Friday, November 25, 2011



Dear Andrea,

“Laughter is important.” Steve said, standing at my kitchen sink.  Placing both his hands on the rim of it, balancing all of his weight on them, leaning towards me with that special crinkle in his left eye.

“It is essential.” I respond.  I am on the other side of the counter sitting at the breakfast bar, head resting in the half-moon-cradle created where my palms meet my wrists--both hands together fingers bent around my face an offering.

We have just finished comedic verbal sparring--collapsing into each other--holding each other up--bouncing off one another in fits of laughter--tummy cramping--tears falling.

Steve is at my house tonight.  He still cannot tell me that he loves me.  He cannot bring himself to say those words, “I love you.”

He still misses his wife.  This is how he honors her.  I understand that now.

There are so many other ways to say I love you.

I am thankful for all of them. They are all I need now.

“Laughter is important.” he said.

The connection is essential, is what I mean.

This is our second Thanksgiving eve together. 

We live together apart.  Steve has his house.  I have mine.

I cannot stay seated on the stool--the breakfast bar, the sink, a reef between the energy in what is not spoken, those thoughts and feelings that pass between the two of us.

bon iver, bon iver fills the room with movement of music.  Steve reaches out, encircles me with his left arm, pulls me into him hip to hip as I approach him.  I steer him into me, exerting pressure with the tip of my hip bone.  He faces me, I rest my forehead on his shoulder. 

We dance.

When the music stops we collect each other’s articles of clothing from the kitchen floor.  Steve takes me by the hand.  Leads me up the stairs, into my bed where I turn away from him, press my back into his chest.  He puts his arm around me.  Draws me up against him.   

I am facing sleep, the journey into this night’s world of dreams safely protected.

Do you sleep?  Do you dream?  I wonder where you are.

There are so many ways to let someone know you love them.

Laughing together.

In this dance through days, I am glad Steve is my partner.

Thanksgiving morning 2011

Thirty years ago, exactly, I woke to the sound of rain pounding on the windows of the little house on Center Street in Kent.  Slowly coming into consciousness I felt the taunt roundness of my belly.  Waiting to feel knees, elbows, heels, your butt, your head rolling, pushing as you entered your eighth month of habitation inside of me.  Imagining you.  Naming you—though I did not know yet if you were a boy or a girl.

Names are important.

I your had been a boy, your name would have been Nicholas.  Or Alexander.

I rolled around girls names.  Katherine.  Elizabeth…

We name everything. 

With names, we define things. 

Close your eyes.  Think cake.  Your mind will form a mental image of a cake.  Four letters, but think of the complexity of everything that forms a cake.  The mixture of eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, butter.  Batter in a bowl.  Two 8 inch round pans baking at 350 degrees in the oven, filling the house with the fragrance of its transformation.  Two 8 inch round objects cooling on a rack.  Two 8 inch round objects stacked on the other, frosting in the middle holding them together.

What kind of cake do you imagine when you think “cake”?

Andrea.  From the Greek word Andreas.  Feminine.  Warrior.

My daughter.

It’s a girl.

Seeing your black hair, as my body contracted, forced you into the world.

Your grimacing face at the first kiss of the room’s air.

Your glistening body as the doctor cut the cord.

Andrea Marcella.


Sorrow, this grief, it has a definition.



My eyes are closed.

Lady Gaga sings, her voice projecting through the speakers in the electric organ in Stephie’s living room.  Paparazzi.  The only song of hers I know and recognize. 

…I'm your biggest fan
I'll follow you until you love me, Papa-paparazzi
Baby there's no other superstar
you know that I'll be your
Promise I'll be kind but I won't stop until that boy is mine
Baby you'll be famous, chase you down until you love me

Real good, we dance in the studio
Snap snap, to that shit on the radio
Don't stop for anyone…

In the kitchen, standing at the sink, I close my eyes, move to the beat.  In this moment, I am the music.

In the living room, everyone scatters on chairs and sofas.  Claims a space before joining in a collective coma--full of turkey, garlic mashed  potatoes, giblet gravy, Parker House rolls, waiting for pumpkin pie.

Dishes need to be done.  Food put away.

I sort through my memories of my 55 Thanksgivings preceding  this one.  Mostly my memories are of Thanksgivings with you.  26 of them.  The last one Thanksgiving 2008. 

This is Stephie’s first Thanksgiving Dinner she is hostessing.  At first I was hesitant about surrendering the roasting of the turkey, the mashing potatoes, the menu, over to someone else.  But it is time.

You never got a chance to make Thanksgiving Dinner for me, though you were almost always a presence in my kitchen.  Except for those few years you were at sea, or living in Virginia. 

I sort all the dirty dishes by size and type to the right of the stainless steel double sink.  I fill the sink with Planet Earth lavender scented dish soap and hot water, the faucet handle turned to the left as far as it would go.  Water hot as I can get it.

I slip first the tips of my fingers into mounds of bubbles separating them. I wonder how many sinks of dishwater I have filled.  In how many places.  How many dishes I have washed. 

The rest of my hands follow, letting the water slightly scald skin.  When I pull my hands out they will be red.

Lady Gaga continues with the song.

I wrap my right hand around a glass.  Find the dishrag in the water.  Shove it in the glass, twist it cleaning all the way to the bottom, draw it out, wipe the rim, rinse it under hot clear water, put it in the rack to dry.  Watch the steam rise off it.

This is mindless work. 

I wash bowls, salad bowls, mixing bowls, serving bowls.  An old clear scratched Pyrex bowl catches my attention.  I hold it up to the window.  Search the etchings for a secret clue, a sign.  All I find are the tracks of pastry cutters, wire whisks, electric beaters.  I believe this bowl belonged to Stephie’s grandma.  And then to Stephie’s mother.  It is part of Stephie’s inheritance.  The memories, meanings of the etchings lost, carried by the women who made them as they mixed zucchini breads, birthday cakes, pie crusts, pea salads. 

I make a cradle of my hands around the third Pyrex bowl’s base.  Making an offering of it, I lower the bowl in the hot sudsy water.  When it is safely resting on the bottom of the sink, I put my right hand in and swirl it, making a whirlpool.  My hand becomes the force drawing a trail of water round and round the bowl.  I am mesmerized by fluidity.  The properties of motion.

I feel you there, in the swirling water, your hand brushing against mine.  And the presence of every woman who ever stood at this sink, looking out the window on a black Thanksgiving night while the guests gathered in the living room.  The presence of every woman who etched a little of her story in the clear Pyrex bowl now in the sink.  

Lady Gaga is no longer singing.

I stop.  Take my hand from the sink, watch the water calm itself.

This is my third Thanksgiving without you. 

Stephie comes into the kitchen.  Gives me a hug.  “Thank you for cleaning up.”  she says.

Last year she came to my kitchen, my table for the holidays. 

This year I have come to hers.


Steve sneaks up behind me as I stand at the sink rinsing forks and knives and spoons.  Startles me. 

The prankster, Stephie, me. 

We all dissolve into laughter.


                                    Miss you—Happy Thanksgiving,


Monday, November 21, 2011


November 20, 2011

88 5 KPLU.  Right here at 88 5 KPLU.  The rest of what the announcer says is unintelligible.  I wait for the music.  The piano, each key given its full measure, then notes that overlap.  The saxophone player plaintively draws sound from his instrument. 

Then it is over.

And in the time between two songs I am carried from one thought in time to another.

“You should have gone to see her when she had meningitis.  When she was hospitalized in Virginia.”  JoAnn told me.

Why bring this up now?  Four years later.  One week after I got the call, “I’m sorry.  There is nothing we could do.  Your daughter has passed away.”

Your daughter has passed away.  Your daughter has died.  I am sorry.  There was nothing we could do.    

I could not defend myself.  Guilty.  I should have gone to see you in Norfolk when you were in the hospital with meningitis.  Why did she feel the need to remind me?

I was seatbelted into the beige leather passenger seat in her Jaguar.  Folded in my lap were a pair of your sweatpants, a black t-shirt that said “Worst Pirate Ever”, a pile of cards and letters friends and family wrote you at your memorial service, your baby blanket, some pictures of Sadie, the teddy bear I bought you the day before you died. 

JoAnn was driving me to Funeral Alternatives.  Your body was back from the University of Washington where your autopsy was performed.  You waited your turn for cremation.  Even in death there was a line.

Dean was at home, drinking champagne and orange juice with Jake and Kim.  Making breakfast.  He was already toasted. 

Those things in my lap were what I was sending with you as they slid you in the crematorium.  Ashes to Ashes. 

I did not want to be buckled in the passenger seat of my friend’s Jaguar taking my daughter her burying clothes.

I should have flown to Norfolk right after you called me from the emergency room. 

That’s what a perfect mother would do.

That’s what any mother would do.

The stones stacked heavy on my chest already crush my heart.  This additional rock makes it difficult to breathe.

So many factors go into a decision.   

The doctors told me they had things under control.  You would only be in the hospital for a few days.  You would need someone to take care of you when you got out.

A husband who drank Stoli, ouzo, Aalborg Aquavit Bloody Mary’s and watched Jerry Springer and Hitler shows all day.

A full time job representing men and women whose hearings in family court would determine whether they got to see their kids.  How much money they could count on to buy milk and Cheerios.  How much money they would have to pay.  Court dates every Friday.  All that would have to be postponed and rearranged. 

Two dogs whelping puppies—one that had been torn open after Dean let her and her mother out together, knowing they needed to be kept separate.  One whose pregnancy was accidental because Dean had let her father in with her when she was fertile.  All while I was with you in Hawaii in December and he was semi sober.

And then the thing I could not tell you about, I never told you about—Dean’s affair. 

I was trying to figure out how to leave him.

And you needed me to come to you.

I should have left everything.


I bought a first class ticket to fly you home.  I called and arranged for visiting nurse services to monitor your PICC line and blood levels.  I cleaned out the master bedroom so you would have a quiet place to rest while you recuperated.  I disinfected everything and bought air cleaners to filter any particles could cause you problems.

I did not fly to Norfolk.

I should have.

I am sorry.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Initial Diagnosis

November 17, 2011

“You’ll love it here.  The winds are beautiful when they blow.”

Those words you whispered in a dream haunted me this morning as I drove to work.  The remnants of last night’s windstorm littered Barnes, then Crosby Streets as I drove over, then down the hill to my office. Brilliant yellow orange red leaves wet, pasted to the pavement.  A ribbon of baby blue lined the sky above and below a hedge and then a wall of clouds in varying shades of gray.

I am trying to make sense of the senseless.  Piecing together what medical records and what you wrote in emails, on Facebook, Twitter, My Space.  Notes I find written on college ruled 8x 11 sheets of paper. 

The struggle with Lyme disease was really your story to tell.  It is a story that can only be told from the perspective of the participant.  The story I tell, will be different than yours.  But it is all I have.  You want me to write what you no longer can.  I feel it as thoughts flip cartwheels through my brain.

My lawyer’s training, my work now as a judge, demand that I look at all the evidence I have before me, come up with a conclusion based on a preponderance of the evidence.  It is the discipline I use approaching everything. 

In this case, your death was the conclusion—the final order I must grapple with.  It is the hedge and then wall of clouds in varying shades of gray that frame a ribbon of blue sky outside my window as I sit here going through your papers.

Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation
US Department of Labor
Employment Standards Administration
Office of Worker’s Compensation Program

I found this application in the Banker’s Box.  On the outside, written with a black Sharpie the letters-AMP-your initials.  In your handwriting—IMPORTANT PAPERS.

I read further.

Name of Employee

Employee’s Occupation


Date you first realized the disease or illness was caused or aggravated by your employment


Explain the relationship to your employment, and why you came to this realization


Nature of disease or illness


Your signature on the bottom of the form.  February 15, 2005.

Exhibit A.  Admitted. 

Attached are your medical records to substantiate your claim.  I keep flipping back to the first page.  Exhibit A  Running the tip of my index finger over your signature. 

Exhibit B.


History and Physical Findings:
During work up for CTS Right hand by D.L. McDermott, Neurologist, blood serum showed + Lyme AbIgM by Western Blot.  No symptom.  No incidence of tic-bite.

Results of Diagnostic Studies/Testing:
+Lyme AbIgM by Western Blot

Lyme Disease

Vibromycin 100 g x 2 for 2 weeks
She is fit for duty

I cannot read the physician’s signature.  But it is signed.  By a doctor.  MD.  Whose diagnosis was Lyme disease.  Definitively.

Exhibit B.  Admitted.

In a whimsical mood and quite extemporaneously, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked: ‘Facts in isolation amount to mere gossip; facts in relation become philosophy.'

The same could be said about Lyme disease.  Every doctor is his own philosopher, has his own philosophy. 

Philosophy: n.  1.a.  Speculative inquiry concerning the source and nature…
b.  Any set of ideas based on such thinking  2.  A basic theory concerning a particular subject.
Philosophy.  Everything is speculative.  You base your ideas based on speculative thinking.  You come up with a basic theory concerning the particular subject.

Lyme Disease.

It is hard to determine what is mere gossip.  It is impossible to be a patient caught between two philosophies. 

This is a lesson we have yet to learn. 

Exhibit C.

Attn: Flordeliza M. McDermott MD
Virginia Beach, Virginia 

Date Collected:  1/25/05

You are 23 years and 25 days old.

Date Reported:  1/28/05  2135

Lyme IgG WB Interp.             Negative

Lyme IgM WB Interp.            Positive

Exhibit C.  Admitted.

To distinguish the false positives from the true positives, a more specific laboratory technique, known as immunoblotting, is used. (The Western blot, which identifies specific antibody proteins, is but one kind of immunoblot; there is also a Northern blot, which separates and identifies RNA fragments, and a Southern blot, which does the same for DNA sequences.) In a Western blot, the testing laboratory looks for antibodies directed against a wide range of Bb proteins. This is done by first disrupting Bb cells with an electrical current and then "blotting" the separated proteins onto a paper or nylon sheet. The current causes the proteins to separate according to their particle weights, measured in kilodaltons (kDa). From here on, the procedure is similar to the ELISA -- the various Bb antigens are exposed to the patient's serum, and reactivity is measured the same way (by linking an enzyme to a second antibody that reacts to the human antibodies). If the patient has antibody to a specific Bb protein, a "band" will form at a specific place on the immunoblot. For example, if a patient has antibody directed against outer surface protein A (OspA) of Bb, there will be a WB band at 31 kDa. By looking at the band pattern of patient's WB results, the lab can determine if the patient's immune response is specific for Bb.
Here's where all the problems come in. Until recently, there has never been an agreed-upon standard for what constitutes a positive WB. Different laboratories have used different antigen preparations (say, different strains of Bb) to run the test and have also interpreted results differently. Some required a certain number of bands to constitute a positive result, others might require more or fewer. Some felt that certain bands should be given more priority than others. In late 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) convened a meeting in Dearborn, Michigan [1] in an attempt to get everybody on the same page, so that there would be some consistency from lab to lab in the methodology and reporting of Western blot results.
Many patients have noticed that their Western blot report usually contains two parts: IgM and IgG.These are immunoglobulins (antibody proteins) produced by the immune system to fight infection. IgM is produced fairly early in the course of an infection, while IgG response comes later. Some patients might already have an IgM response at the time of the EM rash; IgG response, according to the traditional model, tends to start several weeks after infection and peak months or even years later. In some patients, the IgM response can remain elevated; in others it might decline, regardless of whether or not treatment is successful. Similarly, IgG response can remain strong or decline with time, again regardless of treatment. Most WB results report separate IgM and IgG band patterns and the criteria for a positive result are different for the two immunoglobulins. 

The website for the Center for Disease Control says the following on its first page:

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Lyme Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

Lyme disease is diagnosed based on:
  • Signs and symptoms
  • A history of possible infections to infected blacklegged ticks
Laboratory blood tests are helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Laboratory tests are not recommended for patients who do not have symptoms typical of Lyme disease. Just as it is important to correctly diagnose Lyme disease when a patient has it, it is important to avoid misdiagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease when the true cause of the illness is something else.
I just want hard facts.  Physical evidence.  Something I can base my thoroughly objective decision on.  It is important to get it right.

You are 23 years and 28 days old.  When you get the results, you will still put all your trust in doctors.  You will believe you have a definitive diagnosis for what is wrong with you.  You will believe you will be cured.

You will not believe me when I tell you the importance of getting the right treatment with the right doctor.  You will not believe me when I tell you that two weeks of antibiotic therapy is not enough. 

You will remind me I have a law degree.  Not a medical degree. 

Because I am only your mother, not your doctor, not a doctor, you will trust them more.

Because I am your mother, I go to the internet.  Google Lyme Disease.  Begin building my case.  My arguments.

Exhibit D.  Your Honor.  I offer Exhibit D.

ADM: 2/7/05


Streptococcus pneumonaie in bacterial meningitis:
"Before the 1990s, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, but new vaccines being given to all children as part of their routine immunizations have reduced the occurrence of invasive disease due to H. influenzae. Today, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis are the leading causes of bacterial meningitis."
"High fever, headache, and stiff neck are common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of 2 years.""The diagnosis is usually made by growing bacteria from a sample of spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is obtained by performing a spinal tap, in which a needle is inserted into an area in the lower back where fluid in the spinal canal is readily accessible. Identification of the type of bacteria responsible is important for selection of correct antibiotics."

Gram positive cocci in pairs in csf  means Streptococcus pneumonaie.  Bacterial meningitis.

Are you offering Exhibit D counsel.

I am, your Honor.

Any objection?
No objection.

Exhibit D is admitted.

Lyme disease is transmitted by Ixodes hard ticks; man is an accidental host.
Doxycycline, amoxicillin, or a cephalosporin
it is important to note that many people are not aware of tick bites, so a negative history for them should not be considered unassailable.

It is important to note:  There is a controversy surrounding what is known as chronic Lyme disease. 

I am a divining rod, seeking an underground source of water. 

I am thirsty.  I will not give up until I find it.

I am a judge.

I must render a judgment.

The tea kettle whistles under the gas flame.  I have a cup of Starbucks Via Italian Roast with a dollop of sugarfree hazelnut Coffeemate.  I need to brush my teeth.  I need to soak in a hot tub of lavender scented bubbles. 

I listen to towels tumbling in the dryer.  The whir of the processor in my computer as I try to piece Exhibits A-D together. 

Sadie feels me feeling you.  She comes and lays her head on my thigh, sighs.  I look down and see her plaintive button eyes.  Sadie still mourns your loss too.

She distracts me.

I Google “dogs mourning”.  I find an article by Dr. Nicholas Dodman.  He writes what I think Sadie would tell me if she could talk:

Pets may also show signs of loss and mourning in ways that the family may not recognize. Although somewhat different, they do feel the loss of loved ones. Many have a significant degree of attachment to their owner that leads to anxiety and distress when even short-term separation is thrust upon them, let alone bereavement.

Perhaps, the most famous dog-grieving story of all time is that of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye terrier owned by a Mr. John Gray of Edinburgh, Scotland. Mr. Gray passed away in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, Bobby was one of the conspicuous mourners. As time went by he never forgot his deceased master. Every day for the next 14 years until his own death in 1872, Bobby spent each night lying on his master's grave come rain, hail and snow. In honor of Bobby's devotion, a statue and water fountain was erected to his memory in 1873.

Sadie has no grave to go to.  She only has my thigh to lay her head on, my body to curl up to at night.

And I have her.

Moving along.

Exhibit E.  I offer Exhibit E.

                        ANTIBIOTIC, --THRU 2/21/05, --THEN 2G EVERY 12 HR, THRU

No objection.

Exhibit E is admitted. 

It is all I can process on this day.  We are adjourned.  For the evening.

I walk outside the sliding glass door onto my patio.

While I have been taking in evidence, deliberating, the clouds have won.  Have obliterated the ribbon of blue.  It is early afternoon, already the sky darkens.  First comes the mist, droplets so small I feel caressed by clouds, but it is cold.  Damp.  My cheeks pinken. 

Condensed water coalesces into droplets too small to fall as precipitation.  They are the clouds.  The moisture around us is continually evaporating, condensing in the sky.  Looking closely, I can see some parts of the cloud around me disappearing, evaporating.  Other parts grow, condense. 

The droplets concentrate on tinier dust, salt, smoke particles that form the core.

But before they can fall, the fall velocity has to exceed the cloud updraft speed.

This is not a trivial task.  Millions of cloud droplets are required to produce a single raindrop.

I am condensed water coalescing into droplets too small to fall as precipitation.  I am a cloud.  A collection of droplets condensing.  Forming a core around your dusty ashes.

This is not a trivial task.

                                           Love,  Mom

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Red Sky

November 13, 2011

Sirens wake me this morning. 

I roll over, press my stomach into  the concave of Steve’s back, put my arm around his chest.  Sadie jumps up on the bed, looking for a spot between the two of us.  Not finding one, she settles herself in the cradle made by my bent knees.

A chorus of sirens. 

The neighbor’s dog barks. 

I try to settle in.  Go back to the amniotic dream world I was warm in --no sirens--no barking dogs.

          “Red sky in morning, sailor take warning.”

I feel it first, before the thought fully forms.

Where did that come from? 

Yesterday morning, the sky was brilliant shades of red to sherbert. 

There were no sirens.  The neighbor’s dog was quiet.

Between then and this morning lies the passage of 24 hours.

I cannot fall back to sleep.   I wonder what color the sky is this morning.

Quietly I disengage myself from Steve, from Sadie.  I do not want to wake him. 

I close the bedroom door, descend into the living room, through the dining room and into the kitchen.  It is raining.  The sky is gray.  There is a flock of dark eyed juncos in my garden eating Echinachea seeds, scratching the ground beneath lettuce dying, gone to seed.  I stand and watch them eating breakfast.  Ponder the precise placement of colorings--black hood, pinkish sides, white /buff belly, white outer tail feathers.  Each one looks like a painted ornament—except they move.   Stella is crouched next to me, huntress, still except the tail hypnotically swishing back and forth.

I empty yesterday’s grounds from the gold toned coffee filter, fill it with  fresh coffee.  I put cold, fresh water in the carafe to the eight cup mark and poured it into the reservoir.  A flip of the switch.  I let the smell of fresh brewing fill my nostrils.

The dishwasher is full of dinner plates, serving dishes, silverware.  Remnants of dinner last night.  I flip the latch, push the button for pots and pans, hear the sound of water running.

While I wait for coffee, I sit at my computer, type in the words, “red sky in morning” wanting to know the origin of the phrase. 
A reddish sunrise, caused by particles suspended in the air, often foreshadows an approaching storm, which will be arriving from the west, within the day. Conversely, a reddish sunset often indicates that a storm system is on the east side (opposite the sunset), travelling away from the viewer. A similar movement is noted all around the world, in both the northern and southern hemisphere.
There are occasions where a storm system might rain itself out before reaching the observer (who had seen the morning red sky). However, for ships at sea, the wind and rough seas, from an approaching storm system, could still be a problem, even without rainfall.
For ships at sea, an approaching system could still be a problem, even without rainfall.
Sirens in the distance.  Dogs barking. 
A small file folder with your name on it in a box beside my desk marked “Andrea Record”.  I pull it out.  Open it.
FORM 2808,
AGE 21


Civilian Job Misc.  Deck Hand

OCTOBER 29, 2003

10 Nov 2003  MSC sent medical reviewed.  Cleared.  Fit for military.
Fit for Military.  Fit to be an able bodied sea woman on a ship.  Fit .  Healthy. 

There is a file with your handwriting.  Medical Baseline.  When you were fit.  Healthy. 

Before the sirens.  Before the dog barking.

Before the red sun rising on the eastern horizon.

Red sky in morning.  There are few things more beautiful.

Date of Registration:              01/08/2005
Requested Examination:      MRI-HEAD, 1.5
Patient Name:           ORTIZ-PETERSON ANDREA
Age/Sex:        23 / Female
On the T-2 weighted images, there are foci of hyperintensity seen in the periventricular region and the deep white matter bilaterally.  The distribution is asymmetrical.  In the right cerebral hemisphere, the largest is located just adjacent to the posterior aspect of the body of the right lateral ventricle.  Within the left cerebral hemisphere, the largest is located in the region of the left sensori-motor cortex…
Foci of hyperintensity are demonstrated in the deep white matter bilaterally.  These are rather nonspecific, but would be keeping with the appearances of Lyme disease.
Note the presence of focus enhancement in the region of the left sensori-motor cortex and this enhancement is circled on the image of page 6.
12:32:13 PM.
I do not know what any of this means.  Periventricular region.  Left sensori-motor cortex.  Keeping with the appearances of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease. 
I Google it again.  As I have many times since January 2005. 
I click on that. 
The Human Side of Lyme – An Inhumane Disease of the Brain       Page 1 of 10.
“…physicians are often surprised to learn that persistent Lyme disease is outstandingly a disease of the brain as well as involving one or all components and subsystems of the entire nervous system.”
It is Sunday morning.  Steve and I stayed up til 4 a.m.  playing Scrabble.  Trying to make words from bits of tile.  Trying to read the subtitles on an Italian movie.

The sirens pass.  The dogs quiet.

I continue to read your Military Sealift Command medical file.

SENTARA Progress Notes 

Chief Complaint – Facial Numbness
History of Present Illness – 23 y/o WF with recent diagnosis of Lyme disease but no other significant prior medial history presents with new facial numbness. On January 27th patient cut her right thumb and went to the ER due to numbness in right thumb.  They sent her with referral to a hand surgeon.  When she went to the hand surgeon she was experiencing right hand numbness in the distribution of median nerve and was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and sent to neurology.  An EMG was performed for her carpal tunnel and came back normal.

Red storm in morning.

The carpal tunnel came back normal.  Healthy. 

An approaching system still could be a problem. 

Read on.  It is quiet here.  Steve stirs upstairs. There is no sign of Sadie.  She is curled up next to him.

Stella is stealing shells from the basket on the table behind me.  I do not stop here.  It is a game she and I play.  She hides them from me.  I put them back in the basket.  She takes them out and hides them again. 

At that time blood was obtained and patient was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The patient was diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The patient, Ortiz-Peterson, Andrea, 12/31/81, age 23, female.

My daughter.

Was diagnosed.

With Lyme disease.

The Scrabble game is still out on the coffee table.  All the tiles forming words that are connected, but have no connections.


I taught Steve how to play Yahtzee  last night.  How you think the point of the game is to score a Yahtzee—5 dice, each with the same number of little black dots.  But you have to strategize.  There are other boxes that need to be filled in, Full House, Small Straight, Large Straight. 
Calculations of probabilities on a cellular level. 

“Sixes.  Sixes. Feel those sixes.”  I shook the blue cup.  The dice rattled noisily inside.

Steve laughed.  “I see.”  He said.  “You think you can control the dice with mental telepathy.”

I smiled.  “Exactly.”  I said as I rolled out the 5th six and yelled out Yahtzee.

“You are a funny girl.”  He says, as he takes the cup.  Rolls two fours.

“Put everything back in the cup except the fours.”  I told him.

“But why the fours?”  he asked.

“Because I feel the fours.” I answered as I picked up the  one, three and six dice and dropped them in the blue cup he held.

“But wait…”  Steve protested.

“Trust me on this,” I told him.  “Feel the fours.”

The dice rattled in the cup.  He threw them out on the table.  Even before they were full rested on the table , I could see.

“Two more fours.”  I was triumphant.  “Feel those fours.  Take the three, put it in the cup.  Roll again.  You never know.”

It was a two this time.

“Now what?”  you asked. 

“You have options.  You can take 16 points on your fours.  Or you can take 18 points on your four of a kind.”

And the patient was started on Doxycycline on January 26th.
The patient.  Andrea Ortiz Peterson.  Age 23.  My daughter.

On February 5th patient experienced right face numbness.  No history of camping, no tick bites, no rash.  Extensive travel in Middle East with Navy.
Returned on November 15, 2004. 

November 15, 2004.  Three days from now, seven years ago, I was supposed to meet your ship.  You got in early.  Surprised me at the airport. 

“There’s my mom.”  You told your boyfriend, your first boyfriend, the boyfriend I was to meet for the first time--after you spotted me at the end of the concourse. 

“Where?”  Scott asked, searching the crowd of all the recently disembarked passengers.  “I cannot make out the face of anyone in this crowd.”

“Look.”  You told him.  “Look for the brightest thing in the crowd.  That is my mother.”

Yahtzee.  I felt the fours. 

My daughter could pick me out of a crowd anywhere.

You flew home to Washington with me for the holidays.  You and I went to Waikiki for a week.  Went diving, snorkeling, shopping.  Walked the beaches.

Searching for shells.

December 2004. 

A red sky is beautiful if you have no idea its meaning.  When the forecast of the storm has not been made by weathermen yet.

February 7, 2004.  Doctor’s Impression.  Recent Lyme Diagnosis.

I hear the tags on Sadie’s collar jingle as she jumps off my bed.

I hear the toilet flush upstairs. A cough.

I am feeling the storm approaching from the west.  The  red sky.  The emergency behind the sirens.  The barking dogs.  ad

There is nothing I can do to stop it.

There was nothing I could do to stop it.

Even feeling the fours, I had no idea, really what the final outcome would be.

It is time for another game of Scrabble.  I am going to go jumble up the tiles. 

I am going to form new words today.


The subconscious.  Enhanced areas of hyperintensity. 


November 2007.  You were healthy.  I met you at the Norfolk airport.  I met your boyfriend.  You could pick me out of a crowd anywhere.

Seven years later it is Veteran’s Day weekend. 

Seven years later all that remains of you is the name I gave you Andrea , referred to as patient in  these medical records I try to piece together like a puzzle.



Supine.  Adjective.  Lying on the back with the face upward. Synonym.  Inactive.  Passive.  Idle.

It is Sunday.  Steve is up now. 

Another game of Scrabble.

I feel the words forming.

I feel you.