I have written this new blog entry many times in my head, and also given it a title, each time quite different as my focus and attitude have changed. First bit of news is that I was unable to go to Doha. Huge disappointment and frustration. Our exhibit, "Welcome To The Library" was cancelled at the last minute quite unexpectedly, much to the chagrin of both Alison and myself after all the planning and anticipation. We still don't know why but think it had to do with a lack of planning ahead on the part of the Katara folks in Doha but actually we really don't know for sure. There had been a flurry of e-mails about insurance coverage just before the art transport van was to come to pick up the work at my studio. Then, following a trip to Mexico to attend a yoga retreat (the very first time I have ever done this), I got sick. Very sick. Mistaking the illness for the aftermath of being in Mexico, I did not immediately recognize the symptoms of a flare up of ulcerative colitis (I was diagnosed with this disease in 2000) and did not begin taking the medication I have for it soon enough. Every day I thought I was going to get better, and indeed I was able to get up some days and function, usually after I had not eaten anything the day before. Even drinking water gave me cramps and pain. By day 13 I was so miserable and dehydrated and weak from not having eaten for so long I finally conceded to going to the ER. I was admitted that night, with a high white blood cell count indicating infection and an obvious severe inflammation of the colon. There were no beds available at Waldo County Hospital (which really means not enough staff, plus I was considered infectious due to the recent trip to Mexico and the intestinal problems so I required isolation), nor were there any available in Rockport, or in PORTLAND! so I went to Lewiston in the middle of the night on a long, bumpy non emergency ride in an ambulance. Once there it was even more surreal, as I arrived at 2:30 am and had barely fallen asleep at 4 am when the hospitalist on duty came to ask me many questions, yawning the entire time. And for those of you who have ever spent time in a hospital, the visits from staff and doctors then continued every hour, or every few minutes, or even less for four days. You just don't get any sleep, even in a room by yourself. I was given IV fluids, IV antibiotics and IV steroids. By day 3 I was declared uninfectious and was moved to a room with an elderly roommate with dementia. I won't even begin to write about 24 hour period. Suffice it to say I begged them to let me go home and thank god they did and my dear sister Megan came to pick me up on day 4. The third day in the hospital was when Alison and I had tickets to fly to Doha. Alison went by herself and had a rather lonely but very successful week doing the workshops we had carefully planned together. Back at home I slowly and timidly began to eat again and began to think I can never ever travel again to Mexico. Or perhaps travel abroad at all. But it remains to be determined whether this major flare up had anything to do at all with the trip to Mexico. Either way, I was not going to be traveling to Doha.
I am now following a somewhat restrictive diet to make sure I don't get sick like that again, but there really isn't any real evidence that any specific diet does the trick. I am mostly inclined to follow the Paleo diet, which as a meat eater works for me (in theory anyway). But I sure do miss drinking beer, cutting way back on coffee and milk, miss eating pasta and other complex carbohydrates, grains, and the small amounts of refined sugar I didn't pay much attention to before (as in most processed foods). So far so good and I feel like myself again. More on diet and nutrition later, I am sure, though it has nothing to do with making art. Or maybe I will discover it actually does...I have now taken a short term, part time job to help address the $5,000 deductible on our our insurance policy. Do not get sick in this country! Even with lifelong, good health insurance coverage.