Monday, March 28, 2005

These Dreams...

... go on when I close my eyes. I'm not talking about the Wilson sisters (although M did get a Heart Greatest Hits album recently). I'm talking about one way I know animal communication is what I really want to be doing with my life. I've been having these dreams lately. In each one, I have to save Maya, our cantankerous and deaf cat, from some impending doom. This has ranged from a fire drill to an actual fire, from being forced to move out of our place due to some financial ruin to rescuing her from a building next to one that has been blown up by terrorists. Maya is pretty good as I cradle her in my arms and run for safety amidst the confusion, at first. But I know the minutes are numbered before she starts to struggle, and I may lose her completely in the chaos as she becomes irritable or scared by the situation and wriggles free. I feel mounting alarm as I worry that I will lose her and may not know if she is safe. I will both miss her terribly and feel as though I have failed.

Once again, my subconcious? With the subtlety? Not so much. Clearly not only have I been feeling guilty that I've been behind on Ms. Maya's columns since I got sick (I swear she has been put out at me lately, and looking somewhat unhealthy), but I am worried about all my animal and human clients who I have been powerless to assist while lost in vertigo-induced la-la land. Every day I get a couple more messages from clients anxious about a lost cat, a dog with cancer, or an animal friend who has recently died. I want to help them so much! But then I look at the backlog of clients I am still trying to catch up on, and it overwhelms me. I know being sick for a month is no 9/11 terrorist attack, but my subconcious is obviously using some exaggerated metaphors to let me know that I am waaay anxious about this. And did I mention I am still in the middle of re-organizing my files and doing my taxes?

I know I will catch up, somehow, and I know I still need to take time for myself to relax, meditate and continue to get better, or I'll be no good to anyone. But I tend to spiral into these fear-of-impotency panics... "all the animals in the world are going to suffer if I don't help them right now, and it's my fault!"... even though, realistically, I know that my clients always have the option to take up my offer for a referral and I am Just. One. Person.

The good news is that I have other reasons for believing this really is my calling - the top of the list being just how damn delightful I find a good chat with most animals and their people, and how incredibly good I feel when I get something I never would have imagined exactly right, or actually help to facilitate an understanding between beings that haven't been getting along, or even help an animal or person feel or behave better. But, being the person that I am, I suppose the freaky dreams and bouts of anxiety are bound to go along with the territory when I feel all that goodness in my life is somehow threatened. That and the fact that I'm no longer passed out on Trazadone every night. Ever try to kick a sleeping aid?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


No, not the movie - although it's one of my favourite films. And not the comic line, either. If you thought of that first, you are an even bigger geek than I am.

No, I mean the actual symptom, i.e. " a false illusion of motion with a distinct sensation of rotation." This was the major symptom I was experencing as I was sick over the last three weeks, and it's more of a pain in the ass than you might imagine. I mean, I thought it was bad when I had the symptoms of a throat infection and possible stomach flu the week before. But, it turned out it could get worse, because I didn't go to the doctor and it progressed to a combined sinus and ear infection that gave me... well, you guessed it.

Just how much of a pain in the ass is vertigo? Well, strike one: if you have vertigo, nobody can tell you have it. You look perfectly fine, until you find yourself putting your head between your knees or clinging to nearby wall or lamp-post to remain upright. I have a feeling that I was probably doing weird squinty and popping things with my eyeballs, too, and making pissy faces, but just enough that the casual observer probably thought I was either crazy or had a minor case of Tourette's, not so much that it would be clear I was ill and thus garner some pardon or sympathy. In any case, I found myself feeling defensive while I was sick in a way I wouldn't have if, say, I had a rattling cough or a blood-soaked bandage on my head. "I may look fine," I'd silently mind-thrust at those around me, "but I feel like I've been tossed in a sack and hammered - wanna make somethin' out of it?"

Strike two: it is remarkably incapacitating. Even if you otherwise feel fine (which is unlikely, because headaches, fatigue and nausea tend to tag along with their friend vertigo, but I'm just saying), try doing almost anything when the little steadycam in your brain that keeps your every waking moment from looking like the chase scene in a COPS video is not working and you will pretty soon start wishing for temporary blindness. Work on the computer? No. Watch TV? Not for more than a few minutes, if you don't want to revisit your breakfast. Read a good book? Try a page or two, at most. When I did have to move around, I found myself navigating through many familiar spaces - and some unfamiliar ones - with my eyes closed. I'd sometimes catch myself doing this walking down the hallway at work or, say, Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn on the way to the pharmacy. I'd have to stop and force myself to pry my lids open and walk slowly, to lessen the chance of blundering into other pedestrians, obstacles or passing vehicles. To be fair to myself, I submit that even when I was blinded and dizzy, I was at least as careful and safe as most of the drivers on that familiar roadway ("bike lane? What bike lane? I think I'll make a U-Turn at 35 miles per hour with this Salvation Army couch plopped on my car roof and the 5 kids sliding around in the back, between the blown-out, blaring gajillion-watt speakers.").

Finally, strike three: there's just not a heck of a lot you can do for vertigo. The strongest thing my doctor threw at me was a version of your basic Dramamine, which did almost nothing for me (except make me even more sleepy, which I did not expect was possible). So, I basically had to wait until it went away, not knowing when or if it would. I knew I was supposed to be on antibiotics for at least a week, but as that stretched into ten days and on to nearly two weeks with little improvement, I began to worry. What if the infection was gone, but I had some weird condition or damage in my brain, which meant I'd be doomed, dooooooomed, to feeling like I'd just spent three hours on the Goodship Gutspew for the rest of my life? All things told, this one symptom, which, on the surface, would not seem like something that would put one out of commission, did. Put me out. And I was mad about it, too!

I mean, not only did I have to use up most of my sick days, but I had to spend them staring at... nothing, or reading for five minutes and then sleeping for fifteen. And I'd find myself raging at myself, too, as in "you pussy! You're just a little woozy! It's not even a flesh wound!" But it didn't help. And it was depressing, because I also couldn't enjoy eating, or talking with anyone for very long, much less keep up my AC practice, which was probably the most disheartening. I mean, it's one thing to feel just generally useless, but another entirely when someone calls you weeping that their innocent little animal is dying or lost somewhere, and you have to say "sorry, got a bit of the spins, can't help you." Well, I could refer them elsewhere, but still. I ended up having to do quite a bit of soul-searching and telling myself that just because I couldn't be "useful" in the way I'd like to be at that time, I was still an okay person. I'm still mulling over that one, but I guess it was an important "life lesson." Or whatever. Bleah.

Anyway, I'm back again (somewhat) and starting to catch up, so I hope to be writing more. I'm sure millions have been waiting with breath a-baited. Stay tuned for what one hopes will be less hostile, if probably equally self-involved, updates.