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Pain on the Plane

August 3, 2021 The Louisville Vacation

It's been another jam-packed wisdom fest in Louisville, my favorite place on earth. The place that feels most like home. I knew it would be. I imagined a lot of things would happen before I came out, and some of those came to be, and a lot more and different and better things, too. The unanticipated things have definitely exceeded my expectations for the good. The scales have tipped very favorably. I've had much healing. It's been a wonderful trip. Another experience I wouldn't trade for anything.

One truth remains. I can't check my bipolar depression at the ticket counter with the rest of my luggage when I go on vacation. I carry that pain inside, I carry it wherever I go, I carried it here, and I will carry it back.

I have good days. Wonderful days. Days when I cannot imagine not feeling good and right and even and at peace. Days when the light is lighter, and my thoughts are free and bright and hopeful. And then I have bad days, sad days, days when I cannot imagine feeling anything but the pain of dark. And on those sad days, I have sat alone, by choice, in this beautiful apartment in Old Louisville, with Mocha the cat. I write, and I watch movies, and I think. And I think. And I think. And I think.

Today, I had a phone consult with a psychiatrist in Tacoma that administers Spravato. It's a form of Ketamine, which is being used to treat drug resistant depression successfully. Both Spravato, a nasal spray, and Ketamine infusions are exorbitantly expensive and generally not covered by insurance for mental health diagnoses. I'm fighting. I'm still fighting. My healthcare team is fighting for me. My case history will be presented to my insurer, and a decision will be made. That decision will be based on strict protocols that are stacked in favor of cost containment on behalf of the insurance company. Profit overrules quality of life. So, I ask you, do we have death panels? Are arbitrary decisions made about who will receive lifesaving mental health treatments every day? I believe the answer yes. The manner in which corporations' toy with people's lives is scandalous. It's absolutely immoral.

If I'm denied Spravato treatment, I'll continue to integrate myself into the psychedelic micro dosing community, networking and perhaps creating an opportunity to obtain the treatment for myself. It's illegal, so there's that. But it shouldn't be, so there's that. What am I willing to risk by actively micro dosing with psychedelics? Jail. Yep. Jail. If I'm jailed, I can be a voice. Will my voice matter? Will I effect change? I don't know. But for me, the opportunity to be a voice is its own reward. I will stand for what is good and right in an effort to lay the groundwork for future treatments that will alleviate the suffering I've experienced. It's life or death stuff we're talking about here. Life or death.

And then there's ECT. You can lose years, decades of memories with ECT. What am I willing to risk losing as a tradeoff for not wanting to die? I'm a writer. Writing material is based on memories. If I lose memories, I lose material. Without material, there is nothing to write. If I can't write, will I want to die? Yes. So, what will ECT do for me? More harm than good? Or will it be the treatment I've been looking for, seeking, chasing? Will I find relief? No way of knowing unless I try it. I just don't want to risk trying it. Not yet anyhow.

Today is one of my sad days. As you may have surmised. I've cried a bit, wailed a bit, tried not to trouble Mocha. She comes and sits near me, still. So, she trusts me to be consistent and feed her and water her and scoop her box and hold her while her real family is absent. I'm honored to have been her foster mom for a short time. She's one of the special cats. They're all special, but some are really special. I told my friend she's been my emotional support animal while I've been here. Mocha has done an excellent job of keeping me from going over.

I'm flying back next Tuesday. Will I be ready to fly back? I don't know. But one thing is for certain: I will be traveling with Pain. She doesn't take up much room on the plane. But she's there. She's always there. You can see her. She shows on my face. But you have to know what she looks like. Most people don't. Thankfully. Being a drag is a real drag.



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