Well, I just met with Fr. Doug. He was very nice, and younger than I imagined. Most of the priests I knew growing up, were easily old enough to be my grandfather, or great great grandfather. We talked for about an hour and a half. I explained pretty much everything I've been thinking, and going through; lots and lots of tears. I showed him some of my still life paintings, I had laying around the apartment and gave him my card, to check out my website.
He said he could see a definite reason why God wanted me here, to use my gifts, to help others. I brought up the fact, that I feel I have been generous, and giving, but wonder how long I'm meant to keep living for the sake of others. I said, it's unfair, to hold me to the standard of Jesus, when Jesus had a clear knowledge, of his purpose, about his death, and about his resurrection. He said that's true, but that life isn't always fair. I explained that I don't blame God, for my accident, because I feel it is a product of my own freewill. He agreed, and said, although God doesn't create suffering, he can make good things happen, despite of it.
I understand, that I've been blessed with gifts, despite my severe disabilities. My gifts, of writing, and painting have helped me to cope, and teach others, about paralysis. However, the daily bouts of autonomic dysreflexia, and the grueling treatments, and degrading, embarrassing nature, of being totally dependent, makes living this way, seem so overwhelming, and often overshadows, the few positives in my life. I am thankful, to be able to express my feelings, but sometimes feel like my mind itself, is my own worst enemy. Being so trapped, with nothing but my thoughts, is often a punishment, within itself, because I'm constantly remembering what I had, what I can't have, what I miss, and what I want. The disparity between my old life, and my reality, is constantly weighing down on me, and makes it hard to be satisfied with what I've been left with.
He said I seemed to be much harder on myself, than others, and said I needed to find a way to forgive myself, for the accident. He said I had to start loving myself. I have heard those words many times, but am at a loss, at how to begin to do that. He said we're often much nicer to others, than we are to ourselves, and in my case, that's certainly true. He said God, is also more forgiving than I am, which I'm hoping is true. I know I didn't intend to hurt myself, but it was MY poor judgment, and MY action, that ultimately resulted in my injury. In many ways, I feel like a murder. I feel like the person I was, died that day, and I've been grieving for her, ever since. Paralysis has stolen almost every aspect of my old life; a life a loved.
I have lost my freedom to care for myself, my privacy, my dignity, my hopes, my dreams, my career, and the life I had built for myself. In many, many ways I lost myself. I miss the old Christina. I miss living my old life. I have no to blame, for the life paralysis had given me, but myself. How do you forgive someone that has stolen everything you loved, and held dear? How do you forgive someone that has robbed you of your health, and in turn, sentenced you, to a life a suffering? How do you forgive someone, that has robbed you of your potential, and your dreams, for the future, by placing extreme obstacles, and limitations upon you? I'm not sure if I CAN forgive myself.
Talking with Fr. Doug, did help provide me comfort, in that he said I had the right, to refuse extreme measures, like a tracheotomy, colostomy, or vent. Although, deep down, he's just a man, I felt relieved of the heavy burden, of knowing he (as a Catholic priest) recognized, that some situations are TOO much, and that God would understand, not wanting to preserve "life" to ANY and ALL extent necessary. Ever since those first few weeks, in ICU, my worst fear, has been ever having to be hooked up to a vent, again. I have a hard enough time, dealing with being reliant on people, I don't want to ever be reliant on machines again.
Fr. Doug said he thought a lot of my feelings, and dark thoughts are just depression, and suggested I reevaluate my medications. I said, I'd be open to trying. I already have tried a few. I had been taking Effexor, up until last year, and felt like it was no longer working. I asked my doctor, if I could try something different, and I started Pristiq. I've been taking it for at least six months. In the past six months, I've also added Remeron, and Xanax at night (both have been increased in doses a couple of times), to help with my insomnia. That said, I'm as down as ever, and in a very dark place.
I get a little annoyed, when people just write my feelings off as depressed, because I feel the true root of my sadness, stems directly from my paralysis. I'm not saying I'm not depressed, because I clearly am. I'm just saying that, no matter what medication I take, I will ALWAYS have a certain degree of depression. I pointed out, that anti-depressants, are not going to take away the key problems, that are plaguing me: the daily bouts of AD, my physical limitations, bowel program, or my catheter. I suppose, the right medication COULD make dealing with these things more bearable, but on a whole, I honestly can't envision ever being happy, or satisfied with living the way paralysis forces me to live.
After our long talk, Fr. Doug performed the anointing of sick ritual, and we said the "Our Father" together. I hope God was listening, and can offer me some relief, one way, or the other. In the meantime, I'll take Fr. Doug's advice, and talk to my doctor, about possibly trying to change my medications. At this point, I feel I have nothing to lose. I don't want to seem unreasonable, or unwilling to take suggestions. If I didn't want help, I wouldn't bother asking. I just want some peace, and to feel better, for a change. I do wish God would just cure me, or take me. I hate feeling stuck, in constant limbo.
Our conversation, hasn't really changed my mind, about not wanting antibiotics. I feel like, if God truly does want me alive, God certainly has the power to keep me alive, despite that decision. For now, I'm willing to experiment, and see if new meds, can offer any relief. I will also continue to pray, meditate, read, and search, to try and strengthen my faith. I will continue to be open, and honest with my friends, and family, and try to enjoy each day, the best I can. I'm really trying my best. I don't know what more I can do.
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