Back from the Brink

dsc01139As if enduring chemo, without the cancer, I slipped off the planet into a free-fall spinning out of control. Out of commission, I disconnected from the real world incapable of answering email, writing blogs, telephoning friends. It was all I could do just to survive another day.

I feared going out in public because I could no longer trust my body. Dodging the throng of shoppers at Costco, I darted towards the nearest bin bag and doubled over heaving at the end of the fresh cut meat aisle.

At times my heart raced and I felt breathless. Other times I was dizzy and nauseous. In my worst moments I puked, barfing up breakfast or lunch. My entire existence became limited to timing my next medicine dosage and figuring out what I could eat, when and how to keep food inside.

As the days dragged on, my body shut down, so did my brain. Like a wounded, ol’dog, I wanted to drag my weary carcass off to a dark corner to lie down and die.

What precipitated this spiral of descent? In July I began a treatment to fight parasites in my blood, another evil component of my multi system inflammatory disease. Protozoa, unlike bacteria, are the same cell type as human cells. Antibiotics can differentiate better between your cells and bacteria cells, but anti-protozoan meds will also effect your own cells. Consequently, the most effective medications are extremely difficult to tolerate creating a chemo-like effect.

First came the shakes, queasiness, fatigue, disengagement, disassociation then the vertigo, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and severe orthostatic hypo-tension. Rising from a sitting position, made me faint. I was so winded going up the stairs I had to sit down every other step to catch my breath. Walking up a slight incline left me doubled over gasping as though I had just run a mile.

I knew something was seriously wrong for even in my favorite place among my favorite peeps, I felt despair. Mere communication required too much effort. I didn’t want my family to worry, so I tried fake it, but fooled no one.

“What is wrong mom?” my kids asked. “You aren’t talking and you always have something to say.”

The weird plethora of symptoms made me feel like I was going crazy, but I did not look sick until the weight dropped – 15 pounds off my lean 5’10 frame. I begged my doctor let me stop the meds for a few weeks, so that I could regain my strength and sanity in a mini break from the antibiotic, anti parasite, anti fungus regime.

Within a day the nausea subsided and I could take in calories. The level of fatigue and dys

pnea lessened, the depression lifted.

A part of me felt angry for the all the sublime summer days I’d lost while curled up in a dark room clinging to the sides of bed to keep me from spinning off earth.

But another part of me knew that there was no better place to heal than at the lake where the quiet woods and calm waters coupled with the love of family allowed me to endure one day at a time. Chronic illness is not for the feint hearted and I am a warrior. My fighting spirit is back; I am ready for the next battle.

 

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44 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, Pat, how awful for you. Is your multi-system inflammatory disease related to injuries you suffered in the car accident years ago? Just wondering since such trauma can affect us years down the road. I’m thankful you have such a special place to go and regroup, relax and heal. Thoughts and prayers for better days ahead.

    • Thanks Vicki. I appreciate your support. Some doctors think the car accident played into it. When you have an injury, you have inflammation and bad bugs already in your body will go to the site of inflammation and multiply. But who knows? I am just grateful that I have this special spot to heal and a very special family to help sustain me during the rough days.

  2. Pat, thank you for sharing your journey with us. Though we’ve never met (yet), I know your spirit is strong. Keep your mind sharp and hopefully your tattered body will reclaim itself. I’m sending you healing thoughts across the miles. Stay strong my friend!

    • Thanks Vicki. I really appreciate your kind words. As an athlete, I am hoping that like you say my body will reclaim itself. I have that Redbird fighting spirit deeply ingrained. I enjoy seeing the photos you post from Vaughan Walker photography and always love to hear from you.

  3. Pat, heartfelt thoughts for peace and calm and tranquility and a large dose of healing for your mind and body!

    • Liz, did you go to MacMurray in 1976? If so, I remember you! I only went there freshman year though. Sheila Thompson-one of the “First Floor Floozies!” And if so, another example of how small the world is!

  4. Pat so sorry to hear , sounds like a whirlwind…not the best…wishing you to keep moving forward as you have always done and keep healing one day at a time….

  5. Holy crap, girlfriend! I’m so glad you’re better (I assume you’re better bec you’re writing this post). Your post floored us — I’m sure your devoted readers and friends agree. Your warrior spirit will carry you through. Yes, yes, yes, you so make the point: being able to open ones eyes and fight another day is a blessing. Getting old is a blessing. The word “old” should be a golden, positive, revered adjective. Please keep us updated. I know you’ll fight through this, and look forward to your updates. Maybe don’t worry about “blogging” — instead just post little updates, okay? So we can rally around you whenever we see them.
    Sending love and hugs.

    • Thanks Lynne. It is so amazing how empowering words can be. It felt like you were reaching right through the computer and giving me a hug to inspire me to keep on fighting. Getting old is a blessing and I am grateful for another day. I appreciate your long distance support and hope to meet you one day.

  6. Oh, Pat, I am so sorry to hear about all you’ve had to endure. I am relieved to hear from you though and appreciate your update. You’ve been on my mind and I was getting ready to email you. I have missed you! Your indomitable spirit shines through and continues to be an inspiration to me and many others. Keep shining on, dear “hope sister.” ❤️

    • Thanks Kathy. I continue to look to you for inspiration. It sounds like you have been going through your own battle. How do manage to keep blogging with a broken wrist? Sending healing hugs back your way from one wounded warrior to another.

  7. Thank you for sharing. Our prayers continue for healing. So sorry to learn of all you have gone thru.

  8. Oh Patty baby, so sorry to read this. On the positive side: I am glad you’re writing and sharing this with us. keep on fighting – i am sending a ton of strength – we are with you. A big hug across the ocean! Bette and Thomas

    • Thanks Bette. Hope your back held up okay during your hiking trip. Look forward to making that pilgrimage back to see you when I recover one day.

  9. Pat, I’ve thought you must be on a Sabbatical to regroup from it all. So sorry to hear of your being ill. But, equally glad to hear that you’re mending and rejuvenating in the healing powers of Mother Nature!

    Keep fighting the good fight warrior woman!!!

    Loving your new site:)

    • I guess you could call it a forced Sabbatical. ha I know I am lucky to have this time and place to heal and I will be back to kicking butt soon. Congratulations on your powerful Huff Post piece. Keep doing what you do best – using the power of words to help make this a better world.

  10. Thanks for sharing and thanks for being able to be strong enough to do so. I’m keeping you in my prayers and lots of positive energy for enduring the next steps. I’m truly sorry that you’re having to go through all of this.

  11. Sending prayers that you regain your strength to keep your battle going, I’ve got my battle going on too and we are strong warriors in facing what life brings us! Stay strong, stay positive,hugs in the wind my friend!

    • Thanks, Sally. Unfortunately, as you know, we don’t get to pick our opponents. Sending prayers and positive thoughts back at you to help make you stronger today.

  12. Dear Pat- I have always thought of you as a strong, mighty woman, based on our online connection and your history as an athlete. I am sure you will make it through this terrible time with the love and support of your family. I will be thinking of you and following your progress.

    • Thanks Sharon. I really appreciate the support of the Midlife Blvd group that you created. I hope that one day I can meet you in person until then I will enjoy following your musings on emptyhousefullmind.

  13. Going through this ,is the first time I have heard of this. Pat, this was beautifully written and I know from the soul. I’m sincerely Wishing you a peaceful recovery.Please don’t hide it no more.With friends and family that care about you deeply will give you strength. Much Love Light and peace as you rest up.Hugs

  14. Oh my, Pat, I had noticed you were gone and I thought you were off traveling somewhere wonderful. You’ve been to hell and back — again — and let’s hope it doesn’t happen again! So glad you are back to your old self now.

    • I guess you could say I was off on a journey of sorts, but not so wonderful of one. I am still battling, but at a slower pace so hopefully I will hold up better and can once again travel on the blogosphere and enjoy following my friends again. I have missed reading your thoughts on your Books Is Wonderful blog.

  15. Patty girl I was not aware of your recent misfortune but you know I love you and will be thinking of you and praying for healing.

  16. Pat, knowing that you’ve been going through this, I am heartened that you are back to blogging. I’s a very good sign that you are on the other end of this terrible ordeal. So sorry you have to go through this. Praying that this latest (albeit horrific) regimen works to your benefit. I do so admire your fighting spirit and give you so many kudos for not giving up even in your darkest hour. Your competitive nature as an athlete has been such a blessing to you in far more ways than any of us could ever have imagined.

    • Tinie thanks for your steadfast support and friendship. I think you are right. It is the ol’ athlete in me that keeps fighting and refuses to give up.

  17. Pat, I’ve MISSED you! And I’m so very sorry to hear of the physical challenges you’ve been enduring. We never really know what’s going on in another person’s life, do we? Thank you for trusting us to love you from afar and send you lots of virtual hugs! I’m adding you to my prayer list. This sounds like an awful ordeal, but I know you’ll find the strength to endure it (and what a lovely place to do your recuperating!) Take care, my friend!

    • Thanks Debbie. I missed reading all about Dallas’s exploits. I can sure feel those hugs and support and hope that I will feel up to writing again more regularly. I really appreciate hearing from you.

  18. You are a warrior! After all you have been through, you still inspire others with your positive attitude.
    Love you girl!
    Joanie

  19. Hi Pat! So sorry to hear you’ve been having such a rough time. Not easy for sure. Stay strong and don’t give up. All of us are rooting for you and sending your prayers and good vibes. ~Kathy

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