Saturday, July 31, 2010

On my way home:

Certain things are returning to normal.

Dropped by the Seattle Weekly offices late yesterday afternoon to turn in the updated freelancer contract. I'm completing my newest essay for The Nervous Breakdown right now and I received another assignment from Nerve that's due soon and all of this pleases me tremendously. I've always derived great joy from my work and know how lucky I am to say it and mean it.

Feel disoriented and dislocated most of the time, though, and it's compounded by those who want this to be something it's not. And, of course, by the fact I don't leave the house unless I'm properly dressed and when I'm out with others I say reasonably funny things and present an approximation of a person who doesn't know irrefutably that part of her is dead, too.

But the writing is going very well and, as I said, I really can't emphasize how grateful I am. The rest will follow eventually, I know.

From top to bottom:

After I left the Seattle Weekly offices and started heading northeast, I saw this poor creature on 1st Ave. and Pike in front of Pike Place Market. As Seattleites know but others might not, this is one of the city's most populated intersections, with constant, dense traffic and ceaseless pedestrians. The horse seemed weary and crushed. I loathe these companies: animals shouldn't be ridden on city streets.

Free skates offered on Harrison in between Belmont and Summit. Bemused by the sign's text message spelling ("sk8s").

A few yards further down the hill on Harrison, an absolutely stunning flower. One of my guy friends once teased me the reason he loves me is, "You're not one of those girls who knows all the names of plants and makes a big deal out of it." Which is true, though in this case I wish it weren't. A gorgeous creation simply springing from the ground.


Anna Dremousis said...

Litsa, Dad says the pictured "flower" is an over-ripe artichoke...he knows these things. Love, Mom

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Hooray! Thanks to both of you for clearing that up. And now that you mention it, the bulb part looks quite artichoke-like. Divine that such a common plant can be so beautiful. Love, Litz

Diane said...

It reminds me of a Scottish thistle. But it probably isn't.

Congrats on the writing going so well — Nerve and TNB are both so great, and I'm sure your pieces will be, too. (And fingers crossed for you for the rest.)

ps: Just read your post about your dumbass ob/gyn and am speechless. The doc should pay YOU.

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Diane, thanks so much! And you know what a huge admirer I am of your work, too. (Seriously, everyone, read Diane Shipley. You'll thank me.)

Re the OB/GYN, I just had another conversation about that the other day, where a female friend brought up she couldn't believe a doctor could be *so clueless*. Mind-boggling, isn't it?

And thanks so much for your kind wishes, Diane. Deeply appreciated.

Diane said...

Aw, thanks Litsa! That's so kind, and means a lot.

It really is incredible re: your doctor, although spending 4 yrs searching for a CFIDS/CFS/ME diagnosis meant doctors said some amazing things to me (and not in a good way!) so you'd think I wouldn't be surprised. And yet, there's always someone willing to be even more clueless, or clueless in some whole new way, isn't there?

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Holy fuck! I'm *so* sorry you went four years w/out a diagnosis. I went nine months w/out one and it seemed interminably long.

And, yeah, you're right: we hear some truly batshit things from certain doctors. I've found that's changed dramatically in the past decade or so: most of my doctors and massage therapists completely understand how pernicious CFIDS/CFS/ME is. My internist, particularly, is an incredible diagnostician and deeply caring. My OB-GYN is good w/ "the area", shall we say, but can't integrate individual symptoms in w/ the whole. Really hope your health is as steady as possible, Diane. And I like that you're another writer who is open about this.

Diane said...

Thanks Litsa, I find you an inspiration in that regard to be honest. :) It's taken me a long time to be open about my health problems because I really internalised the stigma I experienced (from doctors and so-called friends, plus random people I met), but I'm finding out that people are less shocked than I thought they would be, and it seems to help other people when I write honestly, so I keep working on it...

In the end, I was diagnosed by a non-NHS GP who has the condition himself and is reasonably functional, and he's really understanding and compassionate, if not always as gung ho as I'd like. I will not allow him to retire ;) The NHS is still not sure there's anything wrong with me but I think they're better with new M.E patients now. (Because I had clinical depression, they wanted to blame that for my exhaustion, brain fog, inability to concentrate etc etc. But it never quite made sense...)

Last time I saw my nice doc he was saying how ridiculous it is that medicine is taught in such specific delineated ways — as if the throat isn't connected to the stomach, to the bowel, to the uterus (well, kinda) etc.

My health isn't too good these days, but I'm working on that, too. There's always hope, right? (Or the hope of hope, at least.)

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Ah, thanks so much, Diane. What a gigantic and meaningful compliment.

And you and your nice doc are right: it's ridiculous medicine is taught, as you put it, in such specific delineated ways. Illogical and scientifically specious.

Susan Sontag wrote about this in Illness as Metaphor, but essentially, each new physical illness is at first dismissed--as she writes, TB was thought to be the sign of a "weak personality" until the advent of the microscope that allowed scientists to discover the bacterial infection that causes TB--and then later its etiology is borne out. As I'm sure you know, the same thing happened w/ MS: it was thought to be psychosomatic and/or allergy until the findings re the myelin sheath. (Doubling back, mental illness is, of course, a form of physical illness, too, but it's useful to make a distinction here w/out ascribing stigma to either.)

I agree w/ you: there's reason to remain hopeful. I've spoken at length w/ an immunologist as John Hopkins who very much believes the XMRV retrovirus, paired w/ the genetic markers the Centers for Disease Control isolated four years ago, will be found to be the culprit. I.e. that the genetic predisposition and the trigger must be present for CFIDS/CFS/ME to result. Whether or not this is the case (based on everything I've read, my own experiences and those I know who also have this, I'm inclined to think she's right), it's invigorating that progress continues to be made.

In the meantime, we stay informed, take care of our health, and keep writing no matter what.

All my very best, Diane! Wishing you great things!


Diane said...

Thank you, Litsa! And for your lovely comment on the TNB site, too — I actually submitted something last week (or an idea for something, anyway). *crosses fingers*

But regardless of commissions, "Keep writing no matter what" sounds like a great life motto to me. :)

"Susan Sontag wrote about this in Illness as Metaphor, but essentially, each new physical illness is at first dismissed."

Yes! I haven't read that (yet) but I have read about it before — interesting/depressing how human nature is so predictable! And yes, I know MS was dismissed for a long time (and that diagnosis used to be — get this for scientific — if you felt faint after a hot bath...)

So ME/CFIDS/CFS is bound to be taken more seriously at some point. I just hope it's soon...

Litsa Dremousis: said...

Hooray! I'm glad you submitted to TNB: I think you'd be a great fit there.

Definitely track down the Sontag book when you get a chance. (And it's super-short, too. Which is kinda convenient if you're more symptomatic when you're reading it.)

Re CFIDS/CFS/ME being taken more seriously, I really believe it's shifting. Maybe this is b/c I've had it nearly two decades and I remember when I was in a wheelchair and having doctors tell me it was b/c I worked w/ domestic violence victims and wrote at night. (What the fuck? Again, how is that remotely logical?) Now, like I've said, most of my clinicians (w/ the exception of my OB/GYN, who believes me, but still doesn't understand the illness' severity) are really well informed.

I firmly believe we're on the cusp of a diagnostic test (as opposed to a diagnosis of exclusion) and, fairly soon, a reliable treatment.

More very soon, Diane! Again, *so* glad you submitted to TNB!

Diane said...

Wow, I can't believe doctors said that to you! Although I've heard of people saying all kinds of things re CFIDS... sigh.

Thanks so much for your kind encouragement, Litsa. It means a lot.