No, never. The need and will to craft words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs is buried deep within me. It's as much a part of me as my art.
It's just that, well, you know, Covid happened and really threw everyone on the planet in a loop of fear, timidity and, especially in my case, financial derision. Art shows were cancelled daily, and the list grew longer and longer. Luckily for me, I could file unemployment, having been in the workforce as a paid employee for over 40 years. And, the "Covid Money" and the "Trump Check" didn't hurt. I got repairs to my house done, a boatload of inventory done, and generally took a paid year of retirement off.
But, I get bored easily and needed to get back out into the world. I was ecstatic when, in January of 2021, the veil of fear started to lift, and my old ass could get vaccinated, both one and two, in February of 2021, and anticipated life returning to normal.
Which, dear readers, of course it did not.
My dental clinic finally opened back up, and I was long overdue for a cleaning. Got that, and a month later, had a blocked salivary gland. I have no clue if anything is related, but I suddenly developed ulcerous sores inside my mouth and on my tongue which kept getting progressively worse. Over the next three months, I decided to be proactive in researching what it might be and the best match for what I was experiencing was a particularly nasty autoimmune disease called Pemphigus Vulgaris.
Now, I was doing art shows now, and full-steam-ahead art shows so that I could pay all the credit cards down from my boredom purchases. I lost my buddy Wiggles in 2019, right after his mama died in 2018, so I was truly depressed. Both my best friends died. So, I had purchased another Scottie puppy from a wonderful breeder in Louisiana, and took a road trip to go get her. In the middle of a hurricane, of course. She, my little Ladybug, has been a saving grace for me this past year. She kept me active, kept me from disappearing into grief. But the mouth sores kept getting worse, and now I was developing lesions on my throat and my shoulders.
I secured a new primary care physician who worked with my insurance, but all I got were new blood sugar and cholesterol medication. Finally, after anti-virals (possible herpes) were prescribed, series of new labs done and "shingles" was suspect) neither of which were actually diagnosed, I managed to get referred to an in-network ear, nose, throat doctor. Had to wait a month, but she actually took a biopsy, after much prodding and pleading. Again, had to wait another month for the results, but they confirmed what I had known for over a year. Pemphigus. I was prescribed Prednisone to reduce inflammation, but she did not feel comfortable in treating a long-term autoimmune disease, so she suggested go see a dermatologist. This time, I got in under three weeks, but they did not treat oral lesions. So, I explained my story one more time, and she took two biopsies: one of my reddening, ulcerous shoulder and the other of my abdomen, where ulcers had begun to form in my belly button. Now, she referred me to a rheumatologist. I was looking at three months for an appointment, but I got lucky with the nurse who answered the phone, and she put me in the next available slot, a cancelled appointment from another patient. Finally, I thought.
The rheumatologist determined, just from the first biopsy and from looking at me over his glasses while sitting at a laptop, that I did have Pemphigus "most likely" and he put me on a Lupus drug called Cellcept -and a dosage of Prednisone as well, although a smaller dosage than the ear, nose throat doc. He said we would revisit my progress after my vacation trip, which was fast approaching.
Then, I reviewed the second biopsy with the dermatologist. Yep, confirmed Pemphigus Vulgaris, eating away at my skin and my mouth and my internal organs at this point. So, much larger dose of Prednisone (which I'm happy about, because that shit works), an antibiotic, the continuing autoimmune drug, and two different topical cortisteroids, one for my scalp lesions (hair loss) and another for skin.
So, I've been a bit low-key, having done my last art show in June, and preparing to gear up again in September to take another stab at paying off credit cards. I've sold the RV, preferring instead to deal with hotels and pulling a cargo trailer. When I find a much smaller, drivable camper trailer, I'll look into doing that scene again, with the emphasis on much smaller. And I can take my Ladybug with me.
Good news is that while I'm on the mend, this apparently will never go away. I don't know how I got it, how it managed to rear it's ugly head, but here will me it will stay. Hopefully between all of the medical professionals I've been to in a year and a half, we can kick this into remission and allow me to eat normally again, and not have a very concerning and ugly ulcer on my bottom lip. My hair loss may never recover so I have to figure out what to do about that (it's minor, but noticeable). I can finally eat something other than soup and mashed potatoes, so I know all the drugs are working, albeit incredibly slow.
It's been a lesson in pain, a lesson in patience and a lesson in how short life can be. I will never take the joy of eating Doritos in vain again, if I can ever get back to that point.
See you at the next crisis.