New Year’s up and runnin’, sun turned this land into a furnace,
The heat continue slayin’, under the shade still feel like I’m fryin’,
Another meeting with the doc looms large, pleased to have come this far, Another milestone could be ‘round the corner,
Hoping to be off these meds sooner rather than later.
Warning: This post contains some shitty references and stronger-than-usual coarse language
The Christmas ornaments were eventually boxed up and stored once more and the New Year festivities drew to a close. Much of the early days of the year were spent sweating like a pig, painting the ceilings of the living room and kitchen and celebrating my father’s birthday – in that order although the sweating was a never-ending cycle rather than an isolated activity. January was the peak of the Australian summer and boy, did it deliver. Painting the ceiling in that heat and humidity was a trip, I found myself having to constantly wipe my forehead and eyes in between coating the ceiling with fresh paint. I also took quick breaks once in a while to allow my neck to relax as staring upwards for long periods of time could lead to some rather gnarly head and neck pain and I can only imagine how Michaelangelo must’ve felt while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The project took up almost the entire day, beginning with collecting the paint and necessary equipment from the tool shed in the backyard, moving the furniture around, laying down the drop sheets, mixing the paint, carrying out the project and then finally re-arranging and packing everything away hours later. Strategically laying down those drop sheets in order to spare the wooden floor below from any drops of paint in addition to moving and covering furniture was probably the most excruciating aspect of the task at hand. Every inch of that dark brown wooden floor had to be protected from any drop of that white ceiling paint as my mother would have blown a gasket if any drops made contact with that wood.
But in the end, the sweat and sore neck, shoulders and back were worth it as the ceiling shone a nice, bright white as though brand new once more. It was a day well spent.
Aside from sweating like a child nervously waiting to confess their sins to their parents and giving the ceiling a much-needed make-over, the family and I also celebrated my father’s birthday. A naturally laid-back man, he was content to spend the day with the family for a rather hearty pizza party at my sister’s apartment rather than go buck wild and paint the city red, not that he was ever the party like a rock star type in his youth. Mind you, Dominos and Pizza Hut didn’t get a cent from us as my awesome and amazing sister made two different pizzas from scratch and we as a family damn near ate ourselves into food coma for the next few hours. We spent the entire afternoon in one space but it was time well spent.
It was back to business a week later, though.
Once the sixteenth of January rolled around it was back to the matter of my health and ongoing recovery from Ulcerative Colitis. I had a meeting with Dr. B scheduled for the following week and he had requested that I submit a stool sample and undergo another blood test one week prior in order to get a better idea of the state of my health and bowel functions. The significance of this meeting could not be understated – positive results could see a further reduction in my Imuran and Mezavant dosages and my birthday was also during the following week so I was looking forward to an early birthday gift from one of the good doctors that had played a major role in helping me conquer this damn disease.
But first, I had some shit to attend to, literally, as well as another pesky needle in the arm to endure.
And so on the morning of the sixteenth, following another trip to that porcelain throne, I donned on a disposable glove, took a deep breath and…….yeah, I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that I went mining for gold and came away with a decent-sized nugget that I placed in the small container provided to me by the pathology clinic located close to home.
For the record there was no blood or abnormalities so eureka for me! Not that I ran down the streets naked to announce the good news like Archimedes did.
My father and I drove to the pathology clinic that was located inside a small shopping center not far from home at around mid-morning. I submitted the container that held the stool sample to one of the receptionists, who in turn took it to the appropriate lab, and my father and I then took our seats in the waiting area, accompanied by a decent number of patients who were intermittently watching the morning news on a television screen behind the front desk. The sweet smell of coffee and donuts wafted through the automatic doors whenever a patient walked in or out due to a small Donut King stand situated not far from the clinic.
I was called in by a nurse after a fifteen minute wait and took a big drink of water before following her into one of the clinics, a rather tight space that, once the doors were closed, would have made a claustrophobic feel uneasy. I took a seat and answered a few questions regarding my contact, address and medical details before the nurse asked me to present my left arm, on which she strapped a tight clamp to raise a vein on the crook of my left elbow. She disappeared into another room for a while before returning with the needle plus a few tubes to place blood samples in.
Oh boy, here we go…….
I braced myself and gritted my teeth as she drove that needle through my arm and drew a few tubes’ worth of blood before placing a band aid over the wound. The nurse neatly packed the tubes away before giving me the green light to leave.
“No strenuous activity for at least two hours,” she instructed, “especially with that left arm.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I nodded, “all good.”
“Have a lovely day.”
“You too. Thanks.”
And that was that. Another jab done, another load of crap submitted. Recovery and monitoring life is fun, ain’t it?
I’d also kept up the blogging throughout this time, still recounting the trials and tribulations of 2018 in addition to churning out stories and poems based on random anecdotes from my childhood and past experiences and some that I conjured up from my imagination. I have a rather good memory when it comes to occurrences in my lifetime and while I can’t say that I lived a life that rivaled that of Forrest Gump’s there were more than a few interesting stories in that enormous storehouse to tell. I had a rather good momentum going, writing whenever I could spare at least half an hour in a day and posting at least one entry per week and giving readers a glimpse of what I can do with words although recalling some of the more brutal months of the year 2018 still made me shudder with discomfort and shame. I didn’t mince any words and kept it raw and honest as I wanted my posts unfiltered and to come straight from the heart.
One day as I was writing, something within me began to stir. No, it wasn’t a need to rush to the can, rather, it was old, familiar feelings that I hadn’t been acquainted with for more than ten years. You see, I had set my sights on becoming a writer of some degree sometime towards the end of high school, mainly because English and writing were my strongest suits in school and I’d always been told that I was a rather good storyteller, plus I enjoyed putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and allowing my imagination to run wild like streakers on the football pitch prior to being apprehended by the long-suffering security team. I’d written several poems when I was younger for fun, but also as a means to combat anxiety, depression and other ill-feelings, and along the way I also decided to write some stories that I contemplated turning into books one day but none of these projects took off as I was crippled by both fear and a slacker’s lack of drive and no one was willing to slap me across the head and tell me to quit fucking around and focus. I was also my own harshest critic and would pack it in whenever I found myself trapped in that desolate place known as ‘Writer’s Block’ and would give up far too easily if a particular story seemed to be heading nowhere rather than gut it out and make adjustments. I was a different beast back then, an insecure little wuss with a chip on his shoulder, a stark contrast to the determined fighter that stared colitis in the face, flipped the bird at it then kicked its ass and was once also voted by the Wing Chun Academy as its Instructor Of The Year.
Anyway, as I typed out the colitis stories a voice in my mind wondered if maybe I could rekindle the whole ‘I wanna be a writer’ thing and turn this tale into a book.
Holy crap, did you just go there!?
I had to laugh. Even this older, wiser version of myself dismissed the idea as a pipedream. Me? A published author? Yeah, good one, dude!
But what if you succeed?
Well, there was food for thought. I wouldn’t know unless I tried, right? A cacophony slogans and clichés instantly ran rings around my mind.
Give it a try; go hard or go home; be brave and be strong; live with no regrets; it’s now or never; go out in a blaze of glory…….’
Yadda yadda yadda and all that jazz.
And let’s not forget the ol’ Bruce Lee quote, ‘Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.’
The more I thought about it the more it seemed to light a fire in my belly. Shit, right then and there I felt that I could run up and down Kilimanjaro without a break before circumnavigating the globe on a paddle board! But every yin has a yang and voices of doubt suddenly began to speak up, going toe to toe with that inner drill sergeant that had pushed me to fight on during times of strife. Anxiety kicked into overdrive and I felt as though I had regressed back to being that fucking kid again, the one who was bullied almost every day of his life in school and made to believe that he was a nobody.
Go ahead and try, Chump. They’ll all laugh and boo at you and you’ll crawl into a cave and suffer until the day you die. No one will look for you or miss you, and it’ll be archaeologists, not your loved ones, who will eventually discover your rotted corpse, still sitting balled up in a corner with his face in his hands like the motherfucking loser that you were.
Brutal, ain’t it. The mind can be our own worst enemies sometimes but it can also be our greatest strength. Amongst those voices of doubt, my inner drill sergeant was fighting his way through to gain my attention and once he got it, he immediately and aggressively slammed in his two cents like the would-be victor of a dice game throwing out their winning hand.
Where your balls at, Fool!? Didn’t you learn anything from your past? You kicked severe pancolitis in the ass in the space of a few months, the Wing Chun Academy voted you Instructor Of The Year a couple’a years ago and you’ve lived to tell the tale of every shitty day that you’ve had since you was a little kid, even the darkest ones that should have broken you, so why you still selling yourself short!? Don’t you fucking tell me that you’re scared shitless of daring to pursue your dream! You’ll kick yourself for the rest of your life if you don’t try and you’ll be letting those jerks that picked on you a long time ago win. You bitch-made motherfucker, listen to that Nike slogan and JUST DO IT!!!!
Domino, motherfuckers! Man, if that drill sergeant was a living, breathing person I’d imagine that he’d look and sound exactly like B.A. Baracus from The A-Team. I wasn’t about to disrespect a direct order like that and as I wrote and posted one blog after another I began to listen more to that drill sergeant’s profanity-laden pep talk. Turning my story into a book did seem like a rather wild idea for now but it wasn’t totally impossible. I didn’t even care if it garnered bad reviews, if it didn’t become a top 10 best-seller or if readers decided to mock me for my symptoms rather than learn something while being entertained. I’d been called plenty of nasty names and was on the wrong end of many insults and taunts in my youth so no amount of shit-talking and harsh feedback really fazes me anymore. I just wanted to get my work out there and fulfill that goal. It didn’t matter when and how long it took, I just wanted it done before they bury my ass in the dirt or scatter my ashes. I had all the motivation in the world to do it – I felt as though not enough people knew about this disease and there is presently no real cure for it, maybe I could make a difference by telling my story. Thinking about it conjured up that ol’ quote from Tupac Shakur;
“I’m not saying that I will change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
No, I’m not suggesting that anything I write will alter the course of human history but maybe retelling my battle in raw, no-holds-barred form could spark the minds that will set about putting this disease to justice once and for all and save many bowels and anxiety-riddled minds everywhere. At the very least, it was worth a shot.