The Body Electric / El Cuerpo Eléctrico

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I WAS OUT OF BED at 7:30 this morning (and not to take pictures of the sunrise). I had an early appointment with my new physical therapist at the offices of my podiatrist.

After one hour with Susana, and for the first time in three years, I had no pain at all from my sciatica. She told me it would be back today or tomorrow, but we should be able to get rid of the problem with a few more treatments. She used a machine that looked liked something out of “Alien,” with multiple flexible arms that were suctioned to my body in various places. I don’t know what it’s called (I plan to ask next time), but I’m sure one of my more informed readers will be able to identify it. Susana knew exactly where and when I would feel pain and was able to show me where the problem originates. Then she performed electrical stimulation therapy. That was fascinating and, more importantly, effective.

Another interesting thing she mentioned is I’m going to have to relearn doing things without anticipating pain. And she’s right, I realized on my walk home I’ve become very cautious (except for when I have a brain fart and jump off a wall). For example, I noticed how gingerly I stepped off the first curb. I forced myself to relax and I walked happily home. I have every confidence that Susana is going to make me better and I look forward to going back same time next week.

Here are a couple of photos of Saturday’s sunrise reflected in our glass curtain followed by shots from this morning. And, if you’ll now excuse me, I’m headed for a walk on the beach to enjoy the cooler air, refreshing breeze, and pep in my step.

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ESTABA FUERA DE LA CAMA a las 7:30 esta mañana (y no para tomar fotos del amanecer). Tuve una cita temprana con mi nueva fisioterapeuta en las oficinas de mi podólogo.

Después de una hora con Susana, y por primera vez en tres años, mi ciática no me dio ningún dolor. Me dijo que volvería hoy o mañana, pero que deberíamos poder solucionar el problema con algunos tratamientos más. Ella usó una máquina que parecía algo sacado de “Alien”, con múltiples brazos flexibles que fueron succionados a mi cuerpo en varios lugares. No sé cómo se llama (planeo preguntar la próxima vez), pero estoy seguro de que uno de mis lectores más informados podrá identificarlo. Susana sabía exactamente dónde y cuándo sentiría dolor y fue capaz de mostrarme dónde se origina el problema. Luego realizó una terapia de estimulación eléctrica. Fue fascinante y, lo que es más importante, eficaz.

Otra cosa interesante que mencionó es que tendré que volver a aprender a hacer cosas sin anticipar el dolor. Y ella tiene razón, me di cuenta en mi camino a casa que me había vuelto muy cauteloso (excepto cuando tengo un pedo cerebral y salto de una pared). Por ejemplo, noté con qué cautela bajé del primer bordillo. Me obligué a relajarme y caminé feliz a casa. Tengo confianza en que Susana me va a mejorar y espero volver a la misma hora la próxima semana.

Aquí hay unas fotos del amanecer del sábado reflejado en nuestra cortina de vidrio, seguidas de fotos de esta mañana. Y, si me disculpan, me dirijo a dar un paseo por la playa para disfrutar del aire más fresco, la brisa refrescante, y el ánimo en mi paso.

A surprisingly large and comfortable facility once you’re inside.
Una instalación sorprendentemente grande y cómoda una vez que estás dentro.
Alien.
• The previous patient. A little too much electricity.
• El paciente anterior. Demasiada electricidad.
• The physiotherapy center is located on Plaza de la Hispanidad, which has three fountains dedicated to the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
• El centro de fisioterapia está ubicado en la Plaza de la Hispanidad, que cuenta con tres fuentes dedicadas a la Niña, la Pinta y la Santa María.
• Wisteria with the Niña fountain in the background.
• Glicina con la fuente de la Niña al fondo.
• Walking through the empty fairgrounds. Memorial to bullfighter Alfonso Galen who was born in Córdoba but lived in Fuengirola from the age of 6. I’m not sure about the chair. Maybe he didn’t like to walk much.
• Caminando por el recinto ferial vacío. Monumento al torero Alfonso Galeno que nació en Córdoba pero vivió en Fuengirola desde los 6 años. No estoy seguro de la silla. Quizás no le gustaba caminar mucho.
• One of several flower kiosks within 10 minutes of home.
• Uno de los varios quioscos de flores a 10 minutos de casa.
• Our train station. I turned toward the beach at the next corner and was almost home.
• Nuestra estación de tren. Giré hacia la playa en la siguiente esquina y estaba casi en casa.

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Caminando Feliz.

I Had To Change

SOMETIMES I MISS THAT TEDDY BEAR.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with, and began treatment for, clinical depression (see previous blog post), San Geraldo and I were on the move again. It was our third move in our five years together. From Boston, Massachusetts; to Los Angeles, California; to Washington D.C.; to New Haven, Connecticut.

I was doing well and didn’t seem to need any talk therapy. The antidepressant medication had done the trick. After about a year on the medication, I independently decided I was ready to go drug-free. I phased off the meds and continued to do well. However, over the course of the next year, without really realising it, I had begun to give myself those pep talks again to help me face the days. Finally, more than a year later, I had another major crash. I found a psychiatrist in New Haven and started back on Sinequan. He was a Freudian psychiatrist (so, let’s call him Sigmund) and hardly spoke. But that didn’t really matter to me. At first, I just wanted to talk and cry. But, after a few weeks, the medication levelled off my brain chemistry again and I was back to this new life I had been learning to live. I was no longer crying and only went to Sigmund for weekly med checks.

Since Sigmund didn’t talk, he didn’t help me to understand my condition any more clearly. I still thought I could get to a point where I wouldn’t need to take medication. So, I went through another cycle of about a year and half without medication before another crash. And I still wasn’t learning.

By the next crash (yet another), we were living in California (having moved from New Haven after 1-1/2 years to Guilford, Connecticut, and then to San Diego five years later where we celebrated our 12th anniversary). I found a psychiatrist who truly changed my life permanently (although I still had my stubborn moments).

When I insisted I didn’t need to be on medication forever, he asked, “Would you say that if you were diabetic?”

“That’s different,” I argued.

And thus began my real education on the “illness” called clinical depression. I’ve read that clinical depression is one-third each biological, brain chemistry, and inherited traits (if broken into quarters, the fourth would be hormones). Maybe an oversimplification, but my depression I’m sure has been partly a result of my childhood and later-life experiences. But many children have suffered much more troubled childhoods. And many adults have suffered much more painful lives. This is simply the way my brain responds. There’s nobody and no thing to blame. Besides, I’ve looked hard into my life experiences and, finally, there’s only me to face the result and survive it.

SORRY. I’M EVEN BORING MYSELF.

I know that physical activity is important for me. And healthy mental activity, too. But those alone are not enough. Unless there is some new revelation in the treatment of clinical depression, I now accept that I will likely always be on medication to treat it. And that’s fine with me. Sometimes, the medication may need to be changed or adjusted. That’s also fine with me. Yes, I do have some challenging times, but they’re nothing like those crashes I used to have. And, as I think about it, I probably wouldn’t give up my experience of this depression. Now that I’ve survived it, at least. It has played a large part in forming the person I am. I’m sure it’s where my humour was born. It taught me to be more honest with myself and with others. And it has certainly taught me to appreciate this life.

I’m still learning to forgive (myself and others) and to forget what doesn’t do me any good to remember. But, as long as I’m being honest, I haven’t forgiven everyone. And I haven’t forgotten everything. OK, and I can still be bitter, sarcastic, and acerbic. But not all the time. So, what the hell.

Many of you were very moved by my recent revelations and I’m so grateful for your support and understanding. But please don’t cry for me. I’m here to entertain you, enlighten you, charm and inform you. (Ain’t I grand?) I’m not here to depress you!

The truth is…

So, Hold On

ALWAYS THIN. GETTING THINNER.

A few months before my 32nd birthday, San Geraldo and I were heading home from a walk through our neighbourhood in Georgetown in Washington, D.C. We were talking about nothing in particular when I broke down and sputtered, “I can’t do this anymore.”

As I think back to this moment, I realise San Geraldo must have thought I was leaving him or had some terrible confession that would make him want to leave me. “What can’t you do?” he asked in concern.

Through sobs, I explained, “For months now, every night I go to bed and my last thought is, ‘I hope I don’t wake up in the morning. I hope I die in my sleep.’ “

Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, ‘Oh fuck.’ “

I don’t remember the rest but I distinctly remember that opening.

After some discussion and lots of moral support, San Geraldo said I needed to “talk to someone.” When he saw I didn’t know where or how to begin, he said he would get me an appointment with “someone.”

He asked colleagues and got the name of a psychotherapist and I saw him the next afternoon. The therapist first had me fill out a long questionnaire, which I found kind of fun. I like questionnaires. We then talked. Well, I mostly cried. But the result was that he felt certain I suffered from clinical depression. Through a psychiatrist, I was prescribed an antidepressant called Sinequan.

This is now an old-style antidepressant with loads of side-effects, one of which was to make me really drowsy. I could only take the meds just before bedtime. That side-effect soon became a major bonus. I immediately began to sleep more soundly than I had ever slept.

Other side effects were more problematic for me — like cotton-mouth and reduced sex … um … “follow-through.” (How’s that for a euphemism?)


AT HOME IN GEORGETOWN; A LIFE FILLED WITH SO MANY GIFTS.
STILL, I KNOW I WENT TO BED THAT NIGHT HOPING I WOULDN’T SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.

After a couple of weeks I began to notice a fairly dramatic change in my mood. In fact, I felt as if I were meeting a person I had never known before. I woke up one morning happy. I didn’t have to talk myself into facing the day. I couldn’t remember a time in my adult life when I had actually experienced that.

It wasn’t a complete turnaround but I no longer hoped to die in my sleep. So, I went to the drugstore and bought some Biotene toothpaste for the cotton mouth. I figured the sex issues were survivable. Besides, I had had an overactive sex drive to begin with.

And since My Mother the Dowager Duchess will read this, I’ll not say another word about sex.

I thought I’d be telling you today the entire story of my battles with clinical depression. But, as I began to write, I realised there’s a lot more to tell if the story is going to be of any use to anyone. I didn’t take pills for two weeks and solve all my problems. But I did discover that I wouldn’t mind sticking around for a good long while.

You know what’s really depressing? I have some great photos to share of that year (1986) in Georgetown but I can’t get my f$%&ing scanner to work. I’ve shared two shots from our home in Georgetown and will share more another time. So just listen to the music; smile if you’re able; and, well, hold on.

Everybody Hurts. Sometimes…