Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Slowly Reconnecting With My Life

Hmmm.... how to start. The past 90 days or so are among the strangest times I've ever experienced. I was prescribed some medication that had the effect of making me lose all interest in my own life. By that I mean I completely lost interest in both the things I previously enjoyed and lost interest in the consequences of actions in my life. As a result my online business has officially failed and is closed, I haven't picked up a paintbrush in months (missing promised deadlines without so much as a twinge of guilt) and my work at EMU has suffered. I spent money frivolously that I did not have.

I've always been a solitary sort, but this was a new extreme. I was trying very hard to disconnect with everything in my life except my family. Every time the phone rang I would say, "I'm not here." The only way people could contact me was to show up somewhere that they knew I would be (home or work) and confront me there, which annoyed me greatly. I found myself avoiding email, knowing that people would be trying to contact me. My mobile phone was commonly set to vibrate and left (accidentally, of course) in my coat pocket in the closet.

I think the word we're looking for here is depression.

Somewhere in this time frame also came some medical tests. My liver enzymes had been wonky for a while and my spleen, already 30% longer than normal range, was getting larger according to an ultrasound I had. I was bouncing between my primary care physician, a gastroenterologist and trying to schedule with a hemotologist. Oh, and lots of blood draws. An abdominal CT scan showed no abnormal growths in my liver despite is being lit up on the ultrasound consistent with fatty liver infiltration. Hooray, I just won a liver biopsy.

Biopsies are fun-on-a-bun. Doctors numb your side, jam a needle the size of a ball point pen in between your ribs, and grab a chunk of your giblets to gawk at under a microscope. In truth, it wasn't as bad as it sounds. After the burning zap of the local anesthesia I didn't feel anything. I was surprised to hear the snap of the sample being taken, not realizing they had actually pierced my abdominal cavity I expected to go back to work the next day, but was ordered to take the next 48 hours off. Whee. Here's a little glimpse of my happy-fun-time.

After looking over my innards, the verdict is apparently good. I suffer from "nonalcoholic steatohepatitis," a fibrosis or mild scarring of the liver. It can lead to cirrhosis if it gets a lot worse, and the treatment is to lose weight, eat a more balanced diet and exercise more. Imagine my joy.

Okay, so back to the reconnecting/depression thing. I talked to my doctor about what was going on and she altered some dosages. About a month later I can feel the fog lifting, and I actually returned a couple calls to people. I'm thinking about painting soon too, but we'll see on that. I'm not used to conditions that are not either on or off. This mental state is a continuum and it's hard to say where I am at any given moment. I like data. I like to be able to measure things. This is not really measurable. Even during the darkest time of it I wasn't entirely sure if something was wrong with me. I was fairly certain that I "wasn't myself lately" but I couldn't define what "myself" actually was, and was obsessed by the fact that if "myself" wasn't how I was acting at the time then how is "myself" even defined? Yeah, I know. It sounds pretty stupid in retrospect. My thought process was tainted. I wasn't suicidal, but my thoughts would be... I guess dark is the best word I could use. The idea of bad things happening was no concern to me. The idea of bad things happening to me actually held some appeal. The fact that the liver biopsy had a fatality risk gave me a sick sense of satisfaction.

Anyway, I'm feeling better. I managed to not alienate my kids or Stef. My friends are either oblivious to what happened or are somewhere between concerned and irked. My customers are enraged, and with good reason. The mere fact that I'm blogging about it is a major step toward normalcy for me, and I actually want normalcy now. That's a big change.

Maybe I'll even post some painting news here eventually! ...but not quite yet.