Mediaeval tapestry illustrating bloodletting.
" … I'm satisfied with Healing from my latest attempt to heal myself."

I woke up this morning with a clear head for the first time in six months. The outset of the malady had somehow escaped my notice, for I was at that time filled with fresh promise. My Nurse-Practitioner had prescribed a fresh medication intended to counteract my high triglycerides level, a condition I inherited from my father and share with all my siblings. I had tried—honest, I'd tried—back during the cholesterol scare of the eighties, to find some way to combat this anomaly, but had surrendered when the prescribed medication was recalled as more dangerous than the impending disease. I'd taken to observing by far my favorite treatment, radical acceptance of the way things just seem to insist upon being. I figured, and probably not wrongly, that the state of the Healing arts had not then progressed to successfully treat what my father had only managed to unsuccessfully try to treat for the last half of his nearly eighty-five years. I'd concluded that my triglycerides were a feature and unlikely to encumber my life.

But my brother had told me about a prescription he'd started taking and my sisters chimed in that they'd begun this treatment, too, with promising results, so, though I was hardly convinced it would address my instance, I agreed to at least try it and see. I tried it and saw.
I was filled with a certain hopefulness that I might, if only in this small corner of my existence, eventually achieve something closer to a normal rating. The medication seemed anything but innocuous, given that it insisted upon disrupting a prominent underlying rhythm in my life. The label insisted that I swallow a pill a half hour before breakfast and another an equal time before supper, points in time that never have existed and never will, except in retrospect. Had I been able to go back in time twice a day, I could have stayed on that schedule. Still, I persisted, rendered conscious of a fresh imaginary space in time to disrupt my usual meal preparation, often deferring breakfast until a half hour after I could find a break in my morning routines to start the timer so that I might sit down to the table right on prescribed time. Yesterday, I managed it by eleven forty-five in the morning. I almost never succeeded for supper, which might have been just as well.

After four or five months, I tested with the lowest triglycerides readings of my career, hardly above normal; nearly normal but not quite. Though I reported a raft of what I suspected might have been side effects, I kept my eyes on that prize. Another persistent month or two and I might touch the face of that long-abandoned objective: normalcy. Visiting my Nurse-Practitioner to finally complain emphatically about the side effects, she asked if I'd been experiencing them all along. I confessed to finally losing my tolerance for the side effects, which had left me dozy, fuzzy-headed, and grumbly stomached since the outset. The prize had lost it allure. We decided, with my insistence, to suspend the treatment which had been quietly undermining more than the quality of my life. As seems often the case, the pursuit of some ideal had been eroding my reasons for living. The Healing hurt more than the prospective disease ever had—or might.

It seems that we often undertake a course of treatment so that we might return to normal, just as if this vehicle had a reverse gear. It's straight ahead from here, or crooked ahead sometimes, but never actually heading for anything already behind us. The days before this damned pandemic virus, for instance, left about the time the bug arrived. We've tried, with varying degrees of dedication, to turn around, but so far without evident (or even likely) success. Even those countries making obvious progress remain vulnerable to surprise setbacks. A moment of inattention invites the damned thing back inside again. We might long for the time when a simple vaccine might be capable of eradicating it, but surveys suggest that forty percent of us will refuse to submit to the treatment on various high horse grounds, largely rationally unfounded. Many will declare religious exemptions to remain an enduring source of future serious setbacks.

I reminded my Nurse-Practitioner that the disorder we attempted to head off holds about a fifteen percent chance of emerging by the time I'm ninety years old, hardly a sure thing. The medication we suspended had proven one hundred percent effective in disrupting the rhythm of my life to the point where even The Muse was struggling to recognize me in there. I had become more scared of the treatment than of the dreaded future disease, and though I might have agreed to continue swallowing the miracle cure, I decided that I might be able to afford not to continue enduring the attending displacements. I leave with a fresh appreciation of possibilities, how courses of action represent human agency and not a permanent interruption of life. Other choices always existed and still persist. I might insist that I better understand how some might deflect any personal responsibility to at least try to contribute to blunting the spread of this Damned Pandemic. They seem dedicated only to disrupting resolution, but might have already dedicated their welfare in an orthogonal direction. I might yet die of heart disease, though no evidence of it's manifested yet. I am not immune to my fate. I'm grateful that my decision to trade into clear-headed wakefulness over potentially avoiding future illness effects nobody but me, and I will remain watchful and continue to monitor, and perhaps even agree to try some other emerging wonder drug in the future. For now, I'm satisfied with Healing from my latest attempt to heal myself. I suspect that no one's ever felt greater relief from deciding to do nothing at all.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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