Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday night pity party

Permit me a self-indulgent post, and feel free to browse elsewhere if my troubles don’t interest you. They don’t interest me particularly, so I’ll understand.

My roommates are out ghosting and ghouling on this Halloween eve; I’ve elected to stay home and ponder my poor existence in quiet solitude. I’m four days into a month of alleged sobriety, a wrong-headed scheme cooked up by Yony to see if it helps with my medical condition. Since June of 2008 I’ve suffered crushing headaches on a daily basis, without reprieve. Not of a migraine type—those occur on one side of the head, and cause sensitivity to light and sound—these pains are concentrated in the front of my head, and are heavy and lumpy, as if a wet sock were balled up where my frontal lobe ought to be. 

My friends are mightily sick of hearing me complain by now, I’m sure; but they’re not as sick as I am of being in pain every waking moment, I’ll assure you of that.
Already the sobriety is out the window. Pot and drink are the only things which actually help me, not so much alleviating the pain as distracting me from it, in the style of my mother’s Russo-folkloric ‘grandfather’s cure’ (Toothache? Drop a brick on your foot, you’ll forget all about the tooth). I’ve smoked a pile of weed and am knocking back vodka-Squirts, and I already feel more human. It’s good medicine, the sweetleaf, and if it continues to be illegal it’s only because the pharmaceutical companies don’t profit from it.

I’ve tried nearly everything, in what feels like a tragicomic film montage: I’ve been to the ophthalmologist, had teeth removed, tried the whole spectrum of painkillers, quit painkillers and taken them up again, sampled an array of anti-depressants, consumed heroic amounts of water and leafy greens, tried nasal decongestants and antihistamines and myriad vitamins, gone to Chinatown in search of ancient remedies and made attempts at cutting caffeine and sugar from my diet; I’ve only barely stopped short of yoga, meditation and ‘clinical’ hypnosis, which seem about as curative as sprinkling flowers on a pile of hogshit. In my more self-pitying moments, I convince myself that I have a brain tumor—it would at least be a compelling narrative twist, and would lend your blogger-hero a bit more gravitas, my inebriated rambling reinterpreted as near-death prophesying—but having researched the subject it seems highly unlikely.

The only thing I haven’t tried is going to an actual doctor. Unemployed bloggers on foodstamps don’t enjoy luxuries like trips to the doctor. Until recently I considered this par for the course—the American Way, even; health care being a socialist construct, I’d overcome my medical problems through rugged individualism, quixotic trips to Chinatown, a pinch of internet savvy. I compounded this folly with a generous helping of guilt and self-flagellation: these headaches were punishment for my illegal and immoral lifestyle; if I wanted badly enough to feel healthy I’d bite the bullet and get a job, sign up for health insurance, quit smoking, join a gym and think happy thoughts.

My feelings have changed, and I’m beginning to drift toward the mad as hell and not going to take it anymore camp. CJ’s illness and death, first of all, have proven powerful fodder. Because she was broke, CJ did not seek medical attention for her brutal aches and pains until she’d already developed an advanced and rapidly-spreading cancer. Had she been able to afford it, she could have been diagnosed and treated far sooner, and would probably be alive now; she was essentially murdered by the greed and inequity of the American system. I don’t hesitate, trembling with rage, to point fingers.

I also made a point recently, while cooped up with a cold, of watching Michael Moore’s recent polemic on American health care, Sicko. It was gratifying to see my half-formed misgivings about our health care system writ large and legible, and it codified the fundamental contradiction of for-profit medicine, which is inherently invested in keeping people sick. This country of ours, which would sooner bomb Arabs than provide basic care for its own citizens, is a treacherous snakepit which I condemn with every fiber of my being, and I sometimes wonder if the painful lump in the front of my head isn’t just a malignant mass of American poison and confusion, a psycho-social tumor that might never be excised. For all these crimes and many more, I condemn it all to Hell.