbowl sunday.

Hospital life there are a lot of lies.  The lady in the next bed had her womb removed yesterday, and the pain medication they gave her made her vomit at least ten times.  She'd pushed the button to ask for a clean gown and sheet, but they were ignoring her.  I was getting mad because they said her spouse and Ming had to leave even though we all consented.

If this poor scared barfing hurting lady had to spend the night alone because of their cruel policy, the least they could do was not make her lie in her own vomit for an hour because they were too lazy to bring her a fresh sheet and gown.

When Ming went to the nurses's station to re-ask about linens an hour later, they were talking and laughing.

I told Ming the charge nurse shouldn't be getting rich enforcing inhumane policies.  I imagined telling him he should be ashamed of himself and cursing him to be as poor as the rest of us.

If I yelled at the guy long enough, half-naked in the hallway, would they transfer me to the psych ward?  I'd have a hold on me then.  Ming said we could take out the iv and just go.  I said I couldn't run faster than them.

I told Ming I was a monster and showed him my arms.  "You're not supposed to have this stuff," I told him about the itching tape holding down the iv places and all the royal splotches of color on my skin, the tape getting fuzzy gray on the edges and curling up.

This is a fail.  I think I will escape tomorrow with my life.  I'm sorry to everyone I dragged into it.  A learning experience, but I always used to say I'd rather just die than go to the hospital.

"Why do you laugh when you say that?" Mom asked.  I remember Dad saying, just take me out into a field and shoot me.  I'm the old horse too.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

garlic bread

Been craving chicken, delicious fake chicken.  Told Ming I want three huge servings of spicy fake fried chicken.

And garlic bread, so buttery with little green flakes of dried oregano and a crispy edge of toastedness, getting butter on my fingers when I pick it up, five pieces.

Oh wouldn't it feel good to eat food again.  When I can't eat food, I enjoy the broth and juice.  When the ultrasound tech told me "don't breathe" I tried to be good for him, a wonderful not-breathing person.

I was proud of myself I could take the iv stand and wheel it myself to the bathroom in the night.  Someone had left a yellow plastic caution sign by the door.  "There's a yellow thing," I said.

"Men at work in the bathroom," Ming said.

"Don't fuck with me," I said with a flash of confusion, hurting his smile.

They moved me to a new room last night, so spacious and quiet I feel like a spoiled hotel guest.  The roses R brought are with the yellow flowers N brought which surprised me with the friend hospital visitor performance done perfectly, N's hesitation to enter the room and meet Mom.  We sat there comforting each other.

I told him how a machine beeps, and in another room a machine beeps like a bird saying hi to a bird in another room.

Ming's gone to see if the cafeteria's open, and one day I'll eat food again too.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

spinach broth

You know I haven't had any solid food since Tuesday.  "You call that eating?" Mom said when I told her about my delicious meals of veggie broth and juice. 

Something about jello.  I told her it isn't vegetarian.  She was kind of, eat the damn jello.

"I thought about it," I said thoughtfully, imagining thinking.

"There's a secret surprise," I said.  "When you get to the end of the bowl of veggie broth, there are some little tiny carrot bits."

Veggie broth fantasies.  An array, from carrot broth to spinach broth--how delicious.  For some reason Ming's suggestion of cauliflower broth made me laugh.  What's the funniest broth?

In real life I have suggested he buy me mushroom broth.  I also want grape juice, white and purple.

Last night when I was sleeping, the bad drugs were still in me, messing up my dreams.  Vivid visions and the wrong voices.  I was talking sometimes, but it wasn't me.

Friday, February 01, 2019

hospital life

I'm flashing a lot of unexpecting visitors.  My right breast is getting a lot of exposure.  I asked Ming am I bad at gowns, is everyone bad at gowns, did they give me too big a gown, too small a gown.

I was in the jungle with the jaguar.  I forgot to tell people the jaguar was god.  It was hard work, getting out of that jungle.  Why people like drugs I have no idea.  Realizing the operating room doctors were talking about me.  A little blood on the ceiling.

Remind me to tell you about the place they left me for an hour and I said I was dying of boredom and did they have a bible.  The lady gave me a wedding dress magazine and Oprah magazine.  I read some recipes.

Well, Mama will be here soon.  We tried not to laugh when my roommate was being moved out and said about her cough that Ming and I were used to it.  It's true.  In the morning I cried and cried and imagined holding her as she couldn't stop coughing and I couldn't stop crying.