Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not for the Faint of Heart

Last Saturday night my wife Ma'ikwe was in the bathroom with me just before going to sleep. Without warning, she sat down suddenly on the edge of the bathtub and keeled over. I caught her head before it hit the floor and pulled her upright. Her eyes were wide open & unseeing; her pupils fully dilated. She was semi-rigid, though not convulsing like an epileptic. She was pale as a ghost. While I was on full alert and hyper aware, I didn't panic because I could tell she was breathing… barely.

It freaked me right out. Fortunately, the color returned to her face within about 10 seconds, and in less than a minute she was responsive (if woozy). Once I got her into bed she had the shakes. Half an hour later she threw up. It was not the most relaxed night we'd ever spent together.

Ma'ikwe had passed out once before, almost a year ago at a spa in northern New Mexico. [See my blog of Dec 14, 2009, Adventures in Hydrotherapy]. That time I wasn't next to her when it happened, and it was easier to understand then how fainting might be precipitated by her having just emerged from soaking in hot water on a cool evening. Last Saturday it was far more mysterious.

She'd had a couple glasses of wine with dinner, but had finished drinking three hours before passing out. Sometimes people will get light-headed right after getting up from a horizontal position, but she'd been standing without incident for a few minutes before the room started spinning. Sometimes fainting is related to low blood sugar, but she'd eaten a good dinner. Sometimes
dizziness is associated with stress, yet the day had gone well, and we'd had an evening with friends that was full of laughter. What the hell happened?

Yesterday, it started to happen again. While Ma'ikwe was sitting in an Amtrak waiting room in Chicago's Union Station—just reading a book—she began to feel faint. I was not with her at the time and was dismayed to hear the story when I returned. Fortunately, she did not pass out this time, but who knows when she might again? She's not felt 100% since blacking out three days previously, and we're both worried. Both times it seemed to come upon her with little provocation, in the most innocuous circumstances—where she hadn't been doing anything unusual and had recently eaten. It's very scary.

As a precaution, we rented a cart and took it slow while boarding our last train home. Fortunately, there were no more incidents between Chicago and her bed back at Dancing Rabbit.

One possibility is that there was some residual damage from her recent bout with Lyme disease. While blood tests last month indicated that the culprit spirochete is in remission, the disease affects people differently and sometimes a person's immune system is compromised permanently—especially when the disease has had months to muck around inside you, as was the case with Ma'ikwe.

All of that said, we really don't know what's going on. While further testing may turn something up, it may not. We may need to sort through how much it makes sense to continue to travel and work together, and even whether it's safe for Ma'ikwe to drive, by feeling our way in the dark of an uncertain future.

The good news is that Ma'ikwe has a strong heart—both physically and psychically. The bad news is that her constitution may not be able to match her heart. My wife's attitude is excellent; we just need her health to be as well.


Patti said...

I'm worried and sending dear thought to you both. Patti

Maikwe said...

In case anyone's watching the bouncing balls... I recently had both an EKG and CAT scan, and they both came back fine. Over a month later, we've relaxed considerably, but still aren't sure what happened. One of life's mysteries, eh? I'm sure Laird will post if we learn anything new.

Thanks for all the well-wishes,