For all my familial readers, this will come as no shock. For those of you who might not know me as well….ok, well, this probably isn’t shocking news either: I like playing Magic: the Gathering. It’s a rather nerdy collectible card game involving magic spells and creatures of all kinds. One of the things I love about it most, however, is that a few times a year, the company who make Magic release new sets of cards, the concepts and art of which depict fantastical worlds as yet unexplored by myself or the other hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who play this game avidly.
Here is the art from a card called “Seek the Horizon”. This is most recent iteration of this particular card, illustrated by Howard Lyon. Here’s a link to his website – I want to make sure he gets due credit for his fantastic art.
So why am I talking about this? Who cares what strange pastimes I have? And where have I been for the last year?
Well, folks, my Wellness Quest was derailed a year or so ago by my arch nemesis – that’s right, myself! I was starting to get sick and experience more pain, and I had been in and out of the hospital and on and off opiates again for several months. My parents had kindly taken me in again and were doing their best, but it was starting to tear us all apart again.
I believe I blogged a bit about this, but I tried medical marijuana, and it honestly just didn’t do much for me. It was a nice distraction, but even the mildest vapor I could inhale made my lungs ache, and the edible products were so difficult to dose that they either put me to sleep for the whole day or didn’t do anything at all.
So I turned back to what had always made me feel better in the past: opiates. I got them from the doctor, from the hospital, from the clinic, wherever I had to. And within a few weeks, I was contemplating calling my old heroin dealers. But this time, for whatever reason, I didn’t do it.
I sat there thinking about how bad things had already gotten in just a couple weeks, and how much worse they would get, and instead of calling my old dealers, I called my insurance company and asked them to help me find a clinic that would provide me with outpatient support and subutex/suboxone or some sort of replacement therapy. I called on a Monday, had an appointment on Wednesday, and that same day, Wednesday February 27th, 2013, I enrolled myself in the program and was started on suboxone, under the supervision of a doctor, a team of nurses, and a counselor. They required that I return for my dose every day at first, then over time they allowed me a few “take out” doses at a time until I reached the 1 week point. So now I only visit the clinic once a week.
But I have been clean from all other opiates for over a year now, thanks to the clinic and their program. Despite the fact that I have had probably the most difficult year medically that I’ve had in my live and have spent the better part of the last 6 months in and out of the hospital, I have not used any other drugs. Every time I was in the hospital, the doctors offered me pain medication. Every time, because of the suboxone, the clinic, and my own desire to remain clean, I was able to refuse.
That is something I feel good about.
However, there’s something else I’m struggling with now: my body is physically unwell. About as unwell as I’ve ever been. My lungs are functioning at the lowest rate I’ve ever had to manage, to the point where I am on supplementary oxygen round the clock. My appetite is nonexistent and sometimes just getting out of bed is a struggle.
And now, it looks like I have no choice: If I want to live a life that has any amount of longevity and quality, I need to have a lung transplant. But a transplant is no easy thing, and I am still trying to get myself mentally on board for what it is going to mean.
However, the past couple months I have stalled. I didn’t want to deal with a transplant, and most of all, I was having trouble coming up with reasons why it mattered what I did.
After all, the past few months, my life has consisted of nothing but hospitals and medical treatment and sitting at home by myself in front of a computer, playing games or watching TV or just zoning out completely, spending my energy pushing the world away so I could stay in my bubble of denial.
I’m doing some things that are new, and some that are old.
But I am reviving my quest for optimal wellness, albeit with some different criteria and some different explorations.
First – I won’t be posting every day. But my posts will be significant. That is my promise to you (my reader) and to myself.
Second – Optimal wellness can be defined many ways. For me right now, I define it as “preparing my body and my mind for a potential transplant so that I am the best possible candidate and so that if/when the transplant happens, I am prepared physically and mentally to help create a positive outcome.”
Third and finally – In a conversation with my therapist today, I was asked a good question: why have I not finished some poetry I started back in college that all my professors and contemporaries agree was my best work? Turns out that part of the reason was my addiction, and part of the reason was that this particular collection of poems was all about my experience as someone with Cystic Fibrosis.
I’d almost forgotten that.
So my therapist encouraged me to finish that poem and to utilize this blog to talk about the intersection between my quest for physical wellness and my quest to complete this literary work that has been stalled for six years.
So, to conclude: the aside at the beginning of this post was all about what I am doing. Sure, I like Magic the Gathering. But it was the art and the title of the card that were significant: I am re envisioning what my life is going to be like, and I am seeking out new horizons that I have not explored. I am not quite sure how it will turn out, but I know this: it will be markedly better than if I sit on my couch and zone out while my body slowly decays.
Thanks for reading, and as always, I welcome comments!