Sunday, June 30, 2013

Have you ever put a gun in your mouth?

Yes, I have put a gun in my mouth.  I write this blog for two reasons, one for my own catharsis and two with the hope of helping someone.  If I am writing this too help people by sharing my experience I should probably share the parts that make me uncomfortable as well.

The month before I started Remicade was bad.  To put things in perspective I was on the receiving end of pedestrian/auto accident when I was fourteen.  I had several injuries but the worst was my leg.  My foot had become disconnected from my leg, at least in the sense of my skeleton.  It was attached but not in a natural looking fashion.  My tibia had also split length wise, three inches from the ankle.  At that time it was the most physically painful thing I had ever experienced.

Flashback to when I was first sick.  What finally drove me to the doctor to finally be diagnosed with sarcoidosis was pain.  I was leaving a dinner with my father and it felt like someone had ran a railroad spike through my back to the point where it was almost coming out the right side of my chest.  If getting hit by a car was a ten on the pain scale this was an eight.  I went around with that pain for two weeks.  It had not lessened and I finally broke down and went to the doctor.  I won’t bore everyone with details but if you have any questions or you would like me to expand on something for a future blog post let me know.  My email is and my twitter handle is @frasputin.

One final flash back to about a year after my diagnosis and I knelt down to lift a chair up to put a rug underneath it.  My knees felt like someone had stabbed large carving knives into my knees and then had grabbed a ball peen hammer and was beating around the knives that had been stabbed into my knees.  With the car accident still being rated as a ten on the pain scale, this was a twelve.  I became nauseated and for lack of a better word swooned.  The happy ending to this story is the pain eased up in about five minutes; now in what I call pain time, that seemed like a lifetime.  

Now we come back around to the month before I started Remicade and it was bad.  My hips, knees, and ankles have been the most effected by sarcoidosis.  For the entire month the lowest my pain level was an eight.  There were hours at a time when the pain level would be a twelve.  I would writhe in pain, I would cry out, and sometimes I would weep.  I took pain pills and found no relief, I took twice as many pain pills as I was prescribed and found no relief.

Now I am about to talk about religion and faith.  Do not let that scare you off.  I came to Christianity late in life and I must say with great reluctance.  I do not speak of my faith often and I never try and convert anyone.  I could not be converted by anyone when I was an agnostic. I had searched and read a great deal.  I had always believed God would not give us the ability to reason and then ask us to suspend it.  Most people I spoke with had no real understanding of their own faith, and to be honest I thought them fools and dismissed them.  In the end I had a Saul on the road to Damascus experience, since I did not share my experience with anyone and it has no earthly reference I do not speak about it.  (I am aware Saul did not actually get struck down on the road to Damascus). 
I do pray- but not for relief.  There is a Catholic prayer that you can ask Christ to take your suffering and use it. Here is a link to the prayer .  I like the idea of my suffering being offered up for the life of the world.  I buy a lot prayer cards from this site, I like his prayers and he has a good ministry.  Whenever I buy a few cards from him he always send me twenty or thirty, but I digress.  

I am an optimist in the sense of Thomas of Aquinas or I guess more accurately
 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.  You are welcome to read about optimism from these two giant thinkers but I will give you a brief and incomplete sense of what I mean.  I will start with a few postulates that I know cannot be proven but I believe.  God sees all, the past, now, and the future.  God is good.  God is all powerful, including complete power over Satan.  That being said the world he created must be good and following that the pain that I experience is good.  Not good in the immediate sense that we can understand as humans but good in the sense that is part of God's plan which will always be for good even if it is beyond our understanding.

Now I know at this point you are probably wondering is he ever going to get the gun into his mouth?  The answer is yes the gun will end up in my mouth shortly.  I rambled on about my faith because it is the reason I keep a positive attitude in the face of adversity.  I have never questioned my faith or that my suffering is for the good.  I have questioned my ability to live with the pain.

I should also specify the month before I put the gun in my mouth was no picnic.  The level of pain I experienced  effected my ability to reason, my brain started to lose its form.  It started to become the consistency of runny Malt-O-Meal and then individual grains of Malt-O-Meal began to swirl and it became difficult to keep two of them together to form a thought.  All I could think is that the pain would never lesson and would never end.  I never wanted to take Remicade and my mushy brain did not consider it as the only or most desirable option.  I own a gun and it began to speak to me.  It would say I can end this and send you on, the pain will end and you will be free.  As the pain would become acute, what the gun was saying started to make a lot of sense.

I would sit in my chair and I would need to take a shit.  It would hurt so much to get up I would start to think, how bad would it be to shit myself?  I never did, at least not in relation to pain.  There was one instance but that is for another post.  I could not sit still and I could not move, I was in a lose lose situation.  I would think about killing myself in the abstract to start with.  Could I still go to Heaven if I shot myself?  It was a nice mental exercise but as time went on and my reason left me the thinking about suicide became less abstract and less philosophical.
I own one gun.  It is a .357 Magnum handgun.  I went and opened the safe and took out the box that held the gun.  It is looks like silver and smells of gun powder.  The silver almost looked like it was moving.  The smell was of cheap gun powder that is dirty and burns slowly.  I held it with both hands letting it rest across them almost like was holding a prize fish for the camera.  It was cold and heavy in my hands, it felt good.  It was not far from where the gun was resting to my mouth.  The distant was covered quickly but in slow motion and then it was there.  It was colder in my mouth than in my hands and I was surprised it tasted more like gun powder than metal.  I knew I had an alternative in the short term; I could try Remicade.  When your brain is occupied with pain it does not leave a lot of room for rational though. There are reasons I put the gun away, but it was hard.  I do not remember putting the gun away but I did.

Now what is the moral to this story?  There isn't one.  Sometimes it gets better, sometimes it stays the same, and sometimes it gets worse.  The only thing I have to tell you is I understand and I do not regret being alive today.  The Remicade has reduced the pain and I feel re-energized.  That being said the pain is returning, not as bad and not as relentless as before but it has left me afraid.  Afraid to sleep on the chance that I wake up and my respite is over.


The majority of my blog posts are stream of consciousness that spewed from brain, spell checked and the posted.  I thought that this was more important topic than most of my posts so I had some editorial from a cousin and would like to thank her here.

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