Sunday, October 12, 2014


the curtains do not look like sheets after all; they look like curtains always look in hospital rooms or emergency rooms. brown/gold trim with holes like shower curtains, then white. i have plenty of time to observe as i wait on the table for 1/2 an hour or more.  it makes me nervous.  i'm feeling better in general, but neither the tiredness nor the fear have lessened, only the deep dark hole is gone, or masquerading somewhere. my blood pressure and my breathing, dr. andy tells me, are both bad: i
should try to get my pc doc  to change or add meds. i write her; we'll see. the thing is, which i don't say to him, is i don't care about my blood pressure, as i hope that within a few years it will lead to a heart attack and kill me. something will kill me sooner or later,, and looking at my parents' deaths--my mother from a particularly virulent form of Parkinson's playafully dubbed 'parkinson's plus,' my father from dementia caused by small strokes and, eventually, one large stroke that killed him. i wouldn't mind the one large stroke; it's a lesser stroke, or dementia itself, that scare me.  woody allen once said ' i'm not afraid of dying; i just dont want to be there when it happens.' that's my goal now. well that rules out suicide, so the doc's needn't worry on that score.

what i dislike most about the treatment is coming out of anaesthesia.  theres no pain to deal with, as there is no cutting into the body, but the feeling of coming out, my mind ahead of my body, so i know what i want to say but it emerges stuttering and incomprehensible; i know what i want to do, but only small parts of me will move at a time and i'm very dizzy. it doesnt last long, but it's grim while it does.

on Wednesday, we meet cheryl in the waiting room. on first glance, she seems quite ordinary. you expect her to be reading romance novels. well, maybe she does and if so, god bless her. she is waiting for her husband to be done with his treatments.we begin awkward conversation: it really is chilly today, but tomorrow is supposed to be more seasonal.  what do you do? what does your husband do? are mark and i married?[embarrassed laughter: mark and i are old friends; known each other 50 years; were college sweethearts but when that ended grew into the friendship we have now.)  bit by bit the conversation becomes more real. cheryl tells us she is schizophrenic and depressive, but both are being treated successfully with medication. John, less lucky,  is deeply depressive but nothing has helped till now. the first effort at basic ect didnt help much so he has continued into more intense forms of ect, which i didn't even know existed.i am releived to know they do, for john's sake and my own. i had thought this was my last chance; now it seems there's further to go if i need to.

cheryl wants to know about my teaching. when i tell her i teach about women in media and now about other aspects of gender in media, particularly gay and transgender isssues, she is thrilled.  people need to understand about these kinds of people and their lives, she says enthusiastically.  'that's the only way the bigotry will stop.'  she has begun to design what she calls her 'caring creations'--handmade cards for all occassions ...designed for those brave souls battling cancer and mental illness.'

when they call me  in for my treatment, mark and cheryl continue to talk. mark is bowled over by her; she doesnt fit any of our categories of deep-thinking people. when i come out, i am sad to see that john has finished his treatment and they've gone. i look forward to running into them again. cheryl's goal is to give people hope. she has certainly done that for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


so far, so good.  treatments monday, wednesday, friday mornings. my retired friend mark comes with me the first day, and he will come  with me henceforth. you gotta have someone with you, even with a taxi.  that's because every treatment requires general anesthetic, and you are seriously and unpleasantly stoned when you leave, even with sleeping after the treatment and then eating donuts and drinking coffee from dunkin donuts.
so i lay down on the table--one of several hidden from one another with white sheeting (it looks like a small emergency room] and the staff gets busy while dr. barker patiently waits. theyre a friendly crew: alison, anette [two black women with slight central American accents] and dr. andy, the white anesthesiologist who enjoys the fact that they are all three 'A's] and who brings in tomatoes from his garden, harvested that weekend, to share with everyone there. i like their combination of friendliness and professionalism.   i notice classical music playing quietly, and comment on it. annette beams.  friday, she tells me, is opera day. all day, opera is the music they play. we both recognize 'traviatta' and make small dance gestures. she's excited about her birthday in december: her friends are taking her to new york, to the met. she's never been to the met before.

meanwhile i am told to lie down on the bed, my head close to the top, and then to take off one sock and put it over the other one.  obviously the anesthetics have taken effect, and i am dreaming. i note that it's a very silly dream.

which it's not. annette is quite seriously telling me to do this. when i can't get up past all the plastic geegaws on my body, she removes the sock for me.  Later the anesthesiologist explains: since the anesthesia paralyzes my body, they can't tell if the brain is having seizures, which is the whole point of the thing. so the anesthesia is somehow prevented from going down into the right foot.  remember te archetypal mother who warns you to wear clean underpants whenever you go out? from that day for me, for the next few weeks now, it's clean sox.

then they do the anesthesia and i'm gone. when i wake up it feels unpleasant.i'm not fully awake;  moving is clumsy, like im unederwater and can't swim my way up.  i try to talk and it comes out in disconnected words. they think i'm awake; i think i'm not. i manage to articulate, very clearly, 'i wish i was dead.' they let me sleep a bit longer for my next treatments.  then they direct me to a little recovery room with the dunkin donuts goodies and coffee and gingerale. i gasp dramatically but earnestly,"water!!' and they seem surprised but agreeable. as i eat, i wake up further [i've had nothing to eat or drink since midnight].when mark and i leave i am zonked, and zonked i stay all day. i go to bed as soon as i get home, and it's just about noon. around 5 i wake up and have a combo lunch and dinner and a lot more water.  and then back to bed.

the next 2 days are pretty much the same, and i still feel crappy. but now my brother has come in from new york to be caretaker, giving poor mark the only break he'll get, as far as  i can see.  but by sunday i can feel the difference in my depression, and it feels good.still dead tired, but not quite in that dark hole.

we'll see how this goes on in week 2.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

big day tomorrow

wish me luck, readers, if there are any of you left.  tomorrow i begin several weeks of CET--i.e. electro convulsive therapy--aka```SHOCK`````in the bad old days.  maybe there's a way out of this murky depression after all!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

IT LURKS! [the depressive's lament]

it's that time of year. only not the same as it used to be.after 3 months with no work, tuesday begin summer classes.  usually this time of year, i feel a twinge, but mostly ready to pick up the routine again.  this time, having accomplished nothing in  my free months and having been invaded by the giant depression for so  long, i have merely dread--and pity-- for my poor students.  all i want is to curl up under the covers of my bed and stay there. get up to eat, pee, read a little, and cry.then i'm free from misery and fear, my identical twin shadows.   maybe it will work out better than i thought. i've had a few respites, after all.  maybe teaching again [with incomplete notes; some have vanished] but still, i know most of this stuff.

i really hoped i'd have something light, interesting, fun, illuminating to write here, but nothing emerges.  depression defines the keyboard. normally when i have nothing to say that isn't  dipped in misery, i don't write. but it's been so long since i've used my blog, i fear i'm letting it bleed to death and no one  will ever get back if they think i'm not writing.

so hold on, fair readers; maybe things will turn around soon and i'll have something worth saying.  meanwhile, remember my new little prayer:
now i lay me down to sleep;
i pray the lord my soul to keep,
and if i die before  i wake...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Annie, Auggie, and Little Nell

 In 1841, new yorkers stormed the wharfs of the city, desperate for information.  and the cry was heard 'round the world:  'Is Little Nell Alive?'  

Little Nell, for you of the 21st century who may not know, was the child heroine of charles  dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, and the sailors who were carrying the newspaper with the last installment from london to new york called back that  nell had succumbed to whatever ailment she had, leaving brits and americans alike in tears [and providing material for the magnificently cynical oscar wilde].

i think of this now because a week from today, a year after the show's season premier last summer, thousands of us will crowd the metaphorical wharfs of tv land, crying with equal passion, 'Are Annie and Auggie still  together?' Annie and Auggie are the hero and second tier star of USA TV's Covert Affairs,' the summer spy show full of gorgeous people who work for the virtuous CIA [you think the CIA isnt virtuous? you think they hire homely spies?].  We, like little nell's adorers way back when, are probably doomed to disappointment.  but that doesn't stop us.  I know because i'm on a fan page for the show.  the nonexistence of auggie and annie, like that of little nell, is irrelevant.  they must be together, or something vital will go out of our lives.

this didn't happen in the early days of western literature.  everyone went to the plays knowing the end: no one cried in desperation, "did they get that damned horse in there?'  but somewhere along the lines of fiction's history, someone came up with the idea of telling stories whose endings no one knew, and anindustry flourished.  the glamour of fictional characters was interwoven with the uncertainty of real life, however artistic or banal the tale might be.   i have no doubt that tonight, thousands of people will move reluctantly from their computers to their tv's to find out if Doc Hank has found love or peace in the past year, of if his charming and manipulative brother has saved his marriage.  and will their beautiful associate find love with the homely, personality challenged doc who took in her and  her unborn child?  I'm fascinated by the ways we all identify with nonexistent people while a planet full of real people remain to us boring and abstract.

i had a lot to say about this, and i'm sure it's profound.  or maybe it isn't. maybe i just wanted to compare my passion for annie and auggie with that of dido for aeneus or hamlet for himself.  in any case, i don't have enough time, because it's almost 9 o'clock, and while they're not annie and auggie, i still want to know what's gone on with doc hank and the crowd while they've been gone all year....and after that comes the season start of the woes of the psychotic psychologist in "Perception." i have always enjoyed his chats with joan of arc....

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

If we are to remember America's dead soldiers, have we a right to ignore the rest of the world's soldiers?  brave, noble, cowardly, heroic; patriotic, pragmatic, cynical;  those who died killing others and those who died saving others?   the  spouses, lovers, children, parents, siblings who lost loved ones to the obscenity of war?  the good and bad die  together, and we lose them all.  i am sad for each american lost to war, but i choose to mourn equally for all war's victims, for those who are dying now as we celebrate the already dead. battles  may be won; no on ever wins war.  good journey to you all.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Invisible Me

once again, i need to apologize for my absence here. same reason--different illness. while the depression continues, it's overshadowed by another old friend--the worst asthma i've had in decades.  no energy to do anything, and orders from dr not to try.  threats of ER looming, backed up by threats of hospitalization--this while loaded with prednisone.  getting incrementally better each day, but very small increments. ideas zooming in my head for blog things i want to do [like challenge ' bucket list'] but no energy to do them.  will return......