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