On the one hand, longer days, sunlight, a still-chilly and intermittent promise of spring.
On the other HCV medications, confusions, changing demands, papers to write –
Behind it all is still a greater calm, dreams that tend to move through anxiety to relief and resolution. Not an imagined change, clearly a real one...
But no, not anything you'd be able to call inner peace.
As for medications: I spent a few days at the beginning of the month, plus a few more days at the beginning of this week, discovering things that are slightly wrong, or that need adjusting, and then discovering that I also have to revisit older medications, including some of the post-stroke medications I'd gleefully dropped last summer – and just when it all seems clear and I've pinned things down, very very firmly (hmm, are we in some way anxious?), there was yet another change, or an error, or an adjustment...
It's not that they don't know what they're doing – or that they aren't meticulous and caring, because they are – it's the tangled interface between HIV treatment, HCV treatment, post-stroke and blood pressure medications, and the extremely exasperating though apparently trivial fact that my 'miracle' HCV medication (not the really, really hideously expensive one, though I doubt it's particularly cheap, but hey I have citizenship so no one can claim I shouldn't be given it) cannot be taken simultaneously with any antacids.
Which is so exasperating because neither the miserable HIV medications I've taken since October, nor the new HCV medications, are at all stomach-friendly.
Therefore, at the very least, three months (well, I've done more than two weeks of my time already) of daily, self-induced stomach upset and grogginess and occasional shaking exhaustion, all of which always make me unconscious and uninterested in work, or anything else.
Okay yeah gripe gripe gripe.
A tangle of protocols and contraindications...
My skin is just a shade closer to orange. It is probable that bilirubin will increase until I look fairly jaundiced for three or four months. And the self-righteous youngest-child in me thinks, That'll show 'em – anyone who thought I was exaggerating my anxieties about my current treatment will be Properly Ashamed of Themselves, when I end up the color of a mandarin...
(And this has a previous referent in my life-as-a-patient: in 2001, teaching as a guest lecturer at UCLA, I started Ritonavir for HIV - which came in very large orange capsules. So, when I started to turn orange, I thought it must have something to do with those pills. Nonsense of course, it was the appearance of HCV and bilirubin from a disoriented liver. What a disturbing time that was – so ill and disoriented, the injected interferon, fragmenting health... Susan later said, you looked like you could blow away in the wind. But that was a past, and somewhat worse, time.)
When I am more orange, I will sit in department meetings and scare the heck out of administrators.
I am only heroic on alternate weekdays...
It may be the wrong time for the Jung-Institut to run an online Skype seminar on Aion, which includes some of Jung's major thinking on sacrifice, Christianity, and the cross. I'll admit I didn't much enjoy the discussion around Tarkovsky's last film, The Sacrifice – the long, dark dream, the imagined brutal sacrifice of his son, the vision that tells him that if he gives up everything, then the world will be saved –
So he burns his house down, and goes to the hospital, refusing ever to speak again.
The discussion went quickly past a usually important Jungian distinction, symbolic vs. real – which has little to do with the more arcane Lacanian developmental distinction; it is simply that we can imagine, dream, create images that have implications that don't need to be embodied in the real world...
But I was bothered by this, and burst out in irritation, disagreement – really anger: that we can't be too blithe, too easy, about images of death and sacrifice, because they can lead onward to realities...
Think of, for instance, the web of oblique, uncontrollable psychosomatic processes: if despair or depression induce psychosomatic states that can tend toward illness – including real, dangerous illnesses: cancers and such – then we can't really treat these casually. Because when something dark enters the ageing, damaged body, it doesn't leave easily.
And yes, of course: now I can see (actually, I could see within an hour after the online seminar) that my insistence on emphasising that distinction emerged from my own anxiety, my own anger, my own panic over the return of serious health concerns over the past year.
The difference between symbolic disaster and real disaster: because very, very real disasters do happen to people.
Easter is symbolic – of course anyone getting crucified probably wouldn't be satisfied with seeing it that way...
When I did go to the HCV clinic, what started out as rational/discursive – we checked some of your ancillary medications, and it turns out you can't take this one simultaneously with that one – I basically went to pieces.
A rhetorical, still fairly articulate kind of going-to-pieces – running through the medications forward, then backward, repeating that I really, really didn't want these medicines to fail, should we be worried that the first two weeks of pills might have conflicted with each other, is this all going to fail?, I know that transplants are possible if improbable – exactly what do I do each morning then, how about evenings? Because it's not as though I can really –
In other words: tense, more than a bit incoherent: yes all right, more than a little hysterical. She watches me, calmly, a certain stillness in her face: she has moved into a, for her, familiar awareness that a patient is going to pieces, and will simply wait it out, on what is probably a long day...
The humorous version of this was Jean Kerr, when she talks about being in the hospital, and going from being charming and friendly to a post-operative state that is more irritable and loathsome: "It's as though June Allyson had been transformed into Ana Pauker right before their eyes. And they feel, not unreasonably, that they have been betrayed. As a result, the whole staff gives me approximately the same brisk, gingerly attention they would bestow on an old bandage."
Well, the HCV nurse was more generous than that. But I'm assuming my stock in the various infectious diseases departments, which has been built up from years running the HIV group, has dropped a bit...
She does respond at one point: well, the ribavirin does, of course, create anxiety, all on its own.
I want to roll my eyes and say, Tell me about it, sister!...
All at a time of cultural and personalised stress – astounding how many people on Facebook and across the internets are raging, correcting, attacking – I don't mind a lot of the tension and anxiety, though it makes for tiresome reading, especially as it is so repetitive; but when my self-consciously ethical, idealistic American colleagues, brought up within the same wave of identity politics that organised much of my education and writing, start aggressively correcting each other, I can't help thinking:
we're all getting older.
And some of us seem to be projecting an increasingly you-damned-kids-get-off-my-lawn emotional stance onto current American politics, and gender complexity, and disability, and neuropolitics...
I don't much mind being judgmental and easily irritated, that's something I've always done. But I hope I don't end up spending as much time being self-righteous as some old colleagues.
Today I am better: when I finally figured out that I could still take the stomach medications at night, sleep is easier. I am a bit more accustomed to side effects. Perhaps because I had a chance to go to pieces with the nurse, I feel calmer –
Tomorrow is Easter. We will hold the online seminar, despite the holiday – well of course, who's going to miss a chance to talk about sacrifice on Easter Sunday?
I am perhaps not quite as resentful of the reading, or the ideas, as I have been.
As for anxiety, as for dreams – with the spring sun, I will take what I get:
I'm still a bit touchy about all these sacrifices, though –