Sometimes, bad happenings actually solve other problems. How did Lyme Disease help me? Read on.
As many of you already know, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease a couple weeks ago, after suffering out at my cabin in the heat for near a month. Heat exhaustion led to dehydration, which led to malnutrition, which lead to my body’s salt balances (potassium and sodium) getting all screwed up, along with a couple of liver enzymes. Sometime, while all of that was going on, I got bit by the wrong tick and infected with this stupid condition called Lyme Disease. I seem to have made a pretty good recovery, but the final verdict will be out for a while.
I feel better. In the last couple of days, I’ve actually been feeling a lot better. I even woke up without back pain two days in a row. My eyes are still bloodshot, so I’m obviously not 100% yet, but I felt well enough to make a trip out here to the Ozarks and check on my property. I believe I have a limited time from when I got my inspection on my truck until I order the license plates for it, and of course, I have to convince the DMV that yes, I live out here, in the woods, and I need a new driver’s license.
The process in other states wasn’t that hard. In fact, I don’t even remember going through it in Florida or Louisiana, but I’m sure they had some kind of documentation that I needed to have, in addition to an out of state license and a claim that I now lived there. From what I’ve been told, one such piece of documentation is mail addressed to your street address. Not a big deal, unless your 80 acre property has no mailbox!
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about that part of the requirements, but I’m hoping the staff down here in the middle of nowhere is a bit more understanding and lenient than if I went to St. Louis. The lines are likely shorter, too.
When I got to town today, I had to pick up some money, so that meant a detour to my bank in a real city about 45 minutes from the property. Then I got a sub sandwich, because I need all the calories I can get out here, and after almost dying of hunger, I’m very conscious of that fact now. Death might not take the same pity on me next time.
After visiting the local café and catching up with my social media people (love you, twitter friends, you know who you are!) I ducked off toward the little one-horse town closer to the property. Oh, I finished my latest freelance assignment and turned it in, too. I stopped by the post office. I had 4 pieces of mail that were not trash or bank statements. All hospital bills. Two of them were addressed to my PO Box, the other to the physical address of my property!
Now. I really have to hand it to the post office people, and will likely take them cupcakes in the near future. There is no forwarding from my physical address. It’s just a GPS coordinate and a made-up address that I gave to the county people who are in charge of this kind of stuff. I told them where I was, named my driveway like a street, and picked a number for my address. They sent someone out with a GPS to mark the location for the 911 emergency map. That’s it!
So, the post office. They saw my name, and the stuff ended up in my post office box. Even for a tiny town like this, where there aren’t many names to keep track of, what kind of people give that level of service nowadays? They left a handwritten note on one of the envelopes asking if I could kindly inform the hospital to send mail to my PO Box. Pretty cool. The really cool thing, is that I now have my two pieces of mail for the DMV tomorrow!
Now, I went to 3 different places to get my condition checked out. The first was a clinic, with a doctor who seemed to think I was in there bullshitting them until she saw my “standard” blood-work. They refused a test for the Lyme bacteria antibodies when I requested it, but when they saw my salt level was about 75% of what it was supposed to be, they hooked me up to a saline drip and shot me off to the hospital.
The goof balls at the hospital were the ones who don’t seem to know where to send my mail, even though I told them like 4 times. In the end it worked out. What didn’t work out was that I saw two doctors over there who also refused to order the Lyme test, and several nurses and techs who were helpless to do anything about it. These hospital doctors were concerned about my liver enzymes.
Didn’t I tell y’all I just came out of a 4 month stay in the woods? I’m all fucked up. I wasn’t kidding about that. And if I’m so dehydrated, why won’t anyone bring me a glass of water or a Gatorade? C’mon people.
Yes, I was becoming a little irate and a bit of a dick. So much so that the doctor in charge of me (or whatever nomenclature they use) gave up and sent another guy in. That guy at least sided with me that I was well enough to go home, and rehydrate and salt up on my own without the IV drip (which stayed empty longer than full because nobody was bringing me a new bag. I should have grabbed it myself, there was a drawer full of them next to my bed). You might think that unreasonable behavior, but I remind you that I was dehydrated, malnourished, and thinking how much better the care would be if I was at Mom’s taking care of myself. In fact, I think those were my last words to the doc who gave up on me. Now, I’m not blaming the ER staff, they’re busy and can’t possible take care of every little detail all the time, and I wasn’t going to die in that room so I’d much rather them help someone in a more dire condition, but I’m just sayin’.
Anyway, in addition to signing off on my discharge papers, which is good if you are hoping for the insurance company to cover your trip (still waiting to see on that), he also referred me to a small practice across the street from that hospital and made an appointment. He said that doctor could help me out.
And he was right. When I went to the other clinic the next day, they got me in on time, and the doctor gave me a chance to tell the whole story. He even probed about stuff I hadn’t thought about, like 2 other tick-born illnesses that I may have contracted since I never got the classic Lyme Disease rash. The back-and-forth went on for about 2 hours, and since we were pretty sure about my symptoms, he went ahead and prescribed the antibiotics before I had any blood pulled. Talk about on his game. He wanted to know how I was purifying my water, how I was staying cool, how much work I was doing during the hot parts of the day, my coffee and writing habit. Everything. I was very happy with that doctor, and even though he isn’t in Missouri, I’ll be doing my follow-up with him, even if I have to pay out of pocket.
On that note, 7 hours in the hospital ended up costing 20 times as much as the guy that actually helped me. Go figure. Another one of life’s little wonders.
Now, even though I blog about my escapades in the woods, this is a writing website, so I should tie it back to writing help if I can, right? Here goes.
All this bullshit, the ups, the downs, the sacrifices, and the odd coincidence of a certain part of my life’s plot just working itself out through the story? That’s the writing process. That’s exactly what writing a novel feels like, and it’s supposed to feel that way. It isn’t just your main character who is going on a journey of self-transformation through the various trials you put them through. That book is your transformation from a writer to a novelist. So don’t get scared if you get stuck somewhere in act 2 and aren’t sure which direction to go. Keep writing. Some problems will work themselves out, while others (like my current 4000 dollar hospital bill) are going to take some serious effort and deep thinking to resolve.
Writing a novel is hard. But if you give up, then you can’t finish. So keep writing. Keep charging forth through the tough parts, or just follow your characters if you aren’t sure what to do. Sometimes they are smarter than you are. You’ll eventually finish it, and then you will have written a novel. Even if it never gets published or turned into a movie, it will be an accomplishment you can be proud of forever.
Life and novels really aren’t that different. Stick it out, in both, no matter what blocks get put in your way, and finish that damn book!