August 31, 2015

Health Problems


This isn't fiction.  I am writing about this here and now because it is something not everyone knows about me and I often wonder if this is a mistake. I always feel that I'm an open book, but I also think I constantly find ways of being an open book that are actually quite secretive. As an artist, this might even be said to be on of my virtues. But that's not what I'll be writing about today.

I have had more or less the same health problems for the past thirty years, and at times it seems to me they have been getting incrementally worse for that entire time. These days I am in so much pain I am barely able to function, but for the most part I manage to function anyways.

At the same time, even though I have been in this pain for so long, I still don't really know what it is, what causes it, or what the best treatments might be. I would say starting at some point, maybe about ten years ago, I have simply tried to ignore my health problems to the best of my ability. Unsurprisingly, over this period the pain has steadily worsened.

I've never been able to get a diagnoses to prove it, but I feel my health problems are somewhere in the realm of chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. But, then again, maybe not. Maybe my understanding of what ails me is way off base and therefore hindering my ability to seek improvement. But the more general description chronic pain would be difficult to undermine.

The right side of my body hurts much more than the left side. The pain in the right side of my body seems to emanate out from my right hip. But I also wonder if the pain in my hip comes from some sort of slight twist in my lower small intestine. Or if there is a relationship between the hip and the intestine that prevents either one from fully releasing. It is also possible that the problem originates with my gait, that my right foot doesn't land correctly and therefore keeps the right side of my body twisted. At any rate, these are all either symptoms or origins of the pain I've been in for the past thirty years. I also have regular headaches. And lately there has been a fair bit of nausea.

A more recent problem, that's maybe started around five years ago, is a chronic cough along with difficulty breathing. This cough has gotten much worse in the past six weeks and perhaps has inspired me to write this post. My understanding is that my rib cage pushes forward and presses into my lungs. I'm also not sure if this is a correct diagnoses.

About ten years ago, when I was more often seeking treatment, I found I couldn't actually get myself to do anything the doctors or health practitioners suggested. I would go for the appointments, listen carefully to everything they said I should do, and then do none of it. After awhile of this it was only a short step to no longer seeking help. At the forefront of my mind throughout this pathetic comedy was that if I did their suggestions I might live longer, and mainly what I wanted was to die as soon as possible. Obviously, there is a very intense and intimate relationship between my health problems and my considerable depression. Maybe my more severe depression started around the same time as my health problems, but I have always has a melancholy temperament.

However, I do still do a few things to take the edge off the pain: acupuncture, osteopathy and I also wear orthotics to partially correctly my walk. All of these things help a little, but as the years roll on they seem to be helping less and less.

I often write about my depression but I rarely write about my health problems. I think the reason for this is I do suspect there are things I could do to at least slightly improve my health but for the most part I don't do them. I am ashamed of my continued inaction. Sometimes I feel it reflects a deeper truth about me, that I don't really want to live, that I am living my life as if it were an extremely slow and aggravating suicide. (For example, I eat poorly and get no exercise.) At other times I feel there is no real truth in it. That I simply didn't manage to figure out the root of the problem and after awhile gave up trying. This is the opposite of what one should do in activism, and I am obviously an extremely poor activist for my own health.

But, when I write about how awful the world is, I often feel that perhaps I wouldn't find it as awful if I wasn't in constant, almost unbearable pain, and hadn't been for the last thirty years. And I worry that this skews my outlook as an artist, and of course also my more general outlook on life. There is so much defeatism in my work and thinking, and it seems a bit too obvious that this outlook is related to my defeat in the face ongoing physical pain. I so often wonder what life is like for other people.


1 comment:

Karina Rheaume said...

I'm sorry that you are experiencing so many health issues right now. I have a chronic health condition called dysautonomia which can cause chronic pain, breathing difficulties, heart related symptoms and more. Finding a doctor who will listen to you is really important. It took me a few different practitioners before I was able to get a diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.

Karina Rheaume @ US HealthWorks - Everett (Paine Field)