1/31/16

So what now?

IMPORTANT HEALTH UPDATE!

So! I am still inpatient and will remain so until a procedure is done to put a PICC line (a port-type thing that brings medicine directly into your veins.) I should be released by Wednesday, but with the following MAJOR caveats.

I will remain on intravenous antibiotics, given through the PICC line, until the end of February, depending on my blood work. I'll get two infusions a day, 12 hours apart. My mom will administer it and I will learn to as well. 

I had plans to travel and move but for now, I will be moving back in the apartment above my detached garage. I turn 30 midway through treatment and am looking into placing tequila directly into my tube.

I'm on a patch for the pain for the time being. I can walk and play with the kids and push a stroller but I can't work out  in the gym or any place crawling with bacteria and mold. I should be in a bubble! 

Important to note: I am NOT contagious  and your kids probably won't get me sick, unless they sneeze directly into my bloodstream. Still, please avoid me if you don't believe in vaccinating yourself or your kids. (Also please vaccinate yourself and your kids.)

This infection (double whammy of staph and strep) should have killed me and would have if I hadn't heeded my friend Bones' advice and went to the ER. The origin of the infection is still unknown but my major organs seem to have missed any damage, so yay. I am really lucky to have caught it in time, and although this recovery will SUCK, I know it could've been so much worse. 

Thank you for your love, support, and emojis. I should be released from the hospital by Wednesday. ❤️��

1/30/16

Ways I Have Annoyed My Nurses, Part One

I have new respect for the position, and you should too, as I am the Patient from Hell.
Yet I look so innocent...

  1. Reached over my IV pole to get the pretzels I accidentally threw out, leading to the IV pole crashing to the floor and everyone thinking I'd fallen out of bed and died
  2. Tried to follow them to a code blue because I really want to go to med school
    I've watched way too many episodes of ER. I feel like I could help!
  3. Ask them to braid my hair because they looked bored
    I dream of an enchanting fishtail braid, but my dreams have died.
  4. Asked for ice and then immediately spilled it on the aide's shoes.
    Is it too late now to say sorrrrry?
  5. Escaped my room and went to the gift shop to buy magazines and salt & vinegar chips
  6. Tried to pay for pretzels in the vending machine with Icelandic money and almost broke it
    My nurse lent me a dollar fifty.
  7. Blasted D12's Blue and Yellow pills after getting morphine
    Horrifying video TK
  8. Continued to survive.
  9. Yelled "Nine lives, bitches!" after a gaggle of nurses and doctors outside my door remarked upon my survival of two dangerous blood infections. I'm basically Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, NOT TITANIC. (Wuss.)

Wish the ladies of Mehandru 5 luck, as I am definitely here until at least Monday. And please, send them some flowers on my behalf. 

Bergin OUT.

1/28/16

Streptococcus? More like JERKOCOCCOUS!

Hi guys. It's 4:30 am here on the East Coast, and I am reporting to you live from Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ, home of questionable meals and workplace for the hot young nurses of Monmouth County.

It's been like five minutes since I made my 2016 resolution not to die this year and I've already almost broken it, goddammit. I'd assumed once I stopped eating an average of 9-14 bagels a week, my body would recover.

Unfortunately this turns out not to be the case. Instead, I am battling a serious bacterial infection, which is only cool for its' novelty. (As in, I haven't had one in months!) I guess my body knew I was bored of my usual hospitalizations for lupus and diabetes and decided to throw me off a bit.


Instead of my usual staph or MRSA, I have an infection called streptococcus in my blood stream. Bacteremia. This is the bacteria that usually just causes strep throat. But not for me. Because I don't do things half-ass. (Unless those things are homework, working out, or writing.)


My body goes BIG when it comes to infection. So the streptococcus bacteria is floating around in the old bod, like a murderer on a lazy raft in swim trunks, flowing through the veins of MY LIFE while I desperately cling to my IV pole as if it's the last life preserver on the planet. (Seriously. That's my vision of my infection. Just floating through the Runaway Rapids waterpark of my broken body. WATER SOOTHES ME, K?)

Here's what's going on, so I don't have to repeat this to relatives or friends or the press, or President Obama, should he become transfixed with my story of survival and want to hear more about it. Sorry, B.  You gonna have to read this shit like everybody else.

  • So, I have the aforementioned streptococcus in my blood, which is dangerous AF.
    My mom helpfully told me that strep in the blood from pneumonia is what killed Jim Henson! Thanks, Mom! If Kermit's dad can bite it from this, how do I stand a chance? And what will be my legacy? Dumb Instagram photos of dumb nature with terrible hashtags? UGH.
  • I almost didn't come in to the ER because of laziness and hatred of leaving my bed, but I had a terrible feeling that I was sicker than anyone thought, including my doctor.
    I'd been experiencing high blood pressure and heart rate, along with four weeks of fever. My fake doctor, a 4th year med student and one of my best friends from First Descents, threatened to kick my ass unless I went in. 
    She legit saved my life. Dammit, now I owe her something!
  • I was OK when I got in, but then the blood cultures showed bacterium in my blood stream. I immediately googled it to find out that the type of strep I have is life-treatening. Group G is also responsible for those flesh-eating deaths, you know? The horror stories you hear about on the evening news and read about on Web MD at 4 am in a panic? No?
  • I felt very reassured after Googling it. 
  • The infectious disease doctors let me know that I could be here for 7-10 days, and on intravenous antiobiotics for 4-10 weeks if the virus has gone to my heart or done damage to any other major organs.
    When told this, I had a bit of a fit--by which I mean I sighed heavily and rolled my eyes and told them I have Hamilton tickets. Nothing is coming in between me and Hamilton. Even if I have to bring a visiting nurse with me to the Rodgers theater, I AM SEEING HAMILTON.
  • The team is currently scouring my body for a source of infection, which means I've been felt up more in the past two days than in the past two months. And no, guys. You cannot trade lives with me.
  • The source of the infection remains unclear and I am currently undergoing a battery of tests to see what could be causing it. 
  • One possible explanation is the Harry Potter tattoo I got in London. I pray that this is not true as it will give my mother even more ammo in her fight against my tattoos. Plus Harry would never do me dirty like that.
So that is where we stand as of right now. I hope to know more soon and shall update all six of you as promised.

Thank you, as always, for your love and support as I attempt to survive a week in the hospital without painkillers.

Love,
Kelly

12/30/15

Hamilton and Survival

A few days ago, maybe a week or two, I began doing the NY Times Crossword. I got my grandmother the Weekender for her birthday and I did them occasionally, but now I had downloaded the app and paid the subscription fee. I felt elated when I could fill out a Monday or Tuesday without much or any Googling. I felt like a genius the day I finished a Wednesday without help. And I felt like an ignorant fool when I got stuck, a waste of space, my lack of knowledge all my fault simply because I have chosen, in many instances, to not do the work.

I remember the most feedback I had as a kid from teachers or parents or coaches was that I had potential that I squandered. And really, that’s the worst sort of thing that you can do. You’re stupid, fine, you don’t know any better. You’re a terrible writer, you don’t write. You can’t sing, you don’t try to be a singer. But to know I could write and chose not to, out of fear or laziness or sickness, or whatever, to squander: this is worse. We are all complicit in our shortcomings and downfalls and I was willfully rejecting the advice I had been given since the 5th grade. That is shitty.

SO much of what will be remembered about this year or the year before and for most of my twenties is the progression of my illness, the degradation of my body. I read the other day something I had written at the end of last year, wherein I posited that it could probably not get any worse. And what a foolish and arrogant thing to say. Because of course it did get worse. Because of course it got so much worse! I got so much worse!

There was my stint in California, where I landed in the ICU, and realized all my time in California were only ever going to be stints as long as this was how my body felt and operated. If I kept being me, then my life would continue to be scattershot across the continental USA: places I spent time briefly before being forced to come home to New Jersey and recover, and then to relapse and recover. It did not feel like I was building a life. It felt like I was running out of steam.

I could not keep this engine going and then I finally faltered and fell apart in the most physical and metaphorical way possible: I was paralyzed, atrophied, broken. I fell, literally. I had so many falls, so many bruises. There was a moment when I was on the floor of my rehab hospital--this was July, not even six months ago--and I knew I had to call for help, and I knew it would be terrible, and the staff would have to write a report, and I would not be in trouble but I would feel in trouble, and I just lay there for a minute more, trying to steel myself and found that I had no more steel in the reserve. I could not brace myself because I had run out of ways how. And so I pressed the call button.

This time of year, especially this specific week between Christmas and New Years, always feels lazy and incomplete to me. My friends are away on vacation and I am always here, watching reruns of dumb television shows in bed. I consume an insane amount of media--probably more than I had in six months prior. I am sleeping all day and reading and listening all night. I am making promises for the new year. I am trying to believe in the reset button.

December always sinks me. I mean to look at the tree and inhale the scent before it is tossed out with the gift bags and wrapping paper and yet every year I do not. The last two Decembers I narrowly missed Christmas in the hospital, and yet being home and not sick is more depressing to me. It reminds me that there are things I could be doing that I am not.

I have been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack and reading everything about Alexander Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda. And for both of these men, their eerie sort of premonition and feeling about an early death motivates them. (Read the New Yorker profile of Miranda for more on this. He thought he was going to die before his first play opened on Broadway.) This inspires me as much as it confounds me about my own motivations or lack thereof. If I am dodging death and illness, why don’t I work on things when I am not in the hospital? Why am I not writing the stories I want to write?

And it’s because that other illness that plagues me, the deep depression, comes and finds me as soon as the adrenaline of surviving has left me. So much of depression has to do with one refrain running through your brain: what would happen if I died? Would death be so bad? I wish I were dead. Maybe I’ll die soon.

At least this is the refrain that runs through mine as soon as I cut the hospital bracelet off. A slackening sets in. All the color is out of the balloons and I’m left breathing the dead helium floating in the room. Technically, yes, I need to rest. I am exhausted from the suffering and pain and illness but more I am tired of the come down from painkillers, the body unfolding itself into another barely pulled off survival. I can’t write, and sometimes I can’t read. I don’t listen to music and I don’t see movies. I can only sit through television shows that don’t challenge me. I can’t comprehend anything new; I cannot get out of bed.

I am living and yet it seem so much harder with each year. The traumas build up, stack in my brain like debris and I cannot shake them. I worry that they will tumble to the floor and I will finally cave in. But writing to me is survival. It is the only thing that will fill me out and up and I think that for this end of the year post, a thing I was sure i would be unable to write, I have to thank the Hamilton soundtrack and freestyle rap battles on YouTube and the elasticity of the language that I love to play with. This year is done, it is over, I have survived and I will endure another. I know I will. I do not want to die.

Recently a friend asked me if I am discouraged by another year of trying to fly and finding that I only became paralyzed more. I wondered if that is how everyone sees my life, as pitiful a narrative as can be. Even I do not feel that badly for myself. (OK, maybe sometimes.) There were as many beautiful moments this year as bad ones, and I’m going to try to remember the beautiful ones a lot more. Rooftop breakfasts in Istanbul, a new niece, shiny and red, my West Coast girls, the California sunsets, the first swim I could take in the ocean after I learned to walk again.

It could be worse. It can get worse. I learned that, this year. 

But I survived.

What’s next?



10/30/15

Kelly Bergin: Published Works

Hello, my friends. Are you still there? I am sorry I have abandoned you but life has just been so exciting lately, what with Hulu introducing original programming and all my fall shows returning. I promise to write a real update soon.

I did recently write and publish an article for Beyond Type 1, an awesome organization that my friend Sara helped found. She's doing all their graphic design stuff, so that's why it looks so awesome--SHE is awesome. I love her and her family and can't wait to get back to Friday Harbor to visit all my friends there.

Here's a link for some of my published works. Hope you enjoy!

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Alright! There we go, for now. This all reminds me of what a wallop this year has been and how eager I am to get writing again.

I took a long time off from writing when I was sick and depressed but I am ready to go. I never stopped being a writer, I just couldn't access the emotions it took for me to motivate myself to do what I do best.

I am excited to begin again.

Thanks, as always, for your love and encouragement.

9/21/15

Sadie at Three

When I moved to Los Angeles in February, I cried for 8 days straight. I, who rarely sheds a tear, who basically has to watch Parenthood if I want to cry, wept. I missed my niece in a way I did not think it was possible to miss someone.


Birthday girl!

We'd FaceTime every few days and sometimes I'd have to get off the phone early because I was too emotional, because I missed her so damn much. And though she was barely two and a half, I know it affected her too. I'd see her get sad and refuse to say goodbye. My sister would tell me that Sadie would remark that she was sad Auntie lived in California now.

It got better, as things do, and the less I felt sad about it, the guiltier I felt. I hated missing her little milestones.

When I came home to visit in May, she was a new kid. Hypertalkative, a little bit clingier to Kristie, and so, very, very funny. Silly. She made up songs about her surroundings, about robots and superheros and princesses. She had blossomed while I was gone.

In July, I came back to New Jersey for good. And then my body deteriorated in a way it had not ever done before. It scared me, and it scared my family. 

My sister started taking Sadie to visit me in the hospital. I spent most of July at two different hospitals, and Kristie, pregnant, would drive to see me. (Because she is the best.)
Laying on the floor with me, helping me exercise.
When I got home, I had work to do and Sadie was excited to help me. We set up her gymnastics mat and I got the big exercise ball and she used her volleyball. "Am I doing it right, Auntie?" she'd ask. 

Yeah, kid. You're just fine.

Here's my annual love letter to my best girl.

--
Dear Sadie,

Sadie, you're three now. You love school and tea sets and tools and fixing stuff. You question everything, bargain with me mercilessly over chicken nuggets, and tease me. You love New York City. You talk about New York City all the time, and you ask when we're going again, and when we can take the train, and when we can see the dinosaurs. When we went to NY in May, you whispered "This is so awesome" as we left the Museum of Natural History.

Dude, YOU are so awesome.

Thank you for insisting you help me check my blood sugar, for checking my heart beat with your toy stethoscope and beatboxing as you do so because that's what you believe hearts sound like. Thanks for only wanting to listen to music on the record player, because it makes me feel I'm doing my part to raise a music snob.
Ridin'
I don't know if you know, kid, but I was deflated this summer. I was so close to giving up. I had never had to wheel around in a wheelchair, or need help showering or going to the bathroom. (Potty buddies!) I'd never been so weak that I could not sit up without assistance. Somehow you knew how to cope with these things better than I ever could.

You pushed me to make my recovery into a game, and wheeling around the house with you as you giggled in my lap took my focus off of my pain. I don't think I'll ever forget your insistence on pushing my chair through the hospital hallways. I want to help Auntie, you said. And boy, did you.

It was during all those lonely nights in the hospital that I was worried my world would collapse around me, that everything would become colorless again. For me, you are hope. You are, like our girl Emily D said, the thing with feathers. I can't help but watch you soar, and it makes me so damn happy to see.

You'll always be my first niece, the first true love of my life. We're going places, kid. I'm so glad to have you along for the ride.

I love you forever,
Auntie

7/23/15

KPB Does Rehab: God, We All Saw This Coming

Wait. No.

I'm in the OTHER kind of rehab, the kind of place where the median age is legit 82 and my roommate was born in the NINETEEN TWENTIES.

I seriously assumed everyone born in the 1920's was dead. Do they have rehab for not being good at math?

After my fun adventures in Los Angeles, I lost all feeling in my legs and reentered the hospital because I just missed Jello too damn much. After five days of testing me for scary diseases and finding GREY MATTER ON MY BRAIN (something I haven't googled JK I'm mostly gonna be fine), I was discharged into a rehabilitation hospital to try and fix my stupid garbage body.

I go to therapy for three hours a day and I hate it so much I have cried six times today. My legs are amazing at being useless right now. I feel like Jason Street at the beginning of Friday Night Lights which shows how fucking dramatic I am because he was like, paralyzed forever, and I'm hopefully gonna walk out of here in ten days.

Ten. Days. 

I don't want to whine but this is the WORST SUMMER EVER. I have been to the beach once. I have swam in the ocean zero. I have cried like every day.

And tonight for dinner I ate applesauce, which I have deemed the least scary food here. This is because it's made by Mott's. 

Let me just say the PC stuff: I am really lucky not to be 99 and here, because I would be so pissed off they were making me walk after I had survived like 7 wars and so many presidential scandals. 

I am also very grateful to have family and friends who want to visit this octogenarian nightmare. This place is straight up reeking of age. At night the walls whisper "Mr. A died in that bed, you know..."

My roommate is 87 and she tells everyone how she's gonna be 88 in October. She is really focused on making it to 88 so we're all pulling for her. We are about equal in terms of strength. We also both have dentures but I don't want to talk about it. She has terrible hearing so the TV, which is always fucking on, is on volume level 85 the entire day. I'm wearing two pairs of headphones on top of my ears right now to deal--OMG, guys, she's praying out loud right now before bedtime. I am such a jerk. 

Anyway I actually really like Margo and I hope we become friends by the time one of us leaves, but right now I'm at the stage in my inspirational film where I am cranky and young. LifeTime will soon air The Kelly Bergin Story so keep your eyes peeled.

It's past 9 which is an hour past my bedtime, so I must go. I need at least 16 hours of sleep these days. Three hours of therapy will definitely take it out of you.

Thanks for all the support and please stop Instagramming about the beautiful weather. I wish humidity and bad hair for every one of you at the beach.

Love,
Kelly