Light Sabers and Bumble Bees

This blog post was made by Fabio’s Mom on August 17, 2023.
Light Sabers and Bumble Bees

Reprinted with permission from Originally published on August 9, 2023.

OK, people… I have a kidney disease, and have made some peace with that. However, I do believe that as a result of having a kidney disease, I should get a Get Out of Jail free card for other diagnoses. Apparently (based on my osteoporosis) my body disagrees.

So here we are, doing dialysis, keeping my spirits up, thinking happy grateful thoughts, occasionally whining incredibly, but mostly doing OK, and along comes….. COLONIZATION.

I am apparently “colonized” (Could they not choose ANY other word?) with a really mean, hard to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria which keeps infecting my transplanted kidney. “Have you thought of taking it out?” the infectious disease doctors have asked. "Ummmm, you mean the transplanted kidney that still works a little and means that if I am a bad girl and fall asleep without setting up the dialysis machine one night, I don’t get sick and die? NO. I have not thought of taking it out. How do you feel about your testicles— you’re probably only using one— have you thought of having the other one out?”

However, being colonized with a mean bacteria is not the best news, either, so I want to get rid of it, too. What cures antibiotic resistant infections: More antibiotics. What makes antibiotic resistant infections worse? More antibiotics! So I am writing about what lets me survive this s&*t when it happens, which, if you have had a chronic illness for any length of time, or love anyone who has had one, you know happens all of the time. Medicine helps us, thank God, but there is also definitely a, “We will kill this village to save this village,” mindset about western medicine, which is not always our friend.

I have decided to picture my “colony” as a big happy group of bumble bees rumbling busily around my tummy. Why bees? I have no idea… It did not come naturally, because when they first told me I was “colonized” (honest to GOD), I pictured the moment the guy in the cloak from Men In Black 2 went from this:


So, I guess bees were the only “colony” of things that did not feel like my belly had unleashed predator snakes on the world.

My friend from West Asia also suggested that I could be colonized by the British, rather than insects or snakes….which I had not thought of at all and made me laugh out loud…. but I watched the coronation five times, so I don’t think I qualify. And I had a grandmother who emphasized how her own grandmother had come from Britain to settle Georgia. She was verrrry proud. She forgot to mention that Georgia was a penal colony.... but hey, DETAILS.

In any case, I do not qualify, which is probably why I did not think of it. As my friend pointed out, being from West Asia, she definitely qualifies to see the British as a colonizing force for evil, and where I thought of snakes or insects, she thought of the British. (HA! Take that English people!)

So, does thinking of a tummy full of bumble bees make my infection any less dangerous? Well…. believe it or not... MAYBE. We all know about mind-body research, and there was actually some indication from renowned psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler Ross, who pioneered the study of grief and loss, and from art therapists who worked with her, that how people viewed their illnesses and their medical treatments did actually make a difference in how their treatment went, and how they saw the impact of their illness on their lives.

Likewise, Bernie Segal cited similar reports years ago in a PBS special that on mind-body connections on health and wellness. In old Elisabeth Kubler Ross trainings which I used to attend, they would show actual photos of drawings by patients… who were asked to draw their disease or their treatment. Those who drew chemotherapy as something like black clouds invading their body, it was reported, did not tend to do as well in chemotherapy... or at least, viewed it as more damaging, dangerous and invasive to their body. Those who drew chemotherapy or radiation as beams of sunlight coming into their bodies tended to do more well.

Does this mean their viewpoint made a difference? Maybe.

Or does it mean their intuitive mind-body connection, which we are only still discovering our capacity for some 50 years later, actually “knew” something about their illness or their body’s potential response to treatment that their mind could not consciously verbalize? I am not sure we know. But we certainly know that mindfulness, meditation, prayer and positive thinking help people both heal from and cope with devastating illnesses and events in their lives.

So, I have my bumble bees. I also just learned that I have to be tested for amyloidosis— a heart problem where amyloid proteins (don’t ask, I don’t know what they are, either!) can deposit and cause problems in your organs, including your heart. Personally, I have no intention of learning too much about this thing unless or until I really need to: another coping strategy! Why buy extra worry, when today has worries enough sufficient to itself (consider the lilies of the field, and all that).

BUT I have learned that the test for amyloidosis is a blood test to see if I have what they are calling light chains. I swear! “Light chains!” I don’t know if the presence of light chains means good guys or bad guys, but I do know they sound lovely.

So I’ve decided that if I do have amyloidosis (please God, I don’t need another diagnosis), that my bees will be carrying light sabers!