It has been awhile. Since writing my last post, months ago, I have laughed, cried, smiled, frowned, eaten food, dispensed that food, slept, walked, worked, played, drank liquids, dispensed those liquids, yo-yoed, played the violin, played the piano, read books and some other stuff.
To choose an action, to choose a verb from the laundry list above that best describes the past several months - mainly summer - is easy enough. Frown. Unfortunately, that has been the best I have been able to do. "Put on a happy face!". No thanks. I will frown. Honestly, I have had no choice in the matter. I do not prefer to frown. Frowning has come as the natural result of years of physical, emotional and spiritual struggle. In this case, frowning has little to do with free will, just as deciding where one is born is a matter of embryonic choice. A frown is the outside manifestation of a person at the end of his wit.
"This is all that I can do!"
"World, this is it, a frown! Well, this, or curl up in a ball in the forest coated in honey."
"I will not smile. I will not misrepresent a minor truth. If nothing else, I will be true to myself. Feigning a smile does nothing but placate a social norm at the expense of one's dignity and self-respect. No thanks!"
Fighting an invisible enemy is difficult. He is invisible. Fighting a visible enemy is also difficult. You can see the lines on his face.
Fortunately, I feel like I have been smiling - genuinely smiling - and laughing - seriously laughing - more frequently lately. This is a good sign.
Since my last post I have been diagnosed with moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. Shitty! But wait. No. An answer. Finally, I have an answer to the million dollar question - why do I hurt? - that has been plaguing me the last couple of years. The answer is RA. RA is an acronym that stands for Resident Assistant or Advisor, and is also the name of an Egyptian sun god. A minor deity, but a deity none-the-less. RA, of course, when unpacked stands for Rheumatoid Arthritis. That is what I have. My body has effectively turned on itself, attacking the very joints that it formerly was so eager to protect. Admittedly, I can't see any of this happening, the attacks. I would like to. I would love to be able to, actually. Be able to see precisely what it is that my body is doing to itself. I know what it feels like and looks like from the outside; dull, throbbing pain in my wrists, sharp pins and needles in my knees and general weakness and fatigue in all of my other joints. So it goes.
Fortunately, I say fortunately again, because it is fortunate, there are some great treatment options for RA in 2010. Though the list of side effects of all of the medications developed for RA start with nausea and end with death, the sort of relief that they promise is, well, relieving. I began a once-a-week injection called Enbrel three weeks ago. By the way, each injection, self-administered, costs about $500 (about $24,000/year). Thank the Lord for wonderful health coverage! As yet, I have not noticed any improvement, but am told that it takes 1-2 months of regular dosage before patients experience the "Wow Effect". I like that. The "Wow Effect". That sounds lovely. I have not been wowed in quite some time.
Tangent: the last time that I was wowed was about 2 years and 4 months ago, when I descended into the Snake River Basin from the southeast and had my first Teton experience.
Also, in the meantime - the time between starting Enbrel and feeling the "Wow Effect" - I applied for and received a medical marijuana license. Yesterday I bought an eight of an ounce of "White Rhino" from a local dispensary. Marijuana, I have discovered is a wonderful long-term alternative to nighttime pain relievers like Ibuprofen PM and Tylenol PM. The MJ - another acronym I have decided to use - helps me relax and sleep like a baby or an adult that sleeps really well. Just a hit or two before bed. That is all. I have no interest in getting stupid with the stuff. I am very capable of being stupid, sans drugs. F'em. Just kidding. The beauty of MJ is this: a couple of hits before bed, I sleep like a baby, pain-free and wake up in the morning - when I choose to - without any sort of hangover. Yeehaw. I plan on experimenting with different forms of MJ: edibles, lotions, strains, etc.
The point of it all - the MJ stuff, Enbrel and whatever else comes down the pike as a solution to the RA problem - is to gain relief so that I can function at full capacity, undistracted by the dull sensation of throbbing joints. F that. Seriously.
Well, here I am. There you are. Reading this, if you are. Life is not so bad, smiles on genuinely happy persons indicate. Yesterday, I smiled. Today, I smiled. Frowning, it turns out is a lot of work. Look into it. The idea of frowning being a lot of work. There is an old wives tale or urban legend or some rumor of frowning requiring more facial muscles to engage in it's frumpy formation than a smile. I don't know if that is true. What I do know is that "you can't fake it hard enough to please everyone, or anyone at all". To thy own self be true. Thanks Emerson. Instead of feigning a grin, find reasons to smile. Then you will. Then it will be full of truth.
I am on the up and up, I would like to think. Maybe someday I will run again. Maybe that someday is soon. Maybe it is not. It does not matter. In the words of someone else, "there is more to life than running."