Saturday, August 23, 2014

How Birds Fly

I recently was called into remembrance of a traditional story of old. I am not sure if it is unique only to certain cultures or not and I have written a completely different story to share. Regardless of culture, the message, the one I wish to convey, is universal.

A little boy was sitting on a rickety stoop, slowly tracing the circles that concealed the wisdom of trees by virtue of their ages represented. He keeps doing this, and a thought came into his mind: did we kill this tree to make our stoop? What happens when we die? 

He jumped into his yard and scampered down to the next house, where is grandmother lived. Clamoring up the steps in sniffles and sobs, the little one merely stood in the entryway and howled, because he now feared death and felt awful for the tree that was now a place for his family's feet to walk on.

A kind old woman emerged and took the inconsolable child out to the back yard, where she had no deck, no furniture, just grass scattered with wildflowers and trees towering overhead to protect her and her guests in the night. After he finally calmed down, he told her about just discovering that their stoop used to actually be a tree that died. He admitted that now he was afraid of what they do to people when they die...are they made into soap or other household products? 

Or is it nothing, for an eternity?

After hearing what this sweet child's concerns were, she leaned over and place her palm right up to his chest

"That is your heart beat", she said. "It taps out the rhythm of life and directs all of the animals to go where they should, the trees to grow as they should, and teaches birds how to fly. Each in their flock and all together, their wings beat in time with the rhythm of life until one day they are no longer able to keep in time. It is then that they stop flying".

The little boy's eyes began to well up again, asking "So his family is sad because he is dead?"

"Oh, my child. What happens is what benefits us all. Even though the flock in one companion less, their past life's song is added into the all encompassing rhythm of life -- making it stronger and offering of us our hope".


I have shown to the best of my ability my life's lessons here. The only thing I ever wished to do in this life is help other people...and to be a writer.

I achieved both.

This life is something beautifully tragic, which can cause chaos and uncertainty in its dichotomy. Both are necessary, however, is you really wish to live this life without regret.

My body is at a point where continuing to keep it going would take drastic measures, painful ones that would include hundreds of pills a day and that is only if there are no problems with the procedures I would need. Physically I am weakened to the point that it really started to wreak havoc on my soul.

So now it is time to let go.

This will not be my final entry. Hospice service has just started, so you haven't heard the last from me on this side yet!

In the face of chronic illness, I did not lose a battle.

I won the war. I am whole. I don't have to constantly fight against a body trying very hard to die while I insist I would like to stay a moment longer. I do not have to devote another second to research regarding my conditions, no longer in and out of clinic and hospital...

...this illness didn't take me, and it never could.

Please don't let my illness take you either.

I am at peace. I am ready.

I will give you at least one last post before we say goodbye.

With much appreciation and love to all of my readers and followers.

Danielle Nicole.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

TPN, Emergencies, and Manners

The last week has been absolute chaos. Over the course of this week not only have I been very busy with activism within the community of Ferguson as well as planning meetings with a representative here in Jefferson City to ensure that those who are supporting the Brown family's loss are being heard by Missouri's capital...

...but my apartment became infested with bed bugs...again.

So, so gross. I actually had to catch this booger, put him in a plastic bag (and believe me, if you are on long term TPN, you are swimming in plastic ziplocks and other useful garbage organized, of course away from your functional supplies...) and scare the jeepers creepers out of the front office staff.

I kid you not, I had to go to that much trouble to "prove" I had an infestation before they would allow a proper investigation. Manhandling vermin was on my list of things to not ever do in life.

But it's done. And I survived.

This put me in an awkward position called my mom's house. Meaning, in order to have a clean and safe area to handle my line and spike my IV bags, I had to stay there. My mom's house isn't one of my childhood houses (we moved so many times it was actually quite humorous...); rather, it is my step father's house where my mom and youngest brother also live. I got the guest bedroom, complete with ridiculously luxurious sheets, thick carpeted floor perfect for ruining with my insanely sugary TPN mixture, and a solid oak steamer trunk that I had to somehow make a safe station for line care.

That was fun, because I couldn't do any of the normal things I would have done at home.

The following is a rough guide for travel with TPN and other sensitive needs.

(Since this was an emergency situation and I was very preoccupied with intense activism in a likely historical event, please forgive the low quality photos).

Your TPN needs outweigh your wants. All of them: In short, your suitcase is going to be filled with sterile supplies, bags of whatever mixtures you have, and other necessary equipment so that you can maintain cleanliness, sterility, and most of for everyone involved.

Upon finding a place to stay I made a mad dash to the fridge and my sterile supply chest. Here again I am going to accentuate the absolute necessity for keeping your sterile supplies separate from non sterile: in an emergency situation, you don't want to be running from one end of the room to the next trying to gather what is necessary for your impromptu "vacation".

I then dumped everything that was sterile into my little suitcase. I do not own more than one of these. Why would I? I don't have much and I rarely go anywhere.

(yes, I am aware that the hanger is not sterile...)

I know what you're thinking: "If I load all of this in my suitcase, where do I put my clothes? My laptop? My iPad? My crystal ball?.."

The answer is: you will have to leave some of that at home. Sorry. This is an emergency, remember? Your primary focus is safety. If your primary focus is entertainment...I am very concerned about your ability to handle your IV supplies all alone. Maybe consult a nursing agency to share the load, as you may be under more stress than you can handle.

For clothing, if you have read past posts you may gather that I have a ton of backpacks. This comes in handy right about now. Since I had bed bugs, all that I could take with me was whatever had just come from the dryer. High temperatures kill bed bugs, and throwing clothing and linens is the best way to ensure that these items are free of nits. 

I tossed three shirts and a pair of jeans in a backpack. That ONE BAG I did dedicate to items that aren't essential as well. This included five books (all of which I am reading), my laptop (as I still had a ton of work to do while out of my home), and I do believe that is it.

Safety First: Yours, and that of others: Next, I grabbed a few items I personally would feel uncomfortable not having in handling my line and IV solutions. These are not necessities universally, but I would strongly recommend that you also consider having a short list of items you would take with you to ensure your safety as well as that of others while you are out of the privacy of your home and gracing the presence of others. For me personally, this included my sharps bin, a canister of Sani-Cloth, my box of surgical masks, my bottle of hand sanitizer, and a box of vinyl gloves (I have developed sensitivity to nitrile gloves)

PLEASE make sure that you keep your sharps container closed when not in use. Also note that these smaller ones that are exchanged week to week are not child proof. There weren't any small children where I was, but this may or may not be an issue for you.

Afterthought Products: Here are a few items I would recommend taking with you when taking TPN along for the ride:

Freezer packs

I am unsure of other individual orders, but when I get my weekly TPN it is packed with these long lasting freezer packs to ensure that the TPN is still cold when it reaches your refrigerator. I save these and put them in my own freezer (make sure this is ok with your infusion company) "just in case". I am glad I did, as it was quite awhile between the time I had everything packed until I reached my mom's house.

Flushes, Alcohol pads, and Heparin (if applicable)


For items like these, while they may seem to be a dime a dozen and altogether not very remarkable, they are the unsung heroes of proper line care. If you think you grabbed enough of these before you left, then grab some more. You should really take with you more than you need, but not so much that it takes up too much space that is displaces other items. You will not have issues if you have more than you need, but I can gurantee that you will have issues if you run out of these. Normal saline flushes aren't normal household items, and if you run out it isn't as easy as running to the grocery to get more.

Syringe tip caps

These are useful since some of the caps to saline flushes have been changed. I use them if I have to disconnect TPN from my line for any reason. I have been instructed (and this is not Gospel, so please don't take it as such) to not pause my infusion due to infection risk and I have already been septic three times, and all three times were very...serious. These are sterile and screw easily on the tips of the Vygon Lectro-Spiral tubing.

Being A Respectful Guest: My mom is easily overwhelmed by medical junk, and would not appreciate if any of her furniture got ruined by industrial cleaner. That oak steamer trunk is what I had to use as my station, so I asked her if she had a clean tray that I could use that didn't have any kind of paint that could be taken off easily by caustic chemicals. My mother has very, very nice...everything. 

I was happy to see she had something that was ceramic. If you opt to use a tray as sort of a "sterile field" (and I use that term loosely in the case of spiking IV solutions, since it isn't technically a sterile procedure) make sure that you choose something that is ceramic, stoneware, or another type of material that will not rust or otherwise be eroded by strong chemicals

If you opt to borrow a tray for this purpose, please be sure to offer to clean it for your host after you are finished. Once something like this has been exposed to hospital grade germicide, it is no longer food safe as is. Wash is hot water with plenty of liquid dish detergent. Ceramic isn't dishwasher safe.

Your host's refrigerator is typically where they keep their food. When you come over, please make sure that your supplies don't take up unecessary room in their space or otherwise encroach on their boundaries. While you must ensure your safety, you also must do your part in ensuring theirs as well. For potentially sensitive procedures, please do them in a quiet and private area so that you can focus and so they don't have to watch something potentially scary. Now is not the time to preach tolerance for "special needs". Save that for later.

Coat racks work just find as IV poles if you choose to have your bag suspended during the spiking process. Refrain from bringing an IV pole unless it is one that is easily portable.

Above all, make the most out of a crappy situation. I stayed with my family, so I got to catch up, chat with my mom, spend some time with my brother, and be somewhere semi relaxing as I tried to control strong emotions regarding a controversial event.

Be smart. Be safe. And have fun.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Are Michael Brown

Note: This post is "off topic" as far as chronic illness goes. 
But I have to write this, if only for my own sanity. 

This morning I wandered down to the common area, which is nothing unusual.

I was met with a staff member, a young mother of three children. My interest in obtaining medication and lying back down (I've been sick for a few days...more so than usual) was abated however, when she asked me if I'd seen the news.

I told her I had not. I'd parted with technology for a few weeks save for brief moments.

Her voice became higher pitch. This mother of three started to speak of a scenario that doesn't happen in Missouri. One where a white cop shoots a black teen for no reason other than his own ego. I made almost to correct her, as this is what happened in Florida with Trevon Martin last summer.

But before I could attempt to rationalize this to her (more so for myself, as this kind of evil just...can't happen so close to home), she detailed another cop within the same street arrested a woman and -- as camera shows -- robbed her.

He took her wallet, dumped the money out on the sidewalk, can tossed the wallet away. As if in this act he could wipe her entire existence even from where she stood.

 Members of the community, in an outrage, seized the town, looting material goods to symbolize their hatred toward the clean image of a nation that is so unfathomably riddled with dirty cops.

And after looking away from the computer, I looked at this staff member. She is two years younger than me at age 25. And she has two little boys who are biracial.

Could this happen one day to someone I genuinely care about?

Now that is the image I saw before coming back to my apartment, where I proceeded to vomit. And shriek.

We have learned nothing as a people. It is known that those who do not draw wisdom from history are doomed to repeat, and in this case one could easily recall the Trevon Martin case in Florida in 2013.

But this is even far more serious. This murder symbolizes the police's contempt for those who do not bow to orders, especially those who are of dark skin. Not only that, but the fact that this happened in broad daylight, on a busy street, in a lackadaisical manner (video footage is available all over the Internet)...the police intend and expect to get away with it.

The civil rights so valiantly fought for by those such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even Ruby Bridges are being trampled upon...just because an"officer" (I will not humor this animal the title as such) in uniform became irate when an 18 year old young man wouldn't get out of the street when ordered to.

A precedent is being sent that if you disregard an out of line officer barking menacing, needless orders or  attempt to evade an unnecessary pursuit, then that officer has a right to take your life.

Especially if you are a young black man.

When civil rights in this country are trampled upon after so much went into enacting them into law, how dare we be surprised when what follows is civil disobedience? If anything this should have happened sooner. If anything, the numerous times that law enforcement and the judicial system has abused their power should have been called to task long, long ago.

I do not want to be citizen of a nation where we teach the horrors of the holocaust, but bring concentration camps to other countries (Guantanamo Bay) to imprison their own inhabitants.

I do not live in a time where lynching someone for the color of their skin in fine, and I do refuse to sit back in silence as it becomes somewhat of a fad for law enforcement to repeat this practice, only this time using a gun in favor of a rope.

I will not pledge my allegiance to flag that represents itself to be One Nation Indivisible when this in fact we are so divisive that we are just as Rome, almost ready for the fall.

Dr. King had a dream. Do remember what it was? He dreamed that one day his four little children would one day live in a nation where they weren't judged upon the color of their skin, but of the content of their character.

He gave is life for that dream. We devote one measly day in January to this man and his dream, in a brash declaration that we have achieved.

We have so very far to go, and -- crestfallen -- I daresay we may never arrive. And while I didn't ever expect perfection or even what could be called real "equality", I NEVER EXPECTED THIS TO BE THE NATION I INHERITED.

The demonstrators who took part in their protest collectively cried out "We Are Michael Brown". This was because we are now in a time once again of "us" versus "them". And the lines of "us" and "them" are rather hazy, for this is not an issue that is black or white; rather, it is a pandemic of the Human Condition where we are called to stand for what is right...but heretofore we figured it was ok to sit, for there must be enough on their feet already.

But now, it is a time to put the words of the most poignant speeches we claim be inspired by into action:

To the ones who have looked upon two police cruisers tailing one ghetto car containing one sixteen year old kid who wasn't wearing a seatbelt and shook our heads in disbelief,

To the ones who cry out in visceral pain when hearing the term "water boarding"

To the ones who are avid reader's of Orwell's work and have been shuddering at the likeness this time has with 1984

To the ones who are afraid to send their children to school

To all of those who are parents who have lost their sons

To all growing weary of a world we struggle to find our voices only to not be heard

To the ones who are committed to making history, because enough is enough;

We are Michael Brown.

Expect Us.

"And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Nego spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God almighty we are free at last!"
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"I Have A Dream" at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

HPN Awareness Week 2014: My Story (2014)

I open my eyes, and there is my friend Barb. She's on my couch and I am across the room in my nest.
My nest is so comfortable that I haven't left it all day.

At all.

To do anything.

I'm unsure of what the occsasion was for her to drop by, but I was positively delighted! We had so much to cover, much to discuss.

January is ending and the sun is setting. My speech is becoming more and more rapid, but I trail off, exasperated by my own words. They keep spinning in circles, and I can't seem to capture the "perfect" word needed for a particular sentence.

Barb gently offers to take me to the ER. My eyes shut, for I know I need medical attention. I'm manic and boardering insanity, and I cannot transfer to my wheelchair at all.

I open my eyes, and there is my friend Barb. She's in the other room. She has helped me out of my very comfortable nest, and I realize that I am being met with which shoes to wear. I am flustered because I cannot find the right boots.

Somehow in our lengthy, enjoyable conversation I agreed to go to the ER, as long as she would stay with me. In the van, I end up closing my eyes again. The winter stars are too many to count and they intimidate me.

I open my eyes, and there is my friend Barb. She sitting next to me on a stool while I've camped out on a cot. We can't get an IV to hold for two hours. Finally, a baby canulla is placed, I get meds, fluids start...then the IV goes bad.

This goes on for hours. There is dark and Barb eventually leaves. She will be back.

She always comes back.

I open my eyes. Another IV goes bad. Labs indicate that I am critically ill and suffering severe kwashiorkor (starvation).

I open my eyes. I have a PICC line.

I open my eyes. I have a line in my neck.

I open my eyes. I'm on oxygen.

Code 1000. Code Blue.

Father God, please carry me through this...

I open my eyes. The sun is rising. I am home and thankful to be alive.


My experience with TPN is rather...unique.

In the spring of 2013 I was put on it for a very short time. The result was inconclusive: I had contracted a line infection on my still new dual lumen Hickman catheter and became septic as a result. I spent that hospital stay on PPN, and since my gut had seemingly woken up we also did jejunal feedings and oral intake at the same time. I was so undernourished that I needed everything I could get.

But by the fall of 2013 I was in "failure to thrive" category for my height and weight. J tube had escaped my abdominal wall and experimental G tube feeding was getting us nowhere. We first discussed switching to a G/J tube (stomach tube that can drain secretion that is normally vomited while still providing nutrients and medications directly to the small bowel, where most of our digestion occurs), but no sooner had we made plans to order in the AMT G-Jet I was admitted for paralytic ileus.

Because there was so much distention as opposed to the times where there is a mass of stool (which also lands me in hospital at times), there was more concern about even continuing to use my gut. I was sent home after a two week stay so I could enjoy Christmas with my family.

January was difficult. I was only home a few times that whole month, which included moving my G tube site to a better location for draining my non functioning stomach and re-inserting a J tube. Our sincere hope was that this system would help me tolerate my tube feedings with little discomfort.

At first I was quite alright...or so I thought. But I was hospitalized over and over for critically low labs, and after being readmitted on an emergent basis following a discharge that was less that three days prior we had the TPN discussion.

Because of the pseudo-obstructions that prevent me from maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte levels and cause me to starve by clinical standards among other observations intestinal failure (IF) was added to my diagnosis list.

Since IF also stands with gastrointestinal co-morbidities, the more proper term is GI failure.

There was some horrible things that happened that admission, the most prominent being yet another episode of sepsis. This scared the hell out of everyone. In all honesty the person who probably was least concerned was me. I was far too ill to grasp what was happening to me, and most of my memories are comprised of the little I can recall along with what family and friends told me they witness and heard. I feared that this would serve as Omen -- that I would go home and one day simply not wake up.

But that did not happen.

Instead, I came home and began to fall in sync with the rhythm of Life. My words and awareness of surrounds came back.

Since starting TPN I have gained some much needed weight and have really started to seriously pursue options such as attending university and doing more and varied forms of writing. Expanding my horizons has become a practice that I not only enjoy, but rather celebrate.

There are still bumpy times. HPN means that I can get my life saving nutrition therapy here at home, and I do not live in a hospital or care facility. It is not a cure for IF or any of my other challenges.

Instead, it keeps me on this earth just a little longer, day by day, allowing me to passionately enjoy small moments a take bigger risks.

Because that's truly what life is about.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Medicaid Expansion -- Denied (An Open Letter)

To our nation's lawmakers,

My name is Danielle Nicole, I am 27 years old and a concerned Missouri constituent. Over the course of my lifetime I have been ill and dealing with the intimidating, faceless entity that is "healthcare insurance" for thirteen years, specifically eleven years of it I have been handling it very much alone.

Because for those eleven years I have been on Missouri MC Plus, or as is now called MoHealthNet children's waiver. This puts me in an awkward position, as I am 27 years of age and receiving children's services. This very much limits my coverage as it stands: many age appropriate physicians will not see me, and all attempts to ameliorate these problems by me to the DFS office have been fruitless.

What's more astounding, and quite frankly cruel, is that in Missouri had an opportunity -- for the first time in three years -- to undo Jay Nixon's damage from the thousands of dollars cut from the Medicaid program by offering an expansion. One of the most exciting? Adding a benefit for dental care for adults. That's right. Medicaid recipients over the age of 19 have absolutely NO ACCESS to dental care, and haven't for the last twenty years at least. What also would have been included were less steep spend downs and a wider variety of therapies covered, such as alternative therapies for pain including (drug free) biofeedback among others.

In my lifetime, I have lost many friends due to various illnesses that ravaged their bodies and eventually stole their lives. The truly ugly thing about these losses? Not a single one of these persons were terminally ill. Rather, they were victims of a broken system: insurance refusal to pay for much needed extended hospitalizations for acute renal failure (I was inpatient with a thirteen year old boy who died because he couldn't access dialysis in wouldn't cover), electrolyte imbalance (refusal to admit a friend who I roomed with frequently in hospital. This girl died of cardiac arrest because -- while key labs were critically low -- her Medicaid wouldn't allow for IV replacement of these electrolytes. Wasn't seen as "serious enough"), and another friend who wasn't chronically sick, but still needed health insurance (for which he didn't qualify for). '

His life ended because the system willfully withheld care.

On a personal level, I have also had many issues with insurance not covering needed services. But what hits me more personally is knowing people that I know have died because our congress -- our governor -- would rather with hold those precious dollars for other programs that suit their own interests.

Most offensively? Not a single senator responded to my emails concerning my experiences as an advocate and the possible money saved in the long run by making care more comprehensive. How many lives could be spared just by making medical intervention more accessible.

Here is my request -- my plea:

Please stop attempting to play God with the lives of other human beings. Your special interests and your choices of where to allocate government dollars is making you an accomplice to manslaughter of someone's father, someone's sister, someone's hero.

You are -- essentially -- telling someone's mother that their child's life is not worth saving. You are also, right now, challenging an advocate (me) to up do even more and branching out, joining forces with other like minded individuals to stand up and declare that THIS IS WRONG. To educate anyone who will listen and encourage anyone that is so moved to take part in a movement to stop further tragedies that will come of your hand.

There are victims. There are survivors.
There are real life monsters.

And then there are warriors.

My prayer is that you think on these things. I challenge you to imagine for one second that you were in any of our positions...because you could be in as little as a sundown. One careless step. Or even a lost job.

All human lives are valuable, regardless of poor choices or socioeconomic background. Please, I implore you to stop putting price tags on our rights.

God Bless,

Danielle Nicole.

Mater Lingua

Due to a recent increase in overseas traffic I decided to add the Google Translate bar.

Because English isn't the only language out there.

Thank you for the feedback and your support.

♥ Danielle Nicole

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thought Driven Illness: July

My eyes flutter open.
I'm facing the window, gazing at the parking lot and witnessing the burning hues of sundown. Trees cast their shadows, showing that their presence serve as comfort to us: they were here long before us and keep all the secrets of this land.

I blink once, twice...a gentle stream of tears tracing down my face. My window is closed from whatever wind could gently rustle through my hair; depriving myself of the symphonic masterpiece coming from grasshoppers and shouts of excited children alike.

I'm being pulled underground by the hand of Madness.

And I'm not even sure if I care.


The above experience occurred last week.

This was not a memory of old, not a feeling I battled so long ago that I can say with confidence that this corner of the mind hasn't been inhabited by me so very long ago.

Stressful events from the last year had finally caught up with me. Many a friend or acquaintance has wondered aloud as to how I appear "so strong" in the face of life altering changes that have seen to pummel me over and over again.

How I seem to handle traumatic events with such grace.

Many a time I have corrected ones who seem amazed at the "endless" supply of "strength" I possess. In all honesty I cling to the wisdom and direction of the God that I worship. He's never, ever been one to disappoint and has always seen me through to the other side of these raging storms.

Recently I was hit with a barrage of misfortune, and in its wake had left me with crippling feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and a false conviction that not only would things never be the same, but that the state of my own broken heart would be what took me from this life in the very end.

I cannot even begin to explain the state that I was in...not but two weeks ago. An intruder on my life had found his way into my mind, and his presence created an unbearable weight on my back. This Shadow Man wasted no time in making sure that I be separated from any form of communication from others so as to seek help for this season. He stole my words, my dreams, my own sense of hope.

And I lost my mind.

One of the most startling manifestations of this violation were the physical changes that started to take place. I began to have very strange symptoms that seemed to have no end. I just got out of the hospital yesterday after an eight day stay to re-stabilize me and get curtail some of the ravaging symptoms to calm and now are in process of slowly stopping.

Here are some of the following that I am dealing with and am getting help to keep under control:

  • Severe panic attacks (up to 4/day) with heart rate up in the 140-160bpm range
  • Fever
  • Spasm of the diaphragm
  • Black outs/brown outs
  • Tics (involuntary jerking of the torso, face, and legs)
  • Inability to form coherent sentences
  • Eczema breakouts of three different varieties
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Suicidal ideation

(lichen simplex chronicus)

(seborrhoeic dermatitis)

(lichen simplex post clobetasol and a few episodes of Charlie The Unicorn)

(It's funny, I promise)

From the end of June until last week I had not left my apartment at all. I had also not spoken to most of my friends, whether away from screen or on screen. I began to believe that no one wanted anything to do with me (yes, I honestly believed this). My feelings of worthlessness intensified because for awhile I was unable to write (hence why this blog hasn't seen a lot of updates recently).

There was no external event that caused all of this to happen. The root of all of this was choosing not to face my circumstances for what they really are. As a result, I became consumed with what looked like a severe bacterial infection, and even my own doctor thought that I was suffering from MRSA (a permanent hospital acquired infection) and was very concerned about the safety of my central line (don't worry, I'm not and my line is absolutely fine).

The driving force behind all of this though? A choice to neglect self care and pushing my loved ones away.

In other words, I suffered needlessly based upon my own actions. By definition, this would be categorized as self harm. This brings me back to another point: at what point do elements of grief and depression stop being pathology and become a willful choice to become content with misery?

As you can imagine, as these problems intensified I became convinced that the end of my life was very near indeed. Many that know me had even remarked that my voice had become flat; monotone. Devoid of thought and purpose, just waiting to cease to exist.

Due to the severity of depressive symptoms, I became covered in lesions from head to foot. My immune system also began to suffer and I started to have multiple nose bleeds per day, my bones ached in a way that I had never experienced before, even at my lowest weights. I slept all of the time and many times was not even roused by someone shouting my name multiple times at high volume.

I had ceased to care.

To own up to my responsibility, the conclusion that I personally have drawn is that this last bout of illness was entirely self inflicted. It didn't look that way to the outside and still doesn't, but in order to make sense of what recovery from this has been looking like (i.e.: differing behavior modification changes) one would have to also conclude that if the mending of these wounds has come from within, then the etiology of this flare also must have had to come from within.

However, I do not blame no chastise myself. If I chose to do so, then there would be no chance for bouncing back from this particular hiccup in my path to Wellness. Instead, I have chosen to make several small changes in order to get back on track:

  • Talk to at least two people per day
  • Spend more time doing things I enjoy, not just what is "productive"
  • Make room for spontaneity
  • Laugh. Daily.
  • Hug somebody.
  • Appreciate where I have been.
  • Look forward with hope as to what's up ahead.
  • Indulge in Hope

(a drawing for me by a small child: this is what is meaningful to me. What's meaningful to you?)

I'm not alone in this phenomena of one's own thoughts driving their bodies into a state of profound -- albeit abbreviated -- aggressive flare.

And neither are you.