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in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Medical Circus

I’ve been away at the circus a few days this week – the “medical circus” that is. It was quite scary actually. I had been in the ER 5 days before with a fever. Blood work did not indicate an infection, so they determined it was probably a virus. I was released. A couple of days later I started feeling better. And then Sunday another fever crept up and up to 100.4. At 8pm I got a call from the ER saying that the blood culture they did had come back positive for bacteria in the blood, and I must get back to the ER immediately because I could be septic, especially since I had a fever again. When I got to the ER the triage nurse used one of those ear thermometer machines and it said 98.4, I said no way. She was not amused. You’re not supposed to question a machine’s readings evidently. By the time I got back to an exam room my temp was 101.9 - and all the alarm bells went off – well not exactly. It took 2 hours before they put an IV in, or do any of the repeat bloodwork. And of course a repeat chest x-ray and ekg – just in case. I thought - this is going to be a lonnnnggggg night. I didn’t know how long. The ER doctor came in and said I would be admitted. I was just about to be taken to a room around 2am when she came back in and said: We actually think you have an Urinary Tract Infection. My reply: And I have to be admitted for that!? She nodded, probably because of my long medical history, and only one good kidney, and still that possibility of blood bacteria. So down the halls of the circus tent we went…

I am “allergic” to a lot of antibiotics, so I’m not only an enigma with this fever of unknown origin, I am difficult patient to treat. They can’t just throw the “usual” at me and send me out the door. And since the blood culture didn’t make it clear what bacteria they were treating, they weren’t sure what antibiotic on my short list to try. Nothing like playing Russian Roulette with antibiotics… Anxiety arose as I felt the juggling act begin.

After arriving in my hospital room I underwent a rather lengthy intake interview with the nurse who asked all kinds of silly questions, like – are you feeling neglected? My husband is sitting there. It’s nearing 3am. He needs to get home and get sleep. I just laughed and said are you kidding? She seriously looked at me and said no, as she continued to read the silly questions from her computerized list.

The Infectious Disease doctor came to see me during daylight hours. He evidently doesn’t like the night circus. I understand… He seemed like one of the only sane ones there. He said that if a blood culture doesn’t grow any bacteria in 3 days, and comes back positive after 5 days, then it’s usually a contaminated specimen. It would have been nice if the ER people knew that before they hit the alarm bell. And yet, I was obviously still very sick. He wasn’t convinced that it was “just” a UTI. He suggested other things and diagnostic tests ensued – more juggling.

My nurse for the day came to my room that first morning looking worse than I felt, and was not miss congeniality. Nurses have become more like automated specialized technicians, pushing around their computerized charting system on wheels and dispensing meds – looking a little like robots in a sci-fi flick. She came in, wrote her name on the white board and turned to leave the room without saying a word. Hello! I said, I have a question please. You have to catch these nurses when you can. I needed to know how to get a hold of registration to give them my insurance information – to make sure my admission had been authorized. I was curtly told that she knew nothing about insurance, that she had nothing to do with insurance. I don’t recall that that was my question, but hey, it was 7am and she looked like she’d been up for several days, so maybe her brain switch wasn’t on yet. I mumbled something unkind under my breath as she left the room. The circus lasted 3 days, like an unpleasant dream. I met a lot of interesting characters in the dream. Some attentive, competent, compassionate and caring, and one with a big heart, who engaged, made eye contact, and genuinely liked what she was doing. Ah – there’s always one.

It was all very surreal. On the one hand it seemed very real - physical body in crisis. On the other, it was like it wasn’t really happening, like I was just floating through it all. But, because of being fearful of the “medical circus,” I contracted into the fear dream. It was automatic. I was not thinking: “I am BEingness just having this experience,” or blissfully sensing BEingness, stepping back from the story that was taking place. No, it was just a head long dive into madness – contracting into fear and separation. It was soooo automatic. Until the third day.

Before I found out I was to be discharged that afternoon, even though still feeling quite ill – actually worse than when I went in - probably due to the antibiotics - I managed a wonderful “window sit” in my room. Wish I had been able to get a picture of my view: another wing of the hospital with strange looking architecture. Angled walls that protruded outwards in stair step fashion with small square windows and round vents on one side that let the light through at night – which was actually strangely soothing; little openings where the Light got through to remind me It was still there, even in the darkness. And if I put my chair close up to the window, leaned on the window sill and looked west, I could see the mountains against the back drop of a beautiful blue sky and puffy white clouds. Ah - there’s the sanity. I recognized it… I breathed it in, and tried to move into what the body was feeling, to just be with it, rather than fearing it. I sat with the fear in my gut and its constriction – with the whole body laboring under illness - trying to feel the space of Stillness beyond/within it all. For just a brief moment I felt it and the body relaxed… A brief respite from the circus…

Life in a body. :)


Photo: Close up of Glass Blown Ball


  1. eek! hope you are on the mend and that the medical issues got solved?? I know some about this fear and that it is provoked by some sanity! The feeling that those at the rudder are steering without really seeing where they're going and too busy to notice sometimes.

    wishing you healing and much metta

  2. So sorry you've been having this on-going ordeal for many days now, Christine. Wishing you days of wellness soon, a solutions to the problems and peace of mind, if not body too. ;o) Thinking of you and sending good vibes your way. ((HUGS)

  3. ZDS ~ Yes, am improving each day, which is encouraging! :) I figured you could relate to the fear and the dynamics of the medical system :) Am not sure I understand your second sentence about the fear being "provoked" by sanity?

  4. Tracy ~ Thank you for your well wishes and vibes. Am improving on all levels. Sometimes Life in this body is a little challenging :)

  5. Dearest Christine,
    OMG...I hope you are feeling better. May you deeply rest in the arms of Light.

  6. Dear L. Yes, woke up feeling better this morning. Also doing better at resting deeply, finding the Flow ~ ~ ~
    Love and Light - C

  7. Just to explain that comment, meaning that sometimes fear serves as a warning. It is not all bad as I sometimes imagine. Fear may arise in response to someone else's lack of attention to the facts. Then we need to act on it (which is what it sounds like you did) Does that make sense?

  8. ZDS ~ Yes, I completely get this. Fear is definitely a signal at times that I *wish* I had payed attention to instead of just dismissing it as fear - as just being my anxious self...

    Thank you for the clarification! :)

  9. I followed you over from zendot studio and am so sorry to read you've been going through such difficult stuff. I absolutely loved reading about your 'window sit' though. You managed to find a moment of stillness and peace in the midst of the circus.

  10. Hello Anna! Welcome... Yes, really the 'window sit' experience is really the whole point, not the 'story' of the difficulties, but to find that deep inner Stillness amidst the chaos and to rest there; to keep coming back to that space of Awareness that is the backdrop for everything that happens, including illness. As I recover at home I'm still bringing my awareness to that space of Stillness that is our Essence and finding peace and harmony there. Thank you for commenting on that! Christine

  11. Our health care system is such a broken mess! I so hope you are feeling better now in the peace of your own home... "standing at the still point, in the hush of the Mystery."

  12. Kris ~ Thank you for the well wishes and the quote reminding me that Stillness is our refuge! Can't even remember where I posted that!

    Body does what body does. Apparently it's a combination of things, so am not completely through it all... But it's definitely more conducive to healing being at home...

    With gratitude... C

  13. Christine, the quote is from your poem at the top of this page. I'm quite taken with the whole poem! This morning I noticed that I avoid that "Stillness" — primarily out of fear. Takes me quite a while to work thru that. And I'm not sure I ever get to the bottom of it...

  14. Wow Kris ~ right in front of my face! :) Thanks for pointing to it. Sometimes it takes "fresh eyes." :) The poem was written in either Dec 2010 or Jan 2011 - when I was spending more time in deep "Stillness." How easily I forget/avoid this "Stillness" too - especially lately, especially when the body is ill I become fixated on the body. I realized this weekend that I do not spend enough time in the depths of "Stillness." So my practice at the moment is to spend more time basking in the embrace of Stillness...

    Thank you! C


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