Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

“I was me, but now he’s gone…” – Metallica, “Fade to Black”

 

In the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide, there’s been a lot flying around Facebook—and the ‘net at large. Talk of how suicide is/isn’t selfish, and how depression is a disease and not a character flaw. More irksome is the self-righteous standpoint most people take when addressing the issue, as if their opinion is the only one that’s right. When it comes to issues that involve psychological disorders, especially those caused/exacerbated by chemical imbalances, there’s more than one answer to every situation.

Unfortunately, when someone decides to invoke the mercy kill rule on themselves before the game is over—there’s nothing else that can be said or done.  It’s kinda final like that.  No respawn.  No save point.  That’s pretty much it.

Come on, how can I not be glib?

Smile or not, that’s pretty much what it is.

One thing I’ve noticed is how some people rail about how debilitating depression can be. This is true. Not many people realize this, but I’ve been so far down that road before—I actually quit college and moved home with my parents for a semester. I had reached a point of malaise where I could hardly take care of myself—and I even had zero interest in my vice of choice: booze. Let that sink in for a whiskey soaked second. Lucky for me, I happen to have a failsafe built into my psyche that keeps me from totally destroying my life—so I at least kept going to work. I’m not sure if it was the call of the almighty dollar, or just the promise of things getting 1000x worse if I stopped going to work, but my job was the only part of my life that I didn’t completely abandon. To say that part of my life sucked would be an understatement of Biblical proportion. I had completely given up.

Now if that wasn’t a dark enough window into a part of me few are aware of, let’s get downright morbid. I’ve danced the masochistic tango with depression on and off since I was a teenager. I’ve been put on at least a dozen different medications, with varying degrees of success. Pills aren’t the complete answer—but I’ll get there soon enough. For the longest time, I freely admitted that I had an “armchair death wish.” There are two translations for this. One—I didn’t give a rat’s ass whether or not I was alive or dead. Two—I didn’t have the stones to be actively suicidal. Both are partially true, the former more than the latter. It was just how I found terms to explain the consuming emptiness inside.

It’s not just down. It’s not blue. It’s not sad. It’s a fucking void that consumes joy, sadness, anger, and everything else on the emotional smorgasbord. I eventually learned to use that ravenous maw to consume my fears and perceived inadequacies, because I was a total chickenshit when I was a teen. I’m lucky it didn’t devour me…

On second thought… Maybe it did, and I am merely what clawed back out of the pit.

Boba Fett ain't got shit on me.

Speaking of pits.

You’re probably wondering why I never tried to take a dirt nap on my own terms. Cue the record scratch, because that’s not entirely true. I deliberately tried to drink myself to death once or twice, but my liver wasn’t about to put up with any of my bullshit. Thanks buddy. Mathematically, both times I would have blown over a .4– so I should theoretically be dead twice over on those occasions.

This is the first I’ve spoken/written of it, because it’s stupid. However, therein lies the rub—I can see the stupidity now because my liver went full Johnny Badass in my moment of despair. In the moment?   That’s a different story, and it’s nigh impossible to comprehend unless you’ve made the effort to call ol’ Thanatos for a free ride across the Styx. This experience is probably why I’ve been able to stop two people from making a terminal mistake.

Suicide is selfish, but not in the connotation. People are constantly coming up with trite things to say to depressed people, what not to say, et cetera ad nauseum. When it comes down to brass tacks, you can have the most wonderful family and friends in the world—but once you’ve reached that nebulous line where pulling the plug seems like a good way to stop feeling like complete shit—you don’t see them as a safety net. They’re people that you don’t want to burden. They’re the good things in your life that you don’t want to drag down with you. Depression doesn’t mean you can’t see good when it’s there. It keeps you from reaching out to touch that good, because you don’t want to tarnish it—or change how those people treat you (and yes, you do get treated differently.)

You’re not selfish as in thinking only for yourself—you hoard the suffering because that’s just what happens. It’s cyclical and self-sabotaging, and is one of the reasons real depression is so awful (none of that Google-diagnosed attention-seeking fuckery). If you’re depressed, you don’t want attention, you don’t want pity, you just want the whole shit and shebang to stop—and paradoxically you stop caring about pretty much everything in the process. It goes far beyond not giving a fuck. This is the bad kind of not giving a fuck. There’s a distinct difference.

And no.

Wait, we got to 50%? That’s shooting high.

Now let’s roll back to the whole concept of medication—let’s face it, depression is a condition as opposed to a disease. It’s not communicable; it’s not caused by a fungus/bacterium/virus. The meds can help to correct the chemical imbalance inside your brain box, but unless you ardently try to break out of it—you’re fucked. End of story. Game over. At the end of the day, all the medication and therapy in the world cannot fix someone who cannot be open to fixing themselves.

Confused yet? Good, you should be—because depression doesn’t make sense. Medication and therapy is a tool, not a fix. Once the tools are in your hands, only you can fix you, and if you can muster the drive—these tools are valuable to solving the problem. When people ineloquently regurgitate, “you just have to deal with it,” this is what they’re trying to nail home. Of course depressed people want to get better, but turning that want into ability and motivation is where the medication/therapy/friends/family come in to play.

I had to find a use for the picture, come on!

Yeahhhhhhhh not quite.

My motivation and savior was my anger. I despised who I had become. I loathed what I had become. I tried being positive and that inevitably felt like a trite pair of rosy sunglasses, and I inevitably backslid into another malaise. Medication gave me weird side effects, and that roller-coaster often made the chemical component of my condition worse.

So I fed that void every ounce of my hate. I served that emptiness my indomitable wrath. I force-fed that void until it burned, and then dumped everything else I didn’t want on it—just to watch the blackness burn. My unusual skill for compartmentalizing my personality built a wall around it while it gagged on the overflow. I funneled everything I loathed into that maw, and then sealed that dismal oubliette shut. … and yes, I can still hear it howling somewhere in the recesses of the mind where I don’t like to tread.

even got a big sign in neon lights....

That’s how it goes. Burn that shit and don’t look back.

I can already hear someone muttering, “that’s not dealing, that’s repression.” Maybe you’re right, and maybe that’s why I feel those empty tendrils working their way back into my head from time to time. However, it’s what worked for me—and this ties back what I said in very first paragraph: When it comes to issues that involve psychological disorders, especially those caused/exacerbated by chemical imbalances, there’s more than one answer to every situation.

No matter what answer is chosen… there’s only one answer that you can’t take back.
Always pick a choice that you can reflect on later– because you never know what might emerge from the wreckage.

Unplug.

Advertisements

When I first carved out this little corner of the intarwebs with but a left hand tossing painkillers and shots of Jameson down the hatch, I was writing purely for my own sanity.  I would mock my own crippled ass, and marvel at how difficult some tasks could be with only one usable hand.  All in all, more of you read that shit than my rants and running commentary.

It’s ok, I understand that I was a better writer while shitfaced.  It’s been a trait that I’ve been aware of for about a decade.  That, however, has positively jack dick to do with this edition.  I think I may have killed Jill 2.0.

That which hath gimped me, sans sling.

Remember this?  Yeah, very real fear.

That’s right, my precious repaired hand has given me reason to worry enough to call a physician.  What genius move did I do to cause this, you ask?  What could I have possibly done that would do more damage than a Tough Mudder (let alone two?)  I’m almost embarrassed to say, and it actually didn’t involve a foray into my boxers.

I played dodgeball…  for five freaking hours.

That’s right.  It wasn’t catching a fridge, it wasn’t doing dumb shit at the gym, and it surely wasn’t a marathon fap session in front of the tube.   I was playing a game that fellow 80’s children know and love.  I hadn’t played since maybe high school, and I was being called in as a ringer for my wife’s company team…  I figured, “Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?  We’ll play three or four games, get eliminated, and it’ll be fun!  I can’t wait to see what this body of mine can do compared to runt me.”

Yeah, I'm saying the same damn thing.

Shut up, Jean Luc.

So here I am, two full weeks later, and my wrist is snapping in ways it hasn’t since the doctor fixed the initial injury.  Was an astounding third place ranking in the tournament worth it?  Maybe.  Would I do it again?  Maybe–  it was pretty funny seeing what this body can do when I’m listening to Amon Amarth and playing a game based upon agility and relentless hostility.  There’s a certain delectable joy that can be derived when you’re playing against a team of high school varsity athletes, you’re the last one standing, and you gun down the three remaining members of their team with extreme prejudice.

Then again, that might also be how I threw my hand off my wrist.  That’s all I can figure happened.  The arm hasn’t thrown full power in years, it’s a lot stronger than it used to be, and Jill 2.0 isn’t as durable as she was in yesteryear.

Tomorrow I get to find out where I go from here, and if I’m going to be able to tackle Tough Mudder #3….  if my last workout is any indication, I’m seriously worried.

Unplug.

 

So……….. back when I was languishing on the couch for weeks at a time, I watched a lot of TV.  When I say a lot of TV, I mean more than a kid with crappy parents.  Then again, from posts like this, you’d probably figure these facts to be self-evident.  I only say these things because I’ve been away for so long.

Interesting sidebar.  I’ve been gone for months on end, yet I’ve cranked in over 4500 unique hits.  How in the Nine Levels of Hell does that work?

Anyway.  Back to the task at hand– TV.  More importantly, how I was introduced to an epic case of masochism known as the Tough Mudder.  One wonderful evening, Cortana and I were sitting on my parents’ couch… and we saw that blubbering tub of unbridled excitement, Bert the Conqueror, doing one.  Only now, after having done one myself, do I realize that it’s highly likely that he ran through a few obstacles and called it a day.

That’s right, ladies and germs.  Not even a year after having Jill rebuilt into Jill 2.0, I went and proved my level of badass…. and it’s over 9000.  Let’s back up for just a teensy-weensy second here.  Just running the 2012 Michigan/Ohio Mudder wasn’t the best part.  The best part?  Was T.H.E.M.  We are everything that’s right (and wrong) with a team, and I wouldn’t run this insanity with anyone else.

See T.H.E.M.?

Minus one, these are the T.erribly H.ysterical E.gotistical M.aniacs—- better known as T.H.E.M.

It’s almost cute when you look at all the excitement that accompanied our war paint.  We all had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but none of us had a damn clue.  Let me put this into perspective, I’ve never been one who’s taken his limits too seriously.  After all, I can readily think up about a half dozen occasions where mathematically–  I should be as cold as the Titanic.  Anyway.

All jocularity aside, Cortana and I made a few calls– and we did our run April 14.  I could pretend that I was actually in the gym like a beast for the last month and a half, but between the aforementioned “employment issues” and being sick– yeah no.  I figured that I’d already got most of my body back, and I’d let willpower handle the rest.  Mind you, I am no runner, but I’m a beast at the obstacles (and surprisingly little issue out of Jill 2.0).

The Bars of Doom

So I didn’t quite make it all the way across these INCLINING monkey bars— but I got farther than 90% of my team.

However, my major hampering milestone was not the 12 miles (well actually it was, but I digress).  It wasn’t the rebuilt wrist, although I did have to put it back into place a few times.  No no.  My biggest issue stemmed from hypothermia.  The “official” recorded temperature makes one think it was a balmy 60 degrees.  Surely you jest, if it had been 60, I wouldn’t have pulled my quad around– oh– mile 8!  When we got to our cars, my thermometer said 52.  It was also windy, and we were constantly ending up in either mud– or ice water.  You know you’re freaking cold when jumping in the water hazard feels like it warms you up.

At one point, there’s a nice little obstacle called the “Electric Eel.”  Yes, if you’re wondering, some asshole had the bright idea to mix  electricity and water.   Think about the gratuitous assholery involved with creating this sadistic obstacle for just one second.  Instead of your mundane “crawl through icy/muddy water beneath barbed wire” routine–  oh no, we had live wires.  Some of you have already reached the punchline of this joke, but oh no– it gets better.  Yes, if someone’s ass is too high in the air, everyone in the water gets nailed— but to get out of the obstacle?  You have to either shinny through them, or have someone else brave enough to do the grab-and-drag routine with you (and be willing to eat a shock along with it).  There is no way around the wires.   Hypothermia’s a very odd beast, because every time I got hit with current (reportedly up to 10k volts)– it didn’t hurt, but I was well aware that I’d been hit.  I’d feel my muscles spasm, etc., but it didn’t actually hurt.

Oh yeah, by the way, did I mention that I had to sign a freaking death waiver to participate in these shenanigans?  Did I mention that I also paid to do this?

Death from above!

If you look reallllly closely up above (next to the fat one of T.H.E.M.), you can see the number 160 on one of the jerseys. There I am. About to jump about 25′ into the ravine below. The impact with the water actually broke the lens right out of my sunglasses.

You know that’s a long way down when you have the time to complete entire thoughts before you hit the water.  Yeah, I paid to be awesome– as did every one of T.H.E.M.  However, all proceeds of Tough Mudder benefit The Wounded Warrior Project.  I think that more than justifies the investments made.  I’m not just talking money, or time, or energy.  I’m also talking determination.

…..and here I thought I had an obscenely high pain threshold before.  All in all?  We’re doing it again next year– but more like August.  So if we have to wait for anyone, none of us end up limping the last four miles cheering to each other “When I say ‘hot,’ you say ‘tub!'”

Battle damage and all.

This is what it means to be an unstoppable bad ass. This. Right here.

Unplug.

This is just rich.  I’ve been on the injured reserve at work since surgery.  I got a call last week from my nurse case manager, asking when I would be cleared for light duty at work.  Considering my current line of employ (see also:  the place paying my worker’s comp checks), involves a lot of awkward lifting and carrying– light duty would relegate me to being office bitch.

No biggie, with 50% strength back in Jill– and about 75% mobility– clerical work would be no issue.  Then again, I’d be put in close quarters with the boss for about 40 of my 50 hours in the week, but I’m not accounting for that blossom of “bliss.”   So after my rehab evaluation yesterday (never thought I’d be saying those words…), and getting the rough numbers above, I made a pit stop by work to let the boss know the good news.

Tell 'em Vlad

Even Putin wants to declare shenanigans…

The boss decided to inform me that they don’t want me back until I’m positively at 100%.  This is a complete 180 from company policy, let alone from the comp company’s standpoint last week.  If this shit was any more ass backwards, I’d swear I was dealing with a government office.

Seriously, the boss called me at least twice in the immediate two days after surgery.  I can’t be sure about the exact count, because I kept myself nicely buffered from both pain and reality.  That’s my explanation for the freak attack of CRS, and I’m sticking to it.  Regardless, they were up my ass in ways that would make a Thai hooker blush.

Now, when I’m able to perform most of my former duties, they want to keep me on the I.R. until my happy ass is up to tossing a couch on my shoulder and walking away with it.  You know what I have to say about that?

In the immortal words of DX

Don’t pretend that you don’t know the two words…

It would appear that something unusual is transpiring here, and I’m too much of a cynic to buy into the possibility that they’re looking out for my well being.  They didn’t care during the eight months that I worked with torn cartilage in Jill.

Something smells rotten, and I just took a shower this morning.

Unplug.

I know last time I sat down at my keyboard, I was a bit of a raging bastard.  Yes, I still stand by my words, and I still feel justified in every last one of them– it’s still posted, isn’t it?  Anyway, today’s been a perfect bookend to the deicidal  fury of Friday, and the subsequent smoldering up until yesterday’s tirade.

First off, I got an important phone call (neither from work, nor from the previously alluded-to company) and it freaking made my morning.  That was great, then I found out that the duster I’d bought for Halloween was at the UPS Hub.  Between these two levels of awesome, was a priceless bit of WTF.

Yes, I am pretty fluent in Text– just like my other written/spoken sub-languages: Sarcasm, Typo, Drunk, Condescending, Legal, Medical, and Psychotic.  Get used to it, but I digress.

Since I’ve been working on dropping the couch-poundage that I packed on during the whole Jill-in-cast period, it only makes sense that I work out as well as diet.  I don’t just work out, I kick my own ass.  Since Jill’s still recovering, I’m only working lower body (giggity), cardio, and core– the last being the only one I habitually used to work.  From the get-go, I know this is going feel pretty damn awkward– like the first time I started hitting the gym like a narcissistic perfectionist three years ago.

Holy crap, they DO have a sign for that!

It's not worth it if you didn't work for it.

Did I remember to add in that this is, like, the second time I’ve gone to this gym– ever– to use the membership that I signed up for before I had surgery?  If you’ve ever joined a gym, you know the whole new-gym feeling that I’m trying to work out.  On top of that, I’ve gotta watch what I do so as not to aggravate the wrist– but still hammering away at the flubber using exercises that I don’t normally do.

When feeling out the new gym, you also get to see the scenery.  Compared to my old gym (which shall remain nameless because I’m not going to get hit with a libel/slander suit from those freaks), Nautilus is very different– and pretty bad ass on the level of equipment.  There’s a bunch of old dudes, a few really fit dudes, and a similar juxtaposition for the ladies.  Am I there for the scenery?  No, but I do have eyes.  Seriously.  Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is a hypocrite, and should be hit in the mouth with a tree branch.  Before anyone tries to throw the “pig” card out, one– you’re a hypocrite (see above) and two– my girlfriend and I have already had conversations about this and we had identical thoughts on the subject.

Anyway.

Peek a boo?

Yeah, people think they can surreptitiously stare. Most are really bad at it. The best part is, they're clueless.

I’d kicked my ass for the better part of an hour, throwing a small amount of core in between the bike and the elliptical.  First, I caught a few girls looking.  Cheers, apparently I hid my weight gain well.  In the middle of my bemusement, a guy ran past the elliptical on the track.

This is the point where I closed my eyes and focused on the DevilDriver blaring in my headphones– just to not crack up.  Flattery is sometimes funny, and it’s not like I’m a freaking phobe.  The funny part of this is, the size of the indoor track requires something like 16 laps to run a mile.  He.  Kept.  Passing.  By.  And.  Never.  Got.  Better.  At.  Staring.

Meanwhile, I’m sweating like a Steeler Fan in the Dog Pound– so I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually looking apocalyptic, and I’m having the trainwreck effect on this particular Takei (off topic: having a gay man as one of my closest friends for like six years has given me impeccable gaydar.  This one was a bottom.  Yeah, that precise.  Anyway.).  I figure that maybe a little eye contact might pass along the hint, “yeah, you’re busted, I’m feeling weird here.”  Yeah, he totally didn’t get the point– or couldn’t find a damn to give.  I will never know.

It didn’t stop me from putting in a solid hour and a half workout, put out 9 miles on the bike/elliptical, burned somewhere above 600 calories for the workout.  I say it wasn’t too bad of a second day back.  I am pretty stoked for this.

Hell, I got good news, and I got a chuckle in today.  I’d call today a win… but I’m not sure which way to look at the funny part.  I mean either I’m a hot mess, or things are going to get downright awkward once I get my bodyfat percentage down.

Unplug.

Well, after another physical therapy visit in the books, I’m showing marked signs of improvement.  That’s a damn good thing, because I’ve been working Jill like an underpaid amusement park employee.  Before you immediately follow my mind into the gutter (and rightfully so), do you have any idea how amusement park employees are miserably treated?  It took me less than 30 seconds to find a whole book about it, and believe you me– working at an amusement park like being cast into the Fourth Circle of Hell by your employer.  That’s another rant entirely, so enough of that digression.

Where was I?  Oh yes, making Jill do work.  My range of movement improves daily, to the point where I even impressed my therapist.  In the strength category, I’ve made a 350% improvement in my grip.  That number’s astounding, but when you consider that I went from roughly 9lbs of grip in my hand to about 32…  the percentage may not be quite as impressive.

Anyway, in spite of all of this, I have one teensy-weensy problem that Rosie still has to handle for me.  I can’t wipe my own ass right handed.

Shit tickets be damned!

So we meet again, oh necessity of those needing to make offerings unto The Porcelain Goddess.

I don’t know whether it’s the angle my wrist has to be, or the torsion of the wrist, or what it is– but Jill can’t be bothered to make the two-ply pilgrimage unto the brown eye without screaming in agony.  I mean, not that I blame her (all surgical repair work considered)– and it’s not like I’m running around with dingleberries a-ringing.  Rosie’s had my back(side) since Jill went into the cast.  I really should buy her flowers for her efforts, but that might give my girlfriend the wrong idea.  I just can’t get behind progress when progress can’t reach my behind.

Oh well, with that wonderful mental image seared into your cerebral cortex– it’s time for my 2pm wrist workout.

Don’t tell me you didn’t see that one coming.

Unplug.

I know I’ve been MIA like a green beret in Cambodia, however I’ve been reveling in my re-found freedom.  Yes, Jill is recovering at a decent clip, but that’s not why I’ve been shirking my rightful duties to you– my readers.  Anyway, back to bagging on myself, and my recovery.

So I’ve had three PT appointments this past week, and holy mother of God is it painful.  First things first, Rosie is by far the stronger of the hands.   If she were to get into a squeezing contest with Jill, Jill’s reconstructed wrist would hamper her by roughly 90%.  That’s the measurements from Monday 9/12/11, I have about 10% grip in my right hand.  Couple that with about 40% range of mobility, and I’ve got, as my therapist has put it, my “work cut out for me.”   Throw into the mix the fact that I still can’t straighten the damn elbow, and I’m a perpetually hurting unit (one tasked with constantly stretching and exercising joints that have been par-frozen by atrophy).  This means one thing:  yours truly is shitfaced on Norco more often now than I was when the good doctor took the proverbial scalpel to Jill.  Why yes, I’m also drinking, thank you for wondering!

Anyway.

The therapist has given me a ton of exercises, and a throwback to something that hails from many childhoods– silly freaking putty.   I’m not joking, and the best part is– my therapist actually got insulted when I called it by its true name.  Considering her level of indignation, you’d think the stuff was the bastard child of Rumpelstiltskin.  Naturally, I was even more thoroughly amused.

Silly putty, no matter what the color, is still silly putty.

A toy or a therapy aid, no matter what the color-- you can still copy comics with it, and bounce it off the wall! Best. Laugh. Therapy. Ever.

No, according to my therapist (geez, I sound more like a headcase than a basement-dwelling loser now… is that an upgrade?), this stuff’s therapy putty, not silly putty, because it comes in various “resistances.”  Are you freaking kidding me?  I’ve noticed one difference between the blue egg of “silly” putty that I had as a kid, and the green canister of “therapy” putty that I have now.  The only difference is the quantity and color (and I’ve got way more therapy putty).  Garfield’s face is sill a warp-able commodity!

However, all of these goofy ass exercises aside–  I’ve taken to one thing for therapy above all others: cleaning.   I was told to do my exercises twice a day, and I have been doing them as often as possible to speed recovery.  However, during the month and a half that I was away, the short stints I did spend at the pad accumulated a collegiate level of mess.  I mean Hell, I only had one hand that I could use, so why not use it to justify indulging in a cardinal level of sloth?  Man’s gotta keep sane somehow, and it’s not like the prescription/booze connection was doing it for me…

To say that the pad looked like a bomb hit it would be an understatement, however I’ve made a damn good amount of headway.  I’ve made myself a bit more work because I refuse to put dishes in the dishwasher.  Yes, I’m trying to (unsuccessfully) con myself into thinking that cleaning is therapy, especially since I’ve got my hands constantly in hot water.  You’d think I’d be worried about dishpan hands.

Who am I kidding?

Yeah. Right. I'll settle for copious amounts of lotion, thank you very much.

 

Oh well, I’ll do my best to keep as updated on the blog as I was when I was a lazy quasi-invalid.  In other news, I’ve lost 10lbs in 10 days with the Kamikaze Diet.  I haven’t even gotten into a regular exercise regimen yet, either.  Oh well, I’ll try to put more goodness up tomorrow.

Unplug.