Saturday, August 19, 2006

drugs versus the alternative

about a year after luca was born and after a couple of ear infections treated by antibiotics, i suddenly remembered that i didn't like drug therapy. kind of like an aha moment except feeling more foolish than that, i went to my bookshelf and looked at title upon title focusing on natural therapy, the body's organic response and others. rocki and i made a decision to not give antibiotics to luca unless absolutely necessary. i researched alternative care treatments.

i feel kind of in the same place - like slapping myself on the side of the head. hard. when i got my poison ivy, not a dangerous thing just a profoundly annoying thing, and it continued to spread unabated, i went to the doctor's. she recommended prednisone pills (25g three times a day for five days, two times a day for five days and then one time a day for five days) and steroid cream for the outside of me. "wow, you're really allergic. good thing it hasn't got infected yet." and "you'll see significant changes in 24 hours."

after a week of oatmeal bathing every three hours followed by the slathering of every over the counter product you can think of - and still the stuff crept from torso and out to extremities - a 24 hour cease fire sounded like heaven. so i went to the pharmacist and got my plastic cups of pills and cream.

prednisone is what we gave our dog, elsa, when she had hip problems. it's what we gave her when she had a massive urinary tract infection. i didn't know people took it, too, until my doctor said so.

"oh," she said, "you might get drowsy. if you do, just take benadryl. you'll be taking that anyway for the itching."

ok, taking one pill to counter another pill always bothers me. but still - an end to itching. i took my prednisone and she was right - in about 24 hours, the frontlines stopped and over each day, it disappeared a little bit more.

but then after four days came the "side effects": crawling skin, my bones feel like someone is jackhammering my teeth and skull and it's resonating throughout the skeleton. sticky sudden sweats. water retention with that tight skin crawling feeling that goes along with it. leaden legs. muscle twitches. tired and irritable and sad while at the same time feeling very distant from anyone and anything. heavy chest.

every few days, i google prednisone again. and i slap myself on the head. this stuff is evil - and every doctor on the net seems to say, yeah, it sucks, but there isn't anything else that works for the things it works for. so deal. but by the way, it speeds up aging, gives you brittle bones, puts fat on your torso, thins your skin, gives you high blood pressure, increases your cholesterol and might knock out your adrenal gland.

there are lots of people with lots of chronic things who have no recourse but to take this stuff. unlike my line between itching and itchless, for some it is a line between life and death, between intense chronic pain and side effects.

what i am surprised by is how quickly i nuked myself because the doctor said it was good for me, because i was uncomfortable, because i wanted to feel better. slap bang let the bomb fall and didn't even check to see if diplomacy was possible.

i forgot that, when i have the choice, i prefer to look for alternatives. i forgot because i was uncomfortable and wanted it to stop. and so now i sit and google my way through my regrets. you can't just stop taking this stuff without weaning or baaaaaad things can happen.

next time, please, help me remember. don't take the white pill unless you have no other choice.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

i miss my family

tonight, i miss my family. and what's funny is that most of them are gathered around me. my very lovely mother-in-law, iara, arrived today from brazil. she comes yearly to stay for six weeks. she is the only person, pretty much on the surface of the planet, who i can imagine only being value-added as a family guest for that length of time. she personifies joy and refuses its opposite. a lovely thing for the space of a visit - i wouldn't want to live with it in the forever plane, i mean, i am all over the intensity and starkness of life point of view, but this joy and pleasure piece works really well when you're a house guest.

my own bio family, at least part of it, is struggling around the care of my grandmother, her increasing debilitation and the resulting insane mountain of duties falling on my mother and her partner. i live 13 hours by car, about $300 by plane away from this. they have a lot of work. i make phone calls.

my brother, sister-in-law and nephew stayed with us for awhile over the summer - not six weeks, although i'd love to try - before heading back to germany. now we're back in infrequent email and phone chat.

the rest of my partner's near by bio family are currently in africa, brazil and argentina.

i miss my family, in that weird mix of nostalgia and one-eyebrow-raised reality.

i live in this lovely community of individuals with children and adults. we are interdependent in that concrete real everyday way - taking care of each other's children, calling in the middle of the night in crisis, showing up for all of the events, planning them, cooking for each other, missing each other when we haven't talked for more than three days in a row.

i know that even having this - this concrete community that some of my friends and family outside of minneapolis envy - is not typical for an overeducated middleclass white midwestern girl living in a city she didn't grow up in. queerness helps with the creation. so do other things.

but i am sitting here wanting it all. wanting the people that i have in my everyday and the people that i was supposed to have a few generations ago - the biofamily, the neighbors more deeply entwined than some of them are. i miss what so many overeducated middleclass white midwestern girls living in cities they didn't grow up in miss - a mixture of romance, a mixture of roots and a reminder to stop and really notice the glory that i have.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dastardly prednisone

Sure, the world is going to hell in handbasket and still, what I am obsessed with? The progression of my skin from oozing running rivulets of poison ivy to glowing middle-aged health.

Poison ivy has taught me many things this summer. It has taught me that, aside from past recreational use, I very rarely take drugs. And this means I'm all kind of confounded by the fact that they affect you. Take prednisone - no, really, you take it. It sucks. And people take it for months and months, for years of their lives. I'm on the crummy 15 day plan and I want to grab a colonic detox seconds after my last pill has its 24 hours of working life. Sweats, strange moods, wakefulness in the middle of the night followed by lead leg crashes. Either I'm possessed, entering perimenopause or else, as I believe it must be, it's the prednisone.

Moments like this make me feel the proverbial pie in the face, except stronger. There are and always have been people in my life dealing with some form of chronic pain, disability, long term care need. I get all kinds of points for being an able bodied non-chronic-pain person who remembers that this is not everyone's reality. Too many points, of course, because this shouldn't be rocket science but hey, most folks don't pay attention.

Well, then some little bitty change to my equilabrium comes along - prednisone - and I can't stop talking about it with every person in ear range. Really, in a comparison sense, the effects are minor. But I don't like them, they won't go away, and in my pissy little strong health no pain way, that annoys me.

I sit here in my icky sticky cold sweat and leaden limbs moment and remember - there are people I love and people who I have never met who would call this a good day, who have relationships, children, jobs, and creative passions while managing multiple internal realities that conflict with their external focus. I told a friend this morning, it reminds me of being pregnant. You're sitting there in the room with a group full of people, you believe you are all sitting in the same room - this space where your outside skin connects the air and you are all sharing the same air, but while you sit there, there is this whole other wild universe of flipping baby going on as an underbeat or sometimes overbeat to the other realities.

I suppose that's one of the measuring sticks, isn't it? At any given point in time, how many realities do you have to deal with. I'm privileged (sorry Emptyman, it's that word again), most of the time, even when I'm multitasking, I get to deal with just the one right in front of me.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Haunted by the past

For the past five years, I keep being "found" by people from my past. Friends from high school, someone I knew vaguely when I worked for Yellowstone Park over a summer in 1982, friends from my childhood and even the ex-partner of an ex of mine.

I feel somehow not nostalgic enough. When I open an email from someone who has not been real in my life for some time, I feel slightly assaulted. I don't want to restart old friendships. I am happy with the friendships I have now. I don't mind doing the occassional back-and-forth about old memories, but since I had my daughter, Luca, I am even less interested in that. As much as anything, these emails make me curious.

It also makes me curious when someone tells me they have been looking for me for years, have thought of me for years, have remembered me. I feel defective, like some gene didn't make it on to my DNA strand.

It isn't like I don't google people from my past. I do. The few people I google go into the "unrequited love" category or the close friendships that ended badly. I devour what I can find on the internet, feeling a kind of connection to something that is still painful. I don't write them. I don't have anything to say. I am just curious that they are still out there, this little piece of unfinished history for me.

But the fond memories, the people who did touch me for periods of my life now past? I don't remember them. And when I hear from them, I'm not sure what to do with it. Or I get scared when they tell me how strongly they feel for me, these 10, 20 and 30 years later. I can vaguely remember their faces or why they mattered so much so long ago.

My partner, Raquel keeps friends forever. It is very rare that new people enter her category of close friend. Very rare indeed. And there seems to be a probationary period so that, at the end of a certain period of time, a lof these new friends aren't in her day to day any longer.

Me, I have a history of recycling friends, recycling lives ever five years or so. Things change, interests change and a new crop of people seems to come along with this newness. But what I envy Raquel is that, when I run into one of these people from my past, I feel guilty. I feel that somehow, having lost touch, I have made a dreadful error and we should all still be in community together, tight knit and sharing a merged past and present.

It's not me. I'm too selfish or present-focused. Thank you for the emails. I will answer them but I probably won't do more than that.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

oh silly me

Sure, in childhood and adolescence, I had poison ivy every summer. Big old breakouts that my mother fought with calamine lotion until I was a walking sticky pink thing. But it's been years, like 25 years, since my last case of poison ivy. And you know how it is - when it's not happening to you, it doesn't exist. I mean, if you had asked me last year, I would have made up some factoid about how poison ivy was on the wane, the plants dying out, or let you know that poison ivy doesn't exist in Minnesota purely due to my clean unweepy skin for 25 years.

After a week of slow spreading and no change, I went to the doctor's office today. Poison ivy, I am told, is as common as dirt. Every summer lots of cases every day. She unblinkingly gave me heavy duty steroids, sent me home with benadryl and told me it would be fine in 24 hours.

Once again, a Leo finds out that she isn't special. Such a sucky thing, on your birthday no less.

Friday, August 04, 2006

itchy itchy scratchy scratchy

Israel is bombing Lebanon. Hezbollah is bombing Israel. Darfur is struggling against the weight of Somali warlords. We are still bombing Iraq and I actually think there are still a few US citizens who believe that this is in the interest of democracy. And what am I doing? Currently, I am sitting in front of Vikki and Luisa's computer with my shirt up and folded over my breasts, my belly and boobs bared to the living room. What I am obsessed with? Not the things that matter in the big world way, but what matters in my own little selfish skin way. Poison Ivy. Oozing crusty insanely itchy poison ivy from nipples to public bone. Particularly the crap that hoovers beneath my over 40 year old so not at all pert breasts, sweaty skin against sweaty skin and itchy red postules thriving. That's what I'm talking about. Itchy itchy god damned scratchy scratchy.