Working title: I’m really fucking scared I won’t ever have kids

I got my fucking nails done this weekend and it’s making it really hard to type. You would think as a writer I wouldn’t give into such frivolous crap because my craft comes first and using a keyboard is part of that craft, but I did. And it’s mostly because I want a boyfriend.

Well, I don’t really want a boyfriend exactly. Honestly, I’m looking for more a baby daddy. I want a kid. And I’m 34 and the chances that it’s going to happen get smaller every freaking time I get my stupid period.

The pressure to beat my biological clock feels like it’s suffocating me. And I have found myself literally dating with the sole goal of finding a real-life sperm donor.

It’s not going great.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I also want a husband. But I don’t feel any particular rush to nail that part down. There’s no internal organ that stops letting me get married after a certain age.

But when it comes to children, there’s a deadline. And the problem is, it varies from woman to woman, so I can’t even be sure if I’ve already hit mine.

As I was driving through literal snow-covered streets Monday night on my way to meet up with a hot Venezuelan guy who had a dog, and I don’t even like dogs, I found myself wondering if I would actually be sincerely happy with this man if it was just him and me and no baby. And a dog. Like would I be thinking about a future with him if the only thing we had was real love between us?

I couldn’t be sure. But it did make me realize that I have been skewing my standards.

I often feel behind in life because of my health. It’s like I lost a bunch of years to the abyss because of my chronic pain. And even now, I’m on enough scary drugs that I honestly don’t know what would happen if I did have a baby. I have started asking all my doctors and mostly it’s a lot of “we would have to see” or “we would take you off that” or “I don’t know. Are you even seeing anyone?”

No. Ok. Gawd. I mean I was. I had a glorious six-week relationship with this hot Mexican guy that I thought might be going somewhere, but then I showed up at his house unexpectedly one Saturday night, and he wouldn’t let me inside. I’m pretty sure he was cheating on me, which was especially odd because he was the one who insisted on exclusivity in the first place. But a part of me wants to believe it was something less hurtful, like a secret cocaine habit, or an undercover FBI operation.

Regardless, we haven’t talked since. Which especially sucks because I left a pair of shoes there and now I’m never getting those back. And also, honestly, I had just bought us a bulk box of condoms and some fun new lubricants a few days before that, and now they are just sitting in his bedside drawer being unwrapped for the next girl.

So, you know, that’s heartbreaking.

You might be thinking, wait, condoms? I thought you wanted to get pregnant. And look, I probably would have tried with him. But there is something to be said for waiting a few weeks first. Because you never know when a guy has a secret cocaine habit.

I actually looked into freezing my eggs last night. I mean, there’s always that 401k Money I have that’s not doing anything. But it turns out even if you do that you still have to get pregnant by 38. That’s less than 4 years away guys! Why even bother?

So now, here I sit. My career is great. I just got a promotion actually. Typing hurts and I’m seriously debating taking some scissors to my acrylics. And my health is the roller coaster mess it always is.

And I’m single. And childless. And on Xanax. And I’m praying that someday soon, I won’t be any of those things.

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What Pain Patients Can Learn from JFK

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed with the fact John F. Kennedy had health issues. Like major health issues. Like Addison’s disease, ulcers, colitis, and back pain issues, among others.

It’s one of the few things most people don’t seem to know about JFK. He was sick. Really sick. And he was often dealing with his health while running the country.

The Atlantic detailed some of Kennedy’s health issues in “The Medical Ordeals of JFK” back in 2013. They talked about how while JFK was in the White House he routinely saw an allergist, an endocrinologist, a gastroenterologist, an orthopedist and an urologist. JFK also regularly took amphetamines and had painkillers injected into his back.

In other words, he went through the same things a lot of us with chronic pain go through. Except, you know, he managed to run the Free World between steroid injections.

There’s a part of me that wishes he hadn’t hid his aliments. The article details how his campaign flat-out denied he had Addison’s disease. The day after his election, in response to a reporter’s question, JFK “declared himself in ‘excellent’ shape and dismissed the rumors of Addison’s disease as false.”

Personally, I had no idea that JFK struggled with so many health issues until I stumbled upon the information while researching chronic pain. And from what I can tell, most people in America don’t realize just how sick he was either.

I can’t help but wonder what he may have been able to do for the stigma associated with chronic illness if he had ever admitted to his aliments publicly though. Imagine if the stereotype of someone with chronic illness was JFK.  Sure, it’s a lot to live up to, but it’s better than what we face now, which is usually something along the lines of, “a lazy, druggie who probably brought it on themselves.”

And maybe he could have even helped people understand that cancer isn’t the only bad thing that can happen to you. And that sometimes, you don’t get better and you don’t die — you just stay sick.

But, there’s probably a good chance he would have never been elected if the American public knew he was seeing Max Jacobson, an émigré doctor from Germany who had made a reputation treating celebrities with “pep pills” (amphetamines).

The thing that really strikes me though is just how much JFK was able to accomplish despite his health. Most days, I’m in too much pain to drive to the grocery store, much less run for president.

From what I’ve read, it seems as though JKF was totally cool with popping as many pills as he needed to in order to keep going. As The Atlantic details, “[He didn’t] believe that the many medications he took would reduce his ability to work effectively; on the contrary, he saw them as ensuring his competence to deal with the demands of the office.”

In other words, he was all for medication if it meant he would be able to endure a press conference.

And I’m also guessing he was the type of sick person who had access to any and all medications that he thought would help him. Something most of us can only dream of.

There was definitely a point in my life when I would have loved taking hundreds of Norco each month so that I could have kept pace with my previous lifestyle. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have a liver anymore, but at least I’d still have my own apartment.

Even on my current doses, my main reason for taking drugs is so that I can do as much as possible. Sometimes that means a work trip to Arizona, and other times it means having the strength to sit up on the couch and type out a column.

So I can completely understand why JFK felt like he did about the pills. But I don’t think most people would.

Heck, the number one comment I get from anyone who finds out how many drugs I take on the daily is, “You need to get off all those medications.” I usually explain that if I “got off all those medications” then I also wouldn’t be able to get off the couch. 

I also assume that when JFK said he was in pain, at least one of the like 23 specialists he was seeing believed him and responded accordingly. Again, something most of us can only dream of.

He also probably had no issues paying for his medications or getting to doctors’ appointments. And I’m sure he was able to see the very best doctors in the country whenever he wanted.

Even knowing that he had all sorts of advantages as a sick person though, there’s still a huge part of me that feels really inadequate thinking about how much JFK got done. I mean, I have literally had to scale back every aspect of my life since getting sick. I quit my side job as a youth leader, which I loved with all my heart. I moved in with my mom. I started working from home. And I even stopped going to the mall as much as I used to.

For me, a big part of being sick has been losing so many of the things I love, and then figuring out how to cope with those losses.

But then, there’s another part of me that thinks of JFK and is kind of inspired. Maybe there is hope for me yet. Maybe I can still live in Brazil one day, or become a best-selling author, or heck, run for office just like JFK did. 

I just need to find that German doctor and get some of those “pep pills.”

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Figuring out what’s next with a long-term chronic illness

The thing about being Type A is that I’ve been trying to figure out the answer to “What’s next?” since I was 5.

Back then, I was vying for the accelerated reading groups — hoping it would lead to a good first grade teacher. That, of course, would put me on the right path through elementary school, which would then help me get the right classes in junior high. Those would inevitably lead to advanced courses in high school, which would help me get into a good college. And, of course, a good college is exactly what you need to get a good job and have a good life.

Like I said, I’m Type A.

Except, now that I’m sick, I hate “What’s next?”

Aside from the fact that this illness has destroyed all of my carefully laid plans, and made it impossible for me to even know what tomorrow will bring (much less my 30’s and 40’s), it has also made “What’s next?” take on a whole new meaning.

When you’re sick, “What’s next?” suddenly becomes “What are you doing to get better?”

Everyone from your best friend, to your boss, to the mailman feels like they’re entitled to know exactly what you’re doing to find a cure.

“Oh, so you went to the Mayo Clinic? And it didn’t work out? Well, what’s next?”

“Oh, you finally tried acupuncture and it was horrible? Well, what’s next?”

“Hmmm, so you aren’t willing to eat someone else’s healthy feces to get better? Well then, what’s next?” (True story).

It’s exhausting. And yes, I know most of the time, people probably mean well. But as the person who is actually sick, it sucks to hear “What’s next?” every day, when sometimes the only thing you actually know is next is another dose of hydrocodone in four hours.

I mean, I get it; our society has a really hard time grasping chronic illness. The idea that someone could be sick for the rest of their life doesn’t quite line up with the American Dream. Heck, I have a chronic illness and I still have a hard time accepting it.

There has to be something out there, something else to try that could lead to cure, right?

But now, nearly two years after waking up with excruciating rib pain that never goes away, I finally have to admit that I have no idea “What’s next?”

I woke up with obscene rib pain in February, 2013, and for the first year and half, I was all about whatever was next. I was constantly looking for new doctors, trying new drugs and visiting new hospitals.

But aside from getting the pain down to a more manageable level, nothing has really worked in the way that I, or anyone else in my life, had hoped.

So, for now, I’m relying on six different prescriptions, Alka-Seltzer Heartburn Relief Chews, and ibuprofen to get through each day. Beyond that, I’m at a loss.

I mean, I might end up trying the 3-week pain clinic at Mayo, but the waiting list is apparently so long that they sent me a letter in September telling me that they would call me in December. And I still have no idea how much it’s going to cost, if I’ll be able to get off work, or even if it’s worth trying. [Editor’s note: I’ve since found out that my insurance won’t cover the program, which is $35,000, so I won’t be able to do it].

There’s also the Cleveland Clinic, which is supposed to be like the Mayo Clinic. But the problem with that is it could end up being just like the Mayo Clinic.

I’ve also read about procedures where they can go in and cut the intercostal nerve, which some doctors think is the cause of all my problems. Something like that could be the miracle I’ve been searching for. But whenever I ask a doctor about it, they look at me like I’m crazy and stupid. Then again, maybe I’m finally at the point when crazy and stupid is my only option.

Or maybe I’ll just live out the rest of my life on opioids, praying my liver doesn’t give out before I do. And hoping that God really is out there and that maybe I will finally wake up pain-free one day.

I just don’t know right now.

What I do know is that I am still in pain. It does still suck. And I have no idea when or even if I’ll ever get better.

If that’s hard for you to grasp, think how hard it is for me to live it.

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