Friday, October 14, 2016


You didn't think I'd just let things go, did you? Just as they always have, and do, they percolate, lay down in layers on top of one another, waiting to be urged into shape. Did you know that Rome is a city of layers, that about fifteen feet down are the remains of Late Antique Rome (between 1500 and 800 years old) and then another fifteen feet below that is another? And so on. That dermatologist with the Drumpf hair wanted a CAT scan of the skull, threw out diseases and words, mused, casual, and then he dismissed the giant hives as coincidence and prescribed the antihistamine with the green label with a shrug.  I nodded my head and asked intelligent questions, like I do, but he disappeared in a puff of dander in my mind. You didn't think I'd let it go, did you? I lay down on the bed for hours as the words lay down in layers, waiting to be urged into shape. I feel the urge. Otherwise I'd go mad, not be mad but go mad. Go.

I read a free article in Esquire today about an epileptic man, Henry, who was rendered an amnesiac in the 1950s, after an esteemed neurosurgeon basically fucked up the surgery. Stripped his memory with knife. I read this on my phone while sitting in the car at a Valvoline and a woman with dreads poked around in the car's netherparts. I'd call that a coincidence -- both the fact that of all the things on the internets that I'd click on to read was a story about an epileptic (named Henry) and that my car's netherparts were being explored -- but I'm not like the dermatologist or even the neurologist who prefers the empirical. I'm more inclined to believe that there are no accidents. Plus -- you know -- those layers. The author of the article was the grandson of the neurosurgeon. Henry's brain, though fucked up by the establishment, proved to be incredibly useful over the years, providing us with a wealth of information about the brain. Henry himself, the profound amnesiac, retained the memory of the surgeon who'd taken his memory, though, and whenever he'd get stubborn, let's say, about taking his medication, all They'd (it's always They) have to invoke was the doctor's name, his authority, and Henry would comply. Even after the surgeon was dead and Henry sat for hours doing crossword puzzles in a chair at the home where he'd lived ever since, the once upon a time.

I am as far from stripped of memory as Henry was stripped. Those layers.

Remember the layers. The latest ones laid over six days in the hospital. Lying for six hours the day after we returned home, waiting for words.

I am a reluctant ringleader in the circus, whipping my lariat around, one hand on my crop. There are the clowns in the car, spilling out, so many of them. A distraction. That beautiful woman on the rope above -- her balance and daring! -- is me as well, an alter-ego to be sure, her daring my dissociation. Even tigers are tamed in the ring, but they return to cages, crunch on bloody flesh. So it's all illusory -- the entertainment. Why always my urge to flee? Sophie, under my arm to some distant place. Something like the Chinese mountain scene I copied in watercolor for a high school art class. The drifting narrow clouds over peaks, the gentleness and peace of it. We're always digging holes to China.

Did you think I would rest here in some new-found wisdom borne of experience, that the razor isn't as sharp, my whip as precise? Some of us struggle and reconcile.  I struggle and resist. Sophie's eyes and everything in them. We are unwitting Bodhisattvas.

  1. a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
    • something reused or altered but still bearing visible traces of its earlier form.


  1. I'm on my third glass of wine (been watching the "trumpalumpadumpa" news so I'll have to come back and read this when I sober up. I will say that Sophie doesn't look like she's buying what neuro, etc had to offer.


  2. She looks so patient, as if she is at the salon and they are doing her hair in dreadlocks, hence all the colorful little beads. Resigned to the boredom of it all.

    No, I never thought for one second that you would let it go, would let anything go. But I hope something comes that helps you to stop thinking, for awhile.

  3. I used to describe Miel's situation as involuntary enlightenment. As for resistance, a Chinese doctor once told me when people struggle and resist instead of accepting, it meant change is possible.

  4. Elizabeth, you lay out the truth here in writing that dazzles and also slices through to bone. I am continually in awe of every word, and of the life behind the writing.

  5. My God, Elizabeth, this is stunning writing, a poem, a cry, and raised fist, shaking, resisting, chasing down meaning. I am in awe of you, of this walk you make with your children, and I am glad you do not let it go.

  6. I sit, mouth agape, at the wonder of your writing.

  7. Once again, I am chilled at the similarity of our seemingly intertwined experiences.

    Nicholas has been suffering from a severe rash of unknown origin for now almost a full year. Urticaria, they said, which is, as you know, just another fancy word for "we have no f-ing idea".

    We saw dermatologists, allergists, endocrinologists, neurologists and the like. He was hospitalized 3 times with teams and teams of Harvard grads scratching their heads, shrugging their shoulders and telling me how brave I was....choke, cough, gag.

    After several EEG's (Nick has ESES) and many months of trying everything...from expensive creams, antihistamines and Tums, I began to see a connection between Nick's bouts of constipation and hive flare-ups. He became so constipated from all the antibiotics and antihistamines that his digestive system almost came to a complete stop and we were forced to use the dreaded enema.

    Surprisingly however, after these treatments, his rash seemed to improve. He was much better. Nick's gastro has always spoken of the important brain/gut connection that most physicians fail to recognize since they all "specialize" in only one area of expertise.

    We began to work with the "complex care team" at Children's who were very helpful in getting all of the physicians talking to one another. I have discovered that the "Harvard elite" may be high on intelligence and expertise, but most lack plain old common sense.
    Nick is now scheduled for another 3 day hospital stay for tests to see if he is potential candidate for an appendicostomy but more on that later.

    I recognize your battle fatigue, it is an old friend of mine, especially after long hospital stays. I marvel at the words you use to describe this overwhelming monster.

    You are so fortunate to have such an outpouring of love and support that will always be there to fill your soul and soothe your spirit. Please know that I am one of them.

  8. Please know I am among your friends supporting you virtually at this difficult time. Nothing like stumped doctors to shake you up. (especially the ones who pretend they've got it all figured out).
    But why a CAT scan of the skull? And why another EEG, for which I presume Sophie is patiently sitting and being prepped?

  9. This: We are unwitting Bodhisattvas.

    For sure, for sure. Just getting caught up on your blog. I've had to be very quick-on-quick-off with the Internet, lately, as it's causing my GERD to act up.

    Unbelievably enough, I know of another young person with a seizure disorder, also hospitalized when Sophie was, for virtually the same thing. No accidents. I feel like the current political climate is too much for the systems of some, there is a palpable anxiety and fear, that is blowing my fuses, for sure.



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