One year ago I was lying in a hospital bed in the ICU of Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley. I had a tube in my throat, doctors and nurses and machines working to keep me alive. I had gone to the hospital a few days earlier not being able to breathe, with blue lips, exhausted to the core, and thinking they’d fix me up and send me home. I didn’t know how sick I really was. As most of you know, and I found out when I woke up, I had double pneumonia, H1N1, and a staph infection. I’ve never been so sick in my life. When I woke up eight days after they put me on the ventilator, it was to a chorus of voices telling me how much they loved me, how glad they were I was here, and how much I meant to them. At the time I thought you all were nuts. I thought I’d taken a slightly longer nap than I expected. You were all very kind and put up with my distorted memory until I sorted myself out.
I remember those days in the hospital afterwards when they transferred me to general care and recovery. I felt like I was glowing. I felt like the world was glowing. Honestly there were no words then and there’s still no words now for what it felt like except maybe energized and that I felt better than I had in so very very long. I remember having a million ideas in that first week. Dolls I wanted to make and whole bunch of rituals I wanted to do and companies I wanted to start. I don’t even remember half the things that I was dreaming up at the time. I was convinced I would remember everything, so I didn’t write anything down which of course means I remember next to none of the specifics. I felt like I could do anything. It was like I was finally impervious again. It seems strange to say that given what I had been through, but there you go.
Coming home from the hospital was a shock. I’d heard everyone say it can take a really long time to recover from the pneumonia. And everyone trying to figure out how the pneumonia and everything else would combine for recovery. But let’s face it this is me, and I am not the most patient person. Even having a chronic illness, I’m only a little more patient than I was a few years ago. So when a month dragged to three months, dragged to six months, I was shocked and scared.
This last year has been frightening in a lot of ways. It took six months to get a clean lung x-ray. It took as long if not longer to even begin to feel healthy and then once I did I got hit with other things. My body reacted to all of the mold and the dust we released when we cleaned the house. That set off a two or three month journey of a whole other set of problems. It wasn’t until a month ago I felt really clearheaded and clear-chested for the first time a year. And then I got a cold LOL. On the plus side getting that cold showed me that I wasn’t going to go back to the hospital. Because the truth is when winter set in this year the fear came with it. The fear that it would happen all over again. That I’d end up right back where I was last March- in the hospital on a machine- not even knowing that I was fighting for my life. Somehow getting that cold showed me that I could survive this winter and I have.
At 4 AM on March 9, 2011 the doctors of Alta Bates medical Center intubated me. At 4 AM on March 9, 2012 I was asleep in my own bed. I was a little ragged around the edges but I was home and I was safe and that was fantastic.
There’s a part of me that still scared, I’m thinking that’s probably normal. But along with the exhaustion and the slow recovery, this year has been about stretching my wings and proving to myself that I can live my life even when I’m afraid. You guys know I’m not one to just sit around and do nothing it’s gotten me into trouble and a whole lot of fun on occasion. And I refuse to let this be any different. I’m slowly getting back to the ceramics studio, I’ve been writing a lot and I’m excited to see where that takes me, and a friend is encouraging me to pick up the threads of my passion for ritual.
Last year my coven came to me while I was in the hospital and we celebrated Ostara in my hospital room with chocolate bunnies and little stuffed squirrels and songs. It was one of the best spring equinox celebrations I’ve ever had -surrounded by so much love. This year I’m home and I am hosting Ostara- with a thoroughly silly ritual involving peeps, chocolate bunnies, and Easter baskets. But there’s one more thing I want to do to celebrate spring equinox, life, and most especially my LifeDay – the day the pneumonia didn’t win- I want to do something to help other people who don’t have all the amazing benefits in their life that I have.
The month before I went into the hospital, I was introduced to an incredible organization called charity: water. “charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.” To celebrate my LifeDay I set up a campaign with charity: water to raise money to help fund their projects. I would love it if folks would join me with a with a donation – no matter how big or small because freshwater makes all the difference in the world. You can find out more information about charity: water and my LifeDay celebration campaign here: http://mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=23020
I know I haven’t always said it throughout the course of this year, sometimes being sick is just so damn distracting, but I’m incredibly grateful to each of you for being in my life. You make me smile, you hold my hand, you listen to me when I need to vent, you point out the flaws in my theories when needed, you drive me to the doctors, you watch ridiculous television and movies with me, you share your lives with me. No matter where you are, no matter if we’ve met in real life or we’ve only ever met online, if it’s been years since we’ve talked or seen each other, or you were over at the house just yesterday-know that I love you and I am so thankful that you were there for me a year ago and you are still here for me today.
All my love and gratitude,