celebrity · Emergency Room · epilepsy · Healthcare

Adventures in Healthcare: or where is George Clooney when I visit the ER?

Let me just say this first: I hate having to go to the Emergency Room. In the past, when I had no insurance, and would have a seizure somewhere, the paramedics would show up, and about half of the time, even though I was fine, and steadfastly refused to be taken to the ER, they’d end up taking me anyway. Usually this was because I’d had a seizure in a public place,and their insurance insisted I be seen. Of course, for some reason, their insurance always resisted paying that hugely expensive bill: both for the ride and for sitting around in the ER. I’m epileptic; I know what to do after a seizure, and unless I’ve fallen and injured myself badly, the ER docs really can’t do much for me, other than tell me what I already know. They never even gave me any good drugs for the headaches or muscle aches that usually follow a seizure. Getting charged $50 for a Tylenol that doesn’t help my headache at all just pisses me off; if they’d just let me have my purse, I could take my own headache meds, and not have to get charged for them! But every time, it was the same thing–I laid on a cold table for hours, waiting for some doctor to tell me “You had a seizure.” At which point I’d say “Well, yeah, duh. I’m epileptic. I told the paramedics that I knew what happened. I’m fine, can I go home now?” And then i’d get to leave. A month later I’d get a $400 bill for the ambulance ride, and another $1000 one for the ER (sometimes more, depending on how determined the doctor had been to see how I was.). I’ve had to threaten to take them to court twice to make the “Public places” pay these bills; since I had refused to go and they took me anyway, it’s been determined I shouldn’t have had to pay. This is not really why I dislike Emergency rooms, not the money part, anyway. Most of my experiences in them have consisted of being told to wait, and then have nothing done. I realize that there really isn’t that much that can be done after a grand mal seizure–there isn’t much going on on the surface to fix. Afterwards I’m mostly tired, with a headache, and by the next day, some severe body aches. All I really need or want is my bed, a couple of Imitrex (to kill the headache), and sleep. And sometimes sleep doesn’t even happen. It drives my mother crazy–I get up after a seizure and come out to the kitchen for a glass of water, or something to eat, or just to talk. She (and dad) think I should be in bed, sound asleep. For some reason, my body doesn’t want to do that anymore.

When I was 15-years-old, and first started having seizures, I’d have a killer headache after every single one, and would sometimes sleep 48 hours after. That when on for at least ten years, I’d say; I don’t really remember when the headaches stopped being quite so bad after every one, but I do know that by the time I finished college, I was able to get up and do things within a few hours after a seizure. These days, the headaches are back, but not the sleepiness.

I ended up in the Emergency Room yesterday. I was sitting here, watching Downton Abbey online, drinking my tea, and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. It felt as if something was stuck in my throat–like when you swallow a pill, but it doesn’t quite go down all the way. Of course, then this pain moved down from my throat to right behind my sternum, and then radiated out through my ribs, diaphragm and back. I called my sister, and she came down to check on me, and decided that I needed to go to the ER. Mom drove me over to Providence Milwaukie, and they saw me right away. They took an EKG, did some blood work, and chest x-rays. The doctor then gave me a few baby aspirin, and a big ole shot of an anti-inflammatory. That seemed to do the trick, because within a few minutes, I was able to breathe better, and the pain eased up.

While I hated sitting there not knowing what was wrong, and stressing everyone out, I will say that this ER was better than the last few I’ve been to. I was in and out in under two hours, and everyone was so nice! It was fast, clean, and competent. If only George Clooney had been there…..

Actually, any one of these three doctors would have made my visit perfect. Eric LaSalle, George Clooney or Noah Wyle.
Actually, any one of these three doctors would have made my visit perfect. Eric LaSalle, George Clooney or Noah Wyle.

They said everything looked normal, and sent me home with a prescription for Ibuprofen, and told me to follow up with my doctor. I’m seeing him on Friday. I’m sure he’s thrilled–I was there last week, too. Poor guy; he gets to listen to me whine, and tell me nothing is really wrong with me. And then I’ll say something totally embarrassing again, I’m sure, and at least he’ll have something to laugh about over drinks later that day. I will never live down commenting on his awesome purple pants. It wasn’t the pants that I embarrassed myself about. I said, and I quote “I’ve never seen a…well, I’m assuming you’re a straight man,  wear purple pants.” At this point I realized what I’d said, and turned  bright pink. He just grinned at me, and laughed.  Last week I tried to apologize, and he smiled at me, and said “If I’d known you were coming today, I’d have worn the purple pants!” He really was rocking those pants. I feel safe saving this here, because I’m fairly sure he’s never going to read my blog, but Dr Jeff is HOT. And the pants worked for him.

book reviews · celebrity

Book Review: My Mother Was Nuts

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall is a better comedian, actress and director than writer. I imagine that many of these stories were funny, and a heck of a lot more interesting when they happened, but, even hearing most of them told in her uniquely gravelly voice (I listened to the audio book), did not bring them to life. This is too bad, since she’s lived quite a life.

Most folks my age remember Penny Marshall primarily as Laverne DeFazio on the sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” but these days, she’s better known as a director and producer. although she’s made some of the best known and well-loved (as well as biggest grossing!) films of our time, she’s never been nominated for major awards for her work, even though her films have won. Let me clarify: Marshall was nominated as an actress for the Golden Globe 3 times for Laverne & Shirley, and has won awards from several other places for her films & her work in general, including receiving a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.  But while several of her films (Big, Awakenings, Cinderella Man, A League of Their Own) were nominated and in several cases won Golden Globes or Oscars for actors, music, or various other things, Penny herself has been neglected. This isn’t something that seems to bother her; as long as she’s working, having fun, and getting to season tickets to sporting events, she’s happy.

“I’m not someone who has had to deal with much personal drama outside of the usual: growing up with parents who hated each other, two marriages and divorces of my own. There was the cancer thing, too.” This is how she opens her book. Having seen her work in Hollywood, I know she can tell a story, and there are places in her memoir where that shines through. Unfortunately, her natural low-key style keeps things from ever really taking off. I’m betting if someone presented this to her as a screenplay, she’d turn it down. As a matter of fact, while discussing making the film ‘Riding In Cars With Boys,’ she mentions that the action in the screenplay seems to jump from one time period to another, without any sort of transition, “”there were no in-betweens,” and that it drove her crazy. I felt the same way about most of this book. I craved details, not just name-dropping. Don’t just give me a list of all the famous people who were at the birthday parties she & Carrie Fisher co-hosted every year; tell me what they did! She mentions once that David Bowie & Iman crashed one of these parties, and that’s it. She mentions it. Tell us about it! Great stories are in the details, and unfortunately, Penny Marshall leaves out too many of the details. She’s had an amazing, interesting life, but if you want to know about it, this isn’t the book to read.


anti-depressant · books · celebrity · Major Depression · Mental Health Issues

So Much More

“There’s so much more to a book than just reading.”  -Maurice Sendak

My life has revolved around books, in some way, shape, or form, for as long as I can remember, and so when I came across this quote today, it struck me as especially true. Books have been my self-medication, that drug I turn to, reading until the pain is numbed or the anger faded; my anchor, helping to keep me calm in stormy seas; my inspiration, showing me that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t neccessarily a train (and if it is, teaching me how to avoid being run down!). Books continue to show me that I am not alone, and for that reason alone, I will never give up reading.

I am still fighting darkness, and this week, a book gave me some words I desperately needed. I began reading

Asylum: Hollywood Tales from My Great Depression: Brain Dis-Ease, Recovery, and Being My Mother’s Son

by Joe Pantoliano, the actor best known for his role on The Sopranos (although I remember him primarily as Guido in Risky Business, this is how old I am!). I haven’t made it past the introduction yet, and already, I’m reading parts of this book to family and friends, and writing a post about it. This man, who has struggled his entire life with depression, ADHD, and for years never knew what was really wrong, has put my feelings into words so eloquently, so perfectly, I can’t talk about it without crying. As he discusses his brain disease, and the battles against the stigma of mental illness, he writes this, which is where I began to bawl:

“Louis B Mayer once said ‘The most important thing about acting is sincerity….Once you learn to fake that, you got it made.’ That’s what my depression felt like- like I was faking it. Faking sincerity. Faking serenity. Faking life.” (p. 224) Faking it is what I’ve been doing my entire life, it seems, but Joe finally put it into words.

There is much, much more to this book, and I know I’ll have a whopper of a review for you all once I finish it. But right now, I just had to say that I have never been so glad I chose a book at the time I did.

By the way, I am beginning a new antidepressant tomorrow, (saw Dr Jeff today), and have a referral to a therapist, so with any luck, we’ll get some of this darkness cleared away for good. Or at least find a nice storage facility for it.


book reviews · books · celebrity

Dream A Little Dream of Corey

I graduated from high school in 1986, and was surrounded by the films of the Brat Pack & the Coreys, and was part of the very first MTV generation. I wanted to read Corey Feldman’s memoir from the moment I heard he was writing one; it did not disappoint. Nobody expected great literature, but he has delivered a true and occasionally wrenching portrait of his life in Hollywood.

The death of Corey Haim was a heartbreaker, and after reading Corey Feldman’s tale of his friend’s abuse & molestation, the drug use makes much more sense. I watched both of their earlier movies (Stand By Me, The Goonies, Dream a Little Dream, Lost Boys, and my personal favorite, The ‘Burbs) fondly, but never saw an episode of “The Two Corey’s,” the semi-reality television show they eventually made together. And I am glad. Watching The Surreal Life was bad enough–one can only take so much of fallen idols.

Feldman’s relationship with Michael Jackson is discussed, of course, and is yet another heartbreaker. As with so many of the children who were Michael’s friend, Corey Feldman has always maintained that Jackson never abused him in any way, and was a model of good behavior. But the media twisted his words, and destroyed one of the few friendships Corey had with an adult, causing him and Jackson to stop speaking for years before Michael’s death.
Corey Feldman is a strong man to have survived the crazy abusive parents, molestation and drug abuse he has been through, things that killed so many of his friends. He’s now sober, a father (and, it seems, a pretty good one!), musician, still working as an actor. Best of all, he is doing his best to change the way children are treated in Hollywood.


Oh, by the way: I always thought it was a shame that the press never reported the truth about Corey Haim’s death. He did not die from an overdose. The autopsy showed he had pneumonia, and an enlarged heart. The only drugs found in his system were over the counter cold meds. He’d been clean, and sober, and was trying to get his life back on track, helping his mother who was going through chemo. Corey truly died of natural causes.




celebrity · epiphany · Internet · Music

This Song Says It.

A few days ago my friend Tara K. posted a link to a video of Robert Downey Jr singing with Sting, and since I adore RDJ, and quite like Sting, I watched the video, and then viewed several more. I had already been aware that RDJ could sing, having seen him in movies like ‘The Singing Detective,’ and in that episode of Ally McBeal (ick) where he sang with (oh, yeah) Sting! What I didn’t know is that he’d recorded an album, which is pretty good. But this isn’t really about that.

It’s about this.

This video is the first thing Rob did after he got himself out of trouble, back on the straight and narrow, clean & sober, etc. The song, by Elton John, was never very popular, but, it speaks to me. Says everything I’ve been feeling. I hate when that happens.

“A man like me is dead in places other men feel liberated…but I want love.” Yeah. That’s it, all over. There are parts of me I cannot feel anymore, things I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to feel again. My heart seems to be so hard that I’m not sure that anything can get through, or if I want it to. Too much pain. Too many scars, and why would I want more, yeah? Yet, I am craving something that will actually make me feel something, anything. I’d take pain over this nothing all the time.


audio books · blogging · blogs · books · celebrity · Craig Ferguson · insomnia · lazy · meditation · poetry · reading · tarapieceofpaper · vision · writing

Tell Me a Story

It’s been nearly two months since my last post. I am a slacker. In my defense, I DID spend two weeks of that time without vision, after I scratched my eyeball and had to go without contacts while it healed. Since I don’t have a pair of glasses at the moment (and for some reason, we never found time to make it to the nearest vision center), and I am blind as the proverbial bat (without the great hearing), I was pretty much stuck in a chair, doing nothing.

“But, Jonna,” I hear you ask, “How is that any different than your normal, everyday, vision-filled life?”

Yeah, shut up.

I know I’m a slacker, you know I’m a slacker, we all know, Jonna’s a slacker. Old news. They don’t call me the Queen of Procrastination for nothing! My friend and fellow blogger/slacker, Tara of tarapieceofpaper went seven months between posts, and she actually has a life and stuff to write about, so I don’t feel so bad!

Anyway. While blind, or blurry, I discovered that audio books are actually kinda nifty, if the person reading them doesn’t sound like Daffy Duck. Until now the only experience I had with them was listening to a few celebs read their memoirs, which I enjoyed. Craig Ferguson, my favorite comedian and talk show host, has written two books, and I own his memoir on tape. This time, I broadened my horizons, first trying a book I was halfway through reading. I had to give that up, because the reader was terrible. I am assuming she is related to the author or sleeping with the producer, because otherwise, nobody would hire her to read for a living. Remember the actress with the horrible voice in “Singin’ In the Rain?” Yeah. This was her, only younger, and with a Southern accent.

So I gave up on that book and moved on to others, all of which were better, I am happy to say. My choices ranged from new age (Depak Choprah) to Stephen Fry reading short stories, to poetry collections, and podcasts. And I listened to Carol Burnett read her memoirs, too. She’s always been one of my hero, so that was wonderful!

Now, I can see again, but I’ve not given up on audio books. It’s so nice to have someone else read to me for a change. When insomnia strikes, as it often does, I just slip on my headphones, lay in the dark, and a soft voice tells me a story. Who wouldn’t love that?