What, inflictrix isn’t a word?

blurred image of author signing books. original photo by: Cat

I met a famous writer once in New York.

It was at a book reading. When the event was coming to a close, I was cajoled into the ‘meet and greet’ line. I didn’t want to queue up. That wasn’t how I wanted to meet this writer. Standing in line, I was not a person. In that position I was a fanatic; with a slight pejorative feeling to the word. It’s an itchy label to wear sometimes. 
One more person to make the line longer, I was part of the fan gauntlet. This is not a fair kind of meeting. For either party.

At the time he had a finger injury; a break, I believe. I do clearly recall that he made a point to tell everyone not to shake his hand. For the obvious splinted reason.

Feeling like a complete fool jacked up on the usual influences: caffeine, cortisol mostly; I waited for my turn to meet this renowned individual. Ugh. Be still my conflicted thoughts and feelings.

When my time came to stand before the man himself-

We shook hands.

It’s far too much to say that he recoiled at my touch in agony, but he certainly winced.

When was I suddenly the kind of person to fall into the habits of western social custom?

I don’t like shaking hands and yet there I was.

I was making the idiot thing happen.

This idiot thing was happening.

I was not stopping this idiot thing from happening.

What the ever loving doof was the impulse for this? The rule was set: No handshaking. Then what? A localized cloudburst of stupid let down on us and we just could not follow directions? As if anyone needed to feel more awkward here.

For all the people he’s encountered in the world, he would never remember me. He probably doesn’t even remember the hurt of his injury; but because I have such fantastic self-esteem, I remember that moment for being the unwitting Pain Inflictor- Inflictrix?


I hurt some one I just met, who clearly did not need more discomfort inflicted on him.

Even though we both reached out, we both shook hands, I am pretty certain I’m the one left with this odd little moment of negativity encapsulated in my brain. Not him.

And I don’t know what to do with the memory. It is a perverse treasure. Something would trade in for better, if I could. But it’s all I have. And with my limited access to… people, I may not ever get a chance at making a new memory.

I would that someday we met proper and the way between us could be made different than it is now. With at least 50% less stupid.

It’s not a big ask. Is it?

I hope. In the hells of mediocrity.


I made an inquest into the author’s blog for a report on that vey occasion. I knew I would find an entry, I just could not remember the date. It took me a bit of scanning, but I found what I was looking for. Now I half understand the moment of thoughtlessness. He hadn’t eaten enough. That explains him, but what about me? Why didn’t I stop it? Was it my weird version of empathy kicking in? Mirror neurons firing away?

What is my life now?

flea bites and rash all over the torso

The saga of tm’s questionable health continues.

Tests came back positive for Bartonella.

Due to my wonderful third world living circumstances, I contracted a new bacterial infection from fleas brought into the house by a kitten. The kitten was brought into the house by a certain SOME ONE.

No one else has been effected by the bacteria. Just me.

Just me because I was the one trying to build myself up after a year dealing with Brucella only to then be given the gift of COVID (thanks to SOME ONE) and while trying to recover from that, Bartonella took the opportunity to walk right on into my system. I fought it valiantly for two months. By April, I felt almost the way I did when I had Brucellosis. I saw a doctor. I traveled to New Jersey/NYC keeping myself going with herbs.

And then the fun really began!

As soon as I started taking antibiotics, the ever delightful Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction took center stage. But no one warned me about it so I had to do my best to hold my shit together. My best guess what that I was having a serious allergic reaction. I didn’t quite think I was dying at the time, but I didn’t know how far this reaction would escalate. 

My lips and face went numb, my throat would tighten up, I lost feeling in… almost all the left side of my body. There were (still are) pin and needles and pen knife stabbing sensations all over at random at every hour; like I fell into a cactus patch. Aching. Joint pain. Heel pain. Head pain. Muscle pain. Gland pain. Eye pain. Tooth Pain. It’s a whole shopping list of sensual delights! Absolutely nothing to be alarmed about here.

I’m glad I waited until after I returned from New Jersey/NYC to start any hard treatment because of all this nonsense.

I found myself in this position of being scared to stop taking antibiotics and being scared to take them. If you stop taking them the bacterial regrowth is crazy and there is that pesky matter of resistance. And at that point, if I kept antibiotics I didn’t know if I was utterly destroying my peripheral nervous system or having a reaction that could eventually become life threatening. Or both! Why not both?!
I consulted the internet, as I could. Which is the worst. You have to keep making sure you aren’t reading about some other half-way related topic. Because all this other stuff keeps showing in searches up when you never ask for it. And most of the time my head hasn’t been very clear so I would get confused and frustrated. All advice there ultimately recommends going to see a professional anyway so…

I went back to the doc that gave me the antibitoics and was told that if I gained weight I would not feel the negative effects so badly. 

And I was like- ‘Wow, you really don’t know what is happening here either. Great.’

(Weight has nothing to do with herxing. I seriously doubt all the people out there suffering the reaction are lightweights. Just because I am underweight according to cookie cutter medical book standards doesn’t mean that is a negative factor. And being urged to put on 10+ extra pounds ASAP feels extremely aggressive when you have IBS and no big appetite- because you are, well, SICK and depressed.)

So I had to keep looking online for experiences others have had. From those I’ve been able to calm down mentally and be confident in taking the antibiotics. I still have very uncomfortable moments, but nothing as bad as it was at the beginning. I don’t know how long I will be herxing- it could go on for weeks, but at least now I am pretty sure that is what is going on.

And if you have some three day juice cleans for “mold” and are like, ‘oh, I have a little headache and I feel a bit tired,’ let me inform you that you are not- you are f*ing NOT herxing. Don’t insult those of us who’ve actually gone through hell.