Monday, March 7, 2011


My last appointment with my therapist this week was highly unusual. My did I suffer- about what to do about what I figured would be a likely break with my brother (!) and his family. (At least for now.) This is assuming I chose to be a hard ass about the vicious, interminable email I received from my sister-in-law. I’ve never been hard ass. This is virgin territory for me, not only sticking up for myself but also telling someone to shove her cruelty up her ass.

I actually had a moment of zen. When I knew that I had to shake off her idiotic nonsense. She and my brother are poison to me. I can rip myself apart all by myself thank you. I felt confident and relaxed. Big move, Lipman.

In my first life, I tended to float with the breeze rather than risk confrontation. Not to say that I had no opinions. I always had opinions except for years and years I didn’t believe them to have any validity, so why voice what was clearly wrong? So I floated. But I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

In another world, I’d still be a good little girl and take the punches from my sister-in-law. I could always take punches. ARDS and Bronchiectasis (gesundheit) are two powerful diseases. They taketh away way, way too much, but they giveth back one nasty, fantastic chip on the shoulder. No more floating. No more acquiesing. Late, but better than never, I have finally learned to assert myself. (At least when pushed to the extreme.) I won’t take shit I don’t have to take. I have to take my limited lung capacity. I have to take funky bowels that have no business being funky since ARDS and Bronchiectasis (gesundheit) attacks lungs lungs only. So lay off my gastro-intestinal tract please.

Then why I am I so completely, out of control tonight saying over and to myself, “I can’t do this anymore, I can’t do this anymore?” Or, “I have no life.” That’s actually kind of true. But how can I share something so horribly bad with anyone? I know there are people out there who love me, but how to explain this…? Really what does a visitor say to me, “Feeling any better?” Well, of course I don’t. And I won’t. How does a person make a conversation with that? I’m stumped. I guess that’s why people attend groups with other people in the same infernal boat. It sure makes the initial explaining part move quickly without any, “What!?” “Huh!?” “You’re kidding me!?” We can get right to the nitty gritty (see below). No one has mind-blowing thought balloons. I don’t much like mind-blowing thought balloons of this kind. I can’t imagine anyone who would. My sister-in-law?

Just last night, I had an episode straight out of the August 25, 2010 (Hide the Knives!) post without the Exorcist-worthy projectile vomit. (Too bad. That was cool. And I tried to be so polite about where I’d leave it. Why add a stranger’s vomit to somebody else’s pathetic, little life? It just didn’t feel right to me.)

The gist of the problem are the times when I’m in desperate in need of air. (Like the gasping I do after I take my walks in the apartment hallway.) And when in dire need of oxygen, my body (as would anyone’s) tries to excrete everything it can.

To save me from suffocating? Nah, it has to be a fear response. I don’t know where I read this but in Auschwitz, many of the people chosen to be gassed right off the bat excreted everything out of every orifice where it was possible to excrete anything while on line awaiting their fate.

My original experience of that fun sensation of “mega excretion” was just after a chemo treatment. In all his thirty years as an oncologist, my doctor never had a patient who responded to receiving chemo like that. Yay me. The usual time it should take to begin feeling the chemo is four hours or so. And that doesn’t include excreting anything when not planning to do so.

But last night. I always spend an inordinate time in the bathroom before going on my hall walks to empty my bladder as much as humanly possible. On occasion, where I get back to go (do not collect two hundred dollars), I feel close to losing the drop or two that had refused to exit my body. Slowly, my breath returns. All is well. Last night, post night time ablutions as I put on my extra-sexy Lanz of Salzberg flannel nighty just seconds from hopping into in bed, I sat down on the grey bench meant to help the disabled get into the shower, (we just use it as a bench). I started to pee. I don’t know why. And as during the post-chemo episode, once the excreting starts, there’s no stopping it. I screamed for Chip to get the Clorox wipes and a washcloth for me. As I’m always very thoughtful in moments like these, I hiked up the oh-so-sexy Lanz of Salzberg flannel nighty so not to soil it. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the nighty remained clean. As did the bathroom rug.

There must be a million things I haven’t yet thought of to make me desire to lay down and die. But as soon as they happen, you can bet you all will be the first to know.

One tiny thing. I’m very deaf again. I now have stents in both ears, and they aren’t doing shit. They were put in earlier in the week, I think. I’m not holding my breath on these. Permanent stents next? And why does mucous fuse itself to my throat which makes walking the halls a fearful event? (Chip has found blogs of very angry people who can’t believe that the medical establishment has nothing to remedy the situation. It’s true. There’s nothing except Cepacol lozenges which don’t last very long, but they’re all we sufferers got, so no excessive complaining. And I get to use a word lozenge that isn’t required all that often. !!! I just love the sound of it: lozenge. Beautiful. It’s a shame that Cepacol Oral Anesthetic/Analgesic, instant acting lozenges don’t taste as good as they sound. They’re kind of nasty. ) How long will it take to be able to breathe again? This qualifies for excitement in the Lipman-Sleeper household.

P.S. Karen, what other Karen do I know? I am apologizing thirty years too late for being such a miserable correspondent. I didn’t do the right thing. You deserve the apology so fuck you and accept it whether you like it or not. I (love you, and I miss you terribly, by the way.)


  1. I knew but I didn't know. I mean the day-to-day of struggling to breathe and balance unpleasant side-effects of all the meds, plus the emotional weight of it all.

    Like you say about support groups, there's all that preamble you can skip because people understand the day-to-day. I found that when I quit drinking, I could skip the "how bad it got" part when I was speaking to another ex-drunk.

    I agree about not being afraid to express unpopular or painful opinions. I was always what they call "conflict averse." But lately I've gotten too old to screw around. If your fly is down I'll tell ya so.

    Anyway, thanks for your honest, no-bullshit posts.

  2. Would you frikkin stop sugar coating everything, franny!?? I hope (and like to believe) that while I am not in the (infernal) medical boat with you that we do share many things between us. And apparently at least one with Mr. O'Hay. I spent most of my life (and some of it now) avoiding conflict as well as discounting my own opinions in favor of those of others who I, for what ever dysfunctional reason, thought were more valid or more deserving than my own.
    There is way more to you than the list of symptoms you have these days. I don't blame you tho, for not always remembering that. That's what friends are for (pains in the ass that they can be for doing that.
    I have had those "lozenges" (the word itself conveys "soothe" doesn't it? Haha. If I remember correctly, I chose the "school paste" flavor, or maybe that is the only flavor.
    As for mucus, I used to sell mad equipment in NY a thousand years ago, and one of the products we sold was the "percussor" type of equipment for kids suffering from cystic fibrosis, and I distinctly remember thinking "That's the way they treat it!? Actually, physically knocking the mucus loose?" That's about the time I started thinking that instead of the designation of homo sapian meaning "wise ape", we should be renamed "clever ape". For all the shiny crap we come up with, we are no way as evolved as we tell eachother.
    I will ponder your mucus woes, my friend. It truly sucks that you can count on such little relief of such a serious impediment to your life.

    Love you, buddy~!