Thursday, March 27, 2014


This is a reasonable example of the contradiction of what I wanted to say and what I *could* say while I was having my TIA. You know the words. You know the melody. You know what you mean. But dip ya in butter if anyone else can figure out what in hayseeds you're talking about. The first few sentences come out alright, but from my experience, it really luges quickly on the ice, in the slippery tubes to arrive to this, to which my professor and classmate present at the time, or the folks at Argo Tea, can attest:

Which was why I chuckled when the neurologist asked me, in all seriousness, if someone "slipped me something" leading up to my episode that morning. Joe Cocker at Woodstock? Um....more probable. Ma and Luke spiking me with hallucinogenics? Not quite as likely. Further head-scratching ensued when the doctor asked if I'd recently been camping out in the woods, or perhaps have been bitten by a mosquito or attached to a tick, when I live in Chicago, have stayed in Chicago, under 5 feet of snow, don't travel, wouldn't camp if you paid me and nary an insect has appeared within 10 feet of me (aside from perhaps a piss ant or two) since approximately last October. Best to be thorough, though.

The neurologist suggests cerebral vasculitis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the vessels and channels to the brain vis-a-vis the carotid arteries, which are less involved, though the whole shebang boils down to a problem with how your blood flows to your noggin'. That's what, aside from a diagnosis of a TIA, mini-stroke, he's shooting for in his extensive range of engaged testing. Not suspects, not assumes, not proposes, not hypothesizes. To me, you coyly suggest to your best friend that she not wear orange because it totally clashes with her skin tone. (Oh God, no, I don't wear orange.) He wrote an endless list of orders and checked boxes for tests and ran out of room on the line for diagnoses. (PS, he has the penmanship of a 12-year old girl.)

Mini-strokes don't leave clots on the brain like strokey-strokes do, so he said it wouldn't have shown up on the MRI anyway. He sat on his laptop and scrolled through 100 images of my brain and generally agreed with the radiologist's conclusion that it was "stable, but inconsistent with age of patient." There are all these goofy lesions in the white matter, also inconsistent with multiple sclerosis, but accumulating and more indicative of this vasculitis issue. He knew that I'd hit my head recently. He knew that he saw a few lesions a couple of years ago. But the symptomatic description and the fact that I with my glasses off, I see double of everything in every direction, well, that's not fantastic. "And you DROVE A CAR?" Look, pal, I'm paying you out of pocket. For $150, we're not entering into a discourse of how I'm extremely bright but lack any semblance of pragmatism.

Yesterday, I went to the Resurrection outpatient lab for a mammoth 8-vial outpouring of extremely surprising free-flowing red liquid spewing from a keen phlebotomist who found a juicy arm vein, didn't have to use a butterfly needle, and left my typically crappy hand veins intact. Had I known prior that the hospital provides Aramaic translators, we could've Lent'ed it up and played it up Jesus-style, yet how discriminatory! No Sanskrit translators? (To answer your question, yes, I was inquisitively interrogated about the meaning of the large tattoo on the drawn arm.) Mindfulness, Annie! Remember that!

I scheduled the other 2 tests for tomorrow afternoon. A carotid angiogram and a cerebral angiogram. When I asked the doctor if they're like the angiograms Guy does on hearts, he said no, that these were all computerized and the only needles involved would be for the IV iodine contrast. My head was spinning and I didn't ask him what these tests entailed exactly, other than hearing him say, "I don't know, they're all computerized." OK. When I called scheduling, I was particularly specific in informing them that my head was full of metal. No, not plates. Irremovable head jewelry. No, not Iron Maiden. Stainless steel. I received no argument (for a change).

While the neurologist admittedly wants little to do with my PCP's office, he thought it was prudent of them to start me on baby aspirin last week, which is actually the treatment for mini strokes and to prevent more. With all the computerized charting, he looked at my recent lab work from the PCP and his already buggy eyes bugged out totally when he saw that my thyroid numbers were escalating at the rate they were, and while Guy said it was "sub-clinical," the neurologist's opinion was that they were loco for not having put me on Synthroid a long time ago. Sure as bologna turning green on a prisoner's jail sandwich, I've been on the drug for about 5 days, and gee, my knees aren't throbbing in the middle of the night and the jeans I bought 2 weeks ago at Old Navy? They'd been tight in the tummy and gaping out my ass, but can suddenly pulled up and down without unbuttoning them. Don't get me wrong--I've a long way to go before I'm going to be satisfied with my weight, but baby steps. 10 months of increasing fluid retention isn't going to disappear in a month.

What's quintuple odd? Ok, so last week we had Little Old Lady at the Grocery Store Who Loved My Hair. She made me feel like a million bucks. Then this Tuesday, wearily riding the Adler elevators back to class after a wake-up break, a woman getting off at another floor said, "I love your shoes. They make me happy!" They're Skechers multi-colored neon-ish running shoes. They go and don't go with anything and everything. (Versatility!) So I thanked her and told HER to have a good day.

This morning, I was smoking under the scaffolding in the windy morning mist outside Argo Tea (hi, could we have more product placement in this blog?) waiting for my large hot black (tea), and TOTALLY randomly, and mind you, I was just in my coat with no purse, with my wares in my front pockets, so I wasn't a muggers' team target, a young woman approached me. She said, "Excuse me, but I just wanted to wish you a very blessed day." Taken aback, I thanked her very much and she disappeared. Like I couldn't follow her in my line of sight down the block.

My mother's got me pegged as a minion of Satan because I'm polytheistic and think Hobby Lobby can shove their knitting needles up their crotches and dicks for supplying Viagra to men but denying women contraception and in a twisted way wishes I was WAY less educated, opinionated, and subscribed to radical conservatism if I'm to live under her roof and can't understand why Pastor Dave hasn't exorcised my demons or flat kicked my liberal ass out of the church. I'll spare you the dead-on-straight comment a friend made suggesting she become Newt Gingrich's 4th wife.

The truth of the matter is, be it angels, spirits, karma, four-leaf clovers, bulbs of garlic hanging on the door, dumb luck or my Dad, *somebody's* out there in a higher power guiding this whole ordeal, which has been extremely worrisome, stressful, exacerbating to my bipolar cycling, anxiety-producing and frightening into one of those "Jesus somehow slept on the freakin' boat during the storm while the disciples tried not to capsize sans fish, woke up, calmed the waters and said, 'Listen, yo, throw your nets on the OTHER side!' and BAM! fish are abundantly stuffing the nets."

(See, I never said I DIDN'T believe in Jesus, Jesus people.)

I told Guy I didn't deserve all of these blessings/kudos amid this turmoil (he pretty much knows I'd rather watch "Cosmos" than "Jesus of Nazareth"). He disagreed. Everyone disagrees. Probably even my professors (!) who've been very gracious. (That lynch mob committee, Christ, they better get me on a day when I'm not rapid firing, or no one will be left intact with as sharp a razor wit and tongue with which I can argue my position and case...) Oh, and Guy said my heart is perfectly flawed but not in any eminent danger, so that's good.

What's next? I've accepted what happened to my brain, suspected it anyway, and just have to put it in the hands of God-God-God. I'm nervous about these angios tomorrow and what they'll show, and how they're done, but they might be completely normal. (But realistically? I'm a chronic medical anomaly. I should donate my body to science when I die.) I might have the aforementioned disorder. If so, I'll deal. We'll all deal. I'm upright and thinking clearly, if not disorganizationally. My son is being taken care of. If Keith Richards can fall out of a coconut tree and emerge "too tough to die," I see no reason why I can't.

I have supportive friends, colleagues and a child, and a lot of work left to do, so with the blessings of the approached strangers, I'm relatively okay with the next steps.

Do watch the Joe Cocker clip. It's creepily accurate of a TIA, but my hair wasn't nearly as greasy.

Wish me luck!

And remember what Luke said before my hysterectomy, "My mom is invincible."


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bum Ticker, Too?

The results of my bloodwork came back on Friday. Gee, guess what? They ran a thyroid test they hadn't before and sure as all that is sacred, I need to be on thyroid medication!!!! I must be a freakin' genius!!! NO, I wasn't going to wait another 1-2 months to get this situation straightened out. I wanted a solution NOW, because I don't feel well NOW. So I was put on Synthroid, which should help me an awful lot. Guy said I don't really need an endocrinologist--that this should be easy enough stuff for a family doctor to figure out, so that's what happened there.....

I'm still seeing the neurologist on Tuesday (oh GAWD, that's going to be an expensive visit) about the possible "stroke me, stroke me," which could've been caused by my thyroid or my heart, which is another matter I found out about on Friday.

I haven't had an echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart) since 2010, when it was normal and I was being diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, if you're new here). But my PCP is worried about how high my pulse is climbing. Guy, on the other hand, said that people with my thyroid condition typically run a very low pulse but, as usual, I'm a medical mystery. I've been having palpitations and it's been over 100 for a while, so he increased my heart medication and I might need a repeat echo since the blood test showed my heart's not pumping blood to my organs as well as it should be. I thought to myself, "All of this and now a bum ticker, too?" Hence the clip above. What else, Lord?

So HOPEFULLY, they'll start getting me straightened out soon. I sent Guy Warren Zevon (actually his son, Jordan's version)'s "Studebaker," which I've posted here before, but I told him the way I view this song is that my body is actually the "Studebaker." It keeps on breaking down. (He liked the song.)

Very moved to town, did I mention that? Isn't that fabulous news? I can't wait to meet her in person and we've been trying to get together, though my schedule's pretty packed, so I invited her out to dinner on Monday night. Nothing fancy, she just wants some authentic Chicago pizza (we were going to get some Gino's East right down the street from me). But sure enough, another screaming match about money happened yesterday between my mom and I (mostly on my mom's end, I don't usually say much other than an off-handed comment here and there and explaining every receipt I'm "required" to submit to her for MY STIPEND ACCOUNT). I'm running out of money again and don't get another stipend until June. Very's not in the best financial situation herself, looking desperately for work (if anyone needs a dog walker, personal assistant or an ACE photographer and artist, let me know!!!!) and I feel like a douchebag because I told her I would treat for dinner. Trouble is, I'll probably get the shit kicked out of me for ordering a pizza and spending more of that paltry $2k I have left to live on until June (my child support aside). She is so sweet, she said she didn't care if we even just went to Jimmy John's. I told her I wasn't sure I could even afford that. Either we can postpone dinner a week or so until I get child support or I can just fucking use my own fucking money and not fucking explain it to my motherfucking you know who. I suppose I could always use the stipend and put $ from child support back into the account when it comes. There's an idea! (Very, don't' despair, I'll get you your pizza!)

If my mother could only get out and DO something with her life other than fret--like volunteer, get a part-time job at Michael's or a craft or antique store--anything--food pantry--shelter--anything--to get her out of the house and out of her narcissistic mind, maybe that would help. It's been suggested to me and I might suggest it to someone else influential who *might* be able to persuade her to leave the house once in a while and do something altruistic instead of obsess about the money I loaned out to live on in grad school. She needs to learn a maybe harsh lesson about those less fortunate than she is, and to learn not to treat me like a child all over $. I do not feel loved. I feel like a liability. I am not an asset to my parent's life. As I've said so many times before, I'm a walking dollar sign.

I asked her if perhaps she would *consider* not charging me *rent* to live here in the house until my next stipend comes, read: don't be so greedy! when she knows I have to pay the rent on my storage unit every month too. 

That storage unit is sucking the dough out of me, but where else am I supposed to store a 3 br apartment? Luke and I went there last weekend and found a treasure trove of goodies, including my honeymoon photo album from England and France. It was a great throwback for sure. 

Now, Luke. I was pretty pissed at him yesterday because he turned on me. His sense of entitlement to things, being a spoiled only child, is out of control. He took HER side about what I spend my money on, when half of it's on shit for him. He assumes that if wants something, it'll be instant gratification and if he doesn't get what he wants, he throws a toddleresque tantrum and accuses me of not wanting to spend time with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just spend $60 on the renewal of his XBox membership and told him he's not getting an allowance for 6 weeks as a result. "Oh, but you told me you'd buy that for me!" he said. Yes, I may have said that in the past, and I normally don't go back on my promises, but we're in dire straits. I can't afford it. Nor can I afford the graphic novels he wants me to buy, or a new Guitar Hero controller because he broke his old one....fucking deal with it and save your money, or hit up your father, who pays for very little in Luke's world. (e.g. his WHOLE TUITION!) My mom thinks braces on Luke's teeth are a "luxury" and not a necessity, since she didn't get braces for either my brother or I. Luke NEEDS braces. That's another upcoming expense. I refuse to relent on that, though Craig will be helping out a lot on that end, I think. It's not like Luke's having liposuction--the child needs braces. Fuck, I need braces! Her illogical concept of finances knows no bounds. 

So you see why I'm sort of even more anxious about things around here? My body is failing me (again), my mom's on my ass 24 hours a day about my own money and my son thinks it grows on trees. 

Last night in church, we did a contemporary version of the old standard hymn, "It is Well," "it is well with my soul..." Another funeral hymn. I wrote down to add it to the list of songs I'd like in the event I don't make it. I lost it during practice reading the lyrics as I played my djembe, and thankfully, I sit behind everyone else so nobody could see the tears streaming down my face. Yes, I guess you could say all of this has thrown me into an episode of major depression. Can you blame me?

I'm reminded of a Bob Dylan quote which has stuck with me since I first heard it as a teenager.

"It is possible to become so defiled in this life that your own mother and father will abandon you, and IF that should happen, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways."

I want to and should go back to sleep. Which I guess I should enjoy before Luke and I are parted--he off with his father in their own personal hell (he HATES IT over there) and me in a homeless shelter. 

It's starting to look that way.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

So That Asshole Fred Phelps Finally Croaked

I'm no theologian, and I suppose everyone on his death bed can atone for his sins, however grievous they might be, but I have a hard time believing Fred Phelps (founder of the Westboro Baptist Church) did such a thing. He was too full of hatred and malice, be that the product of Satan disguised as a religious Christian organization or just a consortium of crackheads. Thus, it's a reasonable assumption that if there is a hell, Phelps is burning in it right now. He died today. I wore rainbow socks today. Coincidence? Picture taken on my rainbow-colored Beatles blanket:

I'm not into spreading a message of hate, nor am I supportive of what claims to be a "church" indoctrinating its members (especially children) with anti-ANYTHING, be that running the gamut from the relatively unbelievable story of Noah's ark, pro-life or anti-homosexual.

Neil deGrasse Tyson for President!

Westboro pretty much hated everyone who wasn't white, conservative, heterosexual and Bible-pounding. Maybe even more minorities of which I'm unaware. Protesting just about everything not sanctioned by Christ Himself, Phelps and his minions gave Christianity a really, really, really bad name. Baptists, especially, who are conservative and a little nutty, but not inherently bad people. (Hey, the same can be said for my own denomination, Lutherans.)

To encourage, demand or otherwise advocate that a child protest against homosexuals, war veterans or any other group Westboro hated was reprehensible. What's worse? Now that their "leader" is deceased, the hate mongering will just perpetuate in his memory. It's like no matter how many counter-signs or protests REASONABLE PEOPLE WITH A MODICUM OF SENSE AND COMPASSION hold or hold up, how on earth do we stop these people? Are they operating under the auspice of the First Amendment? Yes. Still. Are they the even worse, modern-day version of the KKK (which still exists, but is quieter)? Yes.

In a documentary I'd seen on Westboro, none of the children holding up protest signs knew WHY they were protesting. They didn't know what "fags" were. They didn't know what anyone had done wrong to warrant going to hell. They were just drones raised by even dumber drones. Is that the message of love and understanding taught by Christ or any of the other deities? Hardly.

Counter-hate-mongering by REASONABLE PEOPLE WITH A MODICUM OF SENSE AND COMPASSION serves no purpose. The old "two wrongs don't make a right." I am vehemently pro-homosexual, while heterosexual, and pro-liberalism and civil rights, even though I am a follower of Christ who happens to attend a conservative Lutheran church for worship (I tend to disagree with most everything in their doctrine, but it's where I've been raised for 42 years). 

In the spirit of spirituality and what's taught by God as I understand and accept Him in all His forms, I am clinging by a thread to the words of a gay man who has earned my respect one hundred fold, George Takei. A tormented soul, Phelps was. That's most certainly true.

Quite frankly, I don't foresee Fred Phelps resting in peace, ever. Nor should he. 

For sure, he won't meet Freddie Mercury.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Feeling Not So Disgusted, For A Little While.

I saw my PCP yesterday, who ran another thyroid test. By all accounts, I should be on medication because I'm just full of water weight and tons of other symptoms and feel like shit. My T4 is at a 7.1. She won't put me on meds until it reaches 10. I felt totally dismissed by Family Practice, even though I talked to a supervisor, who chalked all of my symptoms up to the fact that I'm "old." I'm only 41. When I was 40, I weighed 113 lbs and wore a size 4. I'm tall. I looked fucking fantastic and could wear whatever I wanted. Now, not so much. 

My heart condition's back to square one, which I don't know what Guy plans to do about that, because I'm so water-filled, it's causing my pulse to perpetually teeter over 100, still with a low or normal blood pressure. They ran some more bloodwork to check something-or-other about that. They asked if I'd ever had an echocardiogram or stress test. Yes, 4 years ago, and they were normal. It was the tilt-table test I failed that led to a diagnosis of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. (That test was great. They gave me nitroglycerin to purposely make me faint, I did, and they almost killed me and Guy had a cow when he talked to the doctor in charge of that. Good times.)

I really need to see an endocrinologist, but I hate to bother Guy with finding me one who'll see me on the dole or will accept Medicaid. Bad enough I have to pay the neurologist out of pocket next week, as he doesn't take my insurance either. Ouch. My mom, who relentlessly picks on me because of my weight gain, said I look like someone took a bicycle pump and pumped me full of air. (My weight gain is entirely in my core, boobs and face.) My mom's not terribly supportive, but you could all guess that already, I'm sure. 

I had texted my maladies to Guy, who eventually said I have sub-clinical hypothyroidism, and that it's common to blame every ill on a bum thyroid, in more words. He said to eat smart, exercise, give up all processed foods, cut out all caffeine and in 6 months, I'll be a supermodel. He can call it sub-clinical all he wants, but Kate said that if yourT4 is supposed to be a 2, that's normal. If it's a 5, you feel crummy. If it's a 7, you're lucky you can get out of bed. Pretty much. I could either stroke out or die of a heart attack because I'm so fluid-retentive. 

I was disheartened. I said, "I WAS a supermodel. Fuck it." (Seriously, when I was 40, I was built like one.) 

His response? Which shocked me? Which made me cry, because he's never said as much as that he thinks I'm pretty?

"You still are in my eyes!"

Wait. He thinks I'm beautiful? Since when? Of course I told Meg and my other friends that he was being disingenuous and just trying to make me feel better, when they all uniformly told me he was being completely genuine and honest, but I have a hard time accepting compliments of any kind. 


Scene: Jewel/Osco, a little light grocery shopping (I was running out of deodorant, for one thing!)

Characters: Me, Cute Little Old Lady with a Perm

Lady, as I walk by, "You've got the GREATEST HAIR I'VE EVER SEEN!"
Me: "Thank you very much!"
Lady: "How do you get it to do that?"
Me: "I just wash & towel dry it, and put spiking glue in it."
Lady: "I'm sorry, but can I touch it?"
Me: "Um....sure!"
Lady: "It's so thick. You know my hair is so fine. That's why I go to the beauty parlor every week to get it done." 
Me: "I'm going gray."
Lady: "But it looks beautiful. And you've got such a nice face for that hair too! Just beautiful."
Lady: "Why did God put us on this earth? To be mean to people? No. If I see somebody who impresses me, I tell them."
Me: "I wish everyone was that way. Thank you so much, really." 
Lady: "I'll let you shop. Your hair is BEAUTIFUL."
Me: "Thanks again, that really means a lot to me."

I proceeded to tell her I had a 14-year old son who had a huge head of gorgeous brown, curly tendrils, which are mostly getting chopped off on Sunday. She asked me why boys always seem to get the best hair. Hard to say, but most of them lose it, so it's a double edged sword, I suppose. I almost grabbed my phone to show her a picture of Luke. **Product placement** She was holding a box of Eggo frozen waffles this whole time. I wanted to hug her, I felt so flattered.

Pretty nice when you're feeling not so nice about yourself. [cue tears]

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Name This Photo" Contest

What happened?

Your thoughts?

It was a 4-Band Aid operation.

(No. I'm not cutting again.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Incapacitated Glob

Over dinner:

Luke: Do you have to take all that math and science in college if you don't want to be like an astrophysicist?

Me: You have to take some math and science, depending on your major, to fulfill gen ed requirements.

Ma: You're so good at science, Luke. What DO you want to do when you get out of school?

Luke: I want to be a writer. I want to write.

Me: Great!


Me: Gee, thanks!

Ma: I didn't mean it that way. You're smart too.

Me: [laughing hysterically, kicking Luke under the table]

Ma: WHY would you want to write when you're so smart?

Me: I'm smart, and I'm a writer!

Ma: Yes, you're smart too, but Luke is SUPER smart.

[Me, trying not to be too EXTREMELY INSULTED!]

Luke: Mom's a writer, and she's in grad school, and I'm writing a science fiction trilogy. I want to write for a living.

Me: That's not easy, but God bless you. Do what makes you happy.

Ma: Do what will make you money.

Luke: I don't care about money.

Me: You mean, you don't want to be Neil deGrasse Tyson?

Luke: No, but you know he's right about everything.

Me: Pretty much. Don't forget to DVR "Cosmos." 

[cut scene]


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Altered States

Looking back, the wiser woman...would've crapped her pants, called an ambulance and stayed put.

The weaker frame or more easily spooked character would've turned the car around before pulling into the L parking garage, gone home and called 911.

The less stubborn fool wouldn't have quadruple-visioned her way confusedly down a long escalator to weave around a slippery train platform awaiting the roaring rail thud, but the best Russian love stories end that way (see also: "Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy).

The more intelligent individual would've sought medical attention last fall when she whacked her head against a wrought iron railing, gouging a 2" bloodied cut into the skull (I just cleaned it up, coagulated it and went to sleep). The more rational, non-Evel Knievel probably would've seen a doctor after slipping and falling back-of-the-head-first onto a solid block of ice in the alley 6 weeks ago. (Now that, friends, is a bitch of a headache.)

But I digress.

Last night was Ash Wednesday. I don't normally like to go to church alone, but Luke and my mother had their ashes dispensed earlier in the day, so I went alone. The closing hymn was "Abide With Me," the final verse above. It's a popular funeral hymn. I hastily exited the sanctuary, got in my car and bawled.

I had an in-class, open-book midterm in Multiculturalism last Thursday, for which I was as prepared as I ever am for any academic endeavor, given my MO is to pull up the boot straps and whip quasi-knowledge out of my gut. That usually works. The class started at 9am, and, as is typical, I planned to take a 6:45 am train downtown. Enough time to get settled, go to Argo Tea & get a raw bar (which, by the way, if you've never had one, tastes like sweetened tar) & a large black tea, stake my favorite seat, and prepare.

When I got up at approximately 5:30 am, I think the coffee had brewed, but I don't remember, but if it had, I'd have had a travel mug of it to go out front, where my chair is at present, to smoke my first cigarette of the day. Disoriented already, when I got up to ash the butt, I smushed into the neighbor across from our house's plastic-encased metal fence and sort of bounced back. The best way I can describe it is if one had taken an Ambien (sedative/hypnotic sleeping pill) and only sleeping for an hour, when I do take Ambien, but ironically hadn't Wednesday night, because I was already sleepy. My medication cocktail was no different or altered recently, and the only other sedative, Valium, I had taken one of at approximately 8pm the night before. Hardly, with my tolerance, to loop me out almost 12 hours later. It was like being totally fucked up drunk when you didn't drink a drop. I don't remember if I'd slept the whole night through or not. Normally, I wake up from arthritic knee pain (as of late tempered by a full body pillow--my God, how cozy and supportive! Who needs a snoring, restless man?).

I didn't shower that morning, I don't think so, too out of it, but brushed my teeth and threw a hat and sweats on. Loaded up my briefcase the night before, and driving to the L station was confusing. Yes, it was still dark out, and I have poor night driving vision, but I was behind a car which I'd hoped had a better grasp on where he was going than I did, so I followed. I parked the SUV like a douche, which I always do, and forgot the parking pay ticket in the cup holder in the garage. It's a jaunt from the garage to the station escalator, and I was stumbly.

Like I said, I teetered on the platform, other commuters parking their asses on the benches. I embarked the L train, which is only 2 stops from its originator, so it's pretty empty when I get on but holy Christ, it's SRO packed and panic-inducing by the time I get downtown. I get off at Washington, at Daley Plaza, and walk up the 2 flights of endless stairs to cross over to Dearborn to school. I clung to the handrail of the stairway; whereas, usually, I just trudge up there with no problem. I remember being very confused and altered. People downtown walk quickly, carelessly and like they're in a game of Frogger. Either that, or I walk slowly, steadily and like a normal person. In any case, Thursday, I was bumping into people left and right.

Once I walked into school, my coat unzipped, I told the security guard I'd forgotten my ID and needed a temporary sticker. I was told I was wearing my ID around my neck, though I have no memory of putting it on at home. I had to go onto the computer to remember my class schedule and in what room my class was held. Already in the room was my classmate, Caroline, and I explained that there was something terribly wrong with me. Thinking I'd feel better if I ate something, I gnawed the tar bar but proceeded to deteriorate. There were many things I wanted to say, but my speech was slurred so badly and I couldn't iterate what I wanted to say in my brain that Caroline realized something was very wrong. (This is not the first time I've had slurred speech. My less-than sympathetic mother notices and usually snaps a "What are you on?" or a "What's wrong with you?" when I'm not "on" anything, I'm sleepy, or just feeling out of it, which my psychiatrist doesn't think is very understanding of her, FYI.)

There was absolutely no way I could lucidly concentrate on the midterm. Once my professor arrived, I pulled her aside and briefly explained how I felt. She signed me in for attendance and sent me home with my midterm, to turn in once I felt *not* like I was dying. (Yeah, we're still working on that....)

Meandering home was no easier; in fact, it was more difficult. I'd lost the sensation on my left shoulder such that I couldn't keep my briefcase on my left shoulder (I'm a southpaw) and it wasn't that heavy--I didn't have my laptop with me. I did get a bench spot in the subway, where I waited a good 10 minutes (I think) for my train home. Once at the Cumberland station, I had to schlep to the car, get the pay ticket and go back down and up the stairs to pay. Normally, I don't touch the handrails of ANYTHING on public transport--I'm kind of a germ-a-phobe in that regard. But I was clenching for dear life. I had no business behind the wheel of a car but drove home in one piece.

My mom wasn't home, and I was just so dizzy, gait imbalanced and out of it, I laid on my bed and my whole body shook for at least an hour. Afterwards, the symptoms started to abate. I hesitated but eventually told my mother what happened, and paged my dopey-houred neurologist, who hasn't seen me for 2-3 years, when he was testing me for MS and did an MRI and a spinal tap. The MRI showed 2-3 areas of my brain which are getting no blood flow. At the time, he didn't do anything about it, because I wasn't impaired at all neurologically. I asked him if it was possible I'd had a TIA--a mini-stroke. He said going to the ER would've been a safe thing to do, but they'd just do a cat scan, which'd show him nothing. He didn't *think* I'd had a stroke but couldn't say over the phone, and told me to go to my PCP ASAP to get an MRI order and make an appointment to see him, the PCP visit Tuesday and MRI yesterday.

My neuro exam was overall normal apart from the fact that I see double when I look up both with and without my glasses on. My pulse was high. My pressure was low. Typical of my heart condition. The PCP and her med student honestly thought the symptoms were consistent with a TIA. That scared the shit out of me. So let's smoke more! What the hell?

Luckily, after taking off my jewelry apart from the head piercings that I was adamant weren't coming out (we've been down this road before, readers), which were taped down, and not taking off my rings, which I could feel vibrate, personally, I find MRI's quite entertaining. The beats--you have to listen to like a musician--and I told Steven they're perfect for what the Lips do. He thought it a shame I couldn't record it, but it would've been a strategic challenge to keep my phone on my lap during the test. The best way I could describe it--and while not claustrophobic but having panic/anxiety disorder, you pop a Valium, they plug your ears, and you just lie there for half an hour and pretend you're in our own personal, have-to-remain-still rave party. Metal in my head vibrating? Funky beats? Let's do this! It's SO FLAMING LIPS! How can people be annoyed with MRI's? Pussies.

Results will take 3-4 nervous days. Then I'll make the appointment to see the neurologist.  I'm bummed that I told Guy more than once today that I was scared and needed a hug, even if it was a stop by on his way home from work. I got some blahbety-blah about him still being at work and being late for a church meeting and he was sending a virtual hug. I was virtually nonplussed. Lest we forget as a Catholic, being Lent, he has to spend 22 hours a day conspiring to plot Catholic doohickeys on their cloistered chosen few blessed until their day of atonement for the next 40 days. I'm scared, I'm nervous, he said something about my neurotransmitters (which have to do with what and a stroke, Guy???) and I ignored his response and started crying again. Tonight, it wasn't worth the salt in my tears.

If it WAS a TIA, they resolve within 12-24 hours, but you're at risk for having a full-on stroke afterwards. Others have TIA after TIA and live to be 100. Who knows what's wrong, if anything. Maybe it's just THE IMMENSE AMOUNT OF STRESS I AM UNDER. At any rate, thanks to Pastor Dave for the actual hug AND the prayer last night, and I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye, but I was too funeral'd out after that last hymn to do much more than shake and cry.

Shame on those who dismiss what happened to me as being a petty episode. It scared me to near-death. You go through it, make it home alive and come talk to me about how you feel.  Thanks to all the friends far and wide who lent their prayers and well-wishes via social media, much appreciated.

Will keep y'all posted. Until then, totally invest in a full-body pillow and kick your man out of your bed. You'll be happy you did.