Friday, April 08, 2011
The Joy of Living
I seem to recollect it all started in the Fall when I attended a group meeting of Hepatitis patients over to the Southern Maine Medical Center. We would be the first group in Maine to partake in a drug regimen of Interferon and some other drug that would rid us finally of the Hepatitis that coursed through our bodies day in, day out. Over a hundred people sat crowded in a room at the hospital and listened to a fellow wearing a nice suit explain the process and how beautiful our lives would be once we had successfully finished the year of injecting poison into our bodies. I assume it was just shy of chemotherapy. Just shy enough that they trusted us to self medicate.
We filled out questionnaires. We were handed release forms to read and sign. We listened as the potential negative side effects were explained. The injections would be painful. We would probably lose energy and not be as active as we were used to being. Lethargy and exhaustion would be daily experiences. Our appetites would be affected. We might become depressed. But on the up side, all these negative side effects would begin to ease up the further into the regimen we journeyed. Our bodies would adapt. And after a year of it, 60% of us would be Hepatitis free. The other 40%, oh well, at least we gave it a good shot.
Even though the "medical experts" already knew from the trials, what they did not explain was that 11% of us would most likely fall into such deep depression that we would consider suicide as our only way out. I found out for myself, but only after I had fallen into such deep depression that I did in fact try to take my own life. The only thing that saved me was my own stupidity about how to carry off a successful suicide. Did you know that all the new anti pollution junk the government has insisted be installed in the newer cars create such a low amount of carbon dioxide that filling a van with it and hoping it will be enough is hard to pull off? I didn't and for once my own stupidity saved my life.
But let's back up some. Back down from the climax and fill in some gaps.
The first week of the therapy was indeed painful. Very painful. I assumed my reaction to it was normal and sucked it up. The depression came as expected. The second week , the same pain and what I thought was just more of the same depression. I had been told I would eventually rise above it, so I continued to poison myself with their drugs for another 6 weeks or so, each week sliding a little further down the hill into the pit I did not see coming.
My memories of exactly what happened in that eighth week or so are fuzzy. I remember being in so much pain, physically and mentally, I saw no way out but to kill myself. I cannot explain why I kept this to myself and did not complain. I was drug addled and apparently out of my mind. My only focus was how worthless I was and that I knew the World would be better off with me not in it. I grabbed a hose from the garage, stuffed it up the exhaust pipe of the red Dodge Caravan, took the other end of the hose and climbed into the van. I started the engine, laid down on the back seat that could be made into a bed and waited to die.
For some reason and again I cannot explain why, I had taken a small travel clock with me when I climbed into the van. I am thinking I wanted to watch the last minutes of my life tick off like some countdown in reverse. I laid there for twenty minutes. I could smell the exhaust in the van, but it was nowhere close to being fatal and I knew it. Hell, I was still alive ferchrisakes. Still determined to see this through, I closed my eyed and gritted my teeth. This was damn well going to be my last day on the planet. If I ever knew something was a sure thing, my self inflicted death was it.
I may have dozed off. I do not know. I do know that at about 1 hour into it, my eyes popped open and all I could think of was, "I don't wanna die!" I opened the sliding door of the van and rolled out of it. I must have laid on the ground for many minutes hacking, coughing and thinking how close I had been to death and how stupid I was for thinking death was something to look forward to. I climbed to my feet, stumbled back into the house and called my wife. When she answered, the previous eight weeks of Hell on Earth came out as I sobbed and cried my way through my narrative. My wife came home immediately and a couple of hours later, I was safely set up in a group suicide watch house in Saco. For three days I was monitored, questioned, and talked to. I walked out of there knowing two things. The aftermath of an unsuccessful suicide is almost worse than what led up to it and that if I ever again made an attempt, it would be successful. If for no other reason than to avoid the embarrassment and deep shame I felt for trying to take my own life in the first place.
This tale might have ended here with our hero successfully confronting his demons and making it out alive. But there are always residual effects to something like this. An incident of this nature in one's life leaves scars, deposits doubts, and as I am realizing now, damage to my brain chemistry I can only assume is what that Interferon poison did to me physically. Because ever since my up close and personal interaction with Interferon I have become what I assume would be considered "clinically depressed". Ever since then, I fall into periods of such deep depression, I become dysfunctional. And thus, you now have an explanation of my last ten days of Hell. An excuse offered up to explain my recent absence.
I had hoped to return to this blog on an up note. Write something that exuded joy and well being or maybe humorous as I tried to put up a cheery front. But I guess what I needed to do overwhelmed what I wanted to do. I have had this bullshit bottled up for more than a few years now and this recent dip into my dark currents pushed me over the edge. I had to purge myself. Speak the truth and see it in writing. I wrote this more for myself than anyone else. Hopefully though, my tale strikes a chord somewhere. But more importantly, strikes a chord with me.
And please note that I have thus far resisted seeking help from the "greatest health care system in the World". The regular failures they charged me money for when dealing with my own medical needs over the years has instilled an almost phobic fear of returning to them for any help. I hold them responsible in a large part for what I deal with today. If I want drugs, I will find my own. I will either find the solution for myself, or I won't. Doctors can take their pills and shove em deep up where the Sun don't shine.
Image poached from "Depression Cell" .