An Autocidal Life, Part 7: In Which Babe Is Saved By A 15-Minute Miracle

A mystery: SOLVED! Women treated: SHABBILY! Bad medicine, and worse: BAD HAIR!
(If you missed the beginning of our exciting and gross-but-still-riveting story, here it is. It won’t take you long to catch up.)
A Helpful Rheumatologist—And a Diagnosis!Where Babe learns a name for what’s been happening.

The rheumatologist, Dr. R., had Babe hold out her arms and push against his hands with his hands.

She was surprised by how challenging that turned out to be.

She lay down while he lifted up her legs to see how far they stretched. (Even though her hips hurt, Babe’s legs stretched far. Babe is naturally flexible.) He checked out her feet.

Massaging Babys FeetJust the Way His Mommy Had Taught Him

He pressed gently on different parts of her body to see if any other places hurt. She said “No”, or “That’s a little tender there.”

He felt Babe’s neck (she had trouble turning it to look behind her when she drove), and thumped and listened to her chest. He asked her if her chest had been hurting and whether she had shortness of breath, or trouble going up flights of stairs.

Dr. R. told Babe that she was in a lot of pain: That she had “fibromyalgia” and “pleurisy” and “pericarditis” (aches when poked, inflamed lungs, and an inflamed sac around the heart).

Babe has often been told she has a high pain tolerance.

When It Goes On Sale the Next DayWitness Here Her Super-Human Lack of Tears or Trembling

The doctor spent the most time with her hands. He looked at her fingernails and the tiny blisters under the skin of her fingertips. He felt her knuckles, and looked at how her fingers bent. (Babe’s right pinkie looks a bit like the diagram below, and her ring finger was just starting to bend, too.)

Swan-Neck Finger DiagramThis Finger-Shape Is Called “Swan-Neck”. Guess Why?
My Swan-Neck PinkieHow I Love Ya’, How I Love Ya–This Is MY Dear Ole’ Swannie.

Dr. R. asked Babe if she got tired around 2:00 p.m. (How did he know the EXACT TIME!?) She said yes.

He asked her if her hair had been falling out. She said it hadn’t, even though you could see two small bare spots over her right ear. (She wouldn’t admit to any man that she was going bald.)

He asked her if she bruised easily. She showed him her piebald legs.

Surprisingly, all of this–the (clothed) physical exam and the questions–happened quickly. After a total of only about 15 minutes in his office, Dr. R. told Babe that he suspected she had “systemic lupus erythmatosus”–also called “S.L.E.” or “lupus”, for short.


Sigourney Puzzled“Lupus, Doctor? Is that like cancer–something dangerous, growing inside me?”
(This is exactly what I looked like when I was 30.)

This was 1986. Babe had never heard of lupus, and neither had anyone else she knew.

Except, it later turned out, a childhood friend of her sister, who had lupus. And Babe’s own mom, who’d kept her diagnosis to herself, while Babe had been going through all the fun she’d had. Good one, Mom! >:D

Lupus is named after the Latin word for “wolf”, because it turns you into a monster.
(Okay, that’s not what the medical texts say, but it makes more sense than their explanation.)

Amputate Sore Throat Insanity WolfDoctors Get Lupus, Too

The doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory, Naproxen (500 mg./2x) to reduce the irritation from all the body battles, and a sort-of immune activity interruptor, Plaquenil (200 mg/2x), to help bring peace to the body battle world. He also told Babe to get lots of rest.

He ordered labwork which later showed that Babe’s “ANA” and “anti-DNA antibody” tests were positive. She had antibodies to her own DNA? THAT was very nasty to learn.

Twirling DNA Animated GifAm I Not Beautiful?
Scissors Animated GifIt’s a FACT I Love Me Some GACT!*Guanine, Adenine, Cytosine, Thymine

Many autocidal conditions can cause a positive ANA test. Lupus is only one of them. A positive anti-DNA antibody test is more strongly indicative of lupus.

But you can have lupus symptoms and never show a positive result on any autocidal blood test. What does that mean? It means you have lupus, and diagnostic tests aren’t yet sensitive to your flavor of lupus.

Study Questions:

How can you even live with antibodies to your own DNA?

When to Ignore Your Doctor

Where Babe ignores her new doctor’s advice.

Babe was dumbfounded when, at her first visit, Dr. R. very firmly directed her NOT to read up on her disease. He said that it would only worry her unnecessarily.

Of course, Babe ignored this patronizing nonsense, and went to Private University’s Medical Library the very next day to try to gain some familiarity with lupus.

Woman Atop Book Pile Animated Gif“Give me a B! Give me an O! Give me lots of O-K’s! Yaayyyy…Liberries!”

Study Questions:

Do you think Babe’s irritation was justified?

Quick Research Synopsis

Where Babe learns a little about lupus.

In one afternoon at the library, this is what Babe learned:

• That lupus rarely kills, but can make you tired and hurt a lot and feel like doo-doo a lot of the time.

Dung Beetle Sisyphus Animated GifAt Least It’s Not Uphill

• That it may hit women more often, but may hit men more seriously.

• That many doctors today think of lupus as a disease that develops around age 30, but that doctors way-back-when knew that often lupus patients shared childhood characteristics:

– emaciation-like thinness
– easy bruising
– extreme clumsiness.

• That since the widespread use of steroids to treat lupus, some doctors have confused side effects of the drugs with symptoms of the disease (leading to the sadly ironic: “Uh-oh, her symptoms are getting worse—better up the dosage!”)

Prednisone Poster.
Side Effects Poster.

• That many doctors use a standard checklist to decide if a patient has lupus, but the list they use wasn’t intended for that.

Wrong Checklist.

Their misuse limits the scope of what they look for, and causes many missed diagnoses.

(The checklist was developed to choose patients for research studies. It was designed to include only those patients who displayed multiple of select symptoms. It was never intended for clinical use in deciding which patients do and do not have lupus.)

Old-Timey Docs Did It Better?

Some of the old-timey, pre-widely-used-steroid-era doctors claimed that they could often diagnose lupus instantly, the minute some of their female patients walked into their office, just by looking at…

…their hair! What gave it away, you ask?

The way the hair in the front center would not fall evenly–one strand jacked out unevenly. How about that?

Mary McDonough Hair Strand 1Mary McDonough, Actor With Lupus, As Child
Mary McDonough Hair Strand 2Mary McDonough, Actor With Lupus, As Adult

My college ID card shows long hippie hair with one jacked-out strand like the second photo.

Women Are Not Mushrooms*, Lupus Docs!

Where Babe learns about the lupus “bible”.

What an education Babe had about doctors and their attitudes toward women with lupus.

Lupus causes damage by the body’s defenses attacking the body–any part of the body.

The original lupus “bible”, written by Edmund Dubois [you would think “doo-BWAH”, but he said it “doo-BOY”], is one honkin’ fat book–all those pages are needed in order to fit the host of ways each part of the body can be affected.

But when it comes to letting women know what to be aware of, Dr. Doo-BOY doo not need many words. He uses about seven of those hundreds of pages. Here is a one-line summary of what doctors should feel free to tell their female patients:

“Not much! We don’t want them to worry their pretty little heads off.”


A Pretty Little HEadIt’s Too Late For This Female. One Thought Was All It Took.

The “justification” given for this is that the disease itself can cause psychological effects:

(1) through pain and discomfort;
(2) through stress; and
(3) through direct action (inflammation) of the brain;

and we don’t want to stress these poor little delicate ladies any further by letting the light of truth shine upon them, since stress aggravates the disease.

* “mushrooms”–Keep ’em in the dark, feed ’em sh#t.

Study Questions:

Isn’t this how doctors used to treat patients with cancer?

Or, is this a sexism thing?

Better! Thank You, Helpful Docs and Researchers!

Where Babe starts to feel better.

Just two weeks after beginning on the Plaquenil and Naproxen, Babe was in heaven.

(No, that doesn’t mean the lupus killed her, Carlos. o_O Think: WHO is writing this story? 🙄 ) It means she felt WAY better.

As the pain from the pleurisy and pericarditis continued to lessen over the next few weeks, Babe was amazed at the amount of pain she had been having and had gotten used to.

It was so wonderful to be almost pain-free! Bonus that she was no longer breathless climbing stairs, and she could hold onto the steering wheel.

Her life was back on track. <==(I SHOULD be ashamed of this link blatantly promoting an overlong totally-unrelated prior post of mine of which I happen to be fond)

Back On Track Path Through Trees

Part 8, In Which Babe Plus Babe Equals Trouble


Dr. R. comes across as a jerk. He was the complete opposite. He was personable and warm. I could tell he cared about me. However: It’s a d#mned good thing I ignored his advice, because I specifically asked him:

“Are there any dietary restrictions that go along with this?”

“No, you don’t need to worry about that.”

And at the library that day, I learned he was WRONG! It turns out that there WAS food that I should have been avoiding, and that, if eaten in massive amounts, can induce lupus symptoms in even non-lupus folk: Alfalfa sprouts! They contain an amino acid which can trigger lupus symptoms. Back then, this wasn’t widely known even “in the field”, but this layperson with access to a top medical library at a top medical institution learned it by doing her research–I was reading stuff from the 1940’s and 50’s, and stuff just released in whatever-the-month-it-was 1986.

As a (now) sunny southern Cal gal, guess what I’d been topping off my whole-grain turkey-and-‘cado sandwiches with? 😮

Part 8, In Which Babe Plus Babe Equals Trouble


An Autocidal Life, Part 6: In Which Babe Becomes a Magnet!

By the time you reach the end of this post, you will have learned how
^^’ ooky someone’s life is.
🙄 You: “Dang! SO glad that’s not me!”
😀 Me: “You’re welcome!”
(If you missed the beginning of our exciting and gross-but-still-riveting story,
here it is. It won’t take you long to catch up.)
Getting High on Life
Where Babe gets a little fever. So what.
By the end of every day, Babe began running a fever.
The Bee GeesMake It Stop! It Burns! It Burns!! 
Not a big fever–just 99 or 100 degrees. The more tired she was, the higher the fever.
Young Asian Girl With FeverMy Bottom Lip Pouted More 
Along with the temperature rise came what Babe called her “full head” feeling–because that’s exactly what it felt like–like her head was full of something.
(No. Not something good, Vanessa. 😮 Go back and study Parts 1 through 5 😎 and come back tomorrow.)She got used to it. You can get used to almost anything.

Barfing, But Barely


Babe had always had the baby-barfs. If she ate something sweet first thing in the morning, and then bent over to tie her shoes or pick something up, a small amount of breakfast would gently roll back up her throat. Icky.

Duh: So she avoided sweet breakfasts. She didn’t like bear claws or waffles anyhow. (I know! Hard to believe!)

Bear Claw CookiesTHESE Bear Claws I Would Eat–COOKIES!! Num, Num, Num!!

But now, the baby-barfs started happening even when she didn’t eat sweet things. They happened even when she wasn’t bending over.

No big deal.

Study Questions:

Why is this chapter here?

First we get BLOODY vomit, rages, and floor-spitting, and then THIS?

Swallowing, But Barely

Where Babe has trouble eating and drinking.

She was choking!

Babe had been swallowing her tasty tuna salad, when suddenly her throat had clamped entirely shut in a very painful spasm. She waited it out—what else could she do? The spasm released.

Babe decided she must have just done something weird, like timed her swallow wrong with her breathing. So, she very tentatively tried to finish getting the mouthful down, with a little tiny sip of a swallow.

No good–her throat clamped tight again, and the pain was truly terrible!

Painful Swallowing in Older ManUnlike Ads Aimed At Doctors, This Post Shows MALES With Mysterious Pains, Too

Doctors call it “pharyngeal spasms”, or “dysphagia”
           [fuh-RIN-gee-ull]         [dis-FAY-gee-uh]
Probably because “choking” is too hard to say.

Babe learned to take smaller bites. Sometimes, the spasms happened anyway. They hurt like a son-of-a-b-tch.

Trouble Swallowing Your Pride“There’s nothing wrong with your throat. Lots of people have trouble swallowing their pride.”

Study Questions:

Isn’t this a sign of cancer?

Shouldn’t Babe see a doctor?

(Raise your hand for why she didn’t.)

Napping, and HOW

Where Babe gets sleepy. Again. Big deal.

Babe was losing energy. Every afternoon, right at two o’clock, she had to take a nap, immediately! It was actually a nap emergency–she literally could not keep her eyes open, and fell asleep the instant she shut them.

Nap Emergency At Work Guy On FloorBook Feels SOFT…Ah…It WILL Be Soft Soon, After Its Drool-Soaking.

Babe would sneak into her office, lock the door, and collapse across her desk, waking in a puddle of drool. It was odd and scary and weird to her (not to mention gross), and she was really worried that her staff would find out.

Bart Sleeping Animated Gif(Note the Still-Short Haircut)

Study Questions:

What is so bad about needing a nap?

Doesn’t Bart look so cute?

Huffing and Puffing

Where Babe gets short of breath.

Stairs began to be difficult for Babe. She got so out of breath she would have to stop halfway up and struggle to get enough air.

Daleks Facing Obstacle of Stairs“Drat.”

Often she had a sharp ache deep in the center or side of her chest. She pretended this was due to a return of her childhood asthma, thanks to the L.A. smog, but she really knew it wasn’t asthma. Unlike childhood, she didn’t wheeze once.

Study Questions:

Does an asthma attack always involve wheezing?

Why on earth does anyone want to live in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles Smoggy SunriseAre You Kidding? Get a Loada’ That Gorgeous Smogrise!

Stiff Fingers

Where Babe can’t make a rude gesture.

Most mornings now, Babe’s fingers were swollen like puffy sausages. She could close them only part-way, and couldn’t hold anything.

Sometimes, they moved in little jerks and pops, and ached terribly.

Other times, though, it simply felt like the air resisted her. Then, it was kinda fun squeezing the invisible force–like when you push same-pole magnets together!

Magnet PinkieCame in HANDY At Work, Too! 🙂

Sometimes, Babe’s middle finger would lock closed, and she couldn’t force it open. (She became a more polite driver.) Usually, after a couple of hours, and a very hot shower, her hands were much better.

Babe didn’t think much about any of this, because the same things had happened to her mom (Babe’s mom had needed surgery to unlock her fingers).

The day Babe had trouble holding the steering wheel, though, she decided to see a doctor.

Woman Driving With Gloves and Straw SunhatEven Gloves Didn’t Help

She made an appointment with a rheumatologist at the famous Cedars Sinai.

Study Questions:

Is Babe eating something bad before bed?

Is she making too many rude gestures in her sleep?

Part 7, In Which Babe Is Saved By a 15-Minute Miracle


Googling “pharygneal spasms”, I found attitude:

(1) Cricopharyngeal” spasms are blamed on hysteria, and patients demeaned as hypochondriacs (even though food allergens can trigger the the spasms). My spasms weren’t these, since sources (e.g. ) say:

– the patient senses a lump in the throat,
– the pain is mild,
– it disappears when food swallowing is attempted.

(2) Johns Hopkins does list causes other than hypochondria, but buries these WAY down, and manages to sneer at patients:

Judgmental Version:

“Dysphagia refers to a patient’s perception of difficulty in (swallowing). Patients typically describe … a sensation of food ‘sticking’ in the throat or chest. They may also use the term ‘choking’ … to describe the same feeling.”

My Version:

Dysphagia refers to a patient’s difficulty in swallowing. Patients typically describe food sticking in the throat or chest, or a feeling of choking.

A good clinician will take care to find whether the feeling is a mild sticking or a painful choking, as the difference may be clinically significant.
Part 7, In Which Babe Is Saved By a 15-Minute Miracle

For all y’all who were disappointed at TWO puke tales so far with nary an animated gif–HERE you go!:

*** *** *** *** *** ***
*** *** *** *** *** ***

Puppet Vomiting Animated GifMannekin Hurlen!

Part 7, In Which Babe Is Saved By a 15-Minute Miracle


An Autocidal Life, Part 5: In Which Babe Lives La Vida Telenovela

Before this post is through, there will be love, marriage, cursing, spitting, and…MURDER.

(If you missed the beginning of our exciting and gross-but-still-riveting story, here it is. It won’t take you long to catch up.)
Oooo…First, Babe Gets All Hot and Sweaty
One night, Babe woke up in a puddle.

Asian Eye Night Sweats

You’d Better Not Be Laughing To Hear I Sweat the Bed.

At first, she thought she had wet herself, but it turned out that she had sweated so much that her perspiration had actually made a puddle on the all-foam mattress. And she was still sweating. (At half the age for hot flashes.)
Then she got the shakes until her teeth chattered–probably from the fever. It reached 104, just like when she had the pinpoint rash. Joe sat by. There wasn’t anything he could do.
From that night on, although the high fever didn’t return, Babe continued to get night sweats, often waking in a cold, wet pool.

Study Questions:
What is wrong with this girl?
Why do you think she doesn’t she see a doctor this time?

Get Ready…Here Comes the Action:
She was being stabbed! Babe saw the knife go into her chest when her killer punched it hard through her breastbone. She felt the horrified shock of seeing it sticking out of her body. She felt the pain worsening.
Every single night, for the next year, Babe was killed repeatedly in her dreams. Some people say you can’t die in a dream. Wrong.
She’s driving a car, flooring it, madly changing directions, but it’s no use: They catch up, and shoot her through the glass.
She’s racing down a cement-walled stairwell so fast she’s scared she’ll trip. Her heart is pounding so hard with fear and panic, she wonders if her chest will burst.
No use. They swing around the landing above her and open up on her with a machine gun. It hurts so much!
Even while she sees her blood pouring out of her chest–even through her tremendous pain–she’s focused on her heart, still pounding wildly. But slowing down quickly now… Stopped.
Miami Vice Tough Guys

Someone’s Dream-Weavers Watched WAY Too Much 80’s Television

Of course Babe didn’t go to a doctor! She didn’t want to be labeled crazy.

Study Questions:
Do you think this girl IS crazy?

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage
Where Babe gets headaches, hip-aches, and pees a lot.
Babe and Joe got married in 1984. Whoo-hoo! For their honeymoon, they went on a three-week truck-camping trip up the California coast and back down its middle.
Right away, Babe was having terrible difficulties:
For some reason, she had to pee several times every night, which meant climbing over the truck liftgate and stumbling around to squat in the dark and cold.
She had trouble balancing when she first woke up, which made it challenging to miss her feet.
Girl Has To Pee In the Woods While Camping

Like This, But In the Dark.

When she woke each time, her eyes were swollen, and so dry that her lids stuck to them.
Much of the time, she had the most horrible headaches she could imagine–far worse, even, than the awful ones she’d had upon first moving to California.
On top of that, whenever she sat or lay down, her hips hurt deep inside, in their very core. The camping mat didn’t help at all on the corrugated truck bed, and no position brought any relief.
Babe often lay awake silently next to her happily-snoring new husband, suffering for literal hours in the most unbearable pain.
Each day, while Joe was driving into the rising sun, Babe’s head felt like it was a delicate glass shell barely containing her entire self comprised only of her headache. She turned her face away from Joe, leaning it against a pillow on the truck window.
Only rarely would the intense pain from her seated hips distract her by reminding her that they happily lay in wait, in case her headache chose to step aside.
Babe didn’t want to spend their honeymoon complaining to Joe, so she didn’t. She wasn’t being brave:
Babe hid her pain like an abused kid.

Study Questions:
Do they make violins small enough?
Does Babe’s martyr complex ever make you wanna pop her one? (C’mon: At least give her a good shake?)
Silent Movie Drama Queen Martyr

Just SEE How I Suffer So.

Her Crowning Glory Abdicates
[when a ruler gives up her/his throne]
Where Babe imitates a dog.
In 1985, Babe and Joe bought a fixer-upper house in a very rough neighborhood (with an eye to profit).
The house’s previous owners were far from clean. When Babe had first swept out the rooms, she’d been disgusted at the huge clumps of the wife’s long black hair.  Yuchh!!!
What goes around comes around. Within weeks of moving in, Babe was waking up with her own hair on the pillow. Lots of it.
It was summer, so the newlyweds made jokes about how Babe was shedding like a dog, but Babe wondered what the heck was going on. She was starting to get a little worried.
When she next got crusty, peel-y, scabby things on her scalp, even Babe thought she was gross. Where each thing fell off, it left a small bald patch.
She tried different styles to cover the bare spots , but finally gave up and cut it all short. It was a new look for her, but definitely fit the neighborhood.
Bald New Look

Babe’s Bald New Look

Study Questions:
This girl is only STARTING to worry?
Does she seem a little slow to you?

You're Just Getting That Now Slow-On-The-Update

“You’re just getting that now?”…..(First Draft’s Version: “No sh#t, Sherlock.”)

Leave the Room, Kids—Psychotic Alert!!
Where Babe imitates a son of a dog.
Apparently, fate didn’t want Babe to get too comfortable. Along came a new symptom to keep the gods amused:
Fury! Babe had always had a temper, but now, when she lost it, she’d use the “f” word ten times in as many seconds.
This just wasn’t her. She began to refer to this as the “F*ck Index” of her health. But that’s not the really bad part.
During these wild periods, Babe had a scary urge to do something she wouldn’t admit to anyone: To spit! Spit right on the floor!  
Asian Woman Spitting Indoors

Let Me Just Say The Internet Is One D#mned Impressive Place.

What was HAPPENING to her? The feeling was so strong that she sometimes had to give in. Then, embarrassed and afraid, she’d cry while she wiped it up.
Between the murderous nightmares, the cursing, and the spitting on the floor, Babe was positive she was going crazy.

Study Questions:
Show of hands: Who agrees Babe should pack her bags
and head for the cracker factory?

Children Raising Hands

You Even Got the CHILDREN To Go Along? That’s Just Cold.

I admit I exaggerated for effect: Joe didn’t really snore.
Part 6, In Which Babe Becomes A Magnet!


An Autocidal Life, Part 4: In Which Babe Becomes…A Calendar?

If you missed earlier parts of our exciting and gross-but-still-riveting lupus story (and why did you? shame on you!), you’ll just have to turn your back on Netflix for fifteen minutes while you catch up. Think you can handle it? Here you go, hon: Part 1, In Which Babe Feels a Pea.
The Eat-Everything-You-Want Diet
Where Babe hits it lucky.
Babe had donated blood regularly back in Ohio, and she assumed she’d do the same in Los Angeles. She was surprised when she went to donate. They turned her down!:
“You have to weigh at least 100 pounds.”
Babe laughed. She told the donation lady that she had weighed the same since college–123, and at her 5’7″ height, a weight she was really happy with. She never had to watch what she ate, and she had a huge appetite. She was just born lucky.
The lady made Babe step on a scale. Surprise! While she did weigh more than the 100-pound minimum, she was down to only 110. She now weighed less than the 117 she’d weighed entering high school.
No WONDER she’d dropped from a size 8 to a size 4…
Sudden Weight Loss Skinny Woman In Average Jeans

West Coast Men Found Her New Emaciation SEXY


Study Questions:
How can WE catch lupus?

The Klutz
Where Babe gets a little clumsy.
Babe and her boyfriend moved in together. They were happy.
One day, while Babe was washing the dishes, she watched as a glass fell out of her right hand. It didn’t feel like it had slipped. It felt like one minute she was holding it, and the next she wasn’t. Two days later, it happened again. That definitely seemed odd. Twenty-so years of washing and rinsing dishes since childhood, and never a broken one. Now, two glasses in two days.
Then, Babe started losing her balance. She’d be walking across the living room and suddenly stagger slightly as she counterbalanced to save herself from falling.
Stumbling Penguin Gif
That was also odd.

Study Questions:
Why doesn’t Babe just get a dishwasher? (And a cane?)

The Rushing Rash
Where Babe takes a vacation and gets a surprise–What fun!
Babe’s girlfriend’s boyfriend had a pilot’s license. So the girlfriends and their boyfriends decided to split the cost of a small plane rental, fly up to Santa Barbara for the weekend, and pretend to be rich people. Cool!
Santa Barbara Mission Fountain

It’s Just A Crumbling Church Built Out of Mud. How Nice Could It Be?

As soon as they got there and checked into the hotel, though, Babe didn’t feel well. She had a splitting headache, and she felt hot. She lay down on the bed.
Her eyes felt funny. She reached up to rub them, and they seemed all…bumpy. Babe went into the bathroom and turned on the light. Her eyes were entirely covered with tiny red blisters!

Study Questions:
This girl flies in private planes to rich
resort communities and we’re
supposed to feel sorry for her?

The Pokey Pins
Where Babe gets oozy and crusty.
Over the next hours, Babe’s fever rose to 104 and the blisters spread to her hands, arms, and body. They were as small as the head of a pin.
Pinpoint Rash

When They Say Pinpoint Rash, Here It Is

Every single one felt like a needle was stabbing into her. When a blister broke, it left a little pit. Where there were clusters of them, they joined together in big sores, and oozed gunk that dried and got all crusty. It was disgusting.
Babe didn’t want to spoil the nice weekend for the others. She stayed in the room, curtains drawn, burning with fever, suffering with the headache, and hurting terribly from the rash. Her boyfriend brought her cold washcloths.
She didn’t eat anything from Friday night until Sunday morning, when it was time to leave. By then, her eyes were entirely crusted over and unable to open to more than slits. They hurt a lot.
Slit Eyes

Study Questions:
Wasn’t the boyfriend worried about catching it?

The Second Disappointing Rash Doctor
Where Babe gets more top medical advice.
Babe hurried straight to another top-ranked dermatologist at Cedars Sinai. His diagnosis?
“Some new kind of eczema,” he pronounced, and sent her home with a cream. He had no comment on the eye involvement.
Some NEW kind of eczema?!
If that’s what he thought, why wasn’t he, trained to know everything there was to know about the skin, at all interested in a brand-new skin ailment?
Babe decided to see help elsewhere.
Dr House Asking Opposite of Thank You

(Hint:  Not “Please.”.)

Study Questions:
Does this guy seem as much of a joker to you as he did to Babe?

The Helpful Student Clinic Doctor
The Disappointing Famous Eye Clinic Doctors

Where Babe’s dad may know more than her doctors.
Babe went to the Student Health Clinic. The doctor was a warm islander who was clearly shocked by Babe’s oozing, crusty appearance and slitted eyes. She immediately referred her to The Famous Eye Clinic.
The Famous Eye Clinic doctors looked at Babe’s eyes and went away and got more doctors and they all murmured among themselves and looked at her eyes some more.
Bartholomew and the Oobleck Experts

Experts In Their Field

At the end of an hour, they had decided:
“You have some kind of adenovirus [ADD’no-virus–“ear, nose, and throat thing”]. It will clear up on its own.”
Literally-Comical Eye Exam

Did This Qualify As a Literally-Comical Eye Exam?

Babe phoned her 80-year-old dad. He said:
“Horse poop. It sounds to me like herpes. Shingles.”

Study Questions:
Who sounds like they know more: The eye experts, or the dad?

Doctors Covering Eyes

You know how guys’ hands immediately stray south when another guy gets hurt down there?……….You think things woulda’ gone better had the docs gotten close enough to LOOK at Babe’s blistered blinkers?

The Eye Scare, and Two Helpful Eye Doctors
Where Babe gets scared. And scarred.
Three days after the visit to The Famous Eye Clinic, Babe woke up blind in her left eye.
She made her way back to the sympathetic island doctor,
Elle Driver Nurse From Kill Bill

Her Nurse Was Also Caring

who seemed absolutely disgusted with the famous clinic. This time, she referred Babe to an 80-year-old ophthalmologist on Wilshire Boulevard .
Doctor I. (eye know, eye know…but that’s really the initial!) immediately diagnosed ocular herpes. (Ewww!!)
He referred Babe to a specialist at the famous Cedars Sinai , who treated her successfully. Babe was left with only one oval scar on her cornea, just off-center, which luckily faded away over the next few years.
Babe found out that ocular herpes is the leading cause of blindness in young adults. (She’d never even heard of it–had you?)
An Annual Event
Where Babe becomes a calendar.
Exactly one year after the terrible, painful rash, Babe was shocked, frightened, and depressed when she woke up to discover she had it again.
Dog Eyeing Mirror Not Again

……………”WHAT? Is That a SPOT I See?!”……………(Guess Doggy’s Name–Tee Hee!)

The year after that, the same thing happened. And the year after that. And after that. Every August, like clockwork, the rash would return.
However, the bright side was that each year it was less severe and less widespread. After several years, it settled down so much that Babe would get only the horrendous headache, and a sore or two on the outside corner near her left eye. Thank goodness.

Study Questions:
What was it that happened in August that triggered this?
Are we ever going to hear the answers to all these dumb questions?

Part 5, In Which Babe Lives La Vida Telenovela
Lupus folk are particularly susceptible to the herpes virus. Maybe this is why the calendar effect occurred–If herpes IS what the skin rash was. Maybe this is also why Babe also got the ocular herpes twice more. One of those times her optometrist noticed it when both Babe and her Famous Private University (mis-)managed-care opthalmologist hadn’t. Thank you, Dr. K.3!)
Part 5, In Which Babe Lives La Vida Telenovela


An Autocidal Life: Part 3, In Which Babe Meets the Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly

Part 3, in which Babe develops a lifetime fear of tasty pastry.
If you missed Part 2 of our exciting and gross-but-still-riveting lupus story (and why did you? shame on you!), you can read it here. If you even missed Part 1 (zut alors!!), I understand why you’re not yet showing your face in public, but–sweet relief–here is your remedy.
The Helpful Cramps Doctor
Babe told her gynecologist about the cramps during sex. He was both sympathetic and fascinated.
“Right when you come? And he’s average-sized down there? I’ve never heard of this one before! Every time? That has to be terrible! I can’t imagine– I’m really sorry, Babe.”
He did have a suggestion, though:
“Look, Babe, I don’t know if this will work, but menstrual cramps are uterine contractions, just like labor pains. Both are caused by prostoglandins [PRO-sto-glan-dins]–birth hormones.
You can try taking Naproxen, an anti-prostoglandin, a half hour ahead of when you plan to have sex. See if that helps.”
It worked–Yay! Now Babe could once again enjoy sex—as long as it wasn’t spontaneous.
Scheduled Sex With Clock
An added bonus was that this was the first drug that had ever put a dent in Babe’s monthly menstrual cramps.
Thank you, Doctor K.!
The Disappointing Rash Doctor
Where Babe gets a rash. Big deal.
Rats! Babe had the rash on her forearms again.
Babe had been the Rash Queen, growing up. Red, scaly hands. Big pink patches on the fronts and backs of her knees and the insides of her elbows and forearms. Itchy, itchy days and nights.
She even had to sleep with socks on her hands, to try to stop scratching in her sleep.
When the rashes cleared, they left behind white areas that wouldn’t tan. In college, thanks to make-out sessions, her mouth and chin looked a lot like Fred Flintstone’s. She was so embarrassed.
Fred Flintstone Face
This time, Babe took herself to the famous Cedars Sinai and saw a highly-recommended dermatologist-to-the-stars.
He took a quick glance, told her it was eczema, and gave her a cream. It had no effect, which she reported back to him, to his total disinterest.
Tough luck, Babe.

Study Questions:
Is this how that Oath goes?: “If at first you’ve done no harm, don’t try again.”?

The Helpful Rash Doctor
On her next appointment, Babe’s helpful gynecologist noticed her rash and asked her about it. Babe told him that a dermatologist at Cedars had told her it was ezcema, and had given her a cream that hadn’t worked.
“Well”, said the gynecologist, “My brother is a dermatologist—why don’t you try him?”
The gynecologist’s brother gave her an ointment that knocked the rash out flat.
At last, the itching had stopped. Yay! Now Babe could once again lounge in the pool or at the beach without embarrassment. This was the good life.
Thank you, Doctors K.!
Come For Our Pie, Stay To…DIE! Bwah-ah-ah!!
Where a tasty potpie causes a minor bump in the glorious road of life.
Babe and her boyfriend had gone out to relax at a restaurant famous for its pies. Babe ordered her favorite: Their awesome chicken pot pie: Yum!
The instant she took the first bite, though, she suddenly felt deathly ill. They left immediately.
As soon as they arrived home, Babe rushed into the bathroom and vomited over and over into the sink, horrified to watch the bowl fill with blood.
She was really scared for a minute. But after Babe remembered the phrase “bleeding ulcer”, she reasoned that her stomach pains and tonight’s bleeding were simply due to one.
Although she did at least decide to make a doctor’s appointment, Babe was mostly upset that she couldn’t face her favorite dinner ever again.

Study Questions:
Who knew a potpie could be dangerous?

Fear of Pie
Skull and Crossbones Pie
The Disappointing Tummy Doctor
Where a doctor is unhelpful.
The doctor listened quietly as Babe described her history of severe stomach pain, and the incident of vomiting blood.
Babe mentioned that her boyfriend had been having some recent stomach pain, although not as severe as hers–she joked about it running “in the family”.
The doctor ordered blood tests, stool tests, and a barium X-ray. Afterward, he met with Babe and told her that there was no evidence of an ulcer.
He did find Salmonella bacteria and the Epstein-Barre virus, but didn’t think those were responsible for her symptoms.
The doctor suggested that the stomach pain might be due to stress, and that Babe should try to learn to relax. He also didn’t think her headaches were anything to worry about.
Since the doctor didn’t seem concerned, Babe went home, disappointed that she would still be in pain.
Between her fatigue, and the awful head and stomach pains, she felt trapped.
Trapped--Help We Need a Clue
Just wait ’til you hear what happened next.
Disappointing? Make That Infuriating
Where a doctor can be worse than unhelpful.
Babe’s boyfriend went to see the same doctor. Exactly as with Babe, the doctor ordered blood tests, stool tests, and a barium X-ray. Exactly as with Babe, none the tests showed anything. So…The doctor wrote the boyfriend a prescription, and ordered MORE tests.
Babe was incensed. She phoned the doctor and asked:
“Why, when my tests showed nothing, did you do nothing, but when my boyfriend’s tests showed nothing, you did something?
I was the only one who vomited blood!
Why did you write him a prescription, and order him more tests, but do nothing for me?”
The doctor said Babe sounded over-tense. He suggested that she might want to “find someone to talk to about that”.
The bastard.

Study Questions:
How would you feel if a doctor did this to you?
Who thinks I should publish the name of this doctor?

My Test Results Are In Dumbass
Part 4, In Which Babe Becomes…A Calendar?
Some sources say Naproxen and other NSAIDs aren’t effective taken such a short time ahead of prostoglandin activity. Perhaps the pill helped my cramps only as a placebo. Which would mean the useless Pamprin and Motrin recommended previously worked as…non-placebos?
Part 4, In Which Babe Becomes…A Calendar?


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