On returns and wellness.
So it’s been awhile since last I wrote but this has not been due to writers block or some such. In fact, I have an overwhelming amount of things swirling in my little head to write about at the moment. What has actually happened has been a bit out of my control.
It started in mid-late September during a 2 week vacation in S.E. Asia I was taking with my family for my birthday. Nearing the end of our Cambodia segment and a day or two after my birthday I started to really worry about my eyesight and I was losing some of my appetite. I’d thought at first naively that I just needed to adjust my current contact prescription and that I was maybe just getting sick. However, my health continued to dwindle in the weeks after returning to Tokyo.
Several things were off. First, my balance and eyesight causing me to fall down some stairs at the train station and having to be checked out at the hospital just a day after returning from my trip. I attributed this to just being tired from all the travel and trying to pile on too many things at once but those things continued to go downhill. After that came the fatigue and loss of appetite. It got so bad that even when I was hungry I would take a bite of food and couldn’t swallow or it tasted like ash in my mouth and I would retch. At this point my vision was also like having an moonlight (almost black and white)filter over it especially at night. It was scary. And last the vomiting and leg cramps. I would vomit often even when there was nothing in my stomach. Then,especially at night but in the final days of this mysterious illness during the day as well, my legs would cramp up and be in so much pain – It felt like someone had taken a hammer to my legs and I couldn’t sleep.
Over those weeks I’d gone to the doctor for the eyes or there was the depressing time a friend and I had trying to get me admitted to a Japanese hospital and got ran around to several different places needing a reservation before anyone would even see me. So by the end of October I still had no clue what was doing this to me and I could only think maybe it was a parasite (which became the root of short story I hope to share with you all soon) I’d picked up possibly.
Finally, we decided to try St. Luke’s International Hospital and they gladly took me in and did their due diligence. I really thank them because they really worked to figure it out and made me feel hope and trust in them. In the first visit it was obvious that my levels were all very low. I’m anemic so it was no surprise my iron was so low but my vitamin d, b, calcium and glucose all were as well. So they prescribed all the good stuff to get me back on track. The next week came and my levels had increased a bit for the most part except the glucose. I still wasn’t getting any nutrition.
At this point they decided to do a CT scan. By this day my health was in such shambles the nurses had to wheel me around in a chair, I was coughing and vomiting and in so much pain which the CT scan didn’t help with because it used an invasive fluid that was shot into my veins and really made me nauseous. But after it was over we were close to the truth, I had some inflammation on my colon in what looked like it could be a form of colitis or chrohn’s disease. I panicked a little knowing my younger cousin had chrohn’s and that it can be genetic to an extent.
The next day I had a colonoscopy to determine exactly what it was but on that day after having the procedure I was so broken down they had to admit me to the hospital. I was completely on empty. I called my mom to tell her and she was ready getting tickets for New York to Tokyo for as humanly possible. She would not arrive in Tokyo until 2 days later because of the time differences (she was actually able to leave the next morning after I’d called) so I stayed in the hospital by myself for at least 2 days.
During those days I had many friends visit me and my heart was full to know I wasn’t alone in this. Even as I watched Election Day back home from the hospital in horror, I could cringe with others and take my mind off the situation for a bit. On the 3rd day my Mother and Sister arrived and my Bestie in Tokyo came to visit and we finally got to the root of what was going on.
I had an unspecific gastro colitis that was causing me to be unable to absorb proteins and other nutrients. I was told that when this is active it can go from 0–100 in just a few weeks. To give you an idea in the span of those 4 weeks I’d lost 20lbs and nearly blind. They had to pump the nutrients Into me via IV to bring me back up to where I could really start to eat on my own again. It turned out my mom had gone through a similar bout of this in the last year while I was away and she planned to take me home to get me treated by the people who were able to bring her back. I just didn’t know how soon she’d intended for that, it would be the following Monday a mere 5 days later and just a day after I’d be discharged from the hospital.
My mind was in distress. This left me no time to say goodbye to my friends. To close out my accounts and leave Japan in a proper way so that I could come back someday. But I am getting ahead as I forgot to mention during these weeks of sickness I had agreed to leave Japan for good for my parents who needed me through some life changing things for them. So I knew I would have to leave but I’d expected having more time to leave properly. Now I was going to be on a plane just 2 days out from the hospital. I was devasted and in many ways as I’m resting here in my NY home I still am but I have some assurance that in February I will get to go back and clear out my things properly and have some proper goodbyes.
It happened so so fast though. And I was only able to say goodbye to a few (but very important) people in those days. I’ve been in New York again for about 3 weeks now and that in itself has been an ordeal. From the day after we landed I’ve been in and out of Doctors offices, tears shed, gains made and I can say right now I’m feeling about 80% myself again but I still have some ways to go. At this point though I want to get back to things that make me happy so I’ve started taking pictures again now that my eyes are back and cooking now that I have energy, so soon there must be writing too. Goodness knows I have a lot of things to unpack and release from me.