"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Who Are You Again?
mem-o-ry Function: noun Etymology: Middle English memorie, from Anglo-French memoire, memorie, from Latin memoria, from memor mindful; akin to Old English gemimor well-known, Greek mermEra care, Sanskrit smarati he remembers 1 a : the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms b : the store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition 2 : things that you can lose, suddenly, unexpectedly
Yeah, I know I've been kinda quiet for a few months. I've been alternating between breaking down in one way or another or allowing myself to slowly commit suicide without anyone having a clue.
Not a good idea, I see now. But at the time, through the haze of my illness it made tragic sense.
For a while now, I have been tired in my spirit, just worn to the bone with constant fighting against my illnesses. Every day is just like the one before with minor changes. Tomorrow will be too, and the next day, and the next day.
Back in December, I began having chest pains. Now, I already have a heart condition and six stents, the most recent five being those medicated ones that have been in the news lately. In my addled mind, I didn't think "Better get help." No, instead I thought "If I let this take its course, this whole bucketfull of drama will finally be over and done with."
So every day, I'd get chest pains. Sometimes they'd be pretty sharp. And all on the left side. And I would quietly bear it, not knowing if I was dying or not right then, but knowing I couldn't let anybody see. And days ran into weeks. Weeks into months. And the pains kept coming several times a day, sometimes crushing, sometimes pulling, sometimes stabbing, and each time they would leave as quickly as they came, and leave me shaken and intact.
After a while this dance with the Reaper, or so it had become in my head, began to take its toll on me.
In the meantime, another problem was developing. It started simply. A few places I had visited before looked very unfamiliar when I returned, as if I had never been there in the first place. There would be occasional people who I came across that I knew I should remember, and factually did remember, but the person themself was a stranger. Usually this was only an aquantance, so it didn't bother me.
Then came a day at the doctor's office when I went to see a nurse named Linda. She came to get me in the waiting room, and I didn't recognize her. I thought she was the doctor. (I have seen both of them many times before over a period of years.) We went through the weigh in and walked into Linda's office. I looked at her and said, "Where's Linda?"
She looked at me stunned. I covered it up blaming it on some med or another.
From that point forward, things got worse. One morning, all my zip codes just dropped out of my head. I had to look up my own zip code. Another day, I left the house to go somewhere, remembered I forgot something, and looped the block to return. When I pulled up, I didn't remember that this was my house.
I have forgotten buildings and locations. I have forgotten friend's names whom I have known for years and seen frequently. Sometimes I have people's images in my head that don't match up to anything that I know of.
This is, of course, rather disturbing.
Which brings me to about three weeks or so ago.
Chest pains that night had left me with a dull ache in my chest, a reminder of the unholy pact I was making with whatever it was. Incessant conversations were screaming around in my head, conversations I'd never had, wished I'd had, better never have. I wasn't afraid at all, but I was very stressed. The chest pains had become a sort of Chinese water torture, so far they hadn't hurt me, but I didn't know when the next one would come, or if it would be THE one.
I was a wreck. It was three months of sheer hell.
God places people in our lives sometimes to be catalysts, to be there to help us start a process that we don't have the courage to start alone. I have a friend like that. She lives thousands of miles away and I have never met her, but she is very, very special. I found the courage to confess to her, on line, as much as I could bear to. I told her I was doing something very stupid, that could hurt me very badly.
She immediately began praying for me, as I knew she would. I felt my own voice was so very small, especially right then, but God listens to her devoted heart.
The very next night, I found the strength to tell several friends, face to face, what was happening in detail. That was a turning point. It was the first moment I really seriously considered actually getting help, although I didn't make that decision then.
The next afternoon, I told another friend. I needed wisdom, I knew something in me was sideways, my values and decisions had ended up skewed but I couldn't bring myself to take the step to escape from it.
My friend had lost a close family member only days before. When I told her my mindset and what was happening, she was quiet for a few moments.
"You know what you just did, don't you?" she said. "You've just made me responsible if something happens to you."
That hadn't occured to me at all. But it was right. And who would be inhuman and selfish enough to make somebody live with that, especially after just losing someone close to them?
As soon as I got home I started calling doctors.
First up was the cardiologist. I went in for a stress test, fully expecting to have a heart attack on the treadmill. But I didn't. As a matter of fact, I've never had a better stress test! I had not one twinge of pain the whole time. I've had them since, but now I know they aren't going to kill me. So basically, I put myself through three months of total hell for no reason at all.
Next up will be the neurologists. They are already looking at my head every which way from Sunday. Memory is still slipping. They've narrrowed it to an area called "facial memory." Apparently what I am losing all comes from one spot in my head. But it's tricky, because it's not permanent, it comes and goes.
We got more poking and prodding left to go, and a long list of suspects.
So, if I forget who you are, just tell me to close my eyes. The image might not match, but you're in here somewhere..
We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered. Tom Stoppard (1937 - ), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead