When sick days are the normal days

To me, hell, is a predictable discomfort.
And for the last five months, I have been in a sort of hell.

It started with a lack of energy. That lead to me weighing myself, only to discover that I had, somehow, lost twenty pounds: weight which was there when I last checked, a few months prior.

And then my mouth became hyper sensitive to textures, my eyes started becoming harder to focus, the black spots appeared in my vision in the early hours of me waking up, and overall, I felt bad. Not like a person, but more like the shell of one.

And then the never ending colds appeared. Being the parent of a three-year old, new to school, my wife and daughter and I caught a few. And thankfully they worked through my daughter quickly, however, they lingered for months with both me and my spouse.

To fight the infection, I began taking Cipro. Then a few months later, Clyndamycin. Both horribly strong antibiotics, but two of the few I can take due to allergies.

And then further weak feelings, and blood tests indicating that my liver is having some issues, possibly a side effect of the antibiotics, or perhaps a problem unto itself, and possible connected to my weight loss.

Then the lingering cold turns into an ear infection, and for the first time since my childhood, my eardrum breaks.

This is where I am now. An audio engineer with a broken eardrum. A person whom has been trying to find a positive self-image for themselves, sickly underweight.

Coping revolves around taking it a day at a time, and not really contemplating that some of this could be deadly, while simultaneously, taking it serious enough to trudge through the needed actions to correct it. So that means picking my self-esteem off the floor long enough to go to the doc, and make it through the three rounds of unconvinced questions about if I shoot heroin or not: a side effect of low weight and tattooed appearance.

It is in times like these that I reach my baseline. Why am I doing this? ‘This’, being living. Why haven’t I killed myself yet?

And the truth is, because fuck it, I am at war with it. Not in a hateful way, but in a way that I will confidently work to put myself into a position of non-violent resistance to it. I will stand beside it while I struggle with it. I will accept my emotions in reaction, but also see it as a situation that is effecting me. And I will try not to render judgement, because there really isn’t any. It’s a situation. I will try to make space for myself to have emotion about it, while simultaneously making sure that I don’t become a victim. I will try to respect the situation, and respect myself.

Because, in this situation is a human. Complex like most. Not just a sick person. But a father who wants to love, an artist who wants to create, a musician who wants to sing, and a person who wants to live. And on the other side of it, is just complications of health. Impersonal. Not a mechanism, but a series of collisions between the processes of the body. It has no goal. It’s inanimate. Just a mixture of health/life/time; working.

It is in these situations that I have created the baseline for what I define as value in life, because here, value sticks out so brightly. It is the thing that you really wish you could do now. It is the thing that, if thinking turns morose, you will regret not doing. It is the thing that pulls you from the state of sickly awareness, into a state of flow. One of these values is this thing I am writing now. Other times it has been my songs. In these states, you find the things that my not seem so rational as to having value, but you discover as having immense value to you. Colors, smells, thoughts of places, little things.

My purpose in writing today, from this place I am in, is to establish a precedent with myself, one which has existed in form but not so blatant in text: of creating, and sharing while sick. And also of addressing being sick. Not as an apology for not fulfilling something, but rather, as a statement of my current being. My goal is very simple: to do this, and make stigma of being sick move a little further away. Because as a person with chronic health issues, every day that I treat my ‘sick’ days as days off, whether economically or socially, I reinforce the idea that the world functions only when healthy. And the truth is, the world has much sickness in it. And the voices and thoughts that come from this place need to be heard. Health is a privilege that many enjoy, that defies many of the boundaries of which human beings set themselves apart. But sickness is part of being human, and for some, it is a state in which much of their time, as human, is spent. I see my own reluctance to share as the result of aversions to receiving pity. Or having my words taken with disclaimer; ‘sick person talking’. The reality is, much of our world, our most beautiful and inspiring ideas, have come from those whom were sick, in bad health, chronically ill, but we tend to canonize them into romanticized martyrs, rather than just taking them as the words of human beings spoken on a given day. And such practices further mystify, and de-normalize the state of many ill individuals.

So this is my morning. These are my thoughts. I’m glad I took the time to share them with you.

Gary

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