I’m out. (I aten’t dead)


It's hard to write the sort of way I write on this blog so it has been hard to write about it here. Because my brain is very unrecovered from everything.


Went in. Got cured of pneumonia. That process was easy and quick for the doctors and long and harsh for me. Especially with the meds upsetting a stomach that had not seen food in weeks.


Which came of interest after they cured the pneumonia. Turns out I have gastroparesis. Partially paralyzed stomach. Hence more nausea and lower appetite over the years. Lost ungodly amounts of weight this time and they noticed finally that I'm burning muscle and his is very bad. Apparently it's likely I got this genetically tied to my mom's autonomic crap. Anyway it makes you empty slowly so you always feel full and a normal amount of food makes you throw up.

So lots of nausea meds later (I was literally one failed med away from a feeding tube being considered) I can now eat… sort of. A certain number of Ensure Pluses a day.

My brain has developed the ability to dream amazing food in amazing detail. So I no longer miss food as acutely. And I'm very happy Ensure exists.

But seriously of all the diseases to give a sort of former emetophobe, this… Gah. Well I already knew it as “chronic nausea”, its just the second hospitalization involving it was what it took for them to notice how bad it was. That and “I haven't eaten anything but broth and half servings of grits in weeks”.


My main problem is since I was there five weeks, my brain functioning isn't great. Started off with full bore delirium, then settled into what I have now. Low grade delirium. Caused by long term hospitalization. (the places cause it, they're perfect environments, think sensory deprivation) So my brain is… Sporadically operational. Continue not to expect much and be pleasantly surprised when much happen. Just still the gastroparesis is fairly severe even if managed, and the brain stuff is bad. I get lost in my own bed. The pneumonia is gone. Yay? That was so long ago now.


I'm very sorry to everyone who contacted me to ask if I was dead. I never intend to create that impression.


Ii have many things to say about what's wrong with hospitals and what hospitals should be more like. But I can't. Except one of them is causing delirium and then not detecting or trying to resolve it except in rare violent cases. Most delirious patients, like me, just lie quietly and you'd never know neon bugs were eating my eyelashes.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

23 responses »

  1. When I was in the ICU the machines made loud beeping noises, so loud I couldn’t sleep. During my hospital stay I was transferred to another hospital with outdated older equipment that did not make loud beep noises and I got some rest. When I complained of the beeping sound in the more modern hospital I got a condescending smile and “Yes they do make beeping sounds”. No one can link lack of sleep in the ICU to poor patient outcomes so this will never be fixed. They don’t listen to the meat in the bed.

  2. “Ii have many things to say about what’s wrong with hospitals and what hospitals should be more like. But I can’t.”

    This is what I’ve been dealing with whenever I try to write about something recently.

    I’m really glad you’re out and I’m sorry you have to deal with so much stuff. I may have said this before but I would look A LOT more “low functioning” if I had to deal with half the things you did. I probably will look more like that as I get older.

    Actually I had my own Doctor Adventures recently that involved travelling to another city and basically three days of lying in bed surrounding the appointment itself. Not exactly the same thing you’re dealing with now but… stuff is too much sometimes.

  3. Be yer Jed yet? – an old black country saying inquiring after someones health :)

    Maybe you recall Dave Swarbrick, the fiddler for Fairport Covention who was once reported to have died in our local hospital, much to his surprise.

    Pneumonia is of course a serious business and the rest sounds narsty, but it is good to see you blogging again.

  4. Welcome back. I will admit I was worried for a while, but having read and reread your last post particularly the request not to contact you, I figured you would let us know what was up when you were able. I had to fight off urges to post anxious comments on here.

    Didn’t bother because well…..you would have had to at least look at them if only to hit the delete button if that’s what you would have done (not assuming you would. I just think seeing a bunch of “omg I was so worried” and “omg im scared now havent seen activity in a while” kind of stuff waiting to be moderated isn’t exactly energizing to the brain in any way.)

    Wow this comment looks like malarkey haha I need to go to bed.

    Long story short, welcome back.


    RELAX (or at least try to)



  5. Wishing you a good recovery, I’ve recently watched your film ‘In My Own Language’ and was enchanted by it. Have also written about it in my blog. Your whole approach is brave and fascinating, very glad of the privilege of seeing your work and your blogs. Oh and we have cats too, they are generally in charge of things!

  6. I was hospitalized several times for dialysis when I was about 15 or 16. I was on a lot of weird medications, and what little I do remember had a general feeling of delirium about it.

    Even when my parents visited me, there was a pervasive sense of abnormality and mortality to the whole thing. The moans of the dying kid in the same room as me, the mattresses that felt like cardboard, the dreams about going home, having blood cleansed through IVs inserted into sensitive places on my body, I would wander around with my wrist IV looking at the pictures on the walls, trying to find something interesting I could focus on. I eventually entered a psychotic state, mostly due to the drugs, but the environment didn’t help much.

    The saddest part was, although those were the worst days of my life, it probably wasn’t as bad as what you went through because a) I can communicate verbally and b) it was a children’s hospital so there’s more effort spent on entertaining the patients.

  7. Most people never intend to create the impression of being dead. In fact, intending to create any impression at all might be a sign of not being dead. However, i do admit to emailing Muskie to ask if you were still alive. Of course she didn’t answer because she doesn’t. But i figured that if you weren’t alive, she might have made an exception and answered. or there would have been an announcement of some kind.

  8. Reading what you are going through Amanda tore me up. I was angry that this was happening to you, as if it was unjust. I raised my clenched fists in anger. This was followed by tears of sadness. You seem so brave to be able to endure so much and keep on writing and sharing. I wish you the very best.

  9. Hi Amanda,

    I think your blog is really good and I was wondering if you would mind me linking to it? If you could email me when you’re feeling better or respond to this comment, I’d really appreciate it. I hope you’re recovering well from your pneumonia.

  10. Amanda is a Latin name meaning, “deserving to be loved,” or, simply, “worthy of love.” =)


    !!!! thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! ….for all that you’ve written on this blog, i can’t describe how grateful and empathetic i am, but i want to try because:
    >>>>you are so very right about such a very wrong world<<<>

    I have a medical marijuana card. my nausea, vomiting, anxiety, depression and even body pains have dropped dramatically. i am the last person to push any kind of drug, but for me, it’s a god-send.

    i also have a juicer and food processor. i take liquid vitamins, enjoy a lot of exotic soups… and i read, i love to find blogs that remind me that i’m a person and i’m not alone.

    i am very open to any questions or comments you might have, so when you can & (if you want to) i am here for anything.

    your admirer,


    • awesome, for some reason 10 paragraphs are missing from the middle of my original message. i was diagnosed w/ gastroparesis last yr and on top of the drugs for everything else i’m supposed to take, it was just too much! i couldn’t move or think (total zombie) on Reglan and my eye starting twitching and the whitecoats just wanted to up the dosage and for me to be a good lil patient, take more drugs and suffer in silence. but enough is enough. i got my blood tested- and my hormones were way off and i was totally vitamin/nutrient deficient. “let food by thy medicine dr. hippocrit said ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthomolecular_medicine

  11. Hi, Amanda,
    I hope your health (and life in general) is doing okay
    I just wanted to drop a note to let you know that I’ve started a new wordpress blog called “Rambling Justice” (because I ramble a lot, and will probably do a lot of that rambling about social justice issues). My first post there is about the importance of having more deaf characters, and characters who experience various forms of marginalization in general, in fiction, with a personal perspective on the first time I “met me” inside a book contrasted with my experience with the TV program, “Switched at Birth”. Am deliberately avoiding hypertext link in the hope that this helps prevent this comment from being caught in your spam filter! :-)


  12. I’m not a regular reader here, but I do know of you and got worried when I just read on Bad Cripple that you were resisting doctor who told you to consider “alternatives” to treatment. I’m glad you’re better and out of there! The gastric problem seems a pain, but at least you’ve got a diagnosis and meds that seem to work now.

  13. Hi Amanda,

    I’m so glad you’re ok and soon to be coming home; we’ve been worried about you here! Your experience in hospital sounds awful. Sadly it’s not an experience that unique to the US – there’s research in the UK on premature death among people with disabilities because of the treatment they receive in healthcare services:

    Click to access fullfinalreport.pdf

    I know you’re generally really busy and probably inundated with people contacting you, not to mention busy recovering from your illness, but I work for the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway in Ireland:

    The Centre does a lot of work on themes that you often discuss on your blog (we are all enormous fans of your blog – it’s on our reading lists here) – issues like deinstitutionalisation, rights to personal assistance and independent living, work on guardianship and also poor treatment in healthcare. We are running various projects and conferences on these topics, including a project focussed on getting people out of institutions in Eastern European countries, and giving them access to support to live independently and make decisions for themselves (rather than being appointed a guardian). We find your videos and posts extremely powerful. If you might be at all interested in getting involved in any way, we would be absolutely delighted. It’s an open invitation, and you can always get hold of me at the blog linked to in this comment.

    Take care, and I wish you a speedy recovery!

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