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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Being Sick

I went out for a walk on Monday, enjoying the last week of my holidays, and running across K Rd I pulled my right calf muscle.

It hurt like hell, but I tried to pretend it didn't.

Same thing happened about 5 years ago.

So I've been laid up, resting my leg, in a compression bandage, icing it the first day or two, the usual stuff. It will heal, and I will be ok in time. The frustrating thing is that I'm not actually sick - just unable to do normal things, like go for a walk or a drive, or cut the grass, have a hot fuck, and enjoy my holiday.

It made me think back to when I was really sick, back in the 90s, about 20 years ago in 1995

I had AIDS and was expected to die. My specialist at the hospital told me I had about a year to live. I was in a hospice for people with AIDS. I weighed about 50kgs - I couldn't walk more than a couple of metres. I shat my bed often because I couldn't get to the toilet. I couldn't breather without an oxygen tank. I'd eat, then throw up.

I was really sick.

I was dying - I thought so, so did everyone around me, and that was a totally reasonable assumption to make given how HIV operates when it's untreated in the human body.

Then in 1996, things changed, and along came Western medicine, with Protease Inhibitors. I was incredibly fortunate to get on them early, and they worked.

I got better and better. Put on weight (now I weigh too much). And the only reason I'm alive today is because of the science that sits behind Western medicine. It is utterly amazing what medical science can do today.

So when people would say to me "Oh your attitude made such a difference! You are such a fighter" or sometimes "You chose not to die!" or "You're here for a reason!" I get so angry.

Did all those other wonderful men I knew choose to die? Have the wrong attitude? Not fight enough? Have lives empty of purpose compared to mine?

Actually I had an incredibly negative attitude for a long time, until I realised I didn't want to die that way. But changing my attitude didn't defeat HIV and pull me back from AIDS - Western science did that.

I look at it this way - if your car gets a flat on the motorway in the middle of a howling storm, you can sit inside and feel sorry for yourself and wail, or you can get out in the rain and change the tyre, and then move on. I wailed for quite a while, then got over it.

Having a positive attitude helps you change the tyre instead of sitting there, but without the jack and the spare tyre you're not going anywhere.

So don't tell people who have possibly terminal conditions that they just need the right attitude and they'll be fine. It's a smug and stupid thing to say. I've also heard people who were in my position say "It was my attitude that did it" Bullshit. Stop taking your meds and see how your attitude helps keep HIV or cancer or heart disease at bay. Stop saying this shit. It's not true and not what people dealing with life-threatening conditions need to hear. You're essentialy saying that if they get sick and die, it's their fault because they didn't have the right attitude. That's just so wrong.

They need highly trained medical expertise applied to their situation. They need the intelligence and hard work of specialised nurses and doctors and lab technicians. If you don't have that, no matter how positive your attitude, no matter how many "healing vibes" and prayers get sent your way,you won't get better. You'll die.