Today marks five years since my metamorphosis. In my Kafkaesque world, I haven’t developed into something beautiful or desirable like a butterfly, but my devolution can be more appropriately imagined as one who transformed into a cockroach. A stroll from order to disorder. A life of good health that descended into an existence of chronic pain.
Five years ago I underwent a simple elective procedure that changed my life in ways that I had never bargained. I had a vasectomy because I’m not Dick Van Patten and three is enough. After the pain didn’t subside after a few days, I sought the advice from a new urologist. It’s as if I won the lottery as he said my condition is exceedingly rare.
I told him if I had been advised of the possibility of crippling pain I may have avoided a vasectomy altogether. This doctor who performed an epididymectomy in a failed attempt to release me from the pain, made an analogy that made my apparent informed consent conundrum make sense. He humorously told me that there is a small chance I may fall off the operating table in the middle of a procedure, but the odds are so ridiculously small that he doesn’t inform his patients of the risk. I actually thought his response was hilarious.
Notice how I said his attempt to relieve me of my pain was a failure. If we fast forward to the end of the rainbow, I had some experimental procedures and eventually had an orchiectomy. And I still have pain.
Four years ago tomorrow marks the day I was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer. For weeks prior I periodically woke up in the middle of the night with heartburn and a rotten taste in my mouth. This was the mother of all bad tastes and no amount of mouthwash could make it go away. I didn’t realize I had an ulcer until the morning I started my day with a sinkful of putrified blood. I still went to work because my wife thought I was being a wuss. I was hospitalized that afternoon and enjoyed a nice relaxing four days watching cooking shows while my diet consisted of nothing but broth and apple juice. (I like food so much that I enjoy it even when it is off limits).
I was also recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. It is an autoimmune disorder that is unrelated to my original pain, but it is all too evident on days I’m only able to lurch about in my daily activities.
I completely forgot what today signified until I read Matt Walsh’s latest contribution. I don’t follow the news very closely, but I’m now aware of a woman named Brittany Murphy who has terminal cancer. She is going to commit suicide on November 1. I’ll admit that I have no idea what it would be like to have a bleak future of pain that I cannot even imagine, but I have to agree with Matt Walsh that there is nothing noble in suicide. I have lived with pain everyday for five years. Some days are so excruciating that all I can think about is putting a gun in my mouth. I get it. Pain is horrible and sometimes I don’t know how I will survive another day. Yet, my condition isn’t killing me. I’m 39 and it’s entirely possible that I may live for decades with pain every day.
Walsh made an interesting point regarding euthanasia. The assertion is that this woman is being brave by ending her life to escape the pain and indignity of cancer. If that is true, are people who choose to endure the horrors of cancer until they are removed from this life any less courageous? Or are they cowardly since their choice is the antithesis of Brittany’s brave choice? I only consider this because I live everyday with pain. Am I a coward to endure suffering? As a Christian, I know that suicide is not a viable choice, but if there is a growing consensus for euthanasia, could there be a day when the choice is not mine to make? Mind you, I’m unable to work, so I’m not a productive member of society. Should productivity be a determining factor? Will a day come when “useless” people are exterminated en masse for the benefit of society?
These are big questions that I have no answers for. I was just reminded that today is my anniversary.
Tomorrow, I’ll celebrate with cake.
CC image courtesy of Finlayfox.