audrey hepburn


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Distracted? It's Costly...

Lost time, peace of mind,

relationships, health.


They seem harmless.  That's why we call them distractions.  Because we don't notice them.
But left neglected they can cause the unthinkable to happen.

Let me tell you about a distraction that cost me the entire last year.

At the last of 2012 I was feeling tired mentally and my eyes were aching.  I had been online for only one year and had done a lot of research for my cancer site at and was experiencing what I found out to be Computer Vision Syndrome.  Fatigue and vertigo are just two of its symptoms.

When I found out it was not just in my head, I began to cut back dramatically with online writing.  I got unbearable headaches just looking at the blue light from my PC and smartphone.  It was painful physically and slowed me down on my work.  Pushing out useful information to benefit others had given me much joy.  Gradually, I cut back to the point where I had to quit the site altogether.  I was blogging and trying to work on my memoir and, with the extra work on the site, I found all of it impossible to do. 

Not being able to be online was very depressing.

I live alone and, although not easy anymore, I take care of myself.  I have my dog and he depends on me to take care of him so I need to stay in good shape just for that.

By the fall of 2013 I felt very tired and went into the holiday season with the excitement of spending time with a school friend and her family.

While there, I became ill.  I was doing some blogging in between the holidays and new years, and it seemed that even while I was trying to keep up with things, and relaxing in between, something just seemed off.

I have for many years dealt with symptomatic problems when they came up.  But recent intense familial and existential problems, both which I could do nothing about, weakened my immune system.  With my friend's gracious help, and much resiliency on my part, I was able to overcome the physical problem.  It took so much out of me that I was useless for the next week.

When I returned home I made an appointment with my general physician.  After I told him about my dizziness and sore throat, he sent me out for ear, nose and throat tests including audiology tests.  All came back normal.  Next was a visit to a neurologist, which I couldn't afford.  The one the ENT recommended didn't take Medicare, so I was given an alternate and when I called their office to put it off, the number was disconnected.  I will have to tell you that I was actually relieved.  These are the days that we are living in within the new healthcare system in America.  Medicare has always been limited, but I've never seen healthcare so out-of-sync.

I had developed panic attacks driving on major roads because I would get dizzy.  For almost a year I didn't drive very far from home.  I had never been afraid to drive anywhere.  Thinking that I could be losing my independence was a new low.

Into the summer I became more lethargic.  I stopped Facebook and my engagement on Twitter was limited.  It was all I could do to go to the grocery store and walk my dog.  Taking care of  Bo and was all I could do.

By September I began to see lesions on my skin that wouldn't heal.  I am a survivor of acute septic shock and anytime I see skin problems I get frantic.  Red skin blotches are one of the first signs of sepsis.  I take antibiotics every day, so the fact that it was not doing its job was frightening.

I called my doctors office and they were able to take me in one hour. Like I said, I had not driven on the major roads for nine months, so I had to give myself a pep-talk while heading out the door.

  "'s only cars and people, you've done it a thousand times before.  It'll be like a walk in the park." 

With enthusiasm, I cranked my car and headed toward the four lane.  I read that deep, slow breaths help with panic attacks, so when I came to merging traffic off the clover-leaf, my heart started racing and my body tensed, so I began the breathing technique.  Within seconds my heart and entire body calmed down.
My doctor was the one who found it.  A missed low white count.

He decided to give me a rocephin shot (brand name is Keflex, a broad-spectrum antibiotic) and a script for Cipro (very strong, even kills syphilis)  for ten days, and to come back if necessary.  I've had many rocephin shots, I call them "booster" shots, and I have had two a year in previous years.
  For the past year or so, I had decided to try to reduce my dependence on them.  Unfortunately, my body cannot handle emotional and physical stress and it has been this way since the beginning of my first cancer in 1983.

I left the office feeling empowered in several ways.  I had made it there on my own, and I was enjoying the drive, and I knew now that I would get better. 
I was also exasperated.

How was the blood count missed?  For me, always with a low immunity, just a small low count is big.  I do know the doctors office is in the process of mandatory paper to digital transition, and I do know that it is slowing things down, and errors are occurring.  My brother took me on one visit, and a patient a made a comment about their script going to another state.  I've gone to the same doctor for many years and I know my MD is capable.  There are obvious distractions from the problems being caused by the change.

After a second set of shots, including B-12, I am getting better. 

It is now November of 2014, and the holidays are upon us again and I am feeling more like myself.  I will try to decorate a little this year. 


What did I lose?

More health,

more peace of mind,

more time.

I'm older than I've ever been so since my body went into autoimmunity, much of my hair fell out.  That alone was traumatic and thankfully now, the hair fall has stopped.

I was distracted by my inability to take good care of myself, and as a result, I neglected my dog.  He depends on me -- for everything.

Now, I'm trying to catch us back late 2012.

Distractions.  How was that test result missed?

I probably will never know. 

Now I'll ask...


What will the price be?

Will it be you?  your spouse,  the kids, your pet?

It took me a few baby steps to start driving again, but I regained my place at the wheel. 

I am regaining my focus.

Are you?