Friday, 17 April 2009

You wouldn't treat an animal this way . . .

I've watched a lot of TV over the past two weeks, since the only thing I can do at the moment is sit still and look straight ahead. The other day I was watching a vet programme, and there was a dog that had been hit by a car. The vet told the owner that the dog's injuries meant he was going to be left in chronic pain, and that obviously wasn't fair, so the only option was to euthanise him (his words).

It's not like this hasn't struck me before, but nonetheless I did just sit there for a minute, dumbstruck. Then I got furious. So it's not fair to keep a dog alive in chronic pain (and I completely agree, it's not), but it's OK to expect humans to live with pain indefinitely? Pain that's never going to go away, never going to change, never going to get any easier to bear? What, does the fact that we can comprehend the pain better than an animal, can identify it's source and quantify it's effects, mean that we deserve to endure it for longer? That's our punishment for our 'higher functioning' is it? The more you can understand something - not just at the base, instinctual level, but intellectually as well - the more you shuold have to put up with it? An animal, that has no concept of the implications of it's situation, the problems it's going to face, how long it could go on for, is put out of it's misery. But a human, who can understand all those things and so much more, is left to suffer.

And if the human in question decides that actually they aren't willing to do that, that they're going to take matters into their own hands, society jumps on them, saying what a terrible thing that would be, that it's weak, selfish, morally wrong, a terrible waste of a life. I'll tell you what's a waste of life - an intelligent, fun-loving person with their whole life ahead of them, suddenly unable to do any of the things she used to, unable even to sit, eat or sleep without pain, just because some idiot in a car couldn't keep their eyes on the road. That's a waste of a life.

Yet this society, which claims to care so much about everyone and everything, claims to abhor cruelty or suffering of any kind, thinks that's OK. People who haven't been there - who often don't even know anyone who has - and have no right to judge, think it's OK. Well if it's so OK, why don't you try it? You try living with endless pain, waking up day after day in agony, knowing it's never going to change, and just see how you feel. And it's not just about people in my situation either - what about people facing terminal illness or degenerative disease - they're in the same boat. You think that's OK too? And don't start with the 'life is sacred' bullshit - it's the QUALITY of life that should be sacred, not the mere fact of a beating heart and recognizable brain function.

No-one should be left to suffer - animal or human. It's cruel, it's inhumane and it's unforgivable. It makes me sick to live in a society that forces it's loved ones to die a slow agonising death, or live an endless miserable life, rather than give them the gift of setting them free.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

What's the point?

For over a year now I've been fighting the doctors trying to get me to take anti-depressants. Ever since I started having flashbacks of the accident, a few months after it happened. I didn't want to be taking even more pills, I didn't want my feelings dulled by medication, I didn't want yet more side effects.

But now I'm sitting here in the dark and all day all I've been thinking about is killing myself, and I'm wondering why I fought so hard. Right now I desperately want something to make it all stop. I'm desperate for pills. I just don't know how I can go on living like this. My neck has been so bad for the past month that I'm now off sick, confined to my chair, unable to use even my good arm because that just sets off the trapped nerves and the headaches. All day, all by myself, seeing nothing but month after month of this stretching out before me. What's the point in that? I can't even work now - there's nothing left. My hobbies are gone, my social life's gone, all I had left was work and now I can't even do that. So what's the point? Why am I bothering to get up in the morning? Why am I putting myself through all this pain? It's not like there's any magic cure coming along any time soon. I don't want this, I didn't ask for it and it wasn't my fault. It's just not fair.

I wish I was dead, I wish I could just fade away and not feel it any more. You know the only reason I didn't do it today? My sister's getting married in a few weeks and I couldn't bring myself to ruin her big day.

My counseller told me once that if you really wanted to die, then any date would do - no need to do it today - there's no hurry - put it in your diary and schedule it properly; if you really don't want to live any more, the date doesn't matter. I know the thinking behind it is that you'll've changed your mind by the time you get there, but right now, the whole scheduling-it-in-your-diary thing seems like a bloody good idea.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The people who keep me going

I'm really lucky - I have lots of fabulous friends who've really been there for me since the accident, both emotionally and physically. My mum also all she can and my sister is amazing - I know I'm really lucky.

But as hard as they try to help, and as upset as I know they get to see me in this kind of pain, they can never know what it's really like. No-one who hasn't experienced it can know what it's like.

The people who love me are always trying to come up with solutions, desperately looking for the magic cure. They regularly ask me if I've thought of 'x' or tried 'y'. Sometimes I have and sometimes I haven't; sometimes it's a good idea and sometimes it's not. I try to remember that they're doing it because it's the only thing they feel they can do to help me, but the truth is it makes me feel such a failure. It's crazy, but I feel that if I were dealing with this 'properly', if I were getting it 'right', they wouldn't need to be making these suggestions, because I would be able to cope on my own. Not only that, but each suggestion reminds me yet again that this is what my life is now, that it's not going to change, and that I didn't deserve this.

And the awful thing is that it makes me push people away, reject their ideas because I can't cope with the implication that I'm 'doing it' wrong, or I just can't bear the reminder of what my life is now. I know they don't mean it that way, I know there's no 'right' way to deal with this, and I know that I'm doing pretty damn well to still be working, seeing friends, getting out and about even a bit. But I'm ridiculously sensitive to feeling a failure (not surprising I guess, given that, even as an over-achiever, nothing I ever did as a child was good enough - my dad delighted in telling me I was 'too stupid to be his child'), so each time a friend makes a suggestion, instead of seeing someone trying to help me, all I feel is that if they had to suggest it, they must think I'm getting it wrong. I know it's mad, but what can you expect - from the very beginning I was taught by the people closest to me that I wasn't good enough, and that stays with you.

I need my friends help though. Part of the problem of dealing with something like this is the fact that you can't get the help or resources you need unless you know the right questions to ask. It's almost like there are 'key words' that trigger the right responses, and if you don't use those words, you're stuffed. Even the most helpful of doctors just don't seem to think that you might need those things, no matter what you tell them about your life (more on 'Doctors who don't listen' later!).

Most of the help I've managed to find, outside of the most basic of things, has been because a friend has said 'have you thought of...', or 'why haven't they given you ...' and when I've specifically asked for it (asked the right question) suddenly the door opens. From Occupational Therapy visits to Access to Work assesments, bits of equipment I didn't even know existed - it's all been down to friends doing research, asking questions, pushing when I didn't have the energy to.

So I'm grateful to them for constantly looking for that magic cure. But I'm scared that the negativity they often get back from me when I just can't cope with it any more, will drive them away. And then what would I do? Their love and support is what keeps me going.