Where I’m At

This will be a long post.

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything, I’m not even sure what the last thing I wrote was. If you’re someone who knows me then you may know that I’ve had some medical issues lately. If not, here’s the Cliff Notes.

On September 2nd I woke up in excruciating pain. I dealt with that for somewhere around a month or so, before being put on nerve blockers. The nerve blocker worked but it also made me drowsy, and so I was out of work from September 2nd until Thanksgiving. Then, as the pain began to come back, I was scheduled for surgery in early February to fuse several vertebrae in my neck. The pain in my right arm disappeared. The pain in my neck disappeared. And all of a sudden my left arm hurt. It is now April 15th, and this is where I am at.

My doctor, whom I am informed via advertisement has been selected as one of the top five orthopedic surgeons in my region, simply shakes his head at me. I asked him at my last appointment to MRI my shoulder as well as my neck because I believe that the pain I am experiencing is actually due to a shoulder injury. But, when I showed up for the MRI it was just for my neck. So I sit, and I hurt. I pay co-pays and deductibles. I miss work. And nothing changes.

Compared to this time last year I’ve lost 70 pounds. While I am happy that my gut is smaller, it’s not just fat that’s going away. My arms are getting thin and frail. I’m getting weaker and thinner. The person in the mirror is alarming to me.

They put me on anti-depressants to try to counteract the effects of the narcotics I take for the pain. Ironically, one of the side effects of the anti-depressants can be emotional instability, suicidal ideation, and a worsening of the depression that the medication is supposed to be treating. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m an emotional wreck. Board. Lonely. Sitting at home alone, with no one to talk to and nothing to look forward to but a long, long night.

My sleep patterns are totally out of whack. I go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 2 am. I sit up until 7 or 8 am, and then sleep until 3 or 4 pm. I have tried to reverse this pattern using sleep aids. So far nothing has worked.

I am supposed to return to work on Monday. Not because I’m cured, or “at 100%”, as my employer tells me they want me to be when I return. But because I have lost hope that I will ever be at 100%. So to my mind it makes little difference where I sit while I’m in pain.

I know I need to eat both for energy and to maintain my weight, but I have no appetite whatsoever. My wife brings me food on her way home from work, many times it just sits in the refrigerator until I throw it away.

As I contemplate returning to work I’m not sure what value I can even add to my team anymore. I was brought on as a junior system administrator. Which means I should have spent the last 12 months learning and becoming a fully knowledgeable and functional member of my team. But I have spent many of those months sitting at home learning nothing, and now I’m so far behind I doubt I can never catch up.

I have other medical issues I’ve not even begun to address. Having spent all this time dealing with this one issue I don’t feel like I can take any more time to deal with the others. Though my wife intends to force me to go see a general practitioner and and develop a relationship with a primary care physician. I have never had one of those. I have never had a physical or any other type of exam. God only knows how many things could be out of whack.

In addition to all of this, I believe I am suffering through a mid-life crisis. I find no meaning or fulfillment in what I do for a living, other than making money. For a very long time I believed that money could remove the obstacles in my life. To a great extent it has. But, it also becomes the trap. I cannot quit. I cannot change course. I cannot decide I would like to be someone or something else. Because I cannot take the pay cut.

So I am stuck in an endless cycle. Walking further and further down the path I have no desire to go down. Days passing without meaning, having accomplished nothing of significance. As time marches on and my options become fewer and fewer.

My only saving grace is my wife, whom I missed terribly right now.  The cost of a solitary existence being that there is no one there to talk to.  No friends to drop by.  No one who understands to lend an ear.  Make no mistake though, I made it that way.  So I seek no pity in mentioning it.

I built the walls.  I severed the ties.  I created my own prison, in every sense.

I do not know what or how, but something must change.  Because the tears I am shedding are not due to the pain in my arm.  They are due to having a lot of time alone, sitting in the silence, with nothing to do but think…and the things I have been thinking.


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