The funny thing is that it mostly happened in Burbank. Of all the places on earth to see the face of God, Burbank, California is the least impressive. It’s like getting married in a parking lot. But the truth is, as I didn’t die and entered this new and complicated chapter of my life, the window to the other side loomed over my head for weeks, always half-open.
It was May 2022, and soon, when the weirdness began. My partner of three years just ended things and drove to New York, which may have been the dark side of Mars. I moved into North’s tiny Hollywood apartment and walked my roommate’s dog so I could keep the rent down. The heat wave continued. Also, my therapist recently closed her practice. I wrote it down as frustration.
But the symptoms persisted and new symptoms appeared. My favorite is the complete inability to hold my pee. Tired of running to the bathroom every 15 minutes, I went to the doctor and turned in my laundry list. He prescribed a potassium supplement and a daily tonic, as well as a new therapist.Losing his partner was hard, he said. My mind was playing tricks on my body.
He is not the first physician to attribute physical ailments to mental suffering. For thousands of years, hysteria has existed as a sort of catch-all, applied to nearly every ailment women suffer from, including migraines, chest pain, and PTSD.
In the bright new year of 2023, American physicians may not be able to wipe away women’s pain as lack of orgasmic relief as their Greek predecessors did, but they will continue to explore the benefits of thousands of years in medicine. Gender bias can’t be wiped out by six years of #metoo. Hell, hysteria was a diagnosable condition until 1980, so it’s not surprising it’s presumed to be due to exaggeration.
Finally, the heat wave is over, so I think my worries are over. To celebrate, I drove to Dunkin’ Donuts and had a chocolate eclair. Halfway through the bite, I got the urge to pee again, especially strong this time. Panicked, I rushed back inside and begged for access to the bathroom. I was told it was under renovation. Too late to find another place. So I jumped into a bush and pulled up my dress.
Clearly something went wrong. I just peeed in the shrub during the day. Shame swallowed me like my clothes started hanging from my frame like towels on tree branches. I said I had suspicions.
It was a lot of good. My doctor laughed – actually laughed! —then patted me on the shoulder as if I was the last pick in dodgeball. He advised me to ‘talk with a friend’. These problems are psychological, he said, and once you learn to manage your emotions better, you’ll soon be able to use the restroom like a civilized human being.
I considered refusing to fire the doctor, requesting a second opinion. But his medical degree was hung on the wall. It was my body, but he’s the right person to tell me what’s wrong. I tended to believe him even though I thought so.
By October, I was down to a weight I hadn’t seen on the scale since eighth grade. I relied on eating nothing but applesauce because it was easy to spoon into my mouth between naps. Also, I called the doctor again to let him know the potassium pills weren’t working and the tonic water was terrible, but he was on vacation.
But on October 12th, fever and nausea hit me like a train. A few days after that, I started having chest pains and couldn’t breathe without being gasped like a salt water bath flopping around on a hot dog. I called her 911. I felt cheated in some way because the coordinator didn’t answer the phone like in the movie.
Four paramedics walked into my room and quickly got bored. just muttered “gross” and pushed it away with his boots. They looked at each other and shrugged when I insisted on taking them to the hospital. “If that’s what you want,” they said. “But they can’t do much for you.”
They put me in a wheelchair and put me in a small ambulance. So I drove alone to the hospital, a bumpy 20 minute ride. Somewhere in this 1-star transportation experience, I accepted that I was going to die.
I always thought death was marked by screams of a bomb exploding or something being eaten. Beethoven’s FifthIn fact, I have found that death can knock rather politely, much like a father entering his teenage daughter’s bedroom. I don’t remember panicking or feeling sad. I remember being surprised. here? At a hospital in Burbank, California? My five-year-old self would be very disappointed.
I also remember wanting to send my mother a goodbye message, but I was too weak to find the phone, so I sent her a heart note and hoped she would receive it. The last moment that reminded me of my old life was when the bug-faced emergency room clerk rushed over to let me know I was pissed off at my pants.
You will be blacked out for the next 36 hours. I would like to keep it as is. Forgetfulness is a wonderful act of kindness performed by the body on behalf of the mind. Later, I was told that I was suffering from severe bouts of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Ketones are chemicals produced in the liver and released when the body breaks down fat. Usually after you haven’t eaten or eaten enough carbohydrates for a while. Ketoacidosis is usually diagnosed with a regular ketone test and the A1C blood test, which measures the amount of sugar in your blood over the past 2-3 months. Normal his A1C level is below 5.7%. My A1C at diagnosis was 17.1% for him (not to brag).
Then I got type 1 diabetes. did you know who?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin-producing cells. Without insulin, the body can’t turn sugar into energy, so it starts breaking down body fat. My body couldn’t do much more, so I started spiraling toward a diabetic coma. staff put me into a medically induced coma and started insulin injections.
It was very uncomfortable so I won’t go into most of the details, but it involved a lot of needles and tubes. When my mother arrived, an ICU nurse informed me that my phosphorus level was so low that staff could not determine if I was still alive. I haven’t thought about phosphorus since 10th grade when I memorized the periodic table to impress my boys. (He was impressed, but still, for some reason, he wasn’t attracted to me.)
After five days in the hospital, I returned to my apartment with a bag of medicine the size of Atlantic City and lamented the loss of normalcy. My mom and I took a trip to her CVS. I needed a reader. She needed Excedrin. She put on her blue-rimmed glasses and looked in the mirror. My body was unfamiliar and at the same time she was 20 pounds heavier and 1,000 percent weaker. I looked pale and old, like I never meant to be here. Still, I was gushing in the tampon aisle.
When a gust of wind blew my hair into the air, I walked back to my car confident that I would spend the rest of my shortened life looking like an 80-year-old Banshee. So now I’m bald too. wonderful.
A week later, I returned to the tonic water doctor for a posthumous meeting. I half expected him to take my hand in his and teary-eyed apologizing for brushing away my pain. did you know who? “
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