my dearest kidneys, whom i adore equally:
why, oh why must you afflict me so? it's bad enough that my heart gave me such a scare last week, but you? now? after all we've been through? i just don't understand.
i hoped that, things being as they have recently, you would be quiet and peaceful. i have been kind to you since our last falling out in december. i thought we'd made a deal: you be quiet, pass no stones, and i'll keep my job. now, it seems you've reneged on that deal, and although my job appears to be secure, despite two consecutive absences, i still feel a bit cheated by your flippant attitude toward me.
i mean, honestly, where did i go wrong? have i not spent enough time considering your needs? is that why you've lashed out on me, unleashing another stone? did you feel like one trip to the radiology place was not enough? is there a cosmic reason for why i've now twice had the joy of iodine in my veins? was i about to die of iodine deficiency?
or maybe it was a latent need to share in helen's pain, by having my own hospital experience. after all, lying on a stretcher all covered in blankets as helen held my hand, was a reciprocation of sorts. a weird "let's not hang out in hospitals anymore" reciprocation, but we've bonded yet again. she even made me waffles afterward.
please don't tell me that all this drama was for the waffles. you wouldn't be so selfish, right?
ok. ok. i think i get it. the meaning behind all of this WAS just for the waffles. how selfish of you. you could've just told me.
from now on, i hope we can communicate more effectively.
i want to help you be healthy little kidneys. i need you in my life. please, just tell me what you need. don't bottle it all like this. i'm committed to our relationship, and i want you to trust me. if you need waffles, please just let me know.
life has taken a turn for the brighter and clearer over the past several days. helen is home from work for the timebeing, which ellicits nothing short of joy every morning. her head is noticeably better, and her energy is coming back. she laughs as only my helen can laugh, and the relief of her laughter makes me dizzy with joy.
her wellbeing has bled into my wellbeing. i've been productive every day recently: i've cleaned and organized and caught up on bills. i've taken pictures, visited with friends. i have felt myself.
meanwhile, i've also been experimenting with the drugs that keep my brain working "normally". i have a stash of risperdal that i have taken from time to time as an augmenter to my antidepressant, and augment it does. so much so that i joined the gym at work. we have a fabulous onsite facility that is very inexpensive and convenient. and i happen to weigh too much anymore. so, cheers to health and fitness, right?
yesterday, i drove over to apple for my pre-membership mini-checkup, where they basically check your vitals and medical history to make sure you're fit enough for fitness. i figured i'd pass without incident. and so, as the girl in khaki shorts and new balance shoes took my blood pressure and pulse, i relaxed, and admired the array of apple computers all over the room.
"were you just running or something?" new balance asked. um, no. "i only ask because your heart rate is at about 120, which, as you know, is not healthy for a 27 year old, even one like you, who smokes. are you taking any medications that could cause your heart to race like this?"
shit. risperdal. sweet, sweet risperdal. it must be, i thought. oh, but maybe not. maybe i was simply nervous when she was taking my pulse. i willed my heart to be still. i begged her to take it again. "yeah, it's at 125 now," she remarked, fingers still tapped against my wrist.
three hours later, i sat in the waiting room of my doctor's office, heart racing. obviously. sonia, the nurse, was also running reception, and as i tried in vain to concentrate on a novel i'd brought with me, i listened to her talk to a coughing and wheezing woman who was signing in. "oh, ms so-and-so, i remember about your heartrate being faster than i'd thought it would be." wheezing woman: "my heart? what?"
"oh don't worry about it, ma'am. we'll figure out what is going on. now have a seat and i'll call your name shortly." then she called mine.
as i stood on the scale (for the THIRD time in one day), sonia lugged the big weight over to 150, and was inching the little one past 10, 15---. "so ms annie, i understand you've got sores all over your tongue today. don't worry, though. we'll figure out what's going on."
"actually, i'm the one with the heart. the tongue is still in the waiting room." (i had to tell her.)
she gasped. giggled. and then ushered me to the waiting room, where i sat for a half hour.
waiting rooms. what joy they bring. and by joy, i mean fear. i could feel my heart in my temples now. "you've got the resting heart rate of a hummingbird," helen said before dropping me off at the doctor. but what if i've got the heart rate of my father? what if this is what he felt like before he died? before the heart attack? what if i die of this? isn't a heart attack at 27 a little...embarrassing?
of course, i only spent 5 minutes with my doctor, as she poked around with lights and sticks, and i took breaths and said ah. she pulled out her palm pilot full of "every medical piece of information known to man", and typed in r i s p e r d a l. "yep. heart palpitations. i want you to stop taking this drug. and call me tomorrow morning with your pulse. if it's under 90, you're fine." but what if i'm not fine? of course a girl will think of her mortality while sitting on the examining table.
in the nurturing voice only a female, former naval doctor can master, she gave me the news: "now, if you were 85, your heart could probably withstand this for about a day or so. then it would probably kill you. but. the good news is you're young. your heart could go on like this for a couple of weeks, and still be fine. think of it as a cardio workout without doing anything." then she shook my hand. i followed her out of the room. followed up with sonia at the receptionist's desk.
today, i am happy to report that i am not dead, nor is my heart beating 120 beats a minute. in fact, it's down to a solid 88. i've been risperdal free for over 36 hours now, and i don't feel any noticeable side effects, aside from the slower heart. i've still got energy. i still have the motivation to go lose my girl scout cookie weight. the best part is: i don't think it was the risperdal that was overcoming my wintery despair. i think i simply opened my eyes for a moment to how alive i am at 27. how alive helen is at 28. i am consciously aware of my own heart for the first time since--well. for the first time ever. there she goes, beat beat beat. a little slower a little slower. good girl. i'm proud of her for being such a champ.
i realize that bananie.com has become quite boring as of late, as my cousin tom reminded me in january, when we went to erie. "i check every gd day, and every day it's january 11." yeah, that's pretty much how my creative self has felt over the past several months. i think it has something to do with staring at a computer all day for a living, or maybe it's the imbalance of living in a world where there is no winter whatsoever. we all know how much i get my kicks by describing just how unbelievably cold i can feel. i like writing about snow and grey days. here in austin, the trees began blooming last month. (groundhog does not know jack, as it turns out.) i wore a tanktop on the last day of february.
despite my silence here, i promise that life has happened, every day in fact. helen and i have been immersed in the land of adoption paperwork, and all of the heartache that comes with it. last month, we thought we'd found the one we'd been meant to have, only to experience the first "paper miscarriage" just days later. [insert the addage about wind and sails here.]
i've discussed our plans and hopes with my family, to mixed reactions, of course. after all, i JUST got a proper position with apple, and wasn't it just a few months ago that i was still in the land of panic attacks? not to mention the recent kidney issues (yet to be resolved). oh, and helen's headaches. the post-accident migraines have persisted, and this last one has lasted over two weeks now. adoptionworld has come to a screeching halt for the timebeing. now the days are filled with doctors, each scratching their doctor heads accordingly, and, literally, every day we're trying something new to bring helen relief.
she is such a trooper, but she is exhausted by the pain. it simply won't let go.
but. tomorrow brings another day, and a new neurologist.
i tend to put myself on the shelf in times of crisis like this. i confess that i'm living in function mode. i dutifully and lovingly accompany helen to each doctor, i do my best to participate in each new idea for treatment. i send off SOS emails to my lodestar girls--helen2, marlei, sheela, and jude--because i need them to do the praying for me. i sit here on the porch with cigarette and coffee, with ipod on shuffle (the new sarah harmer record now), and watch the kitties chase birds by the feeder nextdoor.
i know that i'm here, smack dab in the middle of the wonder of a day: tuesday. a day off. but i don't quite believe it either. i feel other, outside of time. as heather would say, i am watching myself watch my world.
yes, this is lent. sparrow just wrote a wonderful comment on my previous entry: "but in the midst of the wilderness, always an oasis." she is my oasis, honestly. (no pressure, annie.) i get to see a friend this weekend. after two years of sporadic communication, i get to hug a sparrow's neck: easter come early.