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I am Afraid of Pain

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There was an episode of HOUSE a while back in which he makes some comment about how pain makes you make bad choices and that fear of pain was worse than that. I nodded my head knowingly at the time, but I’m really beginning to understand this more than I would like. Pain doesn’t really seem to stop me. It’s the fear of pain that holds me back. When I’m sitting in my recliner, tapping away on the laptop, and I’m not really hurting, going along okay, and then I think about getting up or doing something, I know that doing it is going to hurt. Why? Because it always does hurt, always. Always.

I mean, I cannot stand up with out pain. Sometimes it’s mild pain but sometimes it’s excruciating. I never know for sure until I standup which it will be. Sometimes, moving around is okay and sometimes it’s horrendous. Again, never know until I do it. So there are days I sit in my chair and spend more time debating with myself than I do actually doing anything. I’ll need to pee, but I know getting up is going to hurt, so I sit in my chair for as long as I can, until my eyeballs are floating, hoping the urge will go away, but since take Lasix (a diuretic – you know, a water pill), I know it won’t go away, and in fact, I know it will just get worse, and the longer I wait, the worse it will get, so (taking a deep breath)… yeah. (more…)

Everything Looks Like a Nail

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My primary pulmonologist is a sleep disorder specialist. He thinks I have a sleep disorder. This is sort of akin, to me, to my cardiologist thinking I have a heart. Or in other words, when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

It’s not that I’m disagreeing with him about having a sleep disorder at all. It’s just, he thinks I have obstructive sleep apnea and I do not think I have obstructive sleep apnea. Again, though, I’m not saying I don’t have a sleep disorder. The problem is, OSA can be treated with a CPAP machine, but some of the other sleep disorders are actually worsened by a CPAP. So let’s look at some honest-to-goodness facts.

Sleep apnea can cause: snoring, waking up gasping for breath, sleep arousals, waking up unable to breathe or feeling like you’re suffocating, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, waking up feeling un-refreshed. It can cause some other things too, but I want to focus on these, because these are usually the symptoms that send a person to the doctor, either because they noticed it or their spouse or partner noticed it. (more…)

Beating the Odds

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The odds of winning the last mega-millions big lottery that was all over the news were something like 1 in 176 million chances of winning. That’s pretty long odds, right there. Yet, ever hopeful, people buy tickets to the lottery every day. Why? Because human beings seem to like playing the odds. One of the reasons hang-gliding and mountain climbing and even something as simple as roller coasters are so adrenaline pumping and exciting to people is because there is a risk of death (or at least serious injury), however small, that comes with the rush. If there were nothing to fear, there would be nothing exciting about it. You get excited because you faced risk and death, and you win… you survive. You beat the odds while staring them in the face.

We play the odds all the time: every time we get behind the wheel of the car (sober or not, driving or not), we risk death. Every time we take a new medication from a doctor that we’ve never taken before, we risk death. Every time we walk out our door, we risk death, and just staying in and doing nothing risks death in a different way. After all, did you know that more people die from accidents and injuries or illnesses that happened in their home than all other crimes and causes of death combined? Most of us, if we die, are going to start that process in the relative safety of our own homes.

The point is, we are constantly at risk of death, every one of us, and yet somehow we function every day in spite of it. We are gamblers, human beings are… yes, we are. We play the odds. We hope for the best, even though we know the odds are stacked in favor of the house, because we know, deep down, that someone is going to beat the odds. We believe, with prayer and fantasy, that we will be that someone.

And sometimes… we are. Or as my uncle said to my mom once–and you’ve probably very likely said it before yourself: Someone has to win the lottery. Might as well be me.

And yet, in the end, we all die. Every last one of us is going to die. We can’t escape that eventuality. But some of us die sooner than others. There are reasons for that. We don’t all get to live a good, long life and slip into the next plane of existence quietly in our sleep. Blessed are those who do.

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