Upstage

I am reading Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius, A Guide for the Poet Within, for a class. In the chapter about cliches, she suggests choosing a cliche and playing with it. The first example on her list is “A sudden fear gripped me”, so she inspired this:

Upstage

A sudden fear gripped me by my nipples
I hear my mother: Colder than a witch’s titty
Why must the witch’s titties be cold?
Must they dance naked even in the bitter winter?
Can a witch retire at a certain age
Sit warm, clothed, with her cat and tea
By a fire with enough fuel for winter?
You’d think they’d get pneumonia dancing naked
In any weather; yet witches are usually old.
Maybe it acts like jumping in to cold water
To dance around a Beltane fire; maybe witchery
is hot work and they aren’t cold at all.
Maybe a witch’s titty is warm all the time
And meanwhile the fear is gone, upstaged by titties.

Dinosaurs got colds too

https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2022-02-11/dolly-diplodocid-dinosaur-pneumonia-disease-respiratory-illness/100817258

Dolly the Dinosaur shows evidence of a respiratory infection: aka a “cold”. And a chronic cold. She died at age 15, about half way through her lifespan. I suspect a little guesswork there. Do old dinosaurs turn grey?

There are dinosaur bone changes in Dolly from chronic infection. The scientist posted photographs on the internet and other bone experts said, that is infection. That is evidence of respiratory infection. “A lot of the times when any disease or trauma is found in a dinosaur skeleton, it’s often in limb bones where you expect it to happen,” Dr Poropat said. “Seeing it where the air sacs penetrate the vertebrae in a sauropod is quite unusual.” Also, she didn’t die of volcanic ash: “Inhalation of volcanic ash can cause a disease similar to mesothelioma.” Who knew? I haven’t kept up on my dinosaur medicine. The pattern of lesions also didn’t fit with lung cancer. Instead, Dr Woodruff and his colleagues think bacterial or fungal infections such as chlamydiosis and aspergillosis are prime suspects. These respiratory infections are common in birds today. “We don’t know for sure if the infection was bad enough to ultimately do Dolly in.”

Dolly, with her long neck, had neck arthritis from a chronic cold. She thought it was allergies.

Coronoviruses are colds. We are have a pandemic of a really really nasty killer cold and a cold that is doing long term damage in way too many people. That seems hugely ironic to me. I thought it would be influenza. After flu nearly killed me in 2003 I read about it and have enormous respect for it. And influenza is endemic and is always circling the world, in the colder regions.

My ideas about allergies and asthma are changing. We define asthma by whether people respond to albuterol. I do not respond to albuterol so I do not have asthma. However, I respond to other adrenaline like molecules: coffee caffeine and terbutaline. So do I have an asthma like illness? My allergy testing in 2014 was resoundingly negative. I tested for celiac in 2020, because I just did not feel well. Negative. I have not retested yet, but even if that antibody testing is negative, it was gluten that flared up diverticulitis in me. The thing is, there could be other antibodies. Loads of them. We all make different ones.

I am thinking about tubulin. Tubulin powers our muscles and cilia and flagella. It is mitochondrial. We inherit mitochondria from the mother only: it is in the egg but not the sperm. Mitochondria is matrolineal. My son and daughter both have my mitochondria. I have a photograph of my maternal grandmother’s mother. Her expression is amazingly like my daughter’s expression when she is thinking. My daughter has my poor spelling skills, my attitude towards work, and her father’s muscular endurance. During college, her father’s goal was five sports a day. In high school my daughter said that she “just didn’t feel good” when the pool was closed. She was used to swimming 3-5 miles a day and lifting weights. Her father can get on a bicycle and ride at the speed of talking all day. He also has pioneered “jog golfing” in his area. When the golf course is empty in the winter, he plays golf and jogs from one hole to the next with his bag. Yes, he is nuts, I agree. I am jealous of that endurance.

The inheritance of antibodies would be from both parents, because they are made by the white blood cells. Do parents and children make the same antibodies or are they entirely different? I do not know that. I took an immunology course when I worked at NIH in the 1980s. I also had some immunology in medical school, but not nearly to the level that I am interested in now. I think I am hunting for a really good immunology course. And maybe more information about dinosaur medicine.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: thread. This post follows the thread of my thoughts this morning

freezing level

Yesterday a trip to Forks is in order. There is snow around Lake Crescent and you can see the freezing level part way up the mountain. It is beautiful as we rise into the pass between the Elwha Valley and the Sol Duc Valley. In the Sol Duc Valley there is less snow at road level, but it’s still in the mountains. A gorgeous day.

In the Sol Duc Valley.

writhe

You are sick as shit.

You go to the ER.

You finally feel safe, on a bed, they will save me, you think.

The nurse is on autopilot. He does not seem concerned. You are shaking a little as he arranges you on the bed. He puts the heart monitor stickers on and hooks you up. Blood pressure cuff, pulse ox. Blood pressure is fine, pulse is a bit fast, at 110.

You notice he is not making eye contact.

“I’m cold.” you whisper.

He doesn’t reply. He keeps messing with the wires. He puts the call button next to your hand. He leaves and returns with a warm blanket. It feels wonderful. He doesn’t say a word.

You feel better under the warmth.

The respiratory therapist wheels in the ECG machine. You smile at her but again, no eye contact. She puts more stickers on you. “Hold a deep breath.” The ECG spits out. She takes it and leaves.

The radiology tech wheels the portable xray machine in. You watch his face but don’t bother to smile. He looks everywhere but at you. It’s a bit creepy. Are they all robots? It’s 3 pm, not 3 am. “Lean forward,” says the tech, putting the radiology cartridge behind you. “Take a deep breath and hold it.” He takes the cartridge and leaves.

The nurse is back. Puts in the iv and draws 5 tubes of blood. You are shivering a little. He doesn’t seem to notice. You think about another warm blanket. The iv fluid starts and you can feel it running cold into your arm.

There is a child crying in the ER, in some other room. You start noticing the noises. Machines beeping. People typing on computer keyboards. No one is talking. The kid gives a howl of protest, rising and then is abruptly quiet.

Your hands and feet are tingling and burning. You writhe a little under the blanket. Sensation is returning to your hands and feet. It hurts but it is also good. You were at the point where all your feeling had shrunk to a tiny spark in the center of your chest. As the iv fluid runs, feeling slowly spreads out from that.

The doctor comes in. Grumpy, clearly. “Lean forward.” Listens to your chest. “Sounds clear.”

“It’s been hurting for 5 days. It hurts to breathe. Burns.” You are anxious as hell. BELIEVE ME.

The ER doc gives a little shrug. “Oxygen sats are fine.” He does a half-assed exam. He leaves.

You look at your feet, taking your socks off. Because he didn’t. There are two black spots, a couple millimeters across, old blood. Those are new.

You press the call button.

Time goes by. The nurse floats back in.

“Look. Tell the doctor to look. These are petechiae.” You point to the black spots.

If the nurse had laser vision, your feet would be burned. The nurse glares at your feet. He goes out.

The doc comes in and looks at your feet.

“They are petichiae. I have an infection.”

He gives a tiny shrug. “Your chest xray looks clear. Your labs are normal. You are not running a fever.”

“I am on azithromycin for walking pneumonia. I suddenly felt like all the fluid was running out of my arms and legs. I am worried that I am septic.”

“Blood pressure is fine. You are really really anxious.”

You are furious. It probably shows on your face. You are terrified.

“Could it be an antibiotic reaction?”

Shrug. “No rash.”

“Except the petechiae.” A sign of sepsis.

“I will change the antibiotics. Clindamycin.” He leaves.

You lie back, terrified. He doesn’t believe you. He is sending you home, septic. You will probably die.

The nurse comes in. Removes the iv and unhooks the monitor and the blood pressure cuff. You get dressed, numb and frightened and cold. The nurse goes out and returns. He recites the patient instructions in a bored voice and gives you the first dose of clindamycin.

You walk shakily to the door of the emergency room. To go home. While you are septic and they don’t believe you. You know what happens with sepsis: your blood pressure will drop and then organ damage and then IF you survive you could have heart damage or lung damage or brain damage and you might not anyhow.

You go home.

resistance

Over and over
I resist
I stand at the edge
I stare at the torrent
The cliff
The falls
The abyss

Over and over
I resist

Over and over
I let go
I fall
Over the cliff
Down the falls
Into the abyss

Over and over
I am sure
I will drown
I will lose my way
I will not surface

Ecstasy is in the air
Between trapezes

I am elsewhere
I am other
No words
No thoughts
No body
No mind

The water is cold
As I expect
When I hit
I knew by the spray
Before I jumped

Submerged
Immersed
Subversive
Over and over

I am born
From the surf
I emerge
From the waves
I am delivered

Fear is my key
Grief is my key
In the places I do
not want to go
That’s where I must go

Over and over I resist
And then let go