April, 2014 - May, 2014
By the beginning of April I’d had three visits to the Infectious Disease specialist, blood tests, and a comprehensive stool test which was sent to a different laboratory than the previous test, all of which came back normal. The ID doc said she'd tested me for everything it could possibly be and then some. So, apparently, my troubleshooting powers were failing me for the first time and it wasn’t an infection. I chalked up my progress to a fluke and went off the natural antibiotics and loosened up on the SCD diet, allowing some sugar and bread here and there. A few weeks later (late April, 2014), bam, I started with another attack. And another. By mid May I was down a total of 40 lbs, well underweight, and still had no answers.
On a particularly bad night I threw in the towel and went back to the ER. A CT scan indicated infection and inflammation in the mesentery, the webbing that holds the abdominal organs in place. So, that would explain why I still had normal bowel habits instead of diarrhea and why they weren’t finding the infection in the stool tests. The infection was in the abdomen outside the intestines. My troubleshooting powers were intact. I was admitted to the hospital.
The care I got at Hershey Medical Center was top notch. I was so relieved to have people who knew what they were doing helping me. They were determined to get to the bottom of this and I was told they would not release me until I was eating at least 2400 calories per day so I could go home and continue to put on weight. They started me on IV fluids, two IV antibiotics, an oral antibiotic, and various things like potassium to get my electrolytes balanced. After a few days when they saw I wasn’t going to be eating anytime soon and my blood tests were coming back sufficiently messed up, they put me on IV nutrition (TPN).
And then something weird started happening.
In order to explain the event, I need to backup and share a blog post I’d written on day 2 in the hospital and had put on my personal blog site but password-protected and only shared with a couple people:
If you’ve read any of this blog site [from my personal site] at all, you know that I absolutely love Colorado, and specifically, backpacking in Colorado and that I hiked the Colorado Trail in the summer of 2011. The adventure really affected me mentally. During those 5 weeks, I found out what it was to actually like myself for the first time in my life. Days on end of isolation meant getting a chance to really think about things and live in the now and love being exactly where I was at in that exact moment. Carrying only what I needed on my back meant not feeling overwhelmed by my possessions and feeling in control of my life for the first time in years. I savored every moment of the trail. When I finished the trail I wanted nothing more than to turn around and hike back to the beginning.
Returning to the “real world” brought an onslaught of things I wasn’t ready or willing to deal with:
A return to my previous career of working on musical instruments at the bench when all I wanted to do was continue to do computer work
Cleaning up from a flood that took place 1 week after I’d returned where I lost half the shop and really didn’t want to rebuild it
Feeling completely overwhelmed by my possessions, obligations, responsibilities, and a whole host of other things I just really didn’t want to deal with.
Looking through my filter, life just plain sucked. However, thanks to a lot of help from a few friends, I got through the flood cleanup and sucked it up with the rest of the stuff and continued on. I began resenting everything that took me away from the computer and prevented me from hiking the 2700 mile Pacific Crest Trail and felt guilty for not being grateful for all the things that I knew I should be grateful for.
I deliberately pushed friends away. I couldn’t stand to be around myself and didn’t want others to be around me either. I developed a hatred for myself. And then I got sick. Debilitatingly sick. So sick that I couldn’t take care of my dogs or myself. I had to rely on my partner to help me get through the day. And that made me hate myself even more.
Fast forward to today [writing this on day 2 in the hospital]. I’ve been sick non-stop for over 6 months. I’ve seen doctors, had tests done, researched every corner of the internet to find out what this crud is that’s taken me out. And the entire time I’ve known that the answer lies inside of me but didn’t know how to draw it out. I’m a firm believer in the concept that we create our own worlds through our thoughts. Which means I can change my world through my thoughts. But how? What the hell was I missing?
Some of my favorite authors on spiritual topics are Eric Butterworth, Myrtle Fillmore, and Charles Fillmore. I started reading their books and narrowed things down to two things:
- God is within us.
- Healing comes from the renewal of the mind.
I understood what those two things mean in theory but WHAT IN THE WORLD DID THEY MEAN in practice and how do I apply them. How do I renew my mind. How do I grasp God IN me? That’s huge but I couldn’t fully wrap my mind around it. Then it hit me.
Years ago, I used to hate my nose. It’s a pointy witch nose. I just wanted a regular cute little nose. Then when I was 18, I met my biological father, and discovered that I have his nose. And I started liking and was proud to have my nose. My nose was part of my dad in me. When I hated my nose, I was also hating that part of my dad.
I transferred that concept to the rest of me. I’ve been hating myself for years. And by hating myself, what have I been hating? God is in us. We are “God substance”. By hating myself, I was also hating God. That rattled me a bit.
I had read years ago about Emoto’s Effects of Thoughts on Water experiment and dismissed it as something I’d have to see to fully believe. I fully believe it now. I don’t know whether his experiment was actually true but I know that it is possible. And it’s what I’ve been doing to myself by hating myself. I’ve created this sickness within me by my thoughts. And the only way to correct it is to correct my thinking.
Healing comes from the renewal of the mind. I needed to renew my mind by getting rid of my self-hatred and replace it with self love. And knowing that God is omnipresent means that God is in me and if God is in me, how can I possibly hate myself. It means I am good. I may not make all the right decisions or always do the right thing but I am essentially good. I can love myself!
I mulled this over in the emergency room while waiting to be admitted to the hospital. I tested the waters and attempted to direct an “I love me” at myself. “I hate me” came so easily and it took a few attempts to finally direct an “I love me” at myself. I broke down in tears the first time I succeeded. Then I tried again and cried some more. That was yesterday afternoon. It’s now 4 am the next day and tears still come to my eyes every time I think “I love me”.
Above is what I’d shared with a couple people. But there is more to the story which explains Piece #2 that I didn’t share for fear of sounding like a freak. Here goes.
In the month leading up to getting sick, I’d had a couple of “incidents”. Incidents where I felt like an emotion “solidified,” for lack of a better term. You know the old days when a TV station would go off the air and the channel would turn to black and white static? It felt like the emotion solidified into a ball of that static and landed in my gut. The emotion was self-hatred. It happened twice and I can remember the events distinctly - where I was, what I was thinking about, and how powerfully I felt it.
Fast forward to day 4 of my hospital stay when I started to feel...“tingly”. It started in my abdomen. And if I laid still, it would get so intense that it got uncomfortable and I’d have to move to break the feeling. It felt like the static was being released from my gut...like if I looked down at my abdomen, I would expect to see that black and white TV static coming off my gut and dissipating like a vapor. And if I let it go long enough without moving, the feeling would spread to my arms and legs. It went on for about 3 days and I was hardly able to get any sleep for those 3 days because of it.
It was the weirdest thing ever and I have no idea whether it was the “I love me”’s working or whether it was antibiotics doing their job. I’ll let you decide.
Nine days in the hospital and several more negative tests later, they pulled the IVs and sent me home, not because I was better, but because they called insurance to find out whether TPN would be covered if they sent me home with it and found that insurance was still playing their games and classifying everything as pre-existing condition and they feared not getting paid.
I went home and was mercifully able to get short term disability for 8 weeks because of being in the hospital. I’d been working through it all this time in between the pain, nausea, chills and headaches and the brain fog from malnourishment. More often than not, it had been taking me 12 to 16 hours each day to be able to log 8 productive hours. I’d been working lying flat on my back on the couch with my head propped up on a pillow and my laptop on my thighs because it was too painful to sit up or work at a desk. So having some time off where I didn’t have to push through every minute of the day was a big relief. In addition, I had the most compassionate partner taking care of me - making me ginger tea, taking me to doctor appointments, and taking care of our dogs and the house. I have no doubt, I would not have made it this far without her. I’d have shriveled up and dehydrated into a little raisin-person without her constant promptings to drink my ginger tea.
During my time off of work, things got….different….