Living Obliquely

Approximately 1400 people are diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (TM) annually.
Similar to Multiple Sclerosis, it attacks your myelin, leading to painful and debilitating side effects.
About 33,000 Americans are currently disabled as a result of this rare neurological disorder.
Not one person with TM will ever know their prognosis.
I happen to be one of them.

I am a neurological soup. Since my TM diagnosis, I have developed encephalitis, MS, RSD/CRPS, Osteoporosis (I am 34, no 35, eek), and Chronic Anemia. sucks, but I still rock.


New Year New Shit

It's been several months since I last posted, a personal post, a far departure from my past glaring observations and ruminations of hope, humor, and inspiration. Well I'm here today, or rather this evening or morning, sleepless or wake-less, a year and a half into this neurological black hole.

1st step: Transverse Myelitis
  • piss your skin tight pants under the sun and in public
  • wake up without legs
  • get diagnosis
  • begin life in and in and out and in of hospital
  • rid life of negativity - people, thoughts, things not worthy of the healing cause
  • get attorney to fight Aetna for right to treatment
  • Aetna takes monthly payments and my most important 3 months of recovery
2nd step: Encephalitis
  • lose cognition
  • lose hearing in 1 ear
  • don't take thinker pose, it hurts the jaw bones
  • lose vision
  • Top Doc says, "you're crazy, you can see."
  • use walking cane as seeing eyestick to find way home
  • lose identity
  • lose self-confidence, or just lose, lose at games that you were the queen of winning, lose shallow lovers or hallowed loves - in sickness not health, there is little distinction
  • delirium and hallucinations set in
  • birds enter my apartment, "let's go for a walk"
  • I come to, just before following them out my window
3rd step: Multiple Sclerosis
  • MRI says, "lesions on brain ventricles"
  • Doctor says, "daily injections; gain weight...tomorrow celebrate your birthday...i'll see you thursday"
  • Doctor says, "keep your chin up"
  • there are people with death sentences
  • I say, at least it's not a death sentence
  • two weeks later, in hospital, with sepsis
  • i am dying. i am living. i am dying, then living.
  • they ask, What year is it? I mumble, 1985. I'm 10, nothing has yet happened.
  • I sleep and sleep, I can not get from my bed to my portapotty.
  • I sleep and sleep and am accused of hoarding pain meds.
  • two months later, I sleep in my own bed, back where I started
  • It's been 15 months, at least 10 surgeries; it's time to empty the 'roids from my de-muscled body
  • I return to my bed, swallow my nighttime pain/spasm/tremor/sleepless nights cocktail...hours and hours, still awake; too awake, too alive, ingredients for pain ascending

I'm one of the few or many with the lucky triad of neuro sentences, and I've been fed hope and lies and truths, and I've chewed it like a cow and its cud and spat it out smiling, and with each transfusion of "things will get better" jargon, I get more and more meds....and more diagnoses...and more treatment plans...and weaker in body...and weaker in something people cal spirit...and weaker in mind, brain cells are dumb cells, but now I can watch a movie on TV - beginning to end; popping 2 oxycodone midway - this is progress. This is progress?

This is not pity. This is my brain on neuro disorders and neuro drugs. Where is Melanie? She's not here this year. She's on a neuroflight, no vaccinations necessary or allowed - away from disappointment, anger a lot of anger, away from love that never was anything more than more negativity more spinal column aggravation. This life is aggravating. People are aggravating. Health people, stay away from me this New Year. I most likely hate you. Don't interrupt my journey with your champagne happiness. Perhaps we can meet again in 2011. But no, that's hope, and hope is disappointment. Swallow it all like midnight's toast, "to nothing, to nothing, hurrah, hurrah."

Friends say, you deserve to be sad, you deserve to be angry, and being sad and angry makes me more sad and angry. I used to think, at least this neuro shit won't kill me. But we now know that's not true. I'm dressed with a permanent permacath, that shakes its udders at infection, like a blond with a boob job worth flaunting. And then there's the portacath too, hovering in the shadow of its neighboring death trap.

I follow instructions, mind the rules, not showered in 3 months, keeping my central line clean, keeping my life line from death line, sleeping on ER benches and beds, digging through the bureaucracy and hypocrisy of insurance and health care. There is not enough Zoloft to overpower the neuro triangle.

I am a hospital bracelet - white, red, or yellow; such happy colors.

And here I am again, solo, baring my soul, a sap for a soul, a misplaced soul, solo, always solo along sidewalks of healthy happiness, such lucky happiness, such insensitive happiness, such insulting happiness.

Perhaps there will be links and pictures later.


  1. You forgot a couple things...
    You are an amazing friend. You have the ability to crack a hilarious joke that can suddenly cause bladder malfunction in the listener. You can tell an amazing story with rhythm and tempo, as if it were music. Your words thump through the heart and make it sing or sink, as you wish. Your creativity is inspired, your talent is boundless. You are smart and sassy. You are beautiful. And, you still have the hottest ass I've ever seen.

  2. I agree with Kathryn, on all accounts. You are, still.


Thanks for sharing your comments on my blog. Please stop back soon or subscribe by clicking

If you're a Philly-region person with TM, please consider joining the Transverse Myelitis Philadelphia network (, a new social networking group that I started for people with TM so that we can meet and chat casually. It's only on Facebook for now, so, if you haven't already, join. It's easy.


In Pictures

Please Note: Some photos may contain partial nudity or depictions of medical procedures. Though I am in many of these photos, my reason for sharing these personal photos is to promote awareness, understanding, and advocacy for people with TM and other rare diseases.
To play the slide show, click the big play button in the center of the screen, then the small one in the bottom left corner. Click here for more advanced viewing instructions, and select "Help."

Twittering Mel

    follow me on Twitter

    Neuro Art Latest

    See My Art Published in Monkey Puzzle Issue #7

    See My Art Published in Monkey Puzzle Issue #7
    Representing TM through Art and Dialogue...Locally, Nationally, Virtually.