Thursday, June 26, 2014
Lessons From Lana and Amy
As many of you know, I have written a lot about my past battles with a form of migraines over a period of 25 years. That battle ended in January of 2013 with the help of a pain clinic in Carmel, Indiana. Unlike the fairytales, all is not always a happy ending. I was prescribed four drugs. They worked like magic to keep the pain away. I was also told immediately due to the length of time I had been in pain and due to the fact I had been in depression for a long period of time as well, to schedule some time with a therapist of theirs and expect severe PTSD. I didn’t believe them because I felt so good.
Sixty days later, they were right and I hit with what I would later call “The Wall”. One of the drugs I was on, Celebrex, ended up frying my kidneys permanently pretty badly and I found out recently made my psychosis of The Wall much more intense. I ended up losing two friends because of my actions during The Wall, a male and a female. No big deal, right? Not to me.
You see, for 25 years, I didn’t have ANY friends because of my pain. I had incredible anger, at myself and then at others. I wasn’t worthy of friends. I was damaged goods. So, when I got out of pain, I was VERY hungry for friends. When I began to lose them, I fought like hell to keep them. I came across as a fool and a crazy person and to some, a desperate man, to salvage friendships. It took close to a year, but I salvaged the friendship with the male friend because I was able to sit down and talk to him face to face. The female didn’t turn out that way.
Now, for the past six weeks, I’ve been pretty sick. I haven’t gone to any of the group workshop meetings. I’ve had incredible fatigue and constant nausea. I’ve worked, but it isn’t that physically challenging. By the time I get home, I’m done. The problem, it seems, is that my kidney specialist never talked with my family doctor. (I love when that happens) My family doctor, a couple months back, prescribed a new drug for me. Well, my kidneys took a look at it and went, “yuck, we don’t like this stuff.” It poisoned my system. Naturally, I stopped taking it after seeing my kidney doctor. Now it’s working its way out slowly. I sit around and stew and feel sorry for myself and dwell on the past. I worry about the future. Ironic when just a short while ago I used to wish for the end.
As I sit in my recliner wallowing in self-pity, knowing I should write, but can’t find the energy, a higher pitched voice comes from across the living room. “Cut it out. Yes, you scared them off, but if they were your friends, they wouldn’t have dumped you. As for your health, yeah, this isn’t good, but for now, at least you aren’t on dialysis, and hopefully never will be. This sure beats the pain you were in, doesn’t it? Be grateful for the friends you have like Heather and Randy and Mike and the rest at the big group.”
Man, if I had the energy, I’d get up and walk outside. Only a wife can slap a guy like that. Three weeks since our 33rd anniversary. And then she smiles. God, I wish she wouldn’t do that. Next she gets up and comes over and kisses me on the cheek. Low blow. Penalty points for sure.
Then I watch the news. It’s a conspiracy. I see a story about Amy Van Dyken, the former Olympic gold medal swimming star. A month ago she had a tragic accident on a four wheeler, severing her spine. She was being loaded into an ambulance from the hospital to be transferred I think to a rehab facility. She granted reporters a couple minutes for questions. “Sure this sucks,” she said, “Yes, there is a lot of pain, but the bottom line is I’m grateful to be alive.”
When I saw that story and heard her words, I felt ashamed and broke down and cried. No matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse. More importantly, I had already taken for granted the miracle of being alive. I should be dead. I could have died so many different ways over the years, and yet I’m still here.
The next day we went to church as we always do. The sermon? Worry. I’m not kidding you. Gary, our pastor, talked to us about how worrying is a sin. I must say I had never heard that before. He said the sin is not trusting God will take care of your problems. That higher pitched voice I know so well leaned in and whispered in my ear, “He’s speaking to you.” Why is she always around?
I know this post wasn’t about writing, but it was important to me and hopefully carried some important lessons to all of us. I don’t think we treasure friends enough. The friends I was unable to win back will always be my friends, even though I guess I am not theirs. My future is uncertain, but so is all of ours. Just like Amy Van Dyken, I am grateful to be alive. My next move is to get stronger so I can get back to the group, if they will have me. Then I want to finish my dream of publishing The Zealot and move on with my memoir.
Treasure your friends and don’t take them for granted.