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I had a doctor’s appointment this past week.  Which is not remarkable in and of itself.  I have a lot of doctor’s and they all require a visit from time to time.  But this doctor offered to take me off one of my medications, to see if I really needed it.

Medically, she is right.  There is a decent chance that I could wean off the meds without a return of the pain, the constant pain, and life would be fine.  Actually, life would be slightly better.  Less pain, less medication.

And yet, and yet, I said no.

I’ve talked here before about how hard it is to be healthy after you’ve been sick, and as I walked out of the doctor’s office I wondered how much of my no was about that.

Most of my no was about other things though.  I’ve only been pain free for about a year.  And I’ve spent most of that year re-learning how to tell when I’m in pain.  (I’m well aware of the depths of the problems in that statement.)  So I don’t trust myself to know if the pain did return if I stopped taking the medication.  I occasionally miss an evening dose and I notice that the next day.  The medication has few side effects, so staying on it has few negatives.

Someday, I hope, I look nervously forward too, I will get to say yes to this offer.  Despite how hard it is psychologically.  Despite how much easier it is to keep saying no.  Despite how scary it sounds.  Despite the open question of whether or not I can actually live, pain free, with out the meds.

But for now, for a lot of reasons, I’m staying on them.  One more pill.  It’s the right choice.  For me.  For this season.  For however long this season lasts.


8 years ago I was a college freshman. I spent time going to classes, doing the reading for classes, hanging out with my friends, and going to Church meetings. (So, I was a little odd.) I remember having a particularly good semester 8 years ago. But mostly what I remember about 8 years ago is that I had brain surgery that summer.  And again 6 years ago when I had just finished my junior year of  college.  And then again two years ago during my last semester of seminary.

Over those 8 years, I have earned two degrees, moved across the country three times, been ordained in the Episcopal Church, had four different neurosurgeons, had 16 MRIs, made friends, kept friends, seen friends drift away, and started my first job as a priest.  I have taken one pill a day, 8 pills a day, and am currently on about 5 pills a day.  I have lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, and lost weight, with a net of having gained weight due to medications.  I have been depressed and I have been healthier than I may have been since I was in high school.  I have suffered from unbearable insomnia and slept like crazy (although that is usually after surgery when I literally can’t do anything else).

8 years ago I could not imagine surviving most of what is in that paragraph.

I woke this morning and
didn’t move my head
I was at just the right
angle to breathe
and resting at the perfect spot
between the pain sites.
And I lay there blinking sleep away,
thinking, “How quickly I learn,
these habits I don’t want.”

written 7-15-08

I’m home.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the pain medication they sent me home with.   The treatments seem to have gone well, but we won’t be able to see any results for several months.   

In the meantime I’m resting (again) and waiting for the pain&medication head fog to clear up.  So, for now I’m sitting on the couch, with a blanket, a couple of books, my laptop, and the TV remote.

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