On Friday I went to a doctor to discuss a new medication that might help me with the fatigue I have been living with. Because he was also a friend of mine, we had a long discussion about the pros and cons-especially the side effects.
I have also dealing for several years now with autonomic instability and wildly fluctuating blood pressures. I have come to the conclusion that there is no treatment for high and low blood pressure, so I am okay living with it. But I have no strong desire to make it worse. So…
Before I took this drug I dutifully called my pharmacist and had her look up drug interactions as I am taking more drugs than probably the entire city of Detroit. I received her blessing. I called my internist and received his blessing. I looked up drug interactions and side effects online and I didn’t see any of the dreaded side effects I feared. So…
On Tuesday morning I took a beginning dose of this new medication. One hour later, my heart was pounding, I couldn’t speak above a whisper and I felt like some overweight human was sitting on my chest. I called my doctor and, predictably, he said “call 911 and get thy butt to a hospital.”
Nothing special when I got there, just the regular joys of being in the hospital-no sleep, significant blood loss for the laboratory, x-rays, CAT scans and medication errors. You know, the usual.
But while I was there, my cardiologist was talking to my nurse and referred to me as “brittle”. Of course, I made a joke about it saying I preferred the word “sensitive” as brittle reminded me of a 90-year-old woman with stockings rolled up to her knees and her dentures not fitting well.
When I got home a couple of days ago, I got thinking about that word. He might be right. Here I am taking a medication and after due diligence, have side effects that have not been reported before. After living with this for 34 of my 67 years, I have some good news and bad news.
Bad news: I am brittle. My body is like a house of cards and I don’t quite know when the whole thing will fall down. I have always experienced my body/my health as fragile and, as a result, I live with a sense of vulnerability.
Good news: Despite that or because of that, I am a happy boy today and most days. I am comfortable with my own vulnerability. As cognitive psychologist Brene Brown says, without vulnerability, there can be no intimacy. As a result, my vulnerability not only opens me up to having intimate relationships, it enables be to love more deeply than I ever could have when I was pretending to be strong.
And none of this could happen if I wasn’t brittle or fragile or simply sensitive!