Disclaimer: Every now and then, I may write something that isn’t 100% medical/illness related, but are still about things I find important. This one is half and half. Like a pizza bagel. Okay…well not quite as tasty as a pizza bagel…but you get my point.
I obsess over time probably more than I should. It isn’t all negative thinking. Most of the time, it’s actually just sort of neutral realizations about how the machine of the universe works, but still these thoughts get stuck in my head for days on end.
Being in and out of hospitals and Emergency Rooms most of my life has caused me to notice time a lot. More than others? I don’t know. I am only me, so I can’t really speak to what the rest of humanity is thinking. However, there is a general saying we hear that states, “time flies when you’re having fun.” According to my experiences, that’s pretty spot on. The days I spend not being sick, and am instead with my friends, going on adventures, and doing things I just generally love go by as quickly as a lightning strike. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve begun to notice that even the bad days go by quickly, too. And while some may see this as a negative thing and others may see it as a positive, the fact is that time brings everything to an end eventually. Good things end, yes, but so do the bad things, and personally, that gives me hope.
I have had anaphylactic shock sixteen times in my life. A quick definition so that it doesn’t seem like I’m speaking Klingon: anaphylactic shock is when a person has a life threatening allergic reaction to something. To sum it up, It feels like I’m going insane. It feels like Wolverine is tearing my abdomen apart, my entire face swells, I began to wheeze badly, I break out into hives, and I begin to feel my throat closing up. Feeling myself suffocate is definitely on the list of things I would really rather not experience ever again. In most cases, it takes about twenty minutes for a person to begin to suffocate, which can then send them into a coma, and sadly, if it is too late, they may die. It’s pretty scary stuff. The last episode I had of anaphylaxis was from drinking a glass of water. This is one of the big reasons I have anxiety, but I already wrote about that.
When I had my anaphylactic episodes, I was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance, pumped up with medicines through I.V.s, was relying on an oxygen tank and a nasal cannula to breathe, had people rushing all around me, was stabbed with a steroid shot in my lower side (which hurts like a mothertrucker, by the way), and then was kept for hours at the hospital in awful pain to make sure I wouldn’t relapse before finally, finally, being able to go back home. Long story short, these episodes are terrifying and feel like I’m in hell.
Yet still, that all usually went by pretty fast, and then I was home again and in my own bed instead of a gurney. I always remember that every time I’ve been hospitalized or have been in some terrible experience, it all went by so fast that I find myself thinking back wondering if it all even happened. For a while, I thought it was because since I was dying, it all went by so quickly because of the panic and rushing around me. That really would make a lot of sense. But when I think back to other horrible things I’ve gone through that in the moment felt like they would never end, like having to be awake while I had cortisone shots injected into the tissue of my spine, despite feeling like it would never end while I was in the moment, it still went by quickly when I was done.
Yesterday on my way to work I was stuck in traffic with four helicopters hovering above the freeway, while a continuous line of police cars flew by on the shoulders. I found out on the news a man went on a 70 mile chase, totaled his car, and was held at gun point on the freeway until the cops got him and took him away. There was so much commotion it felt like I was in an action movie. On the way home, driving past the same place on the other side of the freeway, it was quiet, and people were driving along easily like nothing have ever happened. I thought how amazing that was, that after all that had happened, there was nothing on the freeway to even leave a clue about it. The event was over, and the world moved on.
No matter what happens in life, whether it’s something wonderful or something devastating, time moves forward. We truly have no control over that. We are swept along with time, and the days, weeks, and years go by. We aren’t completely helpless, though. We aren’t plankton that have no ability to move on their own (and no ability to steal a certain secret formula, either). We have the ability not only to move freely, but to think freely. Some people may not be able to move as freely as others, but if not, we, as humans, can still create art and discover great mysteries about our world. We can cure diseases and change the lives of people in need. We can get married and start families, travel around the world, but above all we can thrive and learn and experience. Even people like me who have bodies and minds that don’t always do what we constantly wish they would. We can still thrive.
The horrible things will come…whether it’s heartbreak, illness, loss or natural disaster. Being these human things, we can only control those so much. Despite that, we have complete control of how we react to those bad things, and while they will always end, we can chose what sort of ending we want to have. If you get sick, will you let it take your life over and stop you, or will you be a badass and make something of it? I’ve done the first one where I let depression and sickness eat me away, down to my core, for most of my life. And let me tell you, being a badass is so much better. Harder, but definitely better.
So, while time inevitably brings everything to an end, it’s really good news when you’re in a dreadful situation. And when you’re in good situations, enjoy every moment of them. Do remember that while it all goes swiftly by, there’s a lot of things to do, and a lot of questions to answer. Will you just survive through life and float along, or will you thrive and grow and try? When the worst hits, will you let it define your future, or will you give it definition? When time ends, what do you want to look back and see? And most importantly, when are you going to eat that pizza bagel?
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.