7:41 am, 9 November 2016
First text of the day:
“How are you feeling?
Me? Happy to be Canadian”
Easy for Anita to text, not only is she Canadian, but the super-hot liberal Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister of her country. I could happily imagine gazing upon his image on the nightly news.
It was a very different story back in America. My heart sunk into the deepest recesses of my bowels. Having neither TV nor Internet, I had not watched the election results. I could not believe it possible that my fellow Americans had elected trump as the 45thpresident of the USA. It was worse than a belly full of parasites, much, much worse. It felt like my worse nightmare had come true.
Later that day, Anita and I met up at the Casa Tota. I was in desperate need of comfort food and a very stiff drink, or five. Anita teased and gloated while I drowned my sorrows in sopa de mariscos, guacamole y totopos, and a margarita that was not nearly strong enough. Straight tequila would probably have been more effective in killing off the nasty parasites roaming my belly, and the horrible thoughts for the future of America, but it was not even 2:00 p.m. That kind of sorrow drowning would have to wait until later in the day.
Anita dropped me at my gate I said goodbye and muttered, “I’m not going to say it can’t get any worse. In my experience, when I utter those words things get nothing but worse.”
As I walked through my gate a call came in from my doctor, “Can you come in as soon as possible? Say tomorrow? 11:00 a.m.? I have you blood work in front of me and I believe you have Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.”
I was so shocked, my only response was, “OK.” My brain was numb from the news. I could not believe this was happening to me. I’d had lots of experience with ticks. I had become a master of removing them from my dogs. Once, ten years earlier, I had even removed one from my own ankle. Nasty, disgusting little creatures for sure, but it never crossed my mind that I could be bit, and infected, by one of those odious insects. I had friends and acquaintances who suffered from Lyme disease so I was familiar with it, but only slightly. I knew that it made you very tired, beyond that I was clueless.
I spent the remainder of the day freaking out, crying, and trying to figure out when a tick could have bit me. I fretted, stewed, freaked out some more, then I retired to my hamaca with another, stronger, margarita and a long text session with my doctor brother Stephen. He seemed to think I was freaking out about nothing. Easy for him to say, he wasn’t facing a life sentence with Lyme disease!
The next day, my doctor sat me down, closed the office door, and took her seat behind the desk. “I’ve looked at your test results and it looks like you have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. According to your numbers, it looks to be a recent infection. All your other blood values look fine, except for an elevated white blood cell count, which makes sense since your body is fighting an infection.”
She put me on a ten-day course of doxycycline, thirty days of probiotics to counteract the inevitable yeast infection, and told me I should be feeling better in about three to four days. She urged me to call or email her if I had more questions and sent me in my way.
Off I went to the pharmacy, then home to sleep some more. I’d felt nothing but tired, lethargic, achy in my body and in my head, and super sensitive to the sun since receiving the diagnosis. The immediate symptoms, while unpleasant, I could deal with. I was filled with worry about my future. My entire life has been about sport – running, hiking, riding, swimming… Even with the assurance that I would fully recover from my case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, I was still distraught. I had done a little research and contrary to what my doctor had told me, my symptoms aligned more closely with Lyme disease. Information about Lyme disease seemed to be difficult to find, especially through tear-filled eyes and the tiny screen of my iPhone. My mind kept returning to the experiences of my friends with Lyme disease who had been sick for years. I felt like I was faced with that question, “would you rather lose your mental or your physical capacities?” In the short term, the answer would be, “both.”
Once again, I retired to my hamaca with my phone and a long conversation with my best friend. The weather seemed to be echoing my inner turmoil. The clouds were crowding higher, darker, and denser. Then the wind began to howl down the mountain, swirling dust and piles of trash into my yard. I had enough clarity to see that rain was imminent and my rain flap was rolled up inside the tent. Thank goodness I had my worker, Tio Gabbino, there to help me put the rain flap on, the wind was howling so hard it nearly ripped it out of our hands and sent it cartwheeling into the neighbors yard. Once the flap was secure, I stepped inside my tent and flopped onto my bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow the rain came pissing down. The sound lulled into a sweet, deep sleep.
I awoke to a voice whispering, “Sheila, mira!”
Stumbling out of my tent I was greeted by a glorious, double rainbow. The sun was setting, the clouds were breaking up and once again puffing up towards the heavens. The colors of the rainbows continued to grow more brilliant, the clouds were fading from blinding white to dusty rose, and the sky was gradually turning deeper shades of blue until the first stars lit up the sky.
I was reminded of the Double Rainbow Ice Cream shop on the Upper Haight and my carefree early days in San Francisco. In addition, I was filled with the hope, no, the belief, that I would recover completely from the havoc wreaked by one single, nasty tick.
After all, it couldn’t get any worse.