The boys are back in town.
Mid-September brought a return to work and sagging energy, as I have written. Not too much at first, just a sense of gravity, the arms and legs resistant to moving. Sleep was certain, deadened, and hard to shake. I thought it was adjustment back to reality, coming down from the other one I’d been inhabiting. Then the virus thing came mid-September, and it was shades of the bad old days.
Like Americans have been trained, I wait until November for work’s new insurance to kick in before I see the doctor. We have a focused, effective visit: where your labs were, where they’ll probably go, the latest treatment learned of from the conference she just got back from. How is the divorce going? For once I don’t give any blood and I leave with a promise of three prescriptions. An herb of some effectiveness is up to me to find.
Starting the pills last week was returning to a routine that now has lost all its dark and hopeless overtones. This is the latest installment of working on something known and reluctantly familiar, not an existential struggle against despair and an invisible enemy only I can feel. You look fine, an HMO doctor once told me, back during the worst of it. In that moment college memories of being told the same thing by tired men as white as their coats returned, and I felt sick all over again. Translated, the doctor now was saying: you’re still crazy.
Pills are a certainty. They say the doctor believes you enough to invest something physical with physiological power in you. (If they’re just tired of you, or on the drug company take, that works out too–one should be careful not to overanalyze.) Pills are little magic bullets aimed at some wrong deep within. It’s more complex than this, but I suspect this must be what goes on in the subsumed emotional mind. Pills are nice shapes, like little candies. The red one stains my pee, which is fun. If there was one that stains pee green I could alternate for the holidays.
Two weeks in it’s up and down. The latest regimen involves taking the pills for four days and then a break of three, then a break of a week, then repeat. I’ll feel better with each break, the doctor says. The first week was rough and this week was easier, though Thursday (the week’s first day on) was a hard struggle. Today I would feel fine aside from getting to bed so late.
The bottles stand in a line on the kitchen counter, like soldiers, or an orange plastic hedge. Taking them twice a day is affirming, a ritual for moving beyond fear. It is a motion that induces action–nothing static about it. They are floating me and I am moving forward with them.