Where’s Your Head At?

It’s raining, it’s pouring, this old man…just got back from therapy. That’s right, THERAPY, that thing that many of you told me to go to many times for many years. I finally took a step in the right direction and, uh, enrolled (?) in therapy and psychiatric help for my problems — anxiety, depression, tics, twitches, etc — and actually find that it’s been helping me immensely. I no longer have the desire to kill!

I'm a good boy now!

I’m a good boy now!

OK, maybe I never had the desire to kill. Strangle to the point of unconsciousness, maybe, but I don’t think I could ever maim or murder anyone. Well, I suppose I could if the conditions were ri–

This is getting out of hand. I’m on a watch list now, I fucking KNOW IT. I’ve probably been on one for a while, but now… Now I’m definitely on a really bad one. Oh well, you only live once!

"SO true, Charlie."

“So true, Charlie. SO. TRUE.”

Yeah, so, therapy has been going well. We do this thing called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) where my therapist has me bring up traumatic stuff, then taps me on the knees and asks me a series of questions so that I can file the bad thoughts away to the “adaptive” part of the brain. It’s actually really cool. You won’t really find a single psychiatric professional who knows why this therapy works, but it really does. I mean, just today we did an exercise that truly has helped me think more positively and start saying yes to things more often instead of making up excuses as to why I can’t.

“Yes, I would love to go out to the club with you guys.”

“Sure, I’ve always wanted to go on a blind date.”

“Of course I’ll get a tattoo of Freddie Mercury!”

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Magnifico-o-o-o!

Seriously, guys, therapy is a kickass tool and I recommend that everyone tries it if they have the means. Yes, insurance is a bitch and access to mental health services can be a hassle (WHICH IS FUCKING BULLSHIT BUT I’M IN A GOOD MOOD SO I DIGRESS FOR NOW!), but you really should look into it. I know a lot of people who are afraid of trying it out because of the whole stigma of mental illness, but trust me, it can be a huge positive for anyone suffering. Or, you know, anyone who wants to talk to someone and finds it hard to find that person when they need it most. Look into it.

Aside from therapy, I also finally got the opportunity to see a proper psychiatrist for my tics and whatnot, something that I’ve wanted to do for years. See, my family doctor never addressed my tics, even when I brought them up. “We’ll worry about that later,” he would say. “That’s not the problem right now,” he would say. Well fuck that guy! After having a lengthy talk with myself, I decided to call up my insurance company, talk to them about what I could do without spending a sh’load of money, and then, once we figured it out and I had a minor panic attack, I talked to myself again and made the appointment.

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Yadda yadda yadda, a couple months later, and BOOM! I’ve been diagnosed with Tourette’s (well, Chronic Tic Disorder, but my psychiatrist says that even if I didn’t notice any tics as a kid, I could very well have inherited the Tourette’s trait), I’m taking a bunch of medicines, and I’m on my way to being a normal fucking person. Normal-ish. Nothing too crazy. Medium normal.

The low end of medium.

The low end of medium.

OK, now for the serious part! YAY!

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing all of this. Hell, you’ve probably been wondering why I’ve been so open about it in the past. The reason for that, my friends, is simple: IT NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT. Do you wanna know something cool? Ever since I’ve come out and talked about my issues and the help I’ve sought, people have come out of the woodwork to talk to me about problems they’ve been having. Normally it’s hard for me to take such a heavy load (shut the fuck up, I know what you’re thinking) and dish out advice, but in this instance I’m willing to give it my best shot. I want people — especially people around where I grew up, since it’s so stigmatized and never discussed — to know that going to therapy is OK. Going to a psychiatrist is OK. Talking to your friends about your social anxiety, thoughts of suicide, tics, twitches, etc can be so fucking difficult, for you and for them, so seeking professional help should never be thrown out as an option. Even if you don’t have a mental illness and just want to blow off steam, look into therapy. I can honestly say it’s helped me work through so much stress and pain when other things have only masked the problem and made me feel worse.

We have this positive mantra during my sessions that my therapist and I picked out from a list of mantras that has helped me through a lot, especially today. I CAN HEAL. I know I can get better. I know that not only can I heal myself, but I can also heal my situation and, hopefully someday, can heal others as well. I CAN HEAL. I’m not ashamed or afraid of speaking my mind and getting myself out there anymore. That feeling of anxiety is far from gone and my tics are still present, but I’m learning to manage them so much better, through therapy, medication, and meditation. I CAN HEAL.

And so can you.

Be Good

Be Good

Breathing and Other New Difficulties

I’m gonna dive right in here: You’ve more than likely been filled in on my whole situation. I mean, how could you avoid it, right? I won’t shut up about it. “My poor lungs,” I bellyache. “My heart is weak,” I bitch and moan. “I can’t even shower without running out of breath,” I complain. I’m mildly sorry if you constantly hear these things, but as of now I think it’s quite alright for me to worry out loud. Bear with me for a while until either A) I’m a bit more “stable” or “normal” in the coming months or B) one of these pesky clots rushes to my brain while I wait in the checkout line at Walmart. Whichever comes first.

If I die young, bury me in SAVINGS!

“If I die young, bury me in SAVINGS!”

Now, for those of you left in the dark, here’s the deal: On Monday December 21st, I decided to help a friend out during a cleaning spree by taking her trash to the dumpster. I had woken up at around 10:30AM and immediately threw some shoes on, grabbed the full bag by the door, and meandered outside, not a care in the world. Once I was about halfway to the dumpster — which is only about a hundred feet from her building’s exit — I began to feel a bit winded. “You’re just fat,” my brain said. “You need to wake up and get your energy back. No biggie.” So I kept going like nothing was wrong. The problem? There indeed WAS something very wrong. I made it to the dumpster and you’d swear at that point I was taking a break from a marathon. I was out of breath, struggling from one gasp to the next. I dropped the trash bag and tried walking back to the apartment, but my equilibrium was thrown off. My ears were ringing, my vision was blurry, my chest was tight and burning, my whole body went weak. Luckily (if I can say that), I made it to the outside apartment door, where I collapsed just as I put my hand on the knob. I waited on my knees for a few seconds as I gathered myself, then picked my body up and stumbled back into the apartment. I made it to the couch and collapsed, trying my hardest not to freak out. Each breath I took hurt like no other. I wanted to burst out in tears and call the ambulance, but my dumb ass decided it was something that would pass on its own. As I rested, my friend came out and told me to migrate to another spot so she could clean around the couch. “No worries,” I said. “I’m about to leave. Gotta go to the doctor. I’m… I’m not feeling too well.”

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“I really don’t know.”

“What the fuck do you mean you don’t know? Do you need medicine? What’s wrong?”

“I… Don’t… Know… I’m going to drive myself to the ER.”

Yes, I drove myself in that condition. I don’t know why I thought that was a good idea, but you know me, man. I’m not one to hinder on other people’s lives with my silly problems. You’d be happy to know, however, that I did make it to my destination.

Which, at first, was not the ER.

I'm an idiot.

I’m an idiot.

Being a stubborn bastard really bites me in the ass. See, before I went to the ER I decided to stop off at my friend Chris’s house, where I had been crashing for the weeks prior to this whole ordeal. Making it there wasn’t so bad, but making it to his door was a chore and even after feeling the pain all over again, I still didn’t go to the ER. No, I went inside, lied down on the bed, and thought about what was happening. Heart attack? Maybe. Pneumonia? ‘Tis the season. A debilitating STD? Yeah…OK. Unsure of what to make of all of it, I called my mom. I wanted to let her know what was going on in the event that I passed out and no one was around to find me. Yeah, another golden idea: CALL MOM AND WORRY HER! Once I said all of what I had to say, she told me to quote “get [my] fucking ass to the fucking ER before [she comes] down there and drags [my] ass.” OK, that was just the shove I needed, so I hopped in my car and drove down to the ER at St. Joseph’s on Broadway, less than a mile from Chris’s place.

Fast forward to my ER visit. I told them what was going on, they ran some tests and scans and whatnot, and immediately informed me that I was to be admitted. After hours of waiting, bouncing around, getting a finger shoved in my ass, and wondering what the hell was wrong with me, I finally got to see a doctor. He came in, sat down, and ripped it off like a band-aid when he said, “Charles, you have pulmonary embolism, which means that there is clotting in your lungs’ arteries and their “branches.” Not only do you have a few clots, you have SEVERAL clots. The damage is quite extensive, actually. Because of this, you also have right ventricular failure, meaning the right side of your heart is dangerously weak and is having an awful lot of trouble pumping blood into your lungs. We’re going to keep you here for the foreseeable future until all of this is sorted out.”

Wha– I jus– I’m only 24? HOW in the ever-loving hell am I dealing with a pulmonary embolism and fucking HEART FAILURE? They checked my legs for any evidence of deep vein thrombosis. Nothing. Nada. They hooked me up to machines, did some Doppler ultrasounds, checked on my heart some more and were baffled when they couldn’t give me a proper answer. These professionals have no idea how or why I have a sh’load of clots in my lungs. The answer they did give me was that I drew the short straw in the genetic lottery and am just an unlucky son of a bitch.

“Thanks for letting me know.”

After eight days of constant blood work, tests, scans, x-rays, etc, that’s as far as we’ve gotten. Seriously. The good-ish news is that I have to follow up with all of this every week for the rest of eternity, so odds are they’ll find out exactly what’s wrong with me eventually. I have to set up an appointment with a hematologist soon because apparently I might have a shitty blood disorder that’s causing my blood to clot up for no real reason other than being diseased. For the time being, I’m on a blood thinner that needs to be closely monitored for the rest of my life and a blood pressure medication that’s helping me not stroke out.

YEAH! MEDICINE!

YEAH! MEDICINE!

The point of this blog, other than to share my story for those who are unaware, is to let you all know that it’s gonna be a while before I’m back to being the old me. My whole life has been put on hold and everything I’ve worked at for the past few months of my life is now on the back burner. I can’t drive long distances. I can’t work until I know my body’s limitations. I can’t drink alcohol. I can’t smoke. I can’t eat leafy greens or other Vitamin K rich foods (this one’s not so bad). I can’t stand up for too long without getting winded. I can’t sit for too long without running the risk of getting another clot or pushing an existing one through my body. I can’t… Well, there’s a lot I can’t do. It’s really doing a number on my mental health right now. I don’t get to hang out with my friends as much anymore. I don’t have a way to spend time with the girl I was hanging out with at the time of the incident. For all intents and purposes, I’m a bruised, sad sack of sickness, loneliness, and helplessness right now as I try to acclimate to this new development. For once in my life, I’m feeling sorry for myself because, for once in my life, I have no idea what I’m doing. Zero percent. There’s not even a shred of life confidence right now.

Life is different.

And I’m scared.

This all being said, I’m trying to at least keep my humor about me. Every time I bring up this predicament or my overall health in a joking manner, please don’t see it as me being pessimistic. While my optimism is not what it used to be, my humor — no matter how dark — is what’s keeping me sane and happy. When a doctor gives you a list of different ways an illness could potentially kill you, you have to find a way to make each day a little easier, to take your mind off of all the negative. Do I think I’ll croak any time soon? I hope not. With a huge change in my lifestyle, I suppose I could someday find some semblance of normalcy in this fucked up situation. The fact of the matter is, however, that these clots aren’t all going to go away. Some will be broken down by my body naturally, but with the sheer amount that are in my lungs, there’s no guarantee they’ll all go away. Does that spell out certain death? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

I’m just saying we should name them all and start betting on which one will bust out of the gate first and race to the finish line in my head.

I’m just kidding! You really think I’m gonna let you get rid of me that easily? Forget about it!

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Before I go, I wanna ship out a big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me through all of this, whether it be monetarily, morally, spiritually, whatever. I have quite an awesome support system that continues to make me feel better each and every day. Much love to you all!

And thanks for reading, you rascals. I’m gonna go count my bruises.

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IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO MY GOFUNDME TO HELP WITH THE COSTS OF ALL OF THIS, PLEASE GO HERE:

>>> CHARLIE’S POST-HOSPITAL COSTS <<<