Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It's been a while since I have been sick like this, but now it seems like I am making up for lost time. I feel sick everywhere. One thing good...I for sure will call in sick tomorrow. For some reason, those stolen days seem more delicious than normal days off, like they are somehow illicit and I am getting something extra that I normally wouldn't be entitled to. Of course, it is also good to pamper oneself. I think no matter how self-indulgent we may be, we rarely really ever pamper ourself, at least, not without guilt. But if you are sick, you HAVE to, since you want to get well, so no reason for guilt.

Apparently this started with diarrhea, which I still have. It came upon me three weeks ago, which I think is a long time to have diarrhea last. It made its awful presence known my final morning in French Polynesia, not entirely ruining the last day of my wonderful trip, but pretty close. I think I know where I got it, but maybe not. As I was suffering having to go to the toilet every half hour, I had plenty of time to think about how I might have gotten this, when I suddenly realized that I been "lured" into drinking tap water in the hotel in Papeete. I was wanting to enjoy everything my hotel room had to offer, and there was a rather intriguing-looking coffee-making thing in the room. It looked more like a steam locomotive, was more horizontal than vertical in shape and design the way coffee makers are in American hotels. This made coffee from little capsules. It had two pages of instructions, all in French, but fortunately the drawings illustrating each step were more or less clear. And one of the steps was filling a hopper with water, which, without thinking, I filled from the sink the bathroom, just like I would with a Mr. Coffee coffee maker in any American hotel room. It's funny how deeply-set habits are just repeated automatically.

Well, I had had no warning that drinking the tap water in Polynesia was bad (if, indeed, it is, which I am not sure). Not like Mexico, which everyone knows, or St. Petersburg, Russia, which well-read travelers will know. The fact that I had been served water in bottles everywhere I went in Polynesia (and they even had them in the hotel room) did not compute in my mind; that would have been only one vector in my awareness, that required at least one other axis in order for the principle to be pointedly clear...which I guess getting three weeks (and counting) worth of diarrhea provided that other vector, and so now you have heard that, here. Don't drink the tap water in Polynesia, it will apparently be WORSE than the water in Mexico.

My brother questioned, "But wasn't the water heated when it made the coffee?", but it wasn't BOILED, and not for so many minutes. It surprisingly quickly heated to a mild coffee-drinking temperature, nothing that would generate a lawsuit against McDonalds if I had spilled it in my lap. So I still think it had to be that hotel tap water.

This case has been surprisingly severe. When I got Montezuma's revenge in well-known "don't dare drink the water in Mexico" (from having a Margarita in a luxurious restaurant in San Miguel Allende--it's the luxurious places that get me--was made from a chipped block of ice, which may as well have been made with sewer water), I was sick for less than a week, and that was while traveling a long way away from home. Not three weeks, like this, and with me doing everything I can at home to fix it, such as taking the antibiotics that came in a traveler's diarrhea kit that I bought last year from the place that gave me all the innoculations for my trip to Palau, and when those were all gone, swallowing charcoal pills(supposed to absorb all the bugs), drinking diatomaceous earth (supposed to cut to ribbons all the bugs), and doubling my probiotic doses (the good bugs fight the bad bugs).

Finally today I called my general practioner, requesting an appointment and, I hoped, a prescription for something extremely powerful. However, all he did was recommend the BRAT diet, not one item of which is allowed on my weight-loss diet--bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast--all carbs carbs carbs and I am already going to be in trouble when I see both my weight loss doctor and my cardiologist tomorrow, who freak out whenever I gain even two pounds and, unfortunately, after my trip to Polynesia and then during the remaining weeks of my vacation AND in-service week at the school where we have been fed every day (attendance at those meals has been mandatory), I have gained something like ten.

However, I am successful at losing weight but so far haven't been at curing my diarrhea, so I bought all the BRAT stuff anyway, although for the life of me, while I was at the store, I absolutely could not remember what the "B" stood for, so I failed to get bananas. My mind seems to be going, as well, and that is due to the distraction of all the aches and pains I feel in my body, my constantly runny nose that is its own little waterfall, my chocking cough, and the feeling that the whole inside of my throat is crawling with creepy-crawlies (maybe they are the diarrhea bugs making an upstairs escape). Where did all that stuff come from? I really have no idea, but we did have half a day's first aid and CPR training yesterday with other sick people in a room that was ice-cold. The school continually harps on attemping to be "green", yet the air conditioning in the gymnasium was on so high that several people were shivving the whole time, while others wrapped themselves in blankets. (This with it being 108 degrees outside.) As for me, as soon as I got home, I sat outside on my sweltering balcony so that I could thaw out. So maybe drafts actually do make one sick (sicker).

I'm really not happy about having two doctor's appointments tomorrow where I am going to be berated for a ten-pound weight gain when all I want to do is OD on Nyquil. I definitely don't deserve this treatment and wonder why I am even in this mess in the first place. Because I have to admit that it has been a year, now, during which I have not progressed or improved my body one iota. I never ever got thinner than 170, even though I had quite easily and painlessly managed to lose over a hundred pounds in the ten months prior to that. I should have been able to slide on down to the 160s, maybe even the 150s (but needed to go no thinner than that) with absolute ease.

So in my misery today, I was thinking about that "failure", too (although it is hardly any kind of a failure to have stayed as thin as I have for a year, where I have maintained male fashion model stats), and realized it is all because of the braces. Seriously.

Since I had done so well with my body last year, this got me to wanting to work on other things that needed to be done, and the next thing in line happened to be my lower teeth. I had had braces when I was in high school, but during my freshman year in college I got so I wouldn't wear my retainer (which was required at night), because it made me talk with a lisp which was not something I wanted to have happen while living in a dorm my first year away at college.

But I am paying the price for that, now, because slowly but surely, my lower teeth began to crowd forward until the two teeth in the center began to attempt to move on past each other. So I had one central tooth in the lower jaw that had almost turned completely sideways and had become like a leaning Stonehenge pillar. Fortunately, my upper teeth stayed where they had been put (are 99% perfect, according to my orthodontist), so I needed only serious work done on the lower teeth.

However, it has been a miserable experience. These metal "brackets" that are glued onto the front facing of each lower tooth feel to me like "diamond mounts" in an engagement ring--without the diamond, only the waiting sharp prongs. So it is like having a row of sawteeth (four per tooth) rubbing against the inside of my lower lip and cheeks.

Even worse than the diamond mounts are the outer ends of the wire that is used to pull each tooth in whatever direction it is supposed to go. Somehow they have to come up with a better idea than what they have been doing, because what I end up with is like the point of a pin or a needle at the back inside my mouth next to the last molars, sticking there to get caught on by the inside of my cheeks with nearly every movement of my mouth. If I reach into my mouth to test the wire ends with my index finger, I nearly cut a slice down the pad of my finger. (My regular dentist began to wonder if I was heading for a case of oral cancer, and even sent me to a oral cancer surgeon for an evaluation.) So how would you like to spend a year with all that in your mouth? Not to mention the nearly constant ache of the teeth being torqued into position.

But even worse than those sufferings is eating with all these pointed metal things inside the mouth. Fibers of spinach wrap around each appliance. Meat is even worse, as it hunks up behind the wires and somehow crams into the spaces between each and every tooth, which I feel as if I had sand pebbles between all my toes except it's my teeth (one develops a phenomenal respect for the sensitivity inside the mouth). Fish is an immense violator, secreting its rot and fish stink into every fissure, making it essential that I laboriously brush my teeth after every single encounter with food or I will go crazy. And I can only imagine what my breath is like, although with my constant furious cleaning, I may actually smell better than ever, but who really knows?

There has been, quite seriously, a long-standing recommendation for airplane travelers to save their life by being sure to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste onboard in their carry-on bag. Apparently studies showed that during the heyday of the "take me to Cuba" airplane highjackings, the people who would be selected each day to be shot as the means to show the authorities that the hijackers were serious about their demands were always those who had been stuck there on a hostage plane and had been unable to brush their teeth. There is something about feeling a mess in your teeth that makes you aggressive, or uncomfortable, or irritable, and this aura of unease made these people noticeable to hijackers, as in, "here is one we can kill".

Well, my life has been in danger like that every single moment since a year ago when I had these braces put on. Because no matter how hard I work on my teeth with brush picks, threader floss, Oral B electric toothbrushes, tongue scraper, Listerine mouthwash, and ACT cleansing rinse, I never ever fully feel that my teeth actually ARE brushed. I even feel paranoid that bacteria is filling up the spaces next to, behind, or inside all these metal rings and appliances, so that once I actually DO get the braces off, that my teeth will end up being so rotten anyway that all this nice orthodontic work will have to be extracted and replaced by artificial implants.

So, with all this, some of my teeth actually HAVE been hurting almost at toothache level, and I can't determine if something truly IS wrong, or is this a kind of tension hysterical emotional reaction.

Needless to say, for a year I haven't enjoyed a single bite...eating either hurt too much (saw-blade and needle-cuts inside my mouth) or felt too creepy (particles of food stuffing between every tooth as I ate) or played my paranoia like the keys of a pianola, and I swear, the body has a limited capacity for feeling so in the midst of this symphony of negative sensation, I don't think I have been able to detect a single delicious taste. How can one "taste" anything in the midst of this sensual cacaphony? Well, I sure haven't...I hardly can even CHEW my food, let along taste it.

So whereas two years ago I could enjoy and feel full and satisfied from all the delicious tastes of healthy, weight-losing food, this past year I have felt hungry and unsatisfied no matter how much I have stuffed down my gullet. So it has been a battle to maintain, both my weight loss and my insanity.

So now, today, it has all come to a head, so I will go to bed early and then go to bed again for a whole day after my punishing doctor visits tomorrow morning. Surprisingly after all this heat outside, the weather report for tomorrow calls for potential rain storms, which in Los Angeles, is "winter" weather. Actually, that will play perfectly with me being cozy and resting in my bed, almost as if Mother Nature herself has come to my rescue. I love sleeping when it is rainstorming outside. So I imagine that after a day or two of that, I will be as good as new and maybe will be able to venture a bit beyond bathroom vicinity. Wouldn't that be nice!

But eating will still not be enjoyable. The metallic barbed wire inside my mouth is slated to be around for another two or three months. But you know what, that's just about how long a summer is, and we all know how fast THAT flew by. So, before I even know it, it's going to pearls and no more swine (between the teeth).

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