Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Am Just Another Patient

I am feeling broken today. Working with the disabled and chronically ill, I fully understand the impact that chronic illness can wreak on one's life. As much as I serve as a beacon to my patients as they struggle with their multiple infirmities, my own infirmities are coming home to roost in a big way. It seems like I myself am yet another person with multiple comorbidities who is struggling to keep my head above water. With a personal medical appointment every day this week, I can empathize with how my patients' lives are dominated by appointments. My life is equally dominated of late, yet those appointments are weaved within and around a full-time work schedule.

Physically, chronic pain---so far unresponsive to every approach or modality---continues to directly impact my overall quality of life. An official diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome (yes, it's a serious disease with a silly name) explains my chronic loss of sleep and resulting exhaustion. The new medication I started last night---Mirapex---has filled my head with what at times seems like cotton candy and at other times like water. Over all, not a very pleasant sensation---sort of like having a balloon for a head. This too may pass.

Beyond the purely physical, reactivated PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) coupled with depression often undermine my attempts at self-healing, although I see self-care and self-directed healing as intrinsic to my eventual recovery and actualization.

This being a patient is hard work. It's also exhausting. When one feels that one's body has betrayed its true nature, the struggle to lead that corporeal shell back to vibrant health can seem like a truly uphill battle. One fear I have regarding my upcoming leave of absence is that it will be dominated by medical appointments rather than naps on the couch. A realistic concern?

Some months ago, I posted a missive about the large cast of characters which make up my personalized team of healthcare providers. I often feel that I myself need a program simply to keep them all straight.

This chronic illness business is really a drag. Who wouldn't rather do anything else but continue to lick one's own wounds? But we all come into this world with lessons to learn, and perhaps one of my lessons is to learn to live with and overcome pain and adversity. If that is indeed the case, I'm readying myself for the overcoming part now. I've lived with it, slept with it, held it in my hand. It's time to let the suffering go.
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