So, I’ve been posting a bunch of really depressing, morose status updates to Facebook, centering around my battle with crippling depression that has gotten exponentially worse in the past few months and I’m finally ready to talk about what exactly I’ve been dealing with that has caused me to sink so deep into this pit that I’ve found myself in.
Now, I’ve been battling depression for…many years now, dating back to my early years of high school so the fact that I have depression is nothing new. I’ve dealt with it in a number of ways over the years but it’s been a constant part of my life during that time. One of the root causes of my depression is something that I’ve been especially guarded about, ever since high school when I made the mistake of telling a bunch of assholes that I had it, and something I don’t talk about to people I barely know because of that.
Since birth, I’ve suffered from Sickle-Cell anemia, a chronic, incurable disease (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a sibling who doesn’t have the disease who can give you a bone marrow transplant) that affects my blood cells. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about what Sickle-Cell is or how it affects me but I will say that it affects my stamina (due to my cells being inefficient at transferring oxygen) and, because my red blood cells are hard, sticky and brittle as opposed to soft, round and squishy like normal blood cells, they can get trapped in my blood vessels and clot, causing acute, sometimes long-lasting (think days, not hours) pain.
But what pushed me over the edge began last summer.
Unbeknownst to me until that time, in rare instances, people suffering from Sickle-Cell Anemia can also develop lower leg ulcers. As you can probably ascertain by the simple fact that I’m talking about this, I was one of the “lucky” few.
It started small. One ulcer on my left ankle. Sure, it was painful and irritating, but put a waterproof bandage on it at shower time, clean it regularly and take meds to manage the pain. And then, another showed up on my right ankle. And then another above that one. To manage these injuries, I’ve been seeing a wound care specialist every few weeks which involves painful debridement. I won’t get into the gory details but it involves a tool called a curette and, when the lidocaine the nurses apply to the wounds doesn’t really sink in like it should, hurts like a bitch. This happens every single time I go, with intervals of three to four weeks between each appointment. So, I’ve been enduring this treatment roughly once or twice a month, every month, since last August.
Imagine that. Persistent, painful wounds that must be re-bandaged every day or so (and guess who has to buy all of those medical supplies out of pocket) that doesn’t heal completely for nine months.
Perhaps now you can see why I’ve been particularly depressed as of late. Couple that with the bill for each visit coming to somewhere around $70 after insurance, the cost of the pain med prescriptions (which I need because the pain coming from these wounds is intense), the fact that I have to use my accrued paid time off for each appointment, whittling down the nearly two weeks of time I had saved for a nice vacation down to a day or two at most over the past nine months. All that time, gone. I haven’t traveled in years and I was looking forward to finally taking some time to get away from Detroit. Now that’s, yet again, a dream for a far off time.
The lone bright spot in this is that I’ve been allowed to work from home so I at least have some income, but recently, the wounds on my left foot have progressed to the point that I can hardly sleep. So…there’s that.
So that’s what I’ve been coping with over the past nine months. Naturally, I’m an introvert so staying in is nothing new to me but imagine being all but trapped inside the house by an injury that has caused your foot to swell to the point that you can’t wear your regular shoes anymore and even pulling on a pair of Crocs aggravates your wounds. Walking has become a chore and as of about a week ago, putting practically any weight on my left foot whatsoever causes me immense pain. Imagine having to play the “dodge the spoiler” game as you check Facebook, hoping you don’t see a major spoiler for that big movie everyone’s talking about (this month it’s Civil War, last month it was Batman Vs Superman, a few months ago it was Deadpool, and before that it was Star Wars) because you can’t go to the movies with any degree of relative ease or comfort.
But I’ve said enough. I just wanted to write this to vent my frustration and provide a glimpse into what my life has been like for the past year for anyone who cares to read it. I’d like to end on an optimistic note, hopeful that my injuries will heal soon and I can return to some semblance of a normal life again but honestly, I know better than to be optimistic about anything at this point.