the trick best missed

Terror, in all its forms, forces capitulation. Questions of common sense sometimes get their answer in a panicked falsetto. It’s a fact of life. For years, I was terrified of getting tested for HIV, not because I had been unsafe (which I hadn’t), but because no matter how slim the chance, I was afraid of how I would deal with being encumbered with that sword of Damocles. (My suspicion, the suspicion of an undiagnosed bipolar person with only some vague notion as to his limitations, was: not well. No, not very well at all.) No one wants to be sick; and although sometimes people want to die, no one wants to prolong the experience either. What I couldn’t face was the prospect of that interminable road sloughing towards the terminal eternity. It made me feel light-headed.

Danger. Danger.

As far as I knew, I was not symptomatic of anything when I got tested at the beginning of December. I’d been wrestling side-effects courtesy of various psych medications for months, but the body remained fairly strong despite that. I wasn’t, you would say, sick. I was, however, worn down. A little too busy for too long; not sleeping well; not eating well; and it was Christmas. I was overextended. I was tired.  Demi-psychiatrist had also been bothering me to go and get screened, because although my sexual career had been responsible from the beginning, I had become progressively more unstable over the previous year, and truly manic behaviour had started creeping in. Some of the main features of mania are increased sexual desire and reckless behaviour. My reckless behaviour took a particular bent. A naked, let’s throw out all the rules and bugger the consequences kind of bent. And I’ve always been good at getting into trouble with boys. Add alcohol and shake. This is how one condition leads to another.

“I have not the best news,” Doctor told me in her office; and my world caved in; again. “There cannot be any doubt,” she said.

I sat quietly. I’m getting good at withstanding these, I thought; seismic amendments to my connate law; life upended and suspended. And how I hate Nature, I thought as well, the only fully culpable target I could produce. That bitch.

(I have since forgiven Her. Grudgingly.)

As it had been a worry, the diagnosis wasn’t exactly a surprise; however stressful. The rabbit out of the hat came when a cough I had been sporting for a couple of weeks turned into pressure in the chest during the Christmas holidays, which by the end of the month had been joined by a fever that barely responded to Advil, and a lung infection that wasn’t taken care of with the antibiotics prescribed. I ended up in hospital, admitted and affixed to monitors, a worried staff of nurses and physicians looking on.

A rapid decline from feeling okay to PCP pneumonia, they told me. 15 years ago it probably would have killed me.

And having something that could kill you, a death-bunny up out of the chapeau staring at you with red, red eyes, twitching its fucking nose, that’s enough to make you say, “see? This is exactly the kind of thing that I was worried about”; and, of course you’d like to flatten that bunny with a steamroller. Moribund thoughts kept racing the track of mind during the downward spiral, and I said to myself “what a stupid way to go” (as I’ve always been more in favour of a spectacular accident shedding me of this mortal coil). But I didn’t die. I lost over 15% of my body mass, my oxygen levels were shit; but I took the right pills, kept breathing, and finally found myself well enough to go home.

The transition from a healthy person to an unwell person is a trick best left unexplored. Even though transformative, and it can seemingly occur in an instant, I don’t recommend it. I’ll admit, it happens to most, sooner or later, but you do hope that wrestling the big issues, quality of life and mortality, might be left until later; much, much later. I got tossed this ball twice in under a year. When I put my health up on a timeline for all the doctors that I’ve been meeting lately, the response has been these deflating “Oh”’s to escape their lips. I’ve never felt like a poor thing, but it creeps in insidiously when you feel it directed at you.

(Yet only for a minute. I plan to be a very busy man, you see. As soon as I can make through the day without having to lie down for a breather, watch out: it’s going to be all parasols, social events and assassinations; you’ll see. I’ve got the medication, and time to plan.)

My new process to master is getting well and staying well. Presently, it’s a job unto itself, which is alright as I’ve had to leave my usual work in favour of it. I’ve had a lot of extra time to follow the snow line as it rises and falls outside my window. I desperately, imploringly, wish for TV to melt my brain—but I haven’t had a signal reach my device since I returned to the country, a year and a half ago, so I am sans daytime programming; or any programming at all. I’ve only just started to feel well enough to read. I can’t go outside. I’m bored.

But at least I’m writing.



~ by A Mundi on March 2, 2009.

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