I am settling uncomfortably into my new normal. I have no appetite at all, and my chosen medication is not helping with that in the slightest. I have so many hospital appointments that I spend more time with doctors than I do my friends. Sometimes they take so much blood from me, I wonder if I have enough circulating round my body to do the job it is supposed to do – things like keeping me breathing. I get prodded and poked and still after giving me bad news after bad news, and showing me horrendous xrays of the bone erosion, and telling me I need a walking stick to be safe, they offer me ibuprofen and NSAIDS that do absolutely nothing for the pain and just put my liver under stress and ruin my delicate celiac’s stomach even further. I do not take them. Instead I have little pills of CBD when I can afford to buy them, and my other medicine which does seem to indeed deal with the inflammation.
It is an insult to tell me how unwell I am, to acknowledge the reality of the damage to my body caused by this connective tissue autoimmune disease and then offer me ibuprofen. The hysteria over giving people adequate pain relief is causing so much pain and suffering to the chronically ill and in pain, and does nothing to actually fix the issues around illegal opiates and addiction that are causing so much suffering on the streets not just of my beloved San Francisco, but the entire USA and world as a whole. Still, that is a rant for another day. The plain facts of safe supply works to keep everyone safe, including those who do not partake in illegal substances; that the war on drugs is lost and only causes suffering and pain to the victims and the vulnerable, and that we fix the issue with compassion and pragmatism not legal censure and authoritarian crack-downs, are like chaff to the wind. They blow away on a breeze of hot air from the mouths of politicians, who desperate for votes, continually punch down on the suffering, the traumatized, the undocumented and those in pain, in order to please those with the power and the money. It is playing to the cheap seats, the peanut-throwers, and not only does it not solve the problem with force, it also makes everything worse for all concerned.
Love, compassion, kindness, understanding – this is the way we fix the big problems ahead of this beautiful blue spinning dot, suspended in space, warmed by the sun and inspired by the light of the moon. Flowers could grow in the minds of people, instead we plant seeds of war and hatred. It is all ‘hate her, hate him, hate this, detest that, fight this, war on that, blow up this, burn that to the ground’….and you know what, you would think us humans would have realized by now that it just doesn’t work at all.
These are my days of dates and thin clear broth. I get nauseated and shaky and my appetite has gone. All the suffering and hatred and anger in the world piles up on me like standing in the middle of a car crash pile up on a freeway, with us all piling into each other, crashing on other’s misfortune, and leaving no way clear to drive straight on through to the other side and the clear sailing of a world that is kinder and more compassionate. So many of us want to feel like we are doing it all better than our neighbors. In the end does it matter? In the end what matters is love, compassion, kindness, acceptance, and helping each other.
Sometimes it takes the thin broth and date days, the pain and the walking stick months, coughing up blood in a bathroom sink to realize that anger, hatred and all that sound and fury helps no one and only hurts ourselves.
I am trying to be kind to myself. It might be the most difficult kindness of all. That voice in the back of my head which nags at me and tells me how terrible I am gets loud and insistent some days, but I try, try, try and do what I can to calm it down before it eats me up, like I devour that plate of sweet dates and bowl of broth.
It is not naiveté. It has been a long hard road to realizing that love is stronger than hate, that anger is the storm and the storm only hurts me, no matter if I was due that anger in bucketloads. Nothing ever got fixed with anger and hatred and war. Perhaps I needed to find another way, in these new hippy days of my unusual medicine and this inner peace I have stumbled across in the midst of my body at war with itself. Perhaps if I can find peace I can manage to live well a little longer than if I did not. Perhaps. If not, then at least today there is sunshine and dates, broth and love and the realization that love truly is the only thing that ever mattered after all.