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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » A Hatracker in Prague. Leaving Tomorrow!

Author Topic: A Hatracker in Prague. Leaving Tomorrow!
Member # 8854

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I'm going through my drawers and getting out all my Euro power adapters. I'm finally laying out all the clothes I'm bringing with me. It's finally exciting.

A couple of months ago I had a scary life-threatening health crisis, and as some of you might have experienced, I have had a post-illness sort of depression that has robbed me of some emotional facility. I haven't felt excited about anything, and I've been constantly asked: "aren't you excited? Aren't you scared? What's going on in your head right now?" The answer, for a while, has been nothing. I am hoping that changes soon- here's what happened. I was working at a summer camp, very long hours and a very tough schedule, and I wasn't liking it that much. The camp was infected with an atmosphere of constant 15-year-old-girl excitability; in-jokes and high fives and incessant positivity that are not my strong suits. I'm known among friends as being very gregarious and generous with my time, but also serious and circumspect, I suppose. I think people found me to be too cynical, too unwilling to get super-excited about the color of someone's t-shirt, or what costume I was going to put together for the end of session dance, or whatever. I didn't like it, and it kind of showed, which was mostly my bad. It was noted in my mid-summer evaluation that I was fantastic with the kids, many of whom had noted me as being a big influence on them, and being very funny and warm. Parents apparently noted my influence in some letters to camp and phone-calls. I had spent the two sessions I was there writing songs with my kids around the camp fire, and joking endlessly with them, and reading poetry every night at bed-time. That was the best part of my experience there. The evaluation noted however that my relationship with the rest of the staff was not as good, and I admittedly had trouble fitting in, to the point that my supervisor was surprised that I was so good with the kids, seeing as I wasn't making friends among the counselors. I had a few friends, but most people didn't know what to make of me either way.

Anyway, I very suddenly awoke one morning (3 am) about 5 weeks into the summer, shaking so badly I could barely talk. I had a crushing pain in all my joints and muscles, and I was having an asthma attack, and consequently a panic attack as well. My co-counselor walked me the half-mile to the nursing station, where I lay incoherent for two days, before it was noticed that my left leg was beginning to turn a very nasty shade of purple. I had a fever of 106, and was hallucinating about earthquakes, and being left behind at the camp during some kind of national emergency. I was driven to a hospital a couple of hours away, and spent a week there hooked up to IV's, getting ultrasounds and blood thinners injected into my belly. Although there's no definitive test, the doctor thought it was probably an MRSA (Staph) infection- and had it gotten much worse, or infiltrated slightly deeper in the tissue, I could have died or lost one or both of my legs.

Family members, especially my Mom, were quite frantic at the time, but I was so shell shocked by the whole experience, that the enormity of the situation didn't strike me at all until nearly two months later. I couldn't walk for 3 weeks, and the Vancomiacin I had had in the hospital had a side effect of joint and muscle pain that has not entirely dissipated yet. Anyway, the experience left me kind of emotionally drained. I just didn't feel anything one way or the other for weeks. I returned to school to finish a required course, and barely made it to class, ending up getting a D+ (barely passing), which is the lowest grade I have ever gotten in my life, by a lot. It didn't effect me that much, really. I didn't call old friends or work on projects I had promised to people that I would work on. It's been weird, and as I said in another thread, I started smoking again, and have had huge swings in my sleep cycle that certainly are not healthy.

A funny thing about it is that it wasn't until I was out to dinner with my Godmother, saying goodbye before my big move to Prague, where I'll be teaching English for the foreseeable future, that she brought up the whole illness incident, and asked if things had returned to normal for me. I really didn't know if they had or not. With so many changes and moves and places in the last two years, I don't know what's normal for me anymore. I started to see though, that something had been switched off inside, or that maybe before I was so sick, I had already been kind of fragile- kind of unsure of where I was headed, or what I really wanted from myself.

For instance, there was this girl that I was kind of in love with. And we'd had this rocky relationship because she valued me as a friend, but didn't see me in the same way. And after I'd come home from England, she'd said I was different, but I never pursued it or tried to find out what she meant- I'd given up thinking she'd change her mind about me. Then it comes to a couple of weeks ago, and she and I were out having our last night in town together, which turned out to be three nights in a row, sitting and talking, drinking beer and playing guitar. We were standing near her car on the second night, and she leaned into me in a way she hadn't done before, and said before I left I should kiss her. I said, what kind of kiss are we talking about? "Any kind you want." This girl, who I've always been *so* attracted to, was saying this to me, and the weird thing is that I was so happy about it, I never did anything but kiss her on the cheek the same night. She does have a boyfriend, who I can't stand, and it's not like it was going to make me feel guilty- so I don't know why I didn't just grab her and really kiss her, because I had the distinct impression that she really wanted me to do that.

That may all seem random and disconnected as a narrative, but they're just the things that linger in my mind about the past few months. When I was coming back from England last year, I felt almost as if this was a temporary stay, as I was already planning to go to Prague this fall, and making my mental goodbyes all that time ago. Now I'm thinking about how helpless I was in that hospital, how unalarmed I was at the gravity of my situation, and thinking I must spend so much of my life unconcerned with things that other people agonize over. I know people my age who want to get married and have children, who are going to grad school or embarking on their chosen career paths, and I'm wanting to travel the world and have nothing, and be free from anything. But I'm now dependent on myself to find a job and keep it, and to make a way for myself in whatever I do. It doesn't feel important enough to me at this moment. Isn't that weird?

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Member # 11482

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I didn't read any of your post because my head hurts, but i would like to say Prague is a cool place because of how close it is to my last name.
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The Rabbit
Member # 671

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Prague is a wonderful city, I hope you are able to recover fully enough to make the most of the experience.

The way you are feeling doesn't seem at all weird. I think you have correctly assessed that you are suffering from depression that is the result of your serious illness. Give yourself sometime and you should start feeling normal. If the symptoms persist for more than 6 months, talk to a doctor about it and you may want to consider taking an anti-depressant to get your self out of this but I suspect that the change of venue along with new experience and responsibilities you will start seeing an improvement over the next few months.

Since you are aware of your state, try to monitor it. Changes bring stress as well as excitement so there is a possibility things could get worse rather than better. If you start to see that happening, get help. Too many people think that the best response to mental health problems is to tough it out. It would have been disastrous if you'd just tried toughing it out when you had the serious infection, there is no reason that delaying seeking medical help now won't be.

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Member # 8854

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Thanks Rabbit. I'm at SFO now waiting for my flight. Now I'm seeing Sarah Palin's mug on the TV smiling at somebody and waving. Cnn.

I didn't get any sleep last night, at all, so I'm now close on 24 hours with no sleep- and about 15 to go in my journey. Good times! But to be honest, I've found total exhaustion is the best way to adjust your schedule when traveling to Europe- it's worse coming back of course.

The iced frappe I bought at the foe italian bistro is surprisingly good. Not crispy or icy like most iced coffee drinks turn out to be... it's a good omen. Better than when the metal detector guy said I had "more metal than Ozzy Ozzborne." I literally walked over to the bucket, dropped a bottle of Asprin in it, and walked through, and he says "seee???" Well, that's why you're working at the airport buddy.

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Member # 4561

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I hope you have a good time!

I don't mean to derail your thread, but something I wondered from your topic. Do we have some sort of google map that has the locations of where different Hatrackers are? If we do, it would be pretty neat to see you put yourself in Prague.

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