posted Sat, 23 Oct 2004
It is 5:38 on a Saturday morning and I am up. I have been up long enough to get a load of laundry started, send a few emails, weigh myself, eat seven chocolate chips, and open a diet Coke. I awoke at 4:00 a.m., too, but decided that was too early to get up. I don’t know why I couldn’t sleep. Maybe it’s the topamax. I had to increase the dosage again Thursday night – from 50 mg to 100 mg. I thought this drug was supposed to make you sleepy, but maybe that’s only right when you take it. Maybe eight hours later, it makes you wide awake. I don’t know.
I do know it’s doing me no good being up this early. On work days, I long to stay in bed at this hour. Right now, I am longing to long to be in bed. The newspaper isn’t even here yet. It is raining, which means I can’t go running. I guess I could, but I don’t like to run in the rain because I get cold and wet (duh) and my glasses get fogged and my shoes get soggy and it’s just a big mess. It didn’t even start raining until about an hour ago. Why couldn’t it have started at midnight and been done by now?
At least the rain explains the headache I’ve had all week. We’ve had bits of rain all week, which means the barometric pressure has been unstable all week, which means I’ve had a headache all week, despite the new drug. Apparently, 50 mg of topamax daily is not enough to prevent headaches. And 100 mg of imitrex daily is not enough to get rid of them. I left work early yesterday and took half a tablet of the two remaining precious codeine tablets I bought in France three years ago – France, where you can get codeine OTC – and the headache was gone. It was of the someone-is-squeezing-my-eyeballs variety.
I have been keeping track of my headaches in my new little migraine diary my doctor gave me and it’s a little disconcerting to see how much of my life I spend in pain. It’s not excruciating, unbearable pain. It’s the kind that keeps you on edge and makes life unpleasant and makes meetings annoying, especially when you have something you are trying to accomplish and your colleagues veer off the subject and you try to gently reign them in without being rude but find yourself getting snappish because dammit you have things to do and can’t they stick to the subject just once? Pain does not make one a patient person.
The codeine, mercifully, did the trick. It felt so good to not be in pain! I feel so sorry for people who have chronic pain – back pain or other chronic conditions. Their lives must be hell. I have a lot of sympathy for people who get addicted to pain-killing drugs. I can see how that would happen – although apparently the way the body’s chemistry works, you don’t get addicted when the drug is being used for pain relief, or so I have read.
Harpo came over to get me to show me his new, improved apartment. I felt better but didn’t want to drive post-codeine and was too lazy to walk the mile to his place. It is indeed looking better.
His mom not doing well. She is not in pain, but her kidneys are not working. The docs are saying she needs dialysis and she is saying no way. Harpo is worried she might not survive the week. But she is 82 years old and this is her life and if she does not want to spend the remainder of it in a hospital with all sorts of treatments that are not going to improve the quality of it or cure her, that is her decision.
I think this is something that is easier to understand once you have watched someone you love suffer through a long and painful (and terminal) illness. My cousin Becky, who is about 22, cooked supper for me the other night (it was delicious!). We were talking about our grandmother, Helen, who is about to be 93. She still lives alone at home, but there is talk of moving her into a home.
My aunts and uncles put my paternal grandmother, Sylvia, into a home 18 months ago. Sylvia, who is 97, is still furious about it and I don’t blame her. Who wants to spend the last years of her life in a nursing home? There is nothing physically wrong with her, but she doesn’t know people any more. I think my aunts and uncles made the right decision, but that doesn’t make it any easier for my grandma to take.
I told Becky that I would rather my grandmothers die quickly and painlessly at their homes than drag on for years at a nursing home. As I saw her eyes fill with tears, I realized that she is still just a kid and hasn’t watched the sorts of deaths that I have seen. I slapped myself mentally and thought, “How insensitive can you be! You are talking about her grandmother!”
When it is my time, I want to go quickly. I am not scared of being dead. If there is a heaven, what’s not to like? Who wouldn’t want to be there, with all her friends and family and God and Jesus and Mary and all that love? And if there isn’t a heaven – there is no God – then there is nothing and we just won’t know.
It’s the process of getting to be dead that worries me. I just want to go to sleep one night and not wake up. I think, really, that’s the most any of us can hope for out of life is an easy death. We should all be so lucky.
The end of the line
11 months ago