It hadn’t even occurred to me to write this, but after recent events with a family member, and some frightening and sobering revelations from their care team, it left me with no other choice but to write this and reinforce the importance of making healthy choices. While I will leave out the specifics, including actual diagnoses and any gender identities out of respect for the people I’m talking about, this post may be upsetting and difficult to read, so if you need to give this post a miss, I say go for it. We’ll kick it again some other time.
Late last week, a family member of mine came down with a bacterial illness that left them completely out of it, combined with their chronic condition. The two days leading up to it were a firestorm of near-completely sleepless nights, endless demands, and messes to clean up, and I ran on adrenaline.
All this, while trying to hammer out assignments from my day job.
I hate to admit this, but as a result, I was pretty short-fused. Whenever I was out of the house, I’d rant and rave to myself on the sidewalk to let off the steam from them being a colossal pain in the butt.
The last straw came late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. I’d gotten the stuff from my day job done in between bouts of them thumping and bumping around. The original plan was to get an Uber to come get us, but that fell through, and we went for broke.
They were going to the hospital, if for no other reason than to be on the safe side.
We called for the ambulance since there was no way they could duke out an Uber, even if it were to show up. I knocked together a gym bag for my family member, went to the backyard and unlocked my bike, strung it on the handlebars, and followed the ambulance to the hospital. I was still in my jammies and an old sweatshirt from about 90 pounds ago on to warm up, but I was beyond caring at that point.
The doctor told me that I caught this way earlier than what people typically do, and that I saved their life. Our new house being so close to the hospital was also in our favor, so to me, I feel like this house was truly meant to be.
They were admitted to the general floor instead of the ICU as a result, and the doctors gave them the medicines. The next day, they were flying off the handle, raving about nonsense, and absolutely convinced that the hospital was giving them medicines that expired when Carter was in office.
I knew there was no way in hell this was like them, and at first, I wrote it off as part of the infection, with their pre-existing condition adding fuel to the fire until last weekend. The nurse dealing with us mentioned a specific medication, and I made a mental note of it. When I left at the end of visiting hours, and started walking back home, I got to thinking about a hospital stay of theirs from back when I was in college.
They got that same medication, and reacted horribly to it. I remembered what happened back then while I duked out the worst of the storm at the dollar store, and it all made sense.
No wonder they’ve been like this! No fuckin’ wonder!
Just to confirm my suspicions and as a refresher, I looked it up as soon as I got home, and there it was. This explained everything, right down to the horrifying things they were saying to me.
I brought up what happened the last time they had that medication to their care team the next day when I caught up with them just after I got there and touched base on their condition. That, however, turned out to be worse than I thought it was.
In the past, this would’ve sent me back into my old ways. That’s how it played out for me after the hospital stay where they got the medication that screwed with them mentally years back.
This time around, I’m not going back to those old ways. No way, Jose. I lost this weight so I could care for my family member (or care for them as best as I’m still able to after the freak accident), as well as for myself and my future kids.
Their condition was the culmination of many years’ worth of smoking, and they’re heavier smokers than they realize. Regardless of how they got this condition, I wanna make it clear that I’m not blaming them, or anyone else with it. Nobody deserves chronic conditions, ever.
Obviously they didn’t set out to end up in this mess from the get-go. Nobody with an addiction of any variety does, and yes, I consider smoking an addiction.
What started out as a coping mechanism they no doubt took up as a teenager snowballed into an addiction that led us here, with numerous health scares and hospital stays going as far back when I was 10.
That time, they had a minor surgery that I highly suspect to have been correlated with their smoking. If it wasn’t the cause, it was a contributor. I remember how they had a coworker help them with the driving, but that’s about it since I was in school that day.
At first I was angry with them, because, after all, how could they do this to themselves and to us? Then I realized this wasn’t something that existed in a vacuum. That initial anger gave way to nothing but absolute sadness for them, sadness that they could do this to themselves, whatever they were dealing with that led them down this road, and the magnitude of this addiction.
It is what it is, but no matter. My family member and I will get through this. We’re a team.
My anger is instead toward the companies that make and promote their addiction and its’ wares, and the people who make their living by promoting it.
To the companies who make stuff that exists solely to harm people for the sake of it, and the people who promote it, fuck you and the horses y’all rode in on. Like the old adage goes, you reap what you sow in this world. You make and promote products that destroy people’s lives and communities, know you do, don’t care, and do it. This isn’t even getting into the property damage or the financial devastation this crap causes. I got no love for you at all. No love whatsoever. Sorry not sorry.
Readers, I’ve said it before, and dammit, I’m gonna say it again: I want you to make healthy choices for yourselves. If you drink, quit. If you’re using illegal drugs, quit. Got a gambling problem, quit. If you smoke, quit. Do whatever it takes. Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care if it’s your first quit attempt or your 50th. You’ve learned what worked and what didn’t work before, and this time may be the charm.
It’s never too late. Get help if you need to, but quit. The CDC has some great resources, and the best part is, they’re free.
Even if that means you end up standing alone among the people in your life when they’re hell-bent on destroying themselves by any means necessary.
I’ll stand with you in spirit in that case.
If you do none of those things like yours truly, keep it that way. I made that promise to myself as a kid when I saw what it does to my family member, as well as others who’ve come in and out of my life over the years.
I make that promise to myself every day now, seeing what they’re currently going through. I don’t drink, use illegal drugs, and I wouldn’t smoke even if someone paid me a million bucks.
Whatever the people in your life are addicted to, I want you to understand that their addictions didn’t start with you, even if they’ve tried to convince or tell you otherwise. Even if they say they meant it as a joke.
It still didn’t start with us.
We didn’t cause it, we can’t cure it, and we can’t control it. Nor do we want the responsibility of controlling it. We can make healthy choices for ourselves, and that’s what I’m doing. I will continue to make healthy choices for myself, no matter what.
That’s my promise to myself, and to you.
All of you, make healthy choices for yourselves. If you can’t or won’t do it for yourself, then do it for whoever you’re close to in your life, whether that’s your family of origin or family of choice.