Friday, September 16, 2016

Getting Sick - EV Melotte

Now that school is back in session, the entire world is sick with a cold  . . except me so far.

A few days ago I had my almost yearly bloodwork to see if it is still flowing. I was looking last night at MyChart which is a UW Hospital thing that has all of your test results from the past . . well from  2003 at least.  I did see I'm in my 25th year cancer free and it did have my multiple knee operations from baseball in the 1980 (Home Talent League).

SO - What did I do?  HA!  Created a spreadsheet so I could track all my blood numbers. What happened in 2013???  - I think I must have had a Snickers bar two hours before they took my blood as I should not be alive. The number I'm waiting for is my HDL (good cholesterol).  My LDL and other numbers were great but I never had enough GOOD cholesterol. I had a small tick UP in 2013 for the first time but now with 2 years of working out 3-4 times a week I want to see that number much higher.  I'm so excited for blood work results . . . . .yea - that and the mail everyday.  THAT is what you have to look forward to when you retire.


Illness and Treatments  Part 1 - EV Melotte

Ours must have been an exceptionally healthy family.  I don’t remember anyone other than myself, who was ever sick enough to stay in bed.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.  I certainly knew the rules for when I was sick enough to stay in bed.  The shades would be pulled down, I would be provided with a cold, wet washcloth for my forehead if I had a fever, a glass of water if my stomach was in condition to handle it, a bucket beside the bed if it wasn’t, and a covered commode under the bed.  The door was left open one inch so if I’d be heard if I called, but it was understood that I would call only in an emergency.  Mother would come in several times a day with sips of sweet, weak tea and slivers of buttered toast, but nobody came to read me stories or keep me company, or brought me coloring books to pass the time.  I was to sleep and rest, rest and sleep, for twenty-four hours a day until I was well enough to go back to my usual business again.

I think it could be described as “benign neglect,” and I believe it was exactly the right thing to do in my case.  Through ignorance or wisdom, or possibly just because it was the easiest thing, my parents had hit on the most basic of all nature’s restorations.  Any sick or injured wild animal will go off alone to a dark secluded place and sleep until it either heals or dies.  If it’s a youngish animal it almost always heals.  I always did.

Illness and Treatments  Part 2 - EV Melotte

In Holway, a week before our planned move to Iowa, on the last day of school which was also the last time I would ever see the first friends I’d ever had, I came down with the measles.

Wayne’s spots had only just faded.  He’d had a very mild case; nobody knew he had measles until he came to breakfast covered with tiny red pinpricks.  He insisted there was nothing wrong with him and he most certainly was going to meet the school bus, until he was made to look into a mirror.  He stayed home but he was never sick—just spotty.

I stumbled to the breakfast table with an obvious fever.  Mother said “you’re coming down with the measles.  You’re not going to school.”  As I remember it, I threw a downright hysterical tantrum.  I must have been half out of my head already or I wouldn’t have dared.  I was sent back to bed, where I cried and pounded my pillow and wailed that it wasn’t fair and cried some more.  At some point, I fell asleep.

When I woke up my eyes hurt dreadfully and I could only open them up a tiny ways, and I hurt all over and itched and it was very dim in there.  There were blankets hung over the shades on the windows.  My mouth felt like sore, dry tissue paper and I wanted to rub my itchy eyes, but my hands were loosely tied to the bed frame.  It scared me.  I called out, and suddenly everybody was there exclaiming because I’d finally started to break out and the fever was going down, after my being out of my head with it for five days.

They were also rejoicing, because I obviously wasn’t blind and apparently wasn’t brain damaged, but I didn’t realize for years that they had been worried about that.

My hands had been tied down so that I couldn’t scratch at my eyelids, which were swelling my eyes almost shut with eyelid-sized welts, or at my eyes, which were blood red.

I went on breaking out in big swollen welts for a week, and they bulged out and spread together until I was one big bumpy welt—I itched too much to leave them alone and hurt too much to rub.
So there I stayed, in my dark secluded hole, itching and hurting and trying to sleep and rest, rest and sleep while the welts swelled an my hair fell out and the welts subsided and faded an my outer layer of skin started peeling off in long strips, leaving a shiny new layer which soon dried (swelled????) and peeled off in long strips also, and the move to Iowa was postponed for a couple of months until I was well enough to travel.

Three years later, in Whitewater, I had much the same experience again, except that it started with a persistent sore throat that kept getting worse.  Pa was gone by then, and Mother must have thought I was old enough and smart enough to go to bed on my own if I was all that sick.  I wasn’t smart of course.  Fifteen-year olds think they know everything, and are therefore dumber than they’ve ever been before or ever will be again.  Finally she sent me to a doctor-my first ever meeting with a doctor—who said I had tonsillitis and over the next few weeks he gave me pills and syrups and shot and I kept on getting worse.  In desperation, Dr. Zahl removed my tonsils in his office when I had a 102 degree temperature, and sent me home in a taxi.  Then I went to bed, developed a temperature of 104 degrees, broke out all over in swollen welts, lost my hair, the whole measles bit except that I had a murderously raw throat as well.

Dr. Zahl made several house calls, I didn’t get any better.  My mother finally pulled my shades down, provided me with a cool, wet washcloth, a glass of water, a bowl commode under the bed, and a warning that if I scratched at my face I’d have scars for life, and she went back to work.  I was left alone in my dark, secluded place to sleep and rest, rest and sleep, whereupon the fever started coming down, the welts started subsiding, and my throat started healing, and eventually my outer skin peeled off in long strips and I got well, although I never again was quite as well as I’d been before.

Forty-five years later, after forty-five years of varying types and severities of aches, pains and problems, the rheumatologists at UW Clinic confirmed that I had systemic lupus erythematosus, had had it at least since the tonsils episode, almost certainly since the measles episode, and very likely all of my life.

It’s a good thing that it wasn’t diagnosed back then.  The medical texts of that time described systemic lupus as “a rare, incurable untreatable disease of young women, invariably fatal within a year of diagnosis.”  If I’d known that, it might have acted as a voodoo curse and killed me by suggestion.


Oddly one of the things that happened when my mom had multiple strokes was she forgot that she smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day.  She never smoked again and never really missed it . . . until we moved her to Springfield ILL with my brother.

Another odd thing was she never had any bouts of lupus again.


BTW - I'm just going to say this in passing - I am very ANTI-Circus and their cruelty to elephants! Elephants are as social as humans. They have families, they grieve, they miss where they were taken from.  Elephants like to paint and I saw one who painted a landscape from memory of mountains from where he or she was taken from.

Yet - circus's have no problem chaining them and using them as slaves. Many circus's have done away with using elephants. Many traveling ones have not as they still enslave them and chain their legs saying . . "it's only to keep them safe, they don't mind"  That is fucking BULL SHIT.



  1. I agree with you about the elephants but I think in the interests of Trump style openness you should publish you health spread sheet for all of us to see.

  2. The anti-vaxxers who think that measles is a harmless disease should read your mother's story.