Have you seen the movie Awakenings?
It’s been a long time since I saw it, but I enjoyed it, in a horrified sort of way. I’m going to spoil the plot a little, but it follows a group of patients who have been in comas for years… until suddenly a new drug revives them. They wake. They are fully functioning, and while they have lost years of their lives, they are fully capable of returning to them.
But it doesn’t last. For reasons no one can figure out, the drug stops working and the patients slowly, slowly, return back to their comas. And they know it’s coming. They know what they’re returning to. They know what they’re losing. And they can’t do a single thing to stop it.
It’s based on a true story, and I’ve long meant to look more into the facts it’s based on, although I still have yet to do so. But the movie made an impact on me, even though I only saw it once. I felt the horror of the patients as the inexorably returned to their unwakening sleep, helpless to slow or stop it.
I feel something of a parallel to the movie right now, although it’s clearly a much more dramatic example than what I’m going through. I think I’ve mentioned before than one of the physical conditions I struggle with is chronic fatigue syndrome. It’s a horrible, silent illness which robs you of your energy and lust for life. I cannot remember a time when I haven’t been tired. It’s unknown what causes it, and thus fixing it becomes a problem. Apparently in some cases anti depressants have helped, by some funny trick it plays in your brain, but I unfortunately already know I can’t take anti depressants as they make me violently ill. So that’s out. My doctors mostly look away and change the subject when I bring up what a problem it is, because they truly don’t know how to help me.
I handle this better some times than others, but right now it’s difficult. The thing is, I got bit by a cat last Friday, and my hand swelled up like a pink balloon that night. I went to an urgent care center since it was now New Year’s Eve and was prescribed (along with a host of other dreadful things) steroids because it was so very swollen.
And it turns out that the steroids make me not feel tired. It borders on being too much energy, as I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep at night (not that I don’t always have trouble sleeping, so that’s negligible) but I feel normal. I don’t wish that I’ll get into a car accident on my way to work just so that I don’t have to go, because I’m so tired. This is an earth-shattering shift in my life which I don’t think I can fully explain. You’ll just have to go with me on this.
The problem is, of course, that steroids are awful for you and this is a week’s supply. No doctor is going to keep me on them forever, and they have some weird side effects of their own, such as the sleep problems. Not to mention they make me even moodier than I normally am, which isn’t good for anyone. But for a few days, I feel good.
And I know that it won’t last.
In a few days my pills will run out and I’ll be back to feeling smothered by life every single day, barely able to cope with working and the normal tasks of life. It’s not fair. I don’t want a break from my illness only to have to go right back into it. I’d rather the doctor didn’t wake me from my coma and just let me sleep if I just have to return to it, equally helpless and equally aware of what that means.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am very aware there are people who suffer far worse than I do every day and who complain far less. But right now at this moment I want to just sob about this, so I’m letting it out in a blog.
I have the next few days off, and I’m going to try and make the most of my fleeting energy by taking lots of photos, making costumes and generally getting as much done as I can with what I’m given. After that, I will try and be gracious and patient and remember that I don’t have it nearly as bad as some do.
Our photo today is one I took a while ago about how chronic fatigue makes me feel, since that seems fitting.