feelings

musings by Kim Tateo
memoir of missing june and days in the hospital

these are my notes from my handwritten journal, the day i got out of the hospital. they are completely out of order and a bit unhinged.

june something (no, it’s the 16th).

i have no idea what date it is. oh never mind, it’s father’s day. holy crap. i’ve slept through half of june. last sunday, i caved and went to the hospital. i couldn’t handle the pain. brendan and i had been trying to fight the fevers on our own since wednesday evening (why they let me out of the ER is beyond me). i had at least 2-3 fevers / day (probably more like 3-4), plus the horrible night sweats. i was actually afraid i might die, sleeping in the middle of the day, listening to summer outside my window. june 1st, june 2nd, june 3rd…and so i’d count.

the hospital itself was insane. getting a spinal tap was so scary, but i had been in so much pain already, i was almost delirious as to what was going on.

the scariest part was when people had to wear the masks around me and when brendan had to wear that silly outfit. i was afraid i was toxic like chernobyl! and the fevers kept coming, even at the hospital, but luckily i could walk again. i think i had been so severely dehydrated from five days of fevers that it went to my legs.

i want to write this to remember the insanity of this LIFE CHANGING experience. i really am so grateful to be alive. there are so many things i want to do in this lifetime and this form. i just think i’ll have to slow down a bit to do it.

monday in the hospital was a rollercoaster or really began the hell ride of “what’s wrong with kim”? “not bacterial meningitis, which is good because you would have been dead by now!” (wtf doctor tells their patient that!?!), “potentially viral!”, “potentially another virus that is clearing out on it’s own”…

tuesday morning - that may have been the morning the phlebotomist was entirely too rough on my arm and the girl that followed was equally annoying or maybe that was wednesday. not sure. still fevers daily. then they took me off the antibiotics and even higher white blood cell count and a fever after talking to Dr. G about being discharged. no such luck. a high fever. so they kept me and said they had to do even more fucking blood work and a cat scan. they were thinking it could be something autoimmune.

so they did the cat scan and took so much blood, the phlebotomist kept saying “poor girl” after every vial of blood. at least 30. that was the day the tears really started falling. waterfalls. i cry into a nurses arms. i make a point of calling her into my room so i can thank her for letting me cry. we bond over the beauty of arizona.

i asked friends for space after that because i was sick of having false updates. my spirit was broke, but lifted by “the red balloon”, the only commercial-less show on television. beautiful and moving.

thursday morning Dr. G really thinks it’s “stills disease” and as he’s talking about stills, but then Dr. K comes in and said that my morning’s heart ultrasound looked like i could have growth, which could indicate one of the zoonatic farm diseases. MORE TESTS. a terrible one. they need me in a FULL FEVER STATE to do blood work. i cry so hard and they need to put me to sleep to take photos of my heart. i’m so scared. the full fever state was rough.

every time a fever came on i would enter some kind of catatonic state where i just needed to lie down and die. the chills would take over and simultaneously my body would sweat and ache and my head felt like it was exploding. so i get a fever and it keeps fucking rising until it’s 103.7 and i think dying would feel great. i cry more. keep the water in your body, i try to tell myself. be ready for the blood draws.

more fucking blood is drawn out of both arms and they can’t give me anything for relief until the blood was been taken. they came and said they brought me the best person. he was a dr in india, but came to america and they said he would have to start over, so he just became a phlebotomist. how said and frustrating, but he was pretty gentle and got the blood. the worst blood draw was tuesday morning with the aggressive man that barged into my room at 6 am and said i had “great veins”, but then the blood didn’t come and he had to push and pull around. i felt so violated. and then an hour later the second woman was also kind of crappy. i asked her why she was wearing a mask because i thought that fear had been lifted from my room — and she said all patients should be wearing masks and that it was for her protection. which i understand, but her saying that all patients should wear one to respect the staff made me feel bad about myself and guilty. i ask brendan to stay with me from that night on.

anyway, back to thursday … it takes me three hours to come down from the hell fever. at that point, i start really freaking out that it’s something farm-related and talk through scenarios, taking small comfort in knowing my mentor would help me me manage things if needed, but am horrified to know that if it were something zoonatic i would probably have to kill my entire flock. i worry about everyone, what hell have i created? brendan tethers me to reality and i enter yet another fever state of continuing to try and let people and situations from the past go, along with all of my deep fears that everyone hates me. i also let go of fear itself and realize what i’m afraid of is actually losing everything i love. this is how each fever went. i imagined getting on the ride and letting go. i think of each fever as an opportunity for energy work.

in one of the night fevers, i tried to let go of everything. let my body actually be held by the bed, so i could let my spirit float up and feel the interconnectedness of everything. each time i’m distracted, but i felt it for a moment. i would also try and get to a space of acceptance.

a land of “and”

at 4 am a song forms in my mind, but i lose it with sleep and a night fever.

thursday night after my fever broke, i speak to my therapist and i just weep. she tells me it’s all been too much and traumatic. she suggests i ask for something to take the edge off. which was a good idea since i’d been shaking and had become short of breathe with worry. my anxiety is out the fucking roof. i had read about still’s online and how if it wasn’t treated in time one could die.

amy is a kind nurse and she gets me an injection of atavan which calms me. we talk to brendan’s parents and i ask kerry to come. it had all been too much. i wanted her there/here. todd is trying to calm me down on the phone too. suddenly i realize how much i love his parents and nothing else matters. after talking to ali, i do less “energy work” with the fevers. i just try and let go. it’s hard, i tell myself i love myself. and to keep fighting. i offer kindness inward.

friday morning i see the heart doctor, who didn’t really like at first, with his bowtie. he seemed arrogant and not kind (i’ve since changed my mind on this, btw). i remember one of the previous days a nurse told me that i had a good team of doctors. i had become like an episode of House. i ask her why, she said, Dr. G is a good teacher — willing to share his knowledge. i ask if he’s kind, she says yes. I ask about the other Dr. K and she says he’s gentle and goofy and very kind and thorough, perhaps annoyingly thorough.

so back to friday, they hook me up to a million things and knock me out. i wake up and they say my heart is okay. i’m so happy. it’s probably still’s and not the animals. the blood work also confirms it’s not zoonatic. i cry with joy.

i forgot to write about the cat scan and spinal tap, will dump now before i forget:

cat scan - i felt like i was in an alien ship. the worst part was keeping my arm above my head because i was afraid of losing the iv.

spinal tap - thank god for the morphine. i had to sit in a strange way, sort of a fetal position over a table, but more like i had been kicked in the stomach. he needed an exact placement between the discs. i do feel the needle and the drips of my fluids are coming ever-so-slow. i joke about being a tree tapped for maple.

so friday, they finally come and and say they are 95% confident it’s still’s. they give me prednisone. i star getting crazy in my head thinking about being on steroids and getting fat. WTF is wrong with me, i should be grateful, but i’m thinking of that? the prednisone works though. no fever that day and i let friends visit. i’m embarrassed because i had told them the wrong hospital and worry i chose the wrong hospital in the first place. they assure me not. they are good friends. how i long for a hang under different circumstances. will i ever get to do the things i like again? i’m hopeful the doctors let me go home on saturday. they wanted to see my liver enzymes go down coz this disease had them up.

saturday - 6 am daily blood. i’m ready for her and i beg for a butterfly needle. they manage. the dr comes in and says the liver was little off. one enzyme went down and another went up. fear grips. i’m afraid they will keep me longer. i beg to go home. kerry and brendan come and i’m in a small fever. the dr is concerned. i say i’d only had one dosage. that i’d be okay. i managed it with the ibuprofen. HOURS LATER (we all napped in between) they say i can go home.

my first steps out of the hospital and into fresh air are pure heaven kerry was at the hotel, but met us at the apartment. the animals had mixed feelings about seeing me. and now i begin my real road to recovery.

Kim Tateo
gratitude

I am no stranger to impermanence and all of the feelings that "change" brings about, but there was something about 2018 that made me embrace the inevitability of this in a way that I never have before. The most challenging moments, ended up being the most beautiful teachings.

In September I started a letter to a friend that I didn't finish, I was writing it to calm my nerves while I was at the passport/immigration office getting my U.S. Citizenship! I recently opened to it and found the following...

But sometimes life can be so exhausting it's hard to pause and find the gentle way through, but maybe it's about surrendering to those hard moments, letting them wash over us and sinking into them. Somehow there we can find the gentle current that will pull us through. 

I think that's exactly what 2018 was about. Surrendering. Letting go. Trying to embody impermanence.

Every time I did this, instead of resisting the hard stuff, I would soften more. I could feel into the magic that is our interconnectedness. The love that really does exist and my heart would swell with gratitude. I became grateful for change itself.

Gratitude for the friend that is time passing. This made me more grateful for joyous moments, while they were happening. I would breathe a little deeper, feel a little more.

The learning is lifelong, but in this very moment, I am so grateful for my experience in this form. For growth, for the garden of friends, for silly songs, furry creatures, and all the beings. For all of the connections seen and unseen.

Happy holidays friends.
Wishing you all of the love.♥ 

Previous greetings:
A little reflection and some holiday wishes
this might make George Michael roll in his grave
have a holly jolly christmas
a sparkle partner christmas
nature’s glitter
yay christmas!
christmas with lavi

on the tangle
IMG_0697.jpg

a pile of processing... 

almost every morning i enter the tangle. i walk straight into the jungle of the tall plant that reminds me of a cornfield, crunching it down with my boots. the phragmites bends easily as i make a small circular path for the electronet fencing, but i often have to rip at overgrown bittersweet and grape tangled around one other. this area i am creating is where the sheep will graze. the hard part is carrying the electronet fencing with me as i place it along the small path -- it is always a small tangle.

for weeks, i tried new methods of wrapping the thin wire mesh and poles to make it easier on myself, but no matter my effort it would still tangle or get caught on the ground or a piece of litter left unveiled by the sheep's grazing. i used to be frustrated by this, but i decided to use this as a time to practice radical acceptance.

radical acceptance for each time i managed to step my foot through the fencing making it impossible to move forward only realizing that I was the tangle, radical acceptance for the time i literally tripped myself and fell face first into the grass, radical acceptance for the few times i zapped myself on the fence, radical acceptance for all the times i set up the fence and realized it was just alittletooshort to reach the other end and then had to go back and move each pole a little bit to make it fit, radical acceptance for all the ways i realized the only thing that would allow everything to untangle was patience and s l o w i n g  down.

moving the fence has become my morning meditation. i think of our interconnectedness, to each other and the earth and the problems and the hope. the beauty and terror all swirling around paradoxically together.

i imagine that with every little tangle i manage to overcome by patience, that this radiates outwards. that a little bit of spaciousness can be added to the web of everything. 

plant wisdom

vignettes of farm mornings. in no particular order..

i walk westward, outside of the gate. the chicory greets me with it's cornflower blue hue. it is morning.
the wheelbarrow pushes against the ground, my chest heaves. gratitude for these legs that carry me forward.

a path of white lace on thin green stems ... queen anne's lace
cones of fuschia flowers reaching upwards ... purple loosestrife
yellow candy buttons with a sweet scent ... tansy
a gradient from light pink to green, colors of the heart chakra ... virginia pepperweed

when you look, everything seems green
but when you look closer you see that each leaf has it's own personality, it's own curl of a leaf,
alternating patterns, tiny hairs that breathe
diversity is beautiful.

the chicory reminds me of impermanence
it changes as the sun moves, even within one hour
the blooms welcome me, but as the sun rises the blooms close
within the week the stems have turned from green to maroon
small signs of autumn tease against the thick summer air
everything changes

A little reflection and some holiday wishes

//

It has been quite the year. I haven't used this space for writing that much because I've spent more time handwriting in my journal (which was part of a manifesto that still guides me) and have been keeping more things to myself. Don't get me wrong, I still wear my heart on my sleeve (clearly - haha) and haven't lost my "art" of creating "awkward moments". In fact, the move to Troy was hard and all of my old "stuff" returned - lots of looping around and around again in self-doubt. Before moving, I had so. much. fear. of somehow returning to a version of myself that wouldn't be liked or that I would be too something. But I see now that even that version of me, the one that reaches and tries too hard and worries too much and seems overly eager, deserves love because we *all* have moments like this. It's being a human and it can be difficult to navigate the ocean of feelings, but I believe it's in this space (fear and feelings) that we are truly connected!

The fear I had leading up to it (the move) ended up being worse than the experience because Troy has been nothing short of wonderful. We've been welcomed into an amazing community of people (and animals!), I've poured my heart into my art and music, developed my own affinity for microbes, and Brendan's building is oh-so-close!

Despite the short-sighted vision (of some) for the future of our planet and all beings and all the actions against it, I am still full of gratitude, hope, and possibility for the New Year. Here's to finding moments of connection and sharing kindness to everyone, especially those that we don't fully understand. Let our hearts be bridges because our lights shine brighter together.

While there are many things OUT of my control, I am grateful for the ability to make silly greetings like this one and hope that they can bring some cheer.

So Happy Holidays dear ones. Hope you enjoy our little greeting and that it puts a smile on your face.

♥p.s. dearest garden of friends (old, new and reconnected): thank you for all of your support this year. My heart truly felt held by each of you in the hardest of moments. Thank you. Remember, I've always got your back too. :)

Previous greetings:
this might make George Michael roll in his grave
have a holly jolly christmas
a sparkle partner christmas
nature’s glitter
yay christmas!
christmas with lavi

Seeing, in Three Pieces by Kate Knapp

Seeing, in Three Pieces
Kate Knapp

Somehow we must see
through the shimmering cloth
of daily life, its painted,
evasive facings of what to eat,
to wear? Which work
matters? Is a bird more
or less than a man?
Is a bird more or less
than a woman?

*

There have been people
who helped the world. Named
or not named. They weren’t interested
in what might matter,
doubled over as they were
with compassion. Laden
branches, bright rivers.

*

When a bulb burns out
we just change it—
it’s not the bulb we love;
it’s the light.

on change

I was driving back from a wedding in Connecticut yesterday. I took a wrong turn and ended up taking a long way home through windy roads of Connecticut and Massachusetts and finally landed in New York again. It was a beautiful drive. I noticed the reds and yellows of the leaves and it hit me that fall is nearly here. Of course, time has been hurtling forward all along, but it took the bright leaves to notice the change.

There have been so many changes in the past year.

I've spent a lot of time in the motions of these changes. Traveling, packing, moving, leaving my friends, making new friends, walking new streets, working with bouts of loneliness, playing more instruments, climbing new mountains, learning new sounds and patterns... painting, so many things.

I've been spending more time journaling, long-hand. In a way, I think this reflection time is when I take the time to "sit" with all of this change.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting some friends in NYC. The G train doors closed and I heard someone say, "Kim!" really loudly. I looked across from me and I instantly recognized the face. It was the bright face of one of the students that I mentored a few years ago. He recognized me and told me that he remembered our activities, that he was applying for colleges, that his sister was 12 now and that she was 4 when I met her. We were loud, everyone was looking but there was a genuine feeling of joy for all of the passengers. They didn't seem to mind that our conversation carried on across from each other. He told me that the edible color wheel was his favorite project and I laughed and said it was a terrible idea. "Too much frosting and sugar...", but he said it was fun and was glad to run into me; he remembered my "big smile".

After wards, I cried (I'm tearing up now re-remembering this) and laughed and my heart was full. To be honest, I nearly forgotten that time in my life - the weekends of rushing to take cabs to the community center in Astoria (I was always late) and the walks and meeting friends after; I'd always reflect on my projects and tell stories about how the kids like this or hated that.

Here I am, so many years and a different city later. I still do music and art with kids, but it's not quite the same and I'm not sure it every would be, but it was a good reminder to keep doing it. Running into him also reminded me that I like reflecting in this space too.

So much has happened since my last writing of the Christmas video and maybe I'll share it, but maybe I won't.

It is all okay, everything is okay.

Change happens fast and slow at the same time and like most things, it's full of multiple, opposing feelings.