A year ago I came back from a very dark place, speaking figuratively.
And began a new life. In what amounted to a new house.
On February 27th, 2010, I went to the emergency room, and from there into UNM Hospital. Along with life-threatening physical conditions (at least three, in fact) I was diagnosed as suffering from severe clinical depression.
As part of that I’d let my house as well as my body and psyche go to pot. It had been subsumed, as I had myself, in clutter and grime I was no longer even physically able to control. It was hypothesized, while the doctors were searching for the source of the abscess in my right lung that caused the pneumonia that sent me to the e-room, that the state of my house might have caused the infection. It turned out it hadn’t; that was an abscess in my jaw that I wasn’t even aware of.
But the deplorable state of my house had certainly contributed to my physical decline. And contributed powerfully to the feedback loop of mental and emotional decline.
So my friends banded together to fix it. From my very closest friends to people I never thought of as feeling particularly close to me (although all were friendly acquaintances at least) they performed a miracle of protracted, arduous labor: they reclaimed my house. They purged and cleaned it; one friend subsequently estimated it had taken about 400 human-hours of work.
They and others from across the country also contributed financially to repairing both my house and my me. Some ran online fundraisers. Friends also saw to my pets, temporarily taking in TJ and Squeak and paying to board Emma until I was well enough for my animal kids to rejoin me. That generosity, too, was astounding.
So … instead of a literally overwhelming mess that would have crushed my spirit (and probably made me physically ill again, whether or not it had the first time) I returned to a beautiful house, pristine and nearly good as new.
It was wonderful. I was overcome with awe and gratitude.
I remain so today.
And how am I now, a year into my new life?
Long made short: overall, better than I have in years. Emotionally as well as physically. And getting better all the time.
The severe clinical depression was pronounced cured after a period of therapy last summer. I concurred. I am not entirely sure how I got here, but I am no longer in that particular dark place mentally or physically.
Thursday I went back for my one-year recheck with the surgeon who cleaned up the lung abscess. He pronounced my X-rays “perfect” and my sundry wounds well healed. He said that, barring some unexpected change in my state, he didn’t need to see me again. It was the proverbial clean bill of halth.
My blood sugar remains under control, staying pretty much in the normal range.
When I went into the hospital I weighed, as near as I can gather, around 285 pounds. I wrote a year ago that it “had ballooned near 270″ – but I seem to recall that the last time I weighed myself, some weeks before going into the hospital, my weight was already above 275. And it continued to increase, as an effect of my out-of-control (and then-unknown) Type II diabetes.
My weight as of yesterday was 197.2 pounds. It’s the lowest I’ve weighed in the last 20 years, matching my low of late-summer 1997.
Most days I’m doing kettlebell swings and one-arm push-ups (still at an incline, though I’m working my way up to the real deal.) I’ve walked almost every day for the past month or two, and walked two miles a day for at least the past week, and only missed one day in the last two weeks or even more.
In terms of my career: well, you know about a little project I finally finished known as The Dinosaur Lords. There’s the Seekrit Projekt I still can’t tell you about (sorry!) And, since the check cleared the bank, I can tell you I’m also embarked on writing the first of a contract for three more novels in the Deathlands series.
So, not so bad on that front, akshully. Indeed, exciting things are happening; I hope to have some news quite soon. I’ll keep you posted; please keep your fingers crossed.
On other fronts – well, I’m keeping my house up fairly well. It needs dusted again; I’ll get to that. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be a whiz at housework but I’m maintaining.
I’m getting out more, meeting new people, doing more things.
I have learned some key things about myself that have enabled me to break the habits of thought that had conduced to, if not brought on, the decline which led to the clinical depression.
Obviously, I have a lot more to improve, a lot more to learn, a lot more to achieve. I don’t expect those things to change as long as I live: perfection is a goal ever to be aimed at, but ever to be mistaken for a thing which can actually be attained.
I remain, as I say, grateful to and in awe of my amazing friends. I never expect that to change, either. I can never repay what they did for me. But I will do what I can.
What I am doing, I believe I can fairly say, is making the most of the gift they gave me. I am learning to live a happy life. I am writing marvelous stories, as I was meant to do. Many of my benefactors have told me these were in fact the gifts they intended to give me; and that I at least reward their efforts by doing my part to do those things.
To all who helped, I say, now and forever: thank you.
You will note I have not named my friends and benefactors. I have a dilemma. I literally don’t even know who all of them are. Some I don’t remember, but some I don’t know about. Indeed some have asked their identities not even be divulged to me.
I can’t bear slighting anyone. So I’ve chosen to express my gratitude generally.
More than anything I want to do the right thing – do right by those who quite literally saved my life – and made it, and make it, worth living. So if you have any comments or suggestions as to how to proceed, please share them with me. Please.
On February 27th this year I never once thought about what happened to me a year before. I find that a Very Good Thing.
So, Happy March 20th! It’s my (Re)Birthday. I intend to celebrate it every year.
And since you’re reading this – thank you.