10 Things Easier Done Than Filling A Legal Prescription In America

1. Buying Illegal Prescriptions/Drugs In America.

2. Teaching a Wild Bear to Play the Trumpet.

Yeah, You Read That Right

Yeah, You Read That Right

3. Buying a Gun

Guns: Much Safer Than Meds For Sick People.

Because Guns Are Safer Than Meds For the Sick. Duh!

4. Going an Entire Day Without iTunes Asking If You’d Like to Install the Latest Update.

5. Getting Your License Renewed Anything Achieved at the DMV.

6. Surviving a Breakup.

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Half true.

7. Sitting Through the Entire Hour of “Marketplace” on NPR.

8. Teaching Your Grandma How to Use Twitter.

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Preach it, Granny

9. Admitting You’re Wrong in the Middle of an Argument.

10. Playing Golf On the Moon

moon-300x223

This Didn’t Even Require a Prior Authorization!

Health, Happiness, and A Million Miles of Pharmaceutical Red Tape

Lemonade.

Someone asked me recently what would happen to this blog if I were to get well, given that I primarily write through the lens of life with chronic illness. I remember immediately thinking Dude, what an awesome problem that would be. Were this tiny corner of the internet a documentation of my weird sick life that ended on a high note with my full recovery, it’d be a major celebration. I’d have no problem changing the URL to Zero Pills A Day and then pursuing other writing projects. Or I’d keep writing here, through a healthier lens. But the truth is, while it may not always appear that way, I am still sick. For a couple of reasons I am far more functional than I’ve been in the past. Every day when I think about the crashes I experienced in Colorado and California, and basically all of 2012, I thank every particle in my being that I’m not there again and those parts are over.

That being said, there’s a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ work that accompanies life with this illness. I still take a a lot of medicine just to keep my head above water and feel decent enough to do things. I’m lucky and grateful for modern medicine that allows me to feel relief, but I’m still mostly treating the symptoms and not the cause. (We still don’t know it, but we’re getting closer as there is more research than ever) It’s still easy for me to overdo things and then spend a day or two or more recovering. The natural state of my body is pain, and some days I barely leave my room. CFS can be very erratic and navigating it from day to day feels like a job in itself. But by far the biggest factor allowing me to function better and devote time to rest and recovery when I need it is something that’s a bit of a sore subject for me: I am not working. I am thirty years old, a college grad, and I’m not in the workforce.

Even writing that here still stings a little.

In 2011 when I was forced to leave my job, all I wanted was to go back to work. My plan was to recover enough from the crash so I could either return to my old job or seek work elsewhere. I was bitter about not working, and I hated the idea of being unable to support myself. But even my specialist said if I wanted a real shot at getting better, I needed to stop and devote time to letting my body recover. So I did, and while I experienced a bout of health that summer, I crashed again in the Fall, which is when I began this blog. The next year, 2012, was disastrous and I was sicker than I’d ever been. I’ll never forget my sister carrying me on her back up the stairs because I was too weak to climb them, or the deep sadness I felt unable to walk my own dog. That was the hardest year of my life, on a few levels. And I’ve had some shitty years to compare it to! But it was also the year I came to fully surrender to the reality of my situation. I almost didn’t have a choice. Through a lot of tears, weeks in bed, and the care of my family, I made it through those storms and emerged on the other side. It wasn’t easy, but I began to make peace with my circumstances and forgive my experience.

I often wonder if the outlook on my life would have been different if I were told in advance what was going to happen to me. Something like: “Hey, you’re going to get really sick. You’ll have to stop working, but don’t worry, your family and friends are going to take care of you. You’ll feel shitty a lot, but you’ll have new time on your hands to read great books and practice creativity and finally develop the voice in your writing. Remember writing, your lifelong passion?!” I’d probably be like “Oh OK, that’s cool I guess.” It seems like often the source of anger or disappointment with life is that it doesn’t coincide with what we expected or planned. We like to think we’re in control of what happens. And when something like illness comes in and bowls over all your plans, well, it sucks. Mostly because you have to live with the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen to you and relinquishing control. The weird truth I learned again and again through this is that we’re never actually in control. We just feel more comfortable living under the facade the of it. Somewhere deep down we know that our calendars and to-do lists can be wiped out in a second by things outside of our power. But this doesn’t mean we don’t play the entire part of how we face what life throws at us. In fact this is the part where we have the most control. Either you make lemonade, or throw the lemons at people on the street, I guess. In my case it felt like I could stay mad and bitter at the things I lost, or I could try to make sense of the pain and move forward with the lessons and a life that was different than what I’d planned. This took a long time and is something I work on to this day.

To be honest, not working in the traditional sense still tugs at my ego and can make things very uncomfortable. It’s difficult to explain to strangers (and sometimes friends) and I’m well aware of the stigma it carries. I can feel what people think sometimes, and it doesn’t always feel good. At the same time, this is my life right now and maybe only I can know the truth of my experience. Some people will get it and some people won’t, but none of that should really dictate whether I’m able to find meaning in the life I have. My purpose isn’t among the 9-5 world for now, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean I don’t have one. I just have to look deeper to find it I guess.

It took a long time for me to believe that–mostly because I always assumed the point of life was to grow up and get a job, then marry and have some babies. I never thought to deeply about it or beyond that. Now I work daily on accepting the direction of my life and harnessing gratitude for the things that I do have. In truth it was getting sick that allowed me to pursue writing as much as I have, which was always my passion. I guess I’d call that the Lemonade from sick lemons. Hardy har. Still I look forward to what’s next and other projects that don’t revolve around being sick. I try to use the memories of my experience as fuel and not fear. Mostly I’m just trying to do make the most out of my current situation, and I guess the only thing anyone can do is live and be grateful for the moment, which is now. No now. Well no now its now. Like Deepak Chopras watch says, it’s right-now-o-clock! Life is just the eternal moment.

Health, Happiness, Lemonade.

The Five Days It Took to Turn 30

On Thursday I awoke to the faint scent of change in the air, not unlike the first brisk breeze you feel in late September. But this was not Fall. This was something called ‘thirty’ and it awaited me, ready or not. I didn’t know how it would go down or exactly how I felt about it, only that behind mundane tasks and in the corners of rooms, there it was; stirring, growing, counting down. It caused nervousness, yes, as change often does, but it also caused excitement and irregular bursts of recklessness. At the Circle K I always frequent, I ignored regular intuition when I saw a snickers bar and desired it, but had not yet eaten dinner. I watched myself grab it as though it had always been mine and Circle K had taken it from me. I plop it on the counter feeling proud and dangerous. I’m turning 30 soon, I don’t give a shit.

On Friday, the upcoming change is no longer a scent in the air, but a big red X on the Calendar. I only have a few more days of my twenties and I need to make it count. I have an outdoor lunch with college friends. I keep the conversation fresh. When it hints at boring I steer it another way. We can’t be talking about strangers I don’t know or things I don’t care about at my birthday lunch! It’s so self-involved but I don’t care, I’m trying to get to the root of something. I ask my friends a lot of questions about the states of their lives, all of which appear far more together and grown up than mine. (Jobs, marriage, etc.)  But beyond that I’m trying to gather information. Something within me is trying to assess whether we’re happier now than we were five years ago. I guess I need to know that life gets better with age– a concept I’ve heard but don’t wholeheartedly buy yet. The conclusion is nearly impossible; there are too many variables. When one friend suggests mani/pedi’s I think YES. I need my nails to be in shape for this milestone. I struggle choosing a nail color that complements my mature new age but also suggests my daring nature. (Snickers) I pick a bright, corally orange color. It’s a risk. It’s no ‘soft rose’. But I’m turning 30 soon. Let’s do this ‘cajun shrimp’!

On Saturday, the softest sound of a ticking clock can be heard everywhere I go. Is it my ovaries? Is it the countdown of my ending youth? Hard to say. My body is tired from the muted angst of the last few days and the poor diet choices I’ve made on account of feeling ‘risky.’ I rest a few hours while second-guessing my nail color and making a mental list of people 30+ that are still rocking it. Oprah..Rob Lowe..Kanye.. Next I head to Magazine Street to find the outfit I wish to turn thirty in. I visit my favorite places, and when the sales girls hear I’m turning thirty tonight they say “Awwwwwww” as though I were a wet, lost puppy. They also become exceptionally helpful. Like Don’t you worry girl, we’re gonna get you through this. As I accrue a large ‘no’ pile in the fitting room, finally I’m brought a navy blue floral romper. In the mirror I think This is it. This is the one. Sophisticated print but youthful as a romper. Also my butt looks really good.

Tonight I will have drinks with a couple of friends at Cure, a snazzy bar where our close friend works. I shouldn’t drink. My body straight up rejects alcohol in the form of migraine and then general disintegration of entire body systems, but the cocktails here are good and of high quality. They’re made by mixologists! And at midnight I’ll leave my twenties forever, so gosh darn it, I’ll have a drink or two. A few friends retire early leaving behind my BFF Kaitlin (aka Matt Damon) and the progressive boy I’m dating. He doesn’t like this ‘ritzy’ bar. Something about everyone having on the same outfit. Our friend brings “shots” for the stroke of 12. When the iPhone flashes midnight, we yell and cheers and drink the shot, which tastes like youth mixed with jolly rancher. Kaitlin snags this gem of a photo which at least half conveys the mixed feelings I had.

I’m 30 and I don’t understand my feelings wahh

I am technically thirty now and I feel the burst of recklessness. Should we get forties and go to the park? Light some fireworks maybe? But the progressive boy I’m dating suggests I take it easy. We still have my actual birthday tomorrow. He’s right. We go home.

On Sunday the big day has arrived. I’m getting phone calls and texts while I lay in bed and I’m like God, I love birthdays so much. I didn’t even have to do anything and look at all this positive attention I’m getting! Thanks mom! I soaked in all that love pouring in. Then I realize the small get-together at my pool is supposedly starting in an hour. I am crazy late, it is raining, and the pool turned green overnight. With the help of friends we pull it together. The group trickles in and three different people give me flowers, which shoots me up higher over the moon than I already was. A few of the people at the party I’ve never even met before, and yet somehow almost immediately, a fun and comfortable dynamic forms. One of those perfectly random social events that could never emerge through planning. We swim and philosophize and do birthday things, including passing around my cake in a circle and taking large bites out of it face first. (Kind of what one-year-olds do on their first birthday) We play a very loud game of Scattergories and things turn competitive, quick. There was erratic dancing and a four-part belting of It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Celine Dion. At one point we were gathered around watching Blue Planet in awe of the earth like Whoooooooa and Woooooooooow! Looking around in that moment I thought Dude, this is perfect. We stayed up late. I guess adults still do that.

On Monday I awake to the haze of a good-time had and party remnants littering the floor. My body hurts. The pool looks hungover. Even Monty is lethargic. I briefly assess the damage and ignore it, then eat a ginormous bowl of Kashi cereal and fall back asleep. When I re-awake, I attempt to “tidy up” but it’s useless. I’m moving like a true geriatric.  There is that Sunday type of melancholy lingering that comes after you’ve had a really amazing time with people and now you’re alone in the aftermath, remembering the fun. I plop on the couch trying to evade it and spot a large vase holding all the different flowers I was given. It’s cliche and sappy, but staring at it I feel a tinge of gratitude and then it explodes exponentially. I don’t feel old, I feel lucky to be alive and to know the people I do. I feel grateful that the people I like actually like me back. So many showed their love to me–In person, people from the past, strangers on the internet, my best friend from kindergarten on FB. It all just overwhelmed me for a minute. I’ve got a family that’s solid and friends who are true and a dog that jumps high and loves me endlessly. If I were a sap on Twitter I’d be like Feeling #blessed.

But I am not.

Turning thirty didn’t change much about me. I feel the same, my battles remain and I’ll continue to do my best. But unlike other birthdays, it finally took me outside of myself, even though it began the opposite. Among the cups and pizza boxes, I felt weirdly inspired thinking of the people in my life. It’s not that they love me, it’s that they love at all. That they’re out there with their own battles and they’re trying too. There’s no one way to do it and we’re all just learning as we go. But thinking of them made me want to try harder. And do better. Not because I’m 30 but because I’ve been shown such incredible ways to go about living and loving– It’d be a waste not to learn from such awesome people. And that’s why it was silly relying on others to prove to me that life gets better with age. Surround yourself by the right kind of people and they are the proof. Life gets better because we get better. We know ourselves more and just that knowing by itself makes so many things easier. For me I’m realizing it’s not about trying to know and understand everything but accepting that I can’t know it all. There will always be mystery to life and part of the deal is living here in the in-between. I think there’s a good time to be had in the middle. There certainly was last night. Anyway, it’s a simple concept I guess. It just took me twenty-nine years to make some sense out of it! Twenty nine years and five days, that is.

Thank you to everyone who helped me ring in 30. It was truly righteous.

Health, Happiness and The Five Days of Thirty