Feb 022011
 

“Improvement is not meant to be relentless.”

Yes it is.

“It’s OK to have a setback.”

Wise and common sense words from my GP (family doc), but oh do I ever wish improvement was relentless, a never-ending path upwards to perfect health.

January is a tough month, not only emotion wise with its reminder of what started me on this trail, but also weather wise with its furnace-taxing cold – for my body seems to have a wee bit of trouble regulating its temperature. Still, I had thought that between my writing, rest, and the “kindness of strangers and friends,” I’d made it.

I thought too soon.

The thing about having a chronic illness, injury, or condition, is it doesn’t excuse you from also catching a bug (or developing some other chronic illness). Unfortunately it does mean said bug hangs around longer and leaves you fatigued longer. I have become rather wary – and weary – of colds for that reason. This time I don’t have a cold. Instead, I have something bugging patches here and there of skin, burning, itching, reddening. Fun.

So I get in to see the dermatologist in one day. Yes, you read that right, fastest referral ever in Canada. I wait in the waiting room. I go in. I get the usual resident who asks the prelim questions – it is a teaching hospital after all. He leaves the room to relate all to The Big Cheese before The Big Cheese comes in to see me himself. I snooze, but napping is interrupted as the resident keeps popping in with more questions. Unusual. Suddenly, The Big Cheese is coming in, so is the resident, so is, uh, how many are there?

You don’t mind the team coming in, do you? The Big Cheese asks me. They all want to see.

Uh, sure, OK. It is a teaching hospital.

They commence inspection, big eyed wonder from the residents, only the female in the team thanks me later for allowing them to see. The Big Cheese produces his magnifying glass, and one by one they inspect the capillaries around my fingernails. I look at my nails later surreptitiously. They look OK, well, apart from the fact my entire hand is burning! Mechanic’s hand, they call it. Yeah, I look at my hands, they do look like they’re the hands of a mechanic not a writer who’s obsessive with the moisturizer.

The Big Cheese starts talking biopsy, picks up his pen, circles bits on the inflamed patches on my upper back. Whoa, back up there, who said biopsy. I thought this was going to be the usual, uh-huh, uh-huh, pat, pat, out the door ASAP kind of appointment. These guys are listening and inspecting and asking unexpected questions (which in true brain injury fashion probably means I’m answering as I am in that moment, not how I generally am). And then taking bits of my skin and asking for vials and vials of my blood.

As I’m processing this, the first resident asks if he can take pictures. It’d be really good to show the others; they’ve never seen it before.

Uh, sure, OK. It is a teaching hospital.

He whips out his iPhone, clicks, shows me the pix he’s all gaga about, and I try not to go ewwwwww. Did I mention that as a teen when I used to go through my Dad’s Harrisons, I always skipped the skin disease sections? They totally grossed me out.

So now I wait.

I think it’s a swizz. Us chronically ill and injured should have a get-out-of-infection-and-other-disease card. But we don’t. So I gotta just ride it out, go with the fatigue, try not to get frustrated that whatever this is has thrown my writing into the back seat, and rest till I’m better and can take back the wheel of my life and once more put my writing up front where it belongs.

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