Carry On Tuesday – Everybody hurts sometimes

Cover of "Tea for the Tillerman"

Cover of Tea for the Tillerman

Katie remembers clearly that when her older sister, Susan, had bi-polar episodes, more than she could count on one hand, Susan was always so loving to her. She was warm and kind, she would take her trembling hand and stroke Katie’s cheek softly, like a moth circling around soft yellow light. Susan would also apologize to her then, telling her how much she REALLY DID love her and appreciate her and they would be best friends for as long as it lasted.

Now, they fight often, usually on the phone or misinterpret what the other one says on e-mail. Katie takes things too personally, Susan thinks about herself first. It’s been an on-going battle for years.

“I won’t change” said Susan, defiantly. “I am who I am and you are a martyr” and finally, about a year ago Katie said, “I will not take any more pain from you.”  It was hard and she cried but she could not stand the constant anxiety she felt when she was on the phone with her older sister, assessing her mood, her tone of voice, her impatience, the thick tenseness of her angry words. The proportion of pain to happiness was so unequal that she wanted to stop the bad feelings altogether.

There was pain, all the time, consistently flaring up old feelings; it felt like the same serrated knife that had plunged in her epiglottis when she was so, so sick except this pain stabbed her heart. Everybody hurts sometime, Katie thought but the pain from her older sister was constant. They had tried too many times to fix it without success. “I’m trying” Katie wanted to scream out, but Susan would not listen or did not hear her. “Look in the mirror” Katie yelled ” I’m not the only one who feels this way.”  She was fighting a losing battle in which she felt so emotionally destroyed she decided to finally end the war. However, In a war, no one comes out unscathed.

That’s not to say that there weren’t good times too. In the past, among long bouts of feuding and not speaking, there had been good talks and family fun. When it was only about the two sisters, it was never a safe topic and tension filled the air like a smoke bomb which everybody inhaled, even the cousins.

They had exchanged roles when Kate was 15 and Susan, 21 when Susan first was “sick.”Kate became the older sister and Susan, the child.  Even though it was the last place Kate wanted to be, she thought maybe Susan never forgave her for that. Not even when they sat in the back seat of their parents car, holding hands and singing “Sad Lisa” by Cat Stevens together, a song they had both listened to individually. It was NO ONE’S FAULT they all know rationally. No one. If anyone was to blame it was their parents who abdicated their position of decision-making to Kate. On the other hand, Kate had disappeared to them as a child. She was hushed when she tried to come in the apartment door because Susan was trying to sleep, their parents held different standards for the two sisters and it started then and never changed.

Things don’t always come out the way you want them to; it would have been sublime to be one happy family with equal part of love and nurturing. For a little while it was, when their father was alive and he was the moderator, Katie’s soul-mate of a parent. When he died, their mother lost a spouse, their daughters both lost a dad but Kate lost a friend and ally, someone who understood her sensitive personality perfectly. It became a war, two against one and Kate felt very much alone with two strong, self-involved women and herself. She survived for a number of years playing that game; she took it for as long as she could.

One Mother’s Day brunch, two years ago, she slid back from the table, wiped her lightly pink lipsticked mouth with the white linen napkin, collected her matching pink pocketbook from her lap, smiled sadly, and stood up. She would no longer participate in a war she didn’t believe in. She walked away but she couldn’t help it; she always looked back.

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My Fellow Epiglottitis Peeps- A Follow Up

throat diagram

Image via Wikipedia

When I first had my two bouts with Epiglottitis (OUCH)  no one had ever  heard of it. Even my ENT said and I quote: “how the hell did you get that?”  If I could have spoken in spite of the pain I may have said ” How do I know? You’re the doctor.” But speaking, swallowing, breathing was pure torture and being in such intense pain makes you less than quick with a comeback. When I first posted “Calling Epiglottitis A Bitch Is A Vast Understatement” I wrote it for myself. Why did I have to get this pain? But, if it’s something unusual, it softly calls my name.

When I had Epiglottitis I told people it was the worst pain I had ever had, that childbirth was a cinch in comparison. When my two awful experiences had finally passed I asked every Dr. and medical person, if I could SOMEHOW prevent this from happening again. The answer was an unequivical “NO.” I scheduled an appointment with my internist just to discuss this and begged, pleaded and cried for the vaccine that is given to children. Another “NO.”  She said it was for infants only. That seemed drastically unfair. After all, if those babies could have it why couldn’t iI have it? Give me 100 times the dose if you want, anything not to have to go through horrific, burning, stabbing, knife-in-the-back-of-the-throat pain again.

How does one get it? What is it? Apparently, it’s a virus. I know, when there is something doctors don’t know for sure they call it a virus but apparently this is one and a nasty one at that. It could be related to the Herpes Simplex virus, I was told, but maybe not…..It is frustrating and painful and so far this year (fingers crossed) I didn’t get it but I do live in constant fear of getting it again. No joke.

Did anyone get it this year? I  hope you didn’t or if you did that it was a mild case (oh, who am I kidding there is no such thing as a mild case, it’s outright torture.) My ENT treated it with Prednisone, Valtrex and some special rinse, (and maybe something else, not sure) it helped…..after what seemed like an eternity.  It will not go away on its own, beg for pain medication.

For those of you who wrote back to me with your comments, thanks. We helped each other. Never before had I heard of this bolt of lightning in the back-end of the throat, and hearing from you made me feel better, validated. Unbelievably, my blog post “Calling Epiglottis A Bitch Is A Mild Understatement” gets so many hits on my blog consistently. As you know, I blog about everything: food, Fibromyalgia, feelings, fun, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Chronic Pain,TV, music, food, children, parents, grief, love and loathing. I blog when I am happy or sad, about funny things, family (they are not too happy when I write about them) my dog and dessert. But, this post about Epiglottitis constantly and consistently gets hits and I’m wondering why. Do more people have it now? Did it become an epidemic? I thought I was the only one in the world that had it, (clearing my throat) twice.

Here’s to you, my Epiglottitis Peeps, If anyone has any updates or insights, let me know. Or if you have had it recently, I am here to commiserate. I wish I could offer you a magic cure, I wish I could offer myself a magic cure  but none exist. I’m here, though, to share your pain. Believe me, I understand it completely!

p.s. One important tip: if you have had this once, and feel a bad sore throat coming on, go directly to an ENT and not an Internist. My ENT gave me that advice, don’t wait around a week, like I did, waiting for it to get better. Get it scoped, diagnosed and treated before it gets any worse.