I have a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and the last four months have been intense. The first two months, I became riddled with lupus and was forced to go on short-term disability. The last two months, I have returned to work and little else. Prior to all of that, I spent ten glorious days in Cedars Sinai hospital and then several months and years after that trying to come to terms with a disease I can’t even be really sure exists. I certainly can’t pronounce it, and that strikes me as half the battle. If I can’t pronounce my disease, how can I be expected to overcome it?
Having a crippling spine disorder is confusing. One day I was watching the Superbowl and the next day I was in the hospital after which I was told that my spine was fusing together. My first reaction was denial. I believe that’s one of the five stages of grief, but in my case in seemed like practicality at its best. I mean…you can’t just believe someone when they tell you your spine is fusing together. Even after seeing pictures I thought, “Oh please…that could be anyone’s spine. Who’s to say it’s actually mine?”
The next stage is anger which was easy for me to pinpoint as anger is the only emotion I have an actual grip on. I was angry when my doctor told me that the solution to spinal fusion is a weekly injection. I told him that he should Suck My Dick©, reminding him that I had spent my entire life not being a heroin addict and wasn’t about to start shooting up now. Even more enraging was his insistence on these needles which eventually just resulted in me getting lupus.
This is where bargaining came in. I reasoned that if my doctor could find me an injection that didn’t give me lupus, I would stop insisting that he Suck My Dick©. This worked! I now get two non-lupus inducing shots (so far) once a month and take 10mg of Methotrexate (actual chemotherapy…let’s not even get into it) once a week. 16 pills and 2 shots a month doesn’t seem all that bad. It was just enough to launch me into the stage of grief I enjoy the most called depression.
I love depression. If you’re me, depression means you eat as much pasta as you want while catching up on all your favorite TV shows. To me, depression is akin to vacation, and I have loved every second of it. When I first got diagnosed with my fake disease, I insisted on working through it. I made lots of proclamations like, “I AM NOT MY DISEASE!” and “I HAVE COURAGE!” and “I’M NOT GONNA LET SOME WEIRDO SPINE DISORDER KEEP ME FROM LIVING MY LIFE!” Right around my last proclamation is when I got lupus at which point I stopped living my life…Literally.
Depression is hard to climb out of BECAUSE I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! What’s better than sitting around thinking about yourself all the time and listing the ways in which you have been wronged by the world and more so the medical community?! The only thing that could make this better would be copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, but I’m totes sobes meaning I don’t drink or do drugs meaning I have more to be depressed about! Woo-hoo!
But it’s time. Acceptance is the last stage of grief. I’m depressed just thinking about acceptance, and I can see how this might be a backslide for people. It’s time for me to rejoin the living. It’s time to refocus my energy on my old problems. What’s the point in focusing on fictitious diseases when I could be obsessing about my weight?! I’ve wasted so much time focusing on Ankylosing Spondylitis that I almost totally forgot about my morbid obesity! I should start trying on pants! Nothing pulls me out of Disease-Depression© like pants. Or my acting career! Why spend precious time concerned about the bevy of auto-immune disorders I have when I could be gripped by the hopelessness of being an actor in Los Angeles! I mean it is terrible! Or money. I literally have zero money. Yet I’m squandering my time focusing on how tired I am from having lupus! It definitely seems like acceptance is the key. I miss my old problems. I pray to God my car breaks down on the way to work tomorrow so that I have something new to worry about. If God cares about me at all, I’ll soon be faced with an unwanted pregnancy or the death of a loved one. If history is any indication, I’ll probably have a new disease by the time I’m done writing this. But I’m not going to let that get me down. I have to focus all my energy on how I’ll likely always live in a studio apartment and will never, ever be thin enough to wear pants.