Tuesday 3 November 2015

Same Shit Different Day: Snippets of a Chronic Life

Today I collected my pee in an ice cream container and threw up in the shower. I repeatedly scribbled on an A4 piece of paper which asks me to record the intricacies of my bladder: time, volume, and delightfully, leakage. Yesterday I was buried half under a doona, watching the inside of my eyelids as much as the sharp light emanating from the screen on top of the tall boy. Recovery mode from Friday’s sojourn to ED. A deep black bruise resides where the cannula was inserted. And square red welts and split skin remain to remind me of the 12 lead ECG used to ascertain that my heart was indeed controlled by a dual-chamber pacemaker. I sit here typing, knowing, there’s not a part of this paragraph that I could not have written at a hundred different time points over the last 9 years.

Same Shit. Different day. Maybe I should get that tattooed on my forehead. So every time I'm asked how I am I can simply point to my forehead and get on with my day.

Sure some shit has changed. I am no longer set at a steady 38C every day. Now I vary down to 35 and up to 38 depending on the fickleness of my body, or if I have just consumed a hot coffee, or a cold glass of water. Variety is the spice of life after all. And lying on the couch on a 40C day in four layers of clothes and under a blanket because you can’t stop shivering is always a conversation starter.

But all in all I am still the same. Sick. My most pressing symptom may vary, but I continue to be unwell, have little clarity on the why, and spend a large portion of my life in the medical system.

The shit is still the same, only now it’s 2015 and not 2006.

I was going to write a post about my latest ED visit but there are others in my back catalogue (here, here) that cover things. There was a distinct lack of prisoners, prison guards and police officers this time, which is a little disappointing. Nothing like hearing about assaults and stabbings ad infinitum as the patient behind the next curtain is asked the same questions repeatedly. Matter of fact discussions about makeshift weaponry and a clear desire not to be a rat are elucidative. A whole other world laid bare through a thin blue curtain. But this time my voyeuristic nature is not to be sated.

There was the usual song of the ED. Copious vomiting a few curtains down. The doctor trying to organise radiology after 5pm on a Friday in a rural hospital. HA! Good luck with that. And more vomiting. But little new to write about. It was a Friday eve and all was quiet in the ED, nary a drunken or ice-addled mouse could be heard. There’s a first time for everything I guess.

We went through the motions. Me through my monologue, while Mr Grumpy played the part of the Chorus. Showed the letter from my cardio. Waited patiently through perplexed looks. But eventually the fluids flowed and foul potassium drinks were consumed. Exhausted, chest pain back down to bearable and home once more. Nothing to write home about. Nothing overly exciting or worrying. Ops Normal.

Two parties missed. Much wilting. Much of the usual. “There’s no Vertical Michelle today, is there?” asked rhetorically as I lie splayed on the bed. Burning up. The virus that isn’t a virus and a body that decides to act like it’s fighting all the same. I lie, in much the same position as when we got home from the GP’s five hours before. I’ll continue to lie there hours after the party we are supposed to be attending is long done.

No great worries. It’s the same shit. White noise.

I lay in bed yesterday watching old episodes of Supernatural. Mouth-breathing. Sleeping. Asking Mr Grumpy to listen out when I worked up to a shower. Listen out for the tell tale thump. Just in case.

Today I sit typing, still in recovery mode. Like last time and the time before.

I checked out my vomit to see how many pills were lost and squished it all down the drain with my big toe. Poured myself out of the shower and onto the floor. The tiles cool against my skin as I lay for a while, half on the bath mat and half on tan ceramics. Looking up at our cracking ceiling and dusty heat lamps. Air dried more than towel dried equals energy conserved for other tasks. Like dressing and taking a couple of extra meds to replace the half digested ones. Drag myself together and get on with the day.

There’s nothing special about today, it just is. Another in a long list. A long list of more to come. It just is. This is my day. Today, and yesterday and tomorrow.

Life threads through it.

I talk to my son about eating Dagwood Dogs at the local agricultural show. His realisation that they are indeed foul, but their consumption a right of passage for every Australian teenager. Plates of Vegemite toast arrive alongside water and coffee. Macarons sit on my bedside table, procured by a husband who goes out of his way to try and make it easier. The scent of fresh mown grass floats through the window. My youngest heads to his job at the local Fish and Chip shop, saving for his trip to Vietnam. Rain pours and thunder crashes as the weather turns. Freyja runs in to lie safe on the rag rug next to the bed. Periodically her head appears next to mine. A snuffle to check I'm there and still breathing, before curling up again. The smell of wet dog makes my nose wrinkle, but is comforting all the same. The days merge. And the minutia of life weave through illness and pain holding it all together.

In a scene from Frida:

Diego Rivera: I'm here to see how you are. How are you?
Frida Kahlo: Tired of answering that question. Otherwise, like shit.

Still love that line.

Same shit. Different Day.

I sit in bed again and type, the head piece I made for the missed Halloween parties on the weekend woven through my hair. My family give one quizzical look before continuing on with whatever they were doing. Freyja comes to investigate. Her head wiggles under my arm lifting it repeatedly until I stop what I'm doing and give into her demands for a pat. Courtney Barnett's stream of consiousness rolls out from my laptop. "I'm not that good at breathing in" persists in my head long after Depreston and Pedestrian At Best.

Same weirdness. Different day.

Life is shit, weird, cannulas, Dagwood Dogs, and floral headpieces.

It’s time to collect my pee again.



  1. I love your headpiece. You should wear it always.

    And your toenails match my last hospital foot selfie. And my daughters hair... I wonder if there is a correlation there...

    Hope you enjoyed your macarons, and all these good vibes I am sending over this windy day.

    1. Is the correlation to do with awesomness? 'Cause I'm pretty sure it is. Macarons were good and feelin' the vibes. Hope you made it through your scan mostly unscathed. xx

  2. Those pyjama pants are sublime. No one does ED with the style of Michelle!
    Hope things get easier Michelle, sorry you are having such a bad run. :-( I wish it were different. Please say hello to Freyja from me.


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